General Conference Traditions

My friend leaned over to me in Sunday School yesterday and said something like, “You are doing a General Conference post right?  I need you to post some ideas… like tomorrow.  Could you get on that?”

Lucky for her it is Mormon Monday and I didn’t have another plan. So I am on it, just for my friend, Sarah.

But she and you should know I didn’t start thinking about this post until that moment in Sunday School so don’t get too excited.  I don’t have anything way unique or any great pictures, but I do hope to get us thinking.  And I am hoping you will share all of your ideas in the comment section because it is always fun to have lots of ideas to choose from.  Different ideas work for different families.

So let me back up to what General Conference is for my non-Mormon readers.

Every 6 months our church comes together world-wide over a Saturday and a Sunday.   We gather together in our homes and in our church buildings to hear the latest counsel from our prophet, our apostles and other leaders of our church.  Their messages are piped to us over the television, internet, satellite or radio transmission in 5 different sessions.

I love Conference because I don’t have to shower; I don’t have to juggle 4 kids by myself, I get to snuggle my husband; my brain gets to think and my heart gets to feel. And we get to hear living prophets speak.

First let me say that we do not make our children watch all of the sessions.  But I do NOT want my kids to be that college roommate that didn’t realize Conference started on Saturday until they got to school. So when the prophet speaks on Saturday morning my kids are there.  I call them in from wherever they are and we listen to the prophet as a family.

Then I have my kids start the Saturday afternoon session with us too.  I want them present to sustain the prophet, apostles, and other leaders of the church.  After we have sustained our leaders, I let them go play.

We for sure have all the kids watch the Sunday morning session and often the Sunday afternoon session depending on their age.  Again, if the prophet speaks in the last session, I call all my kids to gather around the TV and we listen to our prophet.

We have even been known to go to our Stake Center on Sunday to watch a session.  You are less likely to fall asleep and you do seem to take revelation and  promptings and counsel more seriously when you are dressed in your Sunday best gathered at the church as opposed to eating cinnamon rolls in your pajamas on your bean bag.  Don’t get me wrong.   I love that part about Conference too.  I’m just saying there is something to be physically prepared to hear a message.

Here are a few of our General Conference traditions:

One of our earliest traditions as a new family was to talk about King Benjamin at the FHE before Conference.  Then we would pitch a tent in our backyard on Friday night before Conference just like the people did to hear King Benjamin speak. We made sure the door faced our house just like their doors faced the temple.  We talked about how we were gathering to hear a prophet speak just like King Benjamin’s people did. We then slept in the tent.

We did this for several years but have kind of fizzled the last year.  We want to start up again so that Locke has these fun memories too. I would recommend doing this tradition only once a year either at the Fall or Spring Conference.

We like to print packets so the kids have different activities to work on throughout the sessions. We love the packets from Sugardoodle because they have activities for older and younger children as well as teens.  But I also found some activities provided by our church as well.  Click here for those.

We set up shop for the kids with a table, or TV trays, or little tray tables we found at Hobby Lobby so the kids are ready to learn.

The packets helps the kids stay focused and engaged.  Bingo is always one of our favorites.

The last few years we have ripped out the sheet in the middle of the Conference edition of the Ensign that has the pictures of the First Presidency, the apostles and the Seventy.  We post the sheet near the TV.  Every time someone speaks that is on the sheet, a child puts a sticker on his face.   This helps the kids learn names and faces and have something to keep track of.

And of course I can’t speak of traditions without bringing up food.  I remember donuts and cinnamon rolls as a kid on General Conference mornings.  And I also remember that my dad would faithfully take donuts to his home teaching families every Conference.  Chad has tried to follow that home teacher tradition as well.  Although I have made several yummy General Conference breakfasts, I am still trying to figure out my signature Conference dish. 

And lastly, I think post Conference Family Home Evenings are also an important General Conference tradition.  You can pick a different talk each Monday night over the course of the year.  You can read the talks with your spouse.  (See this post.)  You could play Jeopardy with questions made up from General Conference talks.  Or you could hold a family testimony meeting the Monday night after Conference so family members can share their feelings and inspiration.

This year I plan to give each child a chance to play newscaster and report on something they learned during Conference.  I am going to make sure I have a fake microphone, badge and video camera to make the reporter feel legit.

Well, that’s all I got folks. So what are your General Conference traditions?  Sarah and I would love to hear them as families are always evolving and changing.  Thanks in advance!

 

13 Comments
  1. We do the same thing with the tent only because of where we live we build it inside facing towards the TV and the kids watch it while in the tent. Thanks for sharing your ideas.

