Creating A Family Tradition With The Red Plate

Years ago, my mother-in-law gave us this beautiful red plate as a gift.

family tradition red plate



Apparently, among some early American families, when someone deserved special acknowledgement, it was tradition to serve them dinner on The Red Plate.

I loved the idea and, right away, Mike and I started using the plate for birthdays.

Then one time I decided to set it out when he got a promotion so we could celebrate.

And on Father’s Day.

And on our anniversary.

When our kids were no longer babies, we started using The Red Plate for them too… for birthdays…preschool graduations…the first day of school.

This year, on Mike’s birthday, the kids and I surprised him and set his place for breakfast before he came downstairs.

My daughter got a nice placemat, my son climbed up on the counter and got one of our fancy water glasses , and I set out the good silverware.

“Get The Red Plate, Mommy!” they reminded me.

They were excited.

Because, for them, the plate doesn’t just represent something to eat on. It represents tradition.

And making someone feel special.

And family memories.

We even have two Red Plates now–one for our son, and one for our daughter.

So that, many years from now, when our kids move out, I’ll be able to pack those plates up, wrap them securely in tissue, and send one off with each of them.

And when I do, I’ll probably cry, remembering all the times we’ve used the plates, and all the memories they represent.

But mostly, I think I’ll be happy, thinking about the day my kids might decide to unwrap the tissue and start building family traditions of their own. :)


  1. That’s so awesome! We have Red Plates too, and one of them came from my mother from when I was a child. It’s such a cool tradition, and I love it! I hadn’t thought about how it’s going to feel to pass it on, or how hard it probably was for my mom to pack hers up too. *sniff* I think it will be such a precious moment, especially after reading this post. :)

  2. my mother in law has the exact same plate. it is on display in her cute red/white kitchen and is an important part of their family memories! so i absolutely love this start up we have just a plain ol’ blue one, but it’s the only blue plate and they know what it is for. i want to make one of my own that is more personal. such a beautiful picture giving it on to your daughter. i think i’ll be too selfish by then!!thanks too for the note. i’m working on my playlist right now.ciao

  3. Now that is a great idea and a lovely tradition!! I must find myself a “You are special today” plate.Thanks for the wonderful words to go along with it, and make the tradition seem that much more special.God bless-Amanda

  4. ♡ I love that! I think I need to find a red plate! What a great way to celebrate so many different things!

  5. I love this idea. I painted one at one of those paint party places with this in mind. I wasn’t too pleased with how it came out and it has since been forgotten about. Time to dig it out!

  6. We don’t have a fun tradition in our family, but we need one…I may steal yours!Oh! We do have one. We just started making a “birthday cake” for Jesus at Christmas this year!

  7. I love this idea. I’m going to get a red plate! We need to incorporate some more traditions that are sweet and wonderful as this one.

  8. Yes – we have a red plate too great tradition – some people keep a little log of all the times the plate was used – I like that idea too

  9. My mother-in-law started a wonderful tradition. Each year she gave her children a Christmas ornament and wrote the year on it. Then, when they got married, they received a huge box of ornaments with a beautiful letter from her. She wrote about her love for her child and how hard it was to pack up the box for the last time. I keep the letter with the ornaments and reread it every year. It makes me cry every time.

  10. WOW that is such a great idea! I have come to LOVE your site and the original ideas and fun that your family has. I hope to do these types of things for my kids and then have them pass them on to their kids. Thanks for sharing!

  11. That sounds like such a sweet tradition! I had never heard about the Red Plate before… sounds like fun!Unfortunately, I think my family and I have lost many of our traditons over the years (especially since my sibs are out of school now). But I can think of a few…..Mostly every Friday or Saturday, my mom and I watch a few old movies (classics from the 1930s-1960s)! I love old films so naturally we would have a tradition like that.My mom and I (and siblings if their around) make sure to watch “Gone With The Wind” at least once every year since it is a VERRRYYY long movie but so incredibly good!Every Christmas Eve my family and I watch “It’s A Wonderful Life”As you can see, we have allot of traditions that have to do with movies! Probly because we are movie lovers!Anyways, thats all I can think of right now.

  12. We have a green plate. I think it’s an awesome EASY family tradition.

  13. Your kids are going to be so thrilled to get that plate when they leave home. I’m positive I’d cry, too. This is one of those ideas that I’m absolutely going to implement when my baby gets a bit older. It’s the stuff that good memories are made from! :)

  14. What a great reminder. My first “real” job was in the china/housewares department of a department store. We were the first store in town to carry “The Red Plate.” I was 18 and no where near marrying anyone or having kids (you’d be surprised just how long it was before any of that came about!). I remember thinking it was a fun idea, but it wasn’t relevant at that time. I think I’ll have to keep my eyes open for something like that now that mine are old enough to start to understand. (And my oldest starts Kindergarten next month and the little one preschool a couple weeks later–I think I just gave myself a deadline for getting one!)

