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One of my favorite childhood memories includes the massive feast my Sicilian grandmother (Nonna) prepared for Christmas each year.

Instantly, as we stepped through her door on Christmas, we would start devouring the most delicious, authentic Sicilian dishes she effortlessly whipped up every year.

Nonna would proudly bring out dish after dish all day until most of the guests fell asleep somewhere in the house because they were so full of arancini and caponata.

My sisters, brother, and I often reminisce about the incredible food Nonna cooked and repeatedly try to figure out how she pulled it all off on her own.

One of her signature dishes was a baked pasta dish she prepared with round circular pasta, and a bolognese sauce that rumor has it, took her 3 days to prepare each year.

It never mattered how many family members joined the table because there was always an abundance of food and leftovers.

Whenever my siblings and I are together, it’s likely we’re talking about those fantastic Christmas meals.

Traditions are routines that weave themselves into our lives as we practice them over and over.

And they matter because they provide a source of unity, family closeness, comfort, family values, and memories to each of us.

But as much as I loved the authentic Italian food on Christmas Day, I also look back fondly on family dinners each night as an everyday family tradition.

Even as a kid I knew that sitting down to dinner each night with my future family would be something I pushed for.

The shared experience of these traditions builds long-lasting memories you can look back on year after year.

We all have family traditions we hold on to and look back on lovingly. And now, as we establish our own households, we have the unique opportunity to establish traditions within our families that will bring warmth to our children as they grow older.

Here are a few suggestions for simple living family traditions to get you started right now.

20 Simple Living Family Tradition Ideas

1. LIGHT CANDLES BEFORE BED

In the fall and winter, it gets dark while we’re getting our kids ready for bed. So we light candles as we begin their bedtime routine to signal that it’s time to get ready for bed.

The warm glow of the candles helps them calm down before bed and they love blowing out the flame and making a wish before we tuck them in.

2. BAKING

We love to bake in our household for any reason. Baking makes the house smell delicious, feel comfy, and my kids love to help.

On rainy days we’ll bake muffins or a loaf of quick bread to enjoy after dinner.

Christmas each year is when we bake simple sugar cookies in the morning that our kids decorate however they choose.

And the best part for them is they’re allowed to eat as many sugar cookies as they wish on Christmas Day.

3. ICE CREAM FOR DINNER

We started ice cream for dinner as a tradition this past year.

I bought vanilla ice cream and a few toppings and brought them outside for dinner on the night of the summer solstice.

We filled our bowls with ice cream and toppings and enjoyed the longest day of the year.

4. RECURRING FAMILY MEAL

Each week I make chicken wings for dinner and my family goes crazy for them. I whip up a homemade blue cheese dipping sauce, put a bottle of hot sauce on the table, and everyone is happy.

Keep preparing the meals your family enjoys the most and those will be what they ask for when they’re visiting from college or come home with their own families.

5. PAJAMA DAYS

Some days – especially in the fall and winter you don’t want to get dressed.

So we call those days “pajama days”. We’ll stay in our comfy pajamas and relax for the day.

6. MAKE HOLIDAY ORNAMENTS

Look at all the meals you have chosen and assign them a day during the week that matches your schedule on that day.

My kids are small, so they love a solid craft project. We make ornaments for any holiday that comes around.

Garlands, hanging ornaments, framed art, and so on. If your home is already overflowing with crafts, give new projects to family and friends.

7. HOMEMADE BIRTHDAY CAKES

The adults and kids in my family get a homemade birthday cake each year of their choosing. We take a picture of the cake each year to look back on.

8. 1-ON-1 TIME

We call these “dates” and it’s a way to connect with each kid by doing something, just the two of you.
The ideal date would be to let the child choose an activity for you to do together, but it can be as simple as spending 20 minutes alone to work on legos together.
This is especially important if you have multiple children.

9. FAMILY WALKS

Take a stroll around the neighborhood or go to a local nature preserve or park. It’s always a good idea to get outside when you can.

10. FAMILY GAME NIGHT

Games are a great way to spend time together and relax. Pack a few games the next time you take a family vacation, too.

11. BEDTIME READING

Reading before bedtime can be very relaxing and encourage good sleep. Pick a chapter book the entire family is interested in and read 1 chapter per night.

12. DECORATE FOR THE SEASON

Decorating isn’t only for the Holidays. We like to decorate for each season with items from our backyard.
In the fall we’ll set up a table with leaves and horse chestnuts. Wintertime will star bare branches with ornaments hung over them. Spring and summer highlight fresh flowers and buds.

13. FAMILY PHOTO

Take a photo on the same day each year doing the same funny face or pose. And look back on the photo from previous years, right before you take the new one.

14. FAMILY DINNERS

Prioritize sitting down together for dinner every night. Family dinners are a great time to check in with each family member to see how they’re doing and connect without distractions.
And no phones at the table!

15. SUMMER SOLSTICE/WINTER SOLSTICE

Celebrate the summer and winter solstice by reading books, preparing special foods, and observing the moon.

16. FAMILY MOVIE NIGHTS

Institute a reoccurring movie night where everyone votes on the movie. Dress up in costumes related to the movie and prepare food that matches.

17. MAKE GIFTS FOR FRIENDS/FAMILY

Make it a tradition to make gifts for friends and family instead of buying.
Homemade gifts show kids that money isn’t the key to happiness and you can always give regardless of your financial situation.

18. MAKE BIRTHDAY VIDEOS FOR FRIENDS/FAMILY

Come together to record short videos for family and friends on their birthdays. It’s a great way to stay connected to our loved ones while also making memories with our immediate family.

19. TRY NEW FOOD TOGETHER

Explore different cultures by trying new cuisines together as a family – at a restaurant or at home. Even better, pair a movie night around the cuisine you plan to enjoy.

20. VOLUNTEER TOGETHER

Plan an outing to pick up trash in the neighborhood, volunteer for a cause. Ask each family member what’s important to them and plan volunteering around those causes.
20 Family Traditions Infographic

I hope you’re inspired to start a few new everyday family traditions. We have an opportunity each day to make memories for our children that they’ll remember forever.

What’s your favorite childhood memory? Let me know down below in the comments!

20 Simple Living Family Tradition Ideas