    1. Shanna, thanks for commenting. And thanks for reminding me that the tent doesn’t have to be outdoors or even a real tent. Sometimes that is just too much for my energy level so we don’t do it. But your way the kids can do the work and make their own tent and be creative. Maybe we will move our kitchen table into the family room and the kids can use that and a bunch of blankets for their tent. They will be so excited! Thank you!

  2. I LOVE Conference weekend! We do a lot of the things you mentioned. I also try to make it a “Family Fun” weekend. We try to get all the housework and errands finished by Friday night then we spend time playing in between sessions. We like going to a park for lunch or riding bikes as a family. Also love the idea of riding in the car for one of the sessions looking at fall leaves. One more idea I am sure a lot of women do, it getting together with family and friends during Priesthood conference. Sometimes we do dinner or craft or play games.

    1. Misti, thanks for sharing your ideas. I love the idea of getting chores done on Friday night so you can have fun together on Saturday. Otherwise the Conference breaks turns into “hurry get everything done before Conference starts again” and the kids dread the day because they either have to be quiet and listen or work. I am going to try this year. Thank you!

  3. I love General Conference weekend! Thanks for some great ideas! I have sons that are a little older so for a few years now we have had our boys be there for all 4 sessions of Conference. They haven’t had to always be poised and ready to take notes, but I do like them to be there with us. Sometimes I have a “Conference Box” where I have put new art supplies (clay, playdough, pipe cleaners, tape, construction paper), puzzles, building sets…quiet activities they can do on their own while still listening in the room. I usually get them a brand new notebook and pens or pencils for them to doodle and hopefully take notes. At least one of the sessions I have a brown paper bag for each of them filled with different treats and snacks that I don’t buy on a regular basis.
    Something we have tried to focus on (we started last conference) is to have them remember at least one thing from each talk for a couple of the sessions. We had bowls of treats…licorice, lollipops, etc. For each talk that they had something legitimate, they got to pick a treat that they ate during the next talk.
    On Sunday morning, my husband makes “tortilla pancakes” (Norwegian crepes)…that is one of our food traditions that we look forward to.
    Do we have a perfect General Conference viewing experience? No. But we are doing so much better as I prepare for it. We talk about it with excitement during the whole week before Conference and sometimes this helps them gear up with some enthusiasm. Before General Conference we usually have a Family Home Evening lesson about it as a reminder of why it is important to listen to the speakers and how we can get answers to gospel questions.
    An after-Conference idea we have loved is to watch the Conference talks one at a time on lds.org (a couple times each week) and I have them remember at least one thing from the talk and we all share our “one thing” (mine is sometimes 2 or 3, but they have been open to it). It has really helped their listening skills (and mine too), instead of it just being a matter of enduring the talk.
    So glad you had this on your blog as a reminder for me to gather my Conference activities and supplies. I continue to try new things to keep it interesting and keep some things the same that my family loves–it’s a process that evolves!

    1. Wow Jen! You should have written this post. Thanks for sharing so many great ideas. I love the idea of the kids being busy and engaged but still in the room. You are right– They can still hear the music and feel the Spirit of the message and even pick up on some stories and doctrine. You are a great mom!

  4. YEAH!!! THANKS TIFF!!! So happy I was so subtle and you read between the lines and did this post!:) You are awesome!:)

  5. All my kids look forward to conference. Last year during the 2nd session both days we put about 10 bowls of snacks on a table – things like goldfish, skittles, carrot sticks, apple slices, cheese cubes, etc. and each bowl was labeled with a topic that is typically spoken of during conference – Holy Ghost, temples, missionaries, etc. Every time the topic was mentioned we passed around the bowl and everyone got one. We all loved it, and it was the perfect time too. We never get sugar cereal, but we get a bunch of it and eat together during the first session….so healthier snacks was nice during the 2nd session!

  6. Thanks for “Mormon Mondays” and for remembering to clue us non-Mormon readers in. I always learn a lot from these posts that can apply to our church and faith as well. We can all use help finding ways to keep our children mindful of their faith, traditions and teachings. It can be so easy to let those things get lost in the shuffle and so many churches are too afraid of losing parishioners if they stress the importance of the WORK of faith. I really respect the LDS in this.

    1. Sorry Sarah. I forget that not everyone knows my Mormon jargon even on Mormon Mondays. General Conference is when everyone in our church gathers around the world to hear our prophet and apostles speak. These men give talks and sermons on everything from Jesus Christ to service to families. They speak from Salt Lake City but it is streamed on the TV, radio, and internet around the world. We have two 2 hour sessions on Saturday and two 2 hour sessions on Sunday. We stay at home and watch the conference on our TV. The conference is twice a year.

      Here is a link to General Conference in general (no pun intended) http://www.lds.org/general-conference?lang=eng

      Here is a link if you want to hear any of the talks/sermons http://www.lds.org/general-conference/sessions/2012/10?lang=eng