One year I was just tired of it.

I was tired of staying up way too late on New Year’s Eve, and then the whole family waking up groggy and grumpy on New Year’s Day with nothing to show for it.  The new year is supposed to be a time for fresh starts and new beginnings, and just barely making it through the day on Jan 1 didn’t feel like how I wanted to start my new year. 

I wanted to kick the new year off in a way that felt more meaningful and intentional. And here’s where the idea was born for our Family Awards Ceremony and our ‘Start The New Year Right’ plans. It’s now a yearly tradition that we do every New Year’s Eve. It takes a little prep, but it’s worth it! 

Our plans consist of 3 main activities:

  • Reflection
  • Family Awards Ceremony
  • Vision Boards


First off, I believe we have to look back before we can look forward. There’s something so rewarding about spending a few minutes in reflection about the year you are leaving behind. 

What we do is a few days before New Year’s Eve (maybe one night in that awkward week between Christmas and New Years?!?) we sit down together as a family and take turns asking specific questions about the year we are leaving behind, and the year coming up. All of these questions are included in the free PDF ‘Start the New Year off Right’ bundle below!

Each family member has a chance to share their answers. You could ask these questions in a group setting like we do, or ask them in a more intimate 1 on 1 setting! If your kids are old enough, you could even encourage them to write their answers and then share them. 

Reflection Questions Included In The ‘Start The New Year Off Right’ Download

Later, Chris and I take all of this feedback and have a conversation with just the 2 of us about what we think our family could focus on, or work on to help our family run more smoothly next year.

The last few years we actually narrow it all down to 1-3 words to focus on that can guide us through the entire year. For example, in 2022 our word was ‘embrace’ because we had recently moved to a new town and we wanted to embrace this new phase of life we were in. In 2020 our word was “Team” because we felt like our family needed to focus on working together, playing together, and encouraging each other.  In 2018 one of our words was “Constant” because we felt like we wanted to be more consistent in our habits, etc. We also encourage each of our kids to choose a personal word for themselves every year!

The other thing Chris and I do in this conversation is review the activities/challenges/triumphs from last year that each family member was a part of. From there we assign each family member a unique award. (Even Mom and Dad get an award!) 

For example, a child that didn’t make a sports team in the spring, but tried out again in the fall might be awarded “most determined.” Or a child that started at a new school and made new friends might be awarded “most friendly” or “most brave.” I like to focus on things that are reflective of their character or the type of person that they are, rather than something that they have accomplished or a physical characteristic.

Next you would fill out the awards certificate with each recipient’s specific info. Check out the free PDF ‘Start the New Year off Right’ bundle below for 2 different styles of blank certificates, or there’s a link to edit them too.


The next thing to do is to have the awards ceremony. We do it on New Year’s Eve as part of our New Year’s Eve celebration, but I’ve seen families do it before and after New Year’s too! 

Here’s what our new year’s celebration usually looks like:

  • Nice Dinner
  • Awards Ceremony
  • Vision Boards
  • Snacks/Games/Fireworks, etc

I’ll break them each down for you here:

Dinner:  I let the kids weigh in on what they want for dinner. We usually choose to have a nice dinner with candles, etc. You could just as easily order take-out or pizza. We sit down together and enjoy dinner as a family.  

Family Awards Ceremony: The Family Awards Ceremony can be as grand or as simple as you like. Maybe you dress up fancy and it’s an actual awards ceremony complete with a red carpet and hair and makeup. Or maybe you just all sit on the couch in your p.j.s. 

The important thing is that you sit down together, and one by one bring each family member to the front of the room and present them with their certificate. Take a minute and explain exactly what you see in this person, and why they are receiving this specific award this year. Watch them light up to be seen and acknowledged for who they are! Have fun with it. Turn on music. Let the recipients give acceptance speeches. Whoop and holler. Whatever you want. Just have fun together. Proceed with the remaining family members.

One family we introduced Family Awards to even went above and beyond and did a slideshow at this point of all the pictures and memories they had made over the past year. I loved that idea. Close the ceremony by congratulating the family on a fantastic (even if challenging) year. 

Note: Sometimes we have friends that spend the whole night with us and we participate in the entire evening together, and sometimes it’s just our family. If we have another family joining us, they make their own family awards, but we do the awards ceremony together! Each family will take turns presenting to a family member.


Vision Boards: The night could end there, but if you’re still wanting more the next thing we do is we create vision boards. If you’ve never done a vision board before, it is basically a visual reminder or representation of who you want to be, and/or what you want to accomplish in the coming year.

Some of our family likes to create their board by printing out exactly what pictures they want via a google search. Others like to flip through magazines and cut and paste onto a board with more of an intuitive approach. I always like to see what the preschoolers put on their boards. It’s always entertaining yet reflective of what gets them excited and what they’re passionate about! 

There really is no right way to do it. You may find it helpful to refer back to the reflection questions  “What is important to you in 2023?” or “What are you most excited for next year?” Those answers could give you some guidance about a good starting place for your vision board! Here’s some examples of our boards and awards from years prior.  Notice each person also included their word for the year on their board. 

When most people are wrapping up with their boards we give them the opportunity to share them with the family at the front of the room. Each person goes to the front of the room, one at a time, and tells us a little about their board.  I like to work on mine for longer than the kids do, so if someone’s not done they just share what they have so far! The boards will then go on display in each person’s room, or somewhere where they can see it often. 

Snacks/Games/Fireworks, etc: The rest of the evening is spent playing games, eating food, fireworks, whatever! And that’s basically it!

I love waking up on New Year’s Day feeling like I already have a focus and intention for my new year. I also love the moment to pause and appreciate each family member individually and acknowledge them for the amazing person that they are. I hope you and your family love the Family Awards Ceremony, and start your new year off with even more intention and purpose!

I’d love if you’d tag @ourfamilybrand in your celebrations- I want to see the magic you’re creating in your homes! 

Download The ‘Start The New Year Off Right’ Materials

Complete the form below to download your free PDF ‘Start the New Year off Right’ bundle

The PDF bundle consist of detailed instructions to Start Your New Year Off Right, blank awards certificates, year end questions to ask, and more!

Sample of Family Award Certificate Included!

We also did an entire podcast episode on this subject if you’re wanting more details!

Check it out here on Spotify:

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