My Favorite Family New Year Traditions (That You Can Steal)


From October to January, our house is filled with holiday cheer: spooky haunts in October, the “Turkey on the Table” to kick off the season of gratitude, our annual “Cookies and Cocktails” party with our closest friends to start winter break, leading then to Christmas and to Kwanzaa. For us, the New Year signifies the end of the holiday season, but it also includes some of our favorite New Year traditions. Read on to find out what they are – and feel free to steal any that may fit your family!

The Giving Sack

Technically, this one starts on Christmas Eve and originally started as a way to get our kids to be willing to part with toys and clothes they had not used in a year. Each year, our Elf on the Shelf (Zazzle) leaves an empty Santa sack for the kids to fill. This carries into New Year’s Day by us going room to room and finding items that we no longer need to donate to local charities. This tradition ensures that we start off the new year with a giving spirit, and it helps us to remove the items that we no longer wish to carry into the new year.

Memory Jars

Throughout the year, we each fill our individual memory jars with memories from different events as they happen. On New Year’s Eve before midnight, we open the jars and reflect back on all the things that we wanted to remember.  This is a great way to remember all the fun things we have done throughout the year, especially some of the things that we thought were really great at the time, but that we may have forgotten about in the hustle and bustle.  It’s also neat to hear everyone else’s remembrance of events through their eyes and to see what stood out the most to them.

Vision Boards

Each year as a family, we make time on January 1st before dinner to create vision boards – pictorial representations of our goals for the coming year, both individually and also one board we create collectively as a family. These boards include travel we would like to do as a family, individual educational goals, fun goals, and ALWAYS those big audacious goals to keep us dreaming. We hang these in the hallway by the stairs so we can see them every day to remind us where we are going and what we are working toward.

Traditional New Year’s Day Dinner

January 1st is obviously New Year’s Day, and in our family, it also signifies the end of our Kwanzaa celebration. On this day, in particular, we prepare for the year ahead and lay out our plans for what we are hoping to accomplish with discussion, laughter, joy, and the above-mentioned vision boards. After our vision boards, we always prepare and share a traditional New Year’s Day dinner, where the foods we eat symbolize good luck and prosperity for the coming year:

  • Leafy Greens, representing prosperity this year
  • Cornbread or Corn, representing gold coins to have “spending money” this year
  • Pork, for health (yes, I agree that’s an odd one)
  • Black-Eyed Peas, representing good luck

What are some of your favorite New Year traditions? Share them with us in the comments!


  1. Oh my goodness – Erica, these are wonderful! I love the giving sack and the memory jar! Definitely borrowing these!

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