Bring Back Traditional Family Fun With These 10 Ideas

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While I love nearly every aspect of motherhood, one of my favorite things from when my kids were little was seeing the world through their eyes and re-living my childhood through them, which I also get to do again now that I am a grandma! (Might I suggest it is even more fun and less stressful when you are the grandparent and not the parent?)

One of my favorite ways of bonding with my grandkids is, of course, through the  games and imaginative play they recommend, as well as some of these old traditional and timeless activities that my family used to do: 

1. Ice cream socials

Scoops of multi-colored ice cream close-up
Flickr/Marco Verch Professional Photographer

Nothing says “family bonding” like a good old-fashioned ice cream social. Everyone could create their perfect sundae with various flavors and toppings while catching up with neighbors and friends. They indeed were a “treat”!

While these get-togethers are sadly no longer the norm, they are easy to put together and always a blast. Why not throw one the next time your family gets together and/or with the neighbors this summer?

2. Drive-in movie nights

Drive-in movie theaters are harder to come by today, but when I was a girl, they were easy to find and always a good time. Long before the days of streaming services and surround sound, we would pile into our trusty station wagon for a night at the movies. With snacks, blankets, and perhaps a few arguments over the best parking spot, there was nothing better than settling in for a larger-than-life double feature under the stars.

Luckily, there are still a handful of old-time drive-in theaters in each state, so I encourage you to find the nearest one for a truly unforgettable evening.

3. Home movie nights

When we weren’t watching the stars on the silver screen, we loved to watch old home movies complete with a reel-to-reel projector and a homemade screen. From birthday parties to Christmas morning to candid shots of us kids playing outside, there were always lots of laughs and nostalgia.

While I can’t figure out how to do it, my kids have compiled many montages from cell phone videos, which, like our old home movies, we can enjoy together while cuddled up on the couch.

4. Family bike rides

Girl rides bike past Yosemite Falls
Flickr/Robert Scoble

You don’t see many families riding bikes together anymore, and it is a darn shame! On sunny weekends, families would embark on leisurely bike rides through the neighborhood, exploring parks, trails, and local landmarks. With the wind in our hair and the sun on our faces, families like mine created lasting memories while occasionally stopping to help Dad fix a flat tire or untangle streamers.

5. Fishing trips

I don’t care how old you are: Fishing is ALWAYS a great idea! With fishing poles in hand and a cooler full of snacks, we spent hours casting our lines and waiting for that elusive “big catch.”

I loved fishing with my dad and grandpa, and I am so happy and blessed to share this timeless tradition with my family! (Trust me: Nothing makes you feel like a kid again like a day at the pond!)

6. Family potlucks

With tables groaning under the weight of delicious homemade dishes, families would come together for warm and lively potluck dinners. As everyone shared their culinary creations, laughter, and stories would fill the air (much like the smells from all those made-from-scratch pies).

Planning an annual family reunion is a great way to bring back this delicious tradition. Reserve a pavilion at the park, invite the extended family, and ask each group to bring a dish to share.

7. Family crafting sessions

Homemade craft of a dog

With a table full of supplies and an array of creative projects, we used to love to gather for cozy crafting sessions. From homemade greeting cards to festive holiday decorations, we’d let our imaginations run wild while creating one-of-a-kind masterpieces. And who can forget when Grandma’s homemade glitter glue turned the living room into a sparkly wonderland?

8. Sing-alongs around the piano

You may get some eye-rolls with this one, but believe me – once you get started, it is hard not to sing along! Gathered around the family piano, my parents, siblings, and I would join in for heartfelt sing-alongs of our favorite tunes, which included timeless classics and (then) current hits.

No piano? No excuses (he he), as I have found that YouTube has countless karaoke tunes to get everyone singing and dancing.

9. May Day baskets

While my kids ding dong ditched (they were teenagers, and there were consequences!), we arranged baskets of flowers and candy to leave on our friends’ front porches. Wouldn’t that be such a lovely tradition and act of kindness to bring back?

10. Annual family portraits


With high-resolution cameras in our pockets, getting a picture has never been easier. While we have more photos than we know what to do with on our phones, I still love professional portraits and have my family humor me with them every Christmas.

Like songs around the piano, you may get a few comments at first, but everyone will love having these fantastic images and memories to look back on.

How many of these things do you remember doing with your family? What did I forget? Let me know – and let me know which traditions you would like to bring back with your grandchildren!

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