5 Old-Fashioned Habits That Are Due for a Comeback

Look to the wisdom of your grandparents–and great grandparents–and revive some of these old-fashioned habits that still deserve a place in our modern society. These habits may be old fashioned, but they’re worth preserving!These habits may be old fashioned, but they're worth preserving! In our technology-seeped, drive-through culture we've lost a few things that used to make us slow down, connect with each other on a more personal level, and put our own best self forward. It's high time we revive the old customs that made life better--and made us take our time. #OldFashionedLiving #Habits

Do you want to pull out of the fast lane?

To take a slower, more intentional approach in your day-to-day?

In our technology-seeped, drive-through culture we’ve lost a few things that used to make us slow down, connect with each other on a more personal level, and put our own best self forward.

It’s high time we revive these old customs that made life better–and made us take our time.

Writing letters is an old-fashioned habit that's worth keeping up even in today's email-heavy world!

5 Old-Fashioned Habits That Are Worth Bringing Back

1. Writing letters

Like many of you, I grew up in a flurry of stationary and stickers with half a dozen pen-pals and no such thing as an email until junior high. When a letter arrived for me I’d abscond with it to my bunk bed or a tree to pour over the contents. Writing–by hand–was daily life. Besides letters to pen-pals there were the notes my mom made me write to our college-bound babysitters, and thank you cards galore: to our elderly friend from church who gave us Milky Way bars, to our grandparents after every birthday, to the museum where we’d gone on a homeschool field trip.

Why don’t we write letters and notes any more?

Letters take longer than a phone call or an email, both to compose and to receive. They require more out of us and cost a little more…stamps, stationary, and writer’s cramp. There are more efficient ways to get a message across. But nothing can beat the intimacy of a hand-written letter, or the pleasure you get when you receive one!

Want to stay classy? Be old fashioned! Here are 5 old-fashioned habits--like wearing a watch--that are due for a comeback.

2. Wearing a watch

Do you want to look instantly polished with very little effort? Put on a wristwatch. Your grandmother probably wore a watch. It didn’t make her look stodgy, it made her look like a lady. And you probably wanted one or looked forward to owning your first watch.

A watch is a classy accessory that conveys your personal style and will save you from being rude on more than one occasion. Like me, you might be a compulsive phone-checker. Not necessarily to see the latest social media update, but because you’ve gotten so used to using your phone as a clock that now it’s the only way you check the time. The trouble is, it’s almost impossible to be discreet about checking your phone for anything–even something as innocuous as the time of day. Ask anyone who’s taught high school: no, you’re not being subtle when you “glance” at your phone.

But when there’s a pretty watch on your wrist? You know the time instantly, without having to appear rude in a meeting, at a restaurant, or anywhere where your phone ought to be out of sight.

These habits of yesteryear are due for a comeback!

3. Dressing for dinner

All of the Victorians in the novels I read as a little girl got “dressed for dinner,” and I was fascinated by the ritual. I’m not sure when we stopped this practice, because even in Agatha Christie novels (which go deep into the 20th century), people still dress up for dinner, even when they don’t have servants to help them.

Dressing for dinner shows respect for the ritual of sharing a meal with other human beings. It’s a small way of slowing down and being intentional. Of savoring time around the table with your people, and showing them that they’re worth dressing up for (because if you were expecting company, you’d definitely put more time into your appearance, right?).

Now, I don’t mean we should all wear elbow-length gloves like Lady Mary from Downton Abbey. Although as a thirteen-year-old, I probably would’ve liked that. All I’m talking about is taking a moment to freshen up before sitting down to eat. If you’re anything like me, you probably feel a bit frazzled after dinner preparation, and taking a few minutes to reset can save you from being grumpy woman when you sit down. Put on a fresh, pretty top, and brush your hair. That’s all it takes!

Dress for dinner when you go out to eat, too. It’s uncommon these days; most of the people in a restaurant (even a “fancier” one), look like they’ve been at Disney World all day. Be different and put some effort into your appearance. It will ensure that going out to eat still feels special, which it should!

Time to bring old fashioned back!

