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Family Culture

Being Intentional About Family Culture

Several years ago, when I was a new mom, I remember a colleague of mine chastising me for  not to putting up a Christmas tree on that particular year. “Alison,” she said, “traditions are important. This is your daughter’s childhood”.

Maybe she was a bit crazy (my daughter was only a year old after all), but now, eight years later, I can see where she was coming from. Traditions ARE important. What we decide to include and exclude in our regular family life DOES matter.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the environment we create in our homes, and what makes us unique from other families. We all spend our time and money differently. We do things differently. There are no carbon copy families.

I find the variety quite refreshing, don’t you?

I have some extended family members that are really into hunting and fishing and they even have the wardrobe to go with it. While my kids were learning to ride a bike, theirs were learning to put a worm on a line, steer a boat, or fire a gun. And while we plan for the upcoming holiday seasons, they plan for the hunting seasons.

They have a very different family culture than we do. Never in a million years would I want to spend a day hiding out in the bush, covered in bugs, trying to scope out an animal. Seriously. I’ve heard that even the women pee into hand held urinals. Nope. I can’t imagine the level of commitment to an activity that would entice me to do that! But they LOVE it!

What do you love to do? What shared activities tie you together as a family? What is included in your own family culture?

What is family culture anyway?

In the same way that a country or ethnic group may have its own particular traditions, customs, practices, and values, families also each have their own unique culture.

Here are some unique practices, values, and activities that I have seen in various family cultures:

  • hunting, fishing, hiking, camping
  • reading (a favourite podcast of mine is dedicated to building your family culture around books)
  • participation in, or appreciation of, the arts
  • academics
  • service (church, community, etc.)
  • sports
  • food & eating
  • gaming, technology, and comic-con

The list is really endless though. Families are like snowflakes, no two are exactly alike!

Why is Family Culture important?

Family culture is important. The Culture you create within your home will:

  • shape who your children become
  • influence how your children identify themselves
  • contribute to their sense of belonging
  • form the habits and roles they will perform later in life
  • shape the next generation through the values you pass on
The culture you create in your home has the power to influence not only those who live within the four walls of your home, but may even extend to your larger community.

It is so important to be intentional about your family culture! All families, have their own unique cultures, be intentional about incorporating habits, traditions, and values that reflect your own personal convictions.

Whether you realize it or not, your family has its own culture. You may not even be aware of some of the components of your family culture!

And here’s a sobering thought, if you are not intentional about building the family culture you want, you just may absorb the culture that surrounds you (for better or for worse!).

This is why it is so important that we be intentional about what kind of culture we are building in our homes!

Here are some simple ways to build the culture you want:

  • Decide to spend your time, money, and resources in areas that reflect your values.
  • Actively seek activities that reflect your values and reject those that don’t.
  • Share family stories and history.
  • Encourage a collective identity — the sense of “this is who we are”.
  • Celebrate each other and your uniqueness.

While the basis of many of our choices are often serious values and beliefs, how these are reflected in various families can vary greatly

. For example, many families place a high importance on health and well being. How each family choses to reflect that value however, can be quite different. One family may express it through participation in athletics and sport, another through a commitment to healthy eating, and still another by prioritizing activities in the outdoors.

So have some fun creating family traditions and building a strong family culture that reflects your values! And know that doing so will enrich the lives of those you love most. and invest in the future of your family.

I’d love to hear about what makes your family unique! Tell me in the comments below what traditions, habits, or values tie the members of your family together <3


Our Family Christmas Traditions

We are a very low key family around here. We don’t do elaborate or themed birthday celebrations nor do we spend a lot of time and money preparing for events and special occasions.

Christmas is pretty simple at our house too — we have a few family Christmas traditions, bake our favourite treats, visit with family, and tuck a few presents under the tree.

These are the family Christmas traditions that bring excitement and joy to our family and have become a somewhat distinct aspect of our family culture over the years.

Our Family Christmas Traditions - 3 Christmas traditions that give me the warm & fuzzies!

Our Family Christmas Traditions:



Gingerbread is my favourite non-chocolate dessert. Nothing tastes like Christmas to me the way gingerbread does!

Ever since my oldest was a toddler we have been baking and decorating gingerbread cookies as a family, and have sometimes enjoyed having friends join us for the decorating.

This is actually something I have incorporated from my own childhood — my mom used to bake piles of cookies and invite a table full of happy boys and girls over for a decorating party. I have a lot of memories of gathering with my cousins, friends, and neighbours for a sweet afternoon of cookie decorating!

Baking gingerbread - an annual Christmas tradition!

We like to roll our cookies fairly thin and bake them until nice and crispy. We also have a favourite gingerbread recipe that we use every year.

Gingerbread - a Christmas tradition

Nativity Set

This is a relatively new family tradition for us — but it has much deeper roots.

About 3 years ago I found this lovely set from my childhood in my parents’ basement after not having seen it in years! I asked my mom if I could have it and it has been one of my favourite parts of our family Christmases ever since.

Gran's hand painted Nativity Set - an important Christmas traditionWhat makes this set so special to me is that not only that it is 30 + years old, but it was hand painted by my own dear Gran <3! I just love that I can share this with my girls!


Gran's hand painted Nativity Set - an important Christmas tradition

Advent Calendar

This tradition is not one that originated from my own childhood. I’m not sure that we ever even had one of those cardboard, chocolate filled advent calendars or any other type in my home growing up.

But when I found this lovely, wooden, Christmas tree advent calendar, I thought it was just perfect for us! Behind each door, I tuck a little activity card (or sometimes a sweet treat!) so that each day we have some special Christmas activity to do together.

Christmas Traditions - Advent Activity Calendar - a Christmas themed activity for each day!Some of our activities have included skating, Christmas card making, watching Christmas movies, baking, and making Christmas themed crafts. Sometimes it’s a bit of a stretch coming up with 25 ideas!

My children are just so excited each morning as they discover what special holiday activity we will be incorporating into our day.Christmas Traditions - Advent Activity Calendar - a Christmas themed activity for each day!

Over the years I lost most of the original, handmade cards I created that first year, so I recently made some printable advent activity cards that I can reuse or reprint if they get lost.

I’d love to hear about your family Christmas traditions! What do you and your children enjoy at this time of year?

FREE printable Advent Activity Cards - Chocolate-free Advent Calendar idea

Best Ever Gingerbread Recipe - enjoy making these delicious cookies with your kiddos this season!