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How to Bring Your Family Traditions to Friends at College

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at CU Boulder chapter.

Here we are again with another holiday season! Aside from the classic images of sweaters, hot drinks, and Christmas lights, this chilly season always reminds me of traditions. One thing the Rampersauds reliably stick to every winter season is our several well-loved activities both during the holidays and beyond. Traditions have always meant so much to my family and I, and are truly the epitome of marking the holiday season. Coming from a tight-knit family unit and consistently living apart from my parents and siblings, these traditions have continued to remind me of my roots–never failing to cheer me up when I’m missing the fam a little extra. Here I’ve outlined a guide on how to bring your family traditions to friends at college and some of my personal examples. Here’s to more friends that feel like family and traditions that feel like home. 

The Rampersaud Thanksgiving

Know The Story 

Most family traditions have a start somewhere. Whether that’s from your great-grandmother’s favorite holiday activity or a random night a few years ago that spurred the creation of a new tradition, there is always a story. Knowing the history of a family tradition not only makes for a great tale but also catches the attention and excitement of your friends too. Odds are, with good friends, something that makes you excited and feel close to home will be something they’re down for. Giving this background drums up excitement for not only you but also your friends, who now have a part in that history and may even continue that tradition in their own families too. Everyone loves a good story, and when it comes to traditions, it doesn’t matter how mundane they might seem. One of my favorite family traditions that I’ve started to bring to my friends at college is birthday speeches. While definitely not revolutionary, the Rampersauds began doing lengthy and heartfelt birthday speeches decades ago, with my dad spearheading this tradition each year at every family member’s birthday. We all love to communally hate the idea of birthday speeches, collectively groaning about how much we don’t want to do them — yet it ends up being one of our family’s most cherished traditions. I mentioned these speeches off-handedly in a story to my roommates and friends, and since then have started to do this tradition for some of their birthdays. Sharing this personal part of home and family with friends has made the tradition even more special to me and has spread love to the other important people in my life. 

Birthday speech from my dad this past year

Set It Up

Getting your friends on board is just one aspect; getting it to actually happen is a whole other thing. Even if your friends are really excited about partaking in your familial fun, it still takes work to make it actually happen. Here’s where it is easy to lose steam and fail to bring your favorite family traditions to your friends at college. Whether your prized traditions are decorating holiday cookies, going ice skating during the first snow of the season, or having a Secret Santa, none of these traditions can be integrated unless you schedule a time to do it. If you are not the most extroverted person and might need help getting the event together, rely on a friend to help you set it up with them. Even if your tradition is low stakes and doesn’t require a ton of preparation, having a specific game plan of the time and day is super important to make sure your traditions live on and no one gets left out. 

Friendsgiving last year at home

Make It Your Own

Although it is counterintuitive to think, tweaking elements of your tradition to cater specifically to you and your friends is a great way to transcend these familial practices to other loved ones. Despite enjoying the stability that specific traditions bring, broadening the activity to align more with you and your friends is a great way to bring past experiences to your friends and relive them in a completely different way. Another Rampersaud family tradition includes the way we cook and bake together during the holidays. Thanksgiving is a time full of love for the family and shared laughs in the kitchen. Every year all five of us get our hands dirty preparing to host our extended family over for dinner, whether that be peeling potatoes, chopping vegetables, making dessert, or being the taste tester (looking at you, Dad). This tradition is closely tied to Thanksgiving but is not limited to just the turkey season. Cooking together has always been a way for all of us to bond and create things together, even though we may banter a bit too much about the “right” way to cook. Going off of this tradition of cooking together, this semester, my friends and I have recently gotten into what we call “family dinners.” Every Sunday afternoon/night, we collect ingredients and cook at one of our places. We usually pick a certain type of cuisine, or theme, for the night and come together to cook the various parts of the dish. Someone is chopping, another is measuring, another is prepping the table and drinks — the list goes on and on. These family dinners have wildly connected me to the fun memories of doing the same thing with my family while simultaneously being repurposed to how I connect with friends. Although we are still cooking together, this tradition is now cooking under a specific theme. Some family dinners include French night with homemade ratatouille and butter boards, pizza night with homemade dough and toppings bar, and Greek night with house-made tzatziki and grilled veggie and chicken kebabs. Transforming this Thanksgiving tradition to fit the interests of my friends — exploring cultures, challenging our cooking skills, and hanging out in creative ways — made this tradition unique to us while still reminding me of home.

Family dinner prep for French night

My family traditions have remained deeply close to my heart and are a key component in my idea of home. The history, fun, and creativity that goes into these activities has consistently brought my family together every holiday season. Even the smallest traditions yield the largest feelings of love, gratitude, and connection. No matter how your traditions grow and change, the people who genuinely love you will always be ready to celebrate you and your cherished customs every step of the way.

Jess Rampersaud

CU Boulder '24

Jess Rampersaud is a participating writer at the Her Campus at CU Boulder chapter. Aside from participating in Her Campus at CU Boulder, Jess has interned this past summer in NYC for a Professional Services firm. She has previously worked with the University of Colorado at Boulder Student Government from 2021-2023 as Intern Director and Health & Safety Chair. Jess has also volunteered as a Peer Mentor her sophomore year of college through Mentor Collective to help freshmen adjust to college settings. She attended school in her hometown in Westchester NY before coming to CU to study English Literature and Psychology with a Presidential Scholarship. Jess is the ultimate foodie and loves all things related to travel. Some of her several interests include playing tennis and soccer, ice skating, hanging with friends, making playlists, and cooking or baking. This is her last semester writing for Her Campus before she graduates in December 2023.