4. Bringing flowers indoors

Take a page out of a Jane Austen story and infuse your home with fresh flowers. You don’t have to be a master florist, just gather the flowers that are available from the garden or the wood’s edge. Trim the stems at an angle and put them in a vase for the kitchen table, the entry way, or the bathroom. If you can’t find anything blooming outside, it’s money well spent to buy an occasional bouquet from the grocery store. Flowers brighten your home and lift your spirit, and it’s a simple way to add beauty and color when you have zero decorating skills.

I think I first learned how happy flowers can make me when I was 15 and living in Chile. Nearly every week, my parents (usually my Dad, I believe), bought a large bouquet to break up and spread throughout the house. Nearly every room had a vase tucked onto a window sill or counter top; there were flowers everywhere you looked.

Many people have lost these good, old-fashioned habits that our grandparents were used to. Time to revive them!

5. Reading aloud as a family

Serialized stories were the TV of the day in the mid-1800s. Many of the Victorian novels we know today originally appeared chapter by chapter in literary magazines such as Household Words and the Cornhill. The public eagerly awaited each new installment of the latest novel by Charles Dickens or George Eliot, reading them aloud in the evenings with the whole family gathered in.

Watching your favourite TV show with your family can certainly be a time for bonding, too, but a book read aloud is a more deeply engaging experience. I’ve found that the stories we read aloud as a family live far longer in memory than any sitcom or drama we’ve watched through.

Now, I’m not suggesting you pull a Mr. Collins and bore everyone with Fordyce’s sermons. Read a novel, or a poem that tells a story (like Sir Gawain and the Green Knight). If you have children, you can introduce them to stories that might be difficult for them to read on their own. My siblings and I fell in love with Robinson Crusoe and The Lord of the Rings long before we would’ve been able to tackle those stories solo.

Reading aloud does take practice, but trust me–once you find your voice (and the voices of each character) your kids will be begging you to read “just one more chapter!”

These are 5 things our grandparents did--that we shouldn't dismiss so easily!

You can be honest with me: am I being too nostalgic? Are these or other “old-fashioned” customs worth bringing back? Do you do them already? I’d like to know.

P.S. Here are some other somewhat-related posts you might enjoy:

8 Things Intentional Homemakers Do Every Day

Why Every Homemaker Should Dress for the Job She Wants

9 Things to Do with Your Evening Besides Watching TV

25 Wardrobe Staples Every Woman Should Own


  1. Great post! I think you have great ideas. I actually love my old fashioned, analog watch. And, my husband and I are currently in a long-distance relationship where we write letters sometimes. There is such a hyper-connectedness about the world today where we can text, FaceTime, etc. It’s nice to slow down and put pen to paper, it feels very natural! I’m hoping to get more into reading aloud when my twins stop trying to tear apart ALL the books 🙂

    1. And those letters will be keepsakes for years to come! It’s not like we save texts or Facebook messages, but when someone takes the time to write a hand-written letter, it feels more special and save-worthy…because it is!

  2. Thanks for reminding me to write letters again . There is something so beautiful about snuggling up with a hot drink, with a blanket and a unopened letter from a precious friend. I loved the rest of your suggestions. Every evening my family come together and we read the Bible together out loud.

  3. Spot on post! We have our children write thank you notes and people respond with appreciation as if it’s unheard of anymore. I guess sadly it is. It seems many kids aren’t even responding with verbal thank you’s anymore.

    1. I’d agree with that. My nieces/nephews on my husband’s side of the family never even send so much as a facebook post of thank you. Even when I’ve poured heart & soul into handmade gifts I think they will really like. We hardly ever see them, so christmas/birthday cards are about the only way we get to communicate with them..

      1. That is too bad! They probably have no idea how much their thank yous are missed. I really want to guide my son to send thank you cards, even if it takes prompting from me!

      2. C: I have nieces and nephews (grown now) and I never received thanks, even a phone call from across the country. Others say same thing about their relatives. Solution: don’t put them on the will, and if you don’t get a thank you, don’t send them any more gifts. I have changed my will several times over this. Put a ministry or favorite charity on a will instead. A friend died awhile back, and like me, no children, but the nieces were on the will, she took them off when her health declined because they didn’t drop by to see her (too busy) or in the hospital. Gave it all to charity, local animal shelter and/or best friend. Young people in my time were taught common courtesy, to write thank you notes, show appreciation. People today -many born in the 70’s decade onward are thankless, apathetic, and show zero common courtesy. One couple I know disinherited their two adult children.