  15. What a terrific idea, I love it and I know my kids would too. My everyday dishes are red (and yellow, I have a purposely mismatched set) but I’ll keep my eye out for a different type of special plate.

  16. What a great idea! I’ve bought my kids a Christmas ornament each year and wrote “Love, Mom” on them along with the year – trying to choose an ornament refelecting a current interest of theirs. It’s really fun to dig them out and see the Smurfs, the Pooh Bears, the farm animals and such. My grown up boys still put them on their trees at their own homes.

  17. Great idea! I think I am going to borrow it. I might even go so far as to going to one of the local pottery places and making one or two for our house.

  18. I painted my own “red plate” at a paint your own pottery store. Only it isn’t red, but it is the same idea! I just need to start using it now. I tend to forget about it. But I love the idea – great post!

  19. I painted my own “red plate” at a paint your own pottery store. Only it isn’t red, but it is the same idea! I just need to start using it now. I tend to forget about it. But I love the idea – great post!

  20. My husband’s family had the same tradition, and I thought it would be great to carry on…just never got around to it. Maybe I’ll do it now. I love the idea of giving each of my children a plate when they leave home…tugs at the heart strings, doesn’t it?!

  21. Your post on the Red Plate tradition is fantactic. A link to this post on your blog has been featured on the Red Plate Stories Blog.

  22. My best friend’s family had this tradition and they had 10 kids!! I remember many occasions when they would honor one of the children, or someone else in the family with the red plate and I always thought it was such a special honor for the kids individually, especially with that many!!

  23. Oh, that is the sweetest! Your post just made me tear up! I just bookmarked that red plate site and I think I might get one for our family…

  24. That is such a wonderful idea. Now that my oldest is approaching four, I’ve been thinking about what traditions I’d like to implement. I didn’t have too many growing up, but the ones we did have are still special to me.Thanks for the reminder to work on this.

  25. That is a great idea!We have one thing we do, for birthdays. It’s called a “birthday ring,” and you walk around the candle the number of years your child has been alive (to represent their time here on earth). During the walk, you share stories of their experiences, milestones, etc. I wrote it about for my son’s first birthday,here. Thanks again,Genny, for sharing another very sweet and inspired idea with us!

  26. I read about this type of thing just a few weeks ago – how cool that I have “met” someone who actually does it.I’ve been wanting to make a special plate for my nieces, I think this is the push I needed.Thanks!Kristin

  27. Oh wow! We have a blue plate called the Shining Star plate! We even have a little journal with it that we record the special thing that is happening. I would love to find a red plate, though because they don’t make shining star plates anymore. :(Thanks for posting this.

  28. You have a beautiful blog and a sweet way with words. Tank you for stopping by mine last week. :) I will enjoy visiting back. :)

  29. we do have special plates, that we painted ourselves… but we’ve never used them! and i don’t know why!so… on your anniversary, do you BOTH eat out of the same plate ~ like lady & the tramp or something?

  30. Ah! I have had “get red plate” on my to-do list since my friend Kellie posted about her red plate tradition and RED PLATE LOG. I love the idea of keeping a log along with the use of the red plate.For anyone who wants you can order the Original Red Plate here.

  31. Wow…what a great tradition. My son is only 17 months now but we’re starting to think about family traditions that we’d like to start. This would be wonderful. Thanks so much for the post!

  32. What a great idea and a fun tradition! Now that the girls are a little older, we have a “baking” tradition in our house. Whoever is being honored gets a pie. We don’t do birthday, Father’s Day or an other celebratory cakes much anymore–we do pies!

  33. what a fabulous idea! i’m in the process of moving (military move) and at my next house…i think my little family will start this tradition! this is my first time here…routed through Becoming Me…I will definitely be back.

  34. love the idea! I made a special cereal bowl at a ceramics place and the kids love to use it. I’m going to have to go back and paint us a red plate!

  35. Love this post!!! I am highly considering a stealing of this tradition for my family. I love the idea of teaching my kids how to make someone feel special for an occasion or no reason at all. How simple and how wonderful!

  36. I received that same plate and a mug from my mom as a gift. We use them on special occasions all the time. But one funny thing is sometimes I catch my husband using it for his morning coffee and I ask him why he is using it he says “I feel special today” LOL doesn’t mean the same when you give it to yourself.

  37. Thanks for stopping by our blog and saying hello. I LOVE this tradition and think it is such a great idea…thanks for sharing.

  38. That is such a beautiful tradition – I’ve always meant to do it, but never got the plate. I think I’ll need to move that up on the to-do list.Sweet post.

  39. I LOVED this and came back to get more info. Thanks for the link to where to purchase a red plate. I had been contemplating making my own at a pottery painting class or something but buying one is much easier! Thanks. Have a super weekend Genny!

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