    2. Yes, I’ve gotten responses like that! Sending a thank you note is really such a small token, but it means a lot to the recipient!

  4. Similarly, send Christmas cards! I seem to receive fewer and fewer each year. And I love getting them! It makes me sad that people are too busy to offer little acts of kindness through the mail. (And I do know it’s just too expensive for some. But for many people, sending cards is well within their budget. And what a relatively cheap way to bless someone, particularly maybe an older person.)

  5. Reading this felt like talking with my grandma, I loved getting tips from her and hearing her stories. She recently moved out of her house and we all got the letters back that we sent her when we were little, mine were full of drawings and horrible handwriting, but they are so precious. It makes me realize how much I miss getting letters in the mail, I am going to go write some this afternoon to send to friends and family.
    My daughters are only 2 and 4, but already every evening they look forward to story time, right now we are reading “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and they love it! I started when my oldest was a newborn, hopefully they will grow up loving books like I did.
    Thank you for putting these together, it makes me realize I need to slow down and stick to the simple things, even if they take more time.

    1. Yes for simple things! That’s our hope for our son, too–that he will grow up loving books! We started reading to him as a newborn, and at 14 months he already loves flipping through his board books on his own.

  6. These are great! The only other one that I think should be taught is how to grow your own food. It doesn’t have to be a huge garden, I’ve done lots of container growing very successfully! And even if it’s just one plant, it’ll be fun for kids and it teaches them patience and it’s a skill that will become useful to them when they grow up 🙂 plus, homegrown food is delicious 😉

  7. Awesome! I’m soon to be 26 and crave the things of a much simpler time, and wish the same for my children. Loved this, thank you!

  8. I worked at a library for e Christmas almost 10 years. I was the children’s coordinator, the kids would give me Christmas presents and I wrote thank you notes to every child. One mom told me her son carried that “mail” around for weeks. He loved it and I loved the gifts and writing the notes. I also wear a watch just like my mom and grandma did. Love what you wrote

    1. That is so special. Hand-written notes were a treasure even before digital communication became mainstream. But now they’re a rarity and I think can have even more significance and thoughtfulness.

  9. I have always worn a wristwatch that was once my grandmothers. I would not leave home without it on and still cannot imagine using my phone the same way, getting the darn thing out every five minutes wohld drive me crazy! 🙂 As for letters, there is nothing more precious. My husband was in the military when email was only just getting started, so handwritten letters were often our only communication. When he passed I found a box in his footlocker full of every letter and card I ever sent, all carefully saved. Likewise I saved his to me. The comfort from rereading his replies and the memories are worth everything. I make a point to write and not just email or text regularly as a result. Thank you for this article!

    1. What a treasure to have those letters! I’ve printed off and saved some email correspondence from different times of my life, but there’s something so very special about a hand-written letter or postcard, isn’t there?

  10. This is a terrific piece you wrote. I hope letter-writing comes back. I still have bundles of letters sent to me by family and friends, mostly from the mid-70s through mid-80s after I left home. They meant a lot to me then and still do. I recently (2019) sent a letter to a much younger relative who had recently moved away. Apparently it really made an impact; I’m not sure if he ever received a personal letter before. I think I’ll write another letter this week. Doing my part to help make your prediction a reality!

    1. What a treasure! I have a full-to-bursting wooden box of special notes and letters sent to me. I like to think that some of the ones I send to others will make it into a special spot on their end, too!

  11. As nice as writing letters sounds I can’t find someone to write to. Oh well.
    I learnt, probably from reading so many classic books, that you dress up for dinner. I dress up before preparing supper. It just makes you calm down and pour into the process of preparing food. Cooking makes you put away your watch and enjoy the moment.

    1. You know what? I need to try that. Getting primped a bit BEFORE making the meal. It would put me in a better space and might keep me from getting frazzled! I love that!

      P.S. I’m a big fan of classic novels, too!

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