40 Simple Lenten Traditions For Families {With Little To No Prep Work}

Observing Lent in your family doesn’t have to be hard or complicated. There are so many simple things that families can do to make Lent meaningful for the whole family. I especially love starting traditions that last year after year! You can find all of my Lenten resources for families here. Today let’s look at 40 simple Lenten traditions for families that don’t take much prep work. 

Before diving in, I would like to share my new cookbook for families– The Symbolic Holy Week & Easter Cookbook! This cookbook includes 23 recipes that point to the true meaning of Easter. It only includes 29 pages of bonus printables! You do not want to miss this amazing resource. 

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Ok, let’s take a look at these these Lenten ideas!

40 Easy Lenten Traditions For Families:

  1. Go to Mass as a family on Ash Wednesday. This is so great because even the smallest members of the family can have ashes.
  2. Read the scripture about when Jesus goes into the desert.
  3. Motivate your children to do good deeds and make sacrifices. We often do the crown of thorns, but a sacrifice jar with beans is easier to set up. I also have these printable Lenten resolution pages
  4. Give something up for Lent as a family, even if you kids are young enough that you don’t “have” to. We always give up candy as a blanket sacrifice, and then decide on other things. Other good “blanket sacrifices” are no music in the car, no eating out, silent “monastery” lunches, or drinking only water during Lent. You can find a list of sacrifice ideas from 100 Catholic moms here
  5. Set up an almsgiving box– you simply set out a box, and take 1 thing from your own pantry every day of Lent. At the end of Lent, take the box to a food pantry.
  6. Set up an offering jar– all you need is a jar or piggy bank of some kind. Spare change goes into the jar for the length of Lent, and then is donated.
  7. Add extra prayers to your daily life. Maybe this is extra prayers in the morning or at bedtime. If you have older kids, encourage them to set extra goals for personal prayer as well. You might find my printable prayer starters for kids handy!
  8. Pray the sorrowful mysteries of the rosary together- daily, weekly, whatever works for you. If this feels overwhelming with little kids, try just 1 decade.
  9. Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet together- this is also a faster option than a rosary for those with littles.
  10. Light Lenten candles on your dinner table each night (much like an Advent wreath, but for Lent)
  11. Make pretzels together. If you don’t have time to do this from scratch, get the Pillsbury bread sticks in a can and make them that way.
  12. Go to daily Mass. You decide how often this might be doable at this current stage of your life.
  13. Go to adoration. Even if you can’t stay long with little kids, it’s still worth going.
  14. Go to confession as a family.
  15. Read the penitential Psalms.
  16. Count down the days of Lent with a printable Lenten calendar for your kids– a lot easier than making paper chains!
  17. Bury the Alleluia- this can also be very easy. I offer a printable way to do this here.
  18. Attend stations of the cross at your church. We especially love to do this on Good Friday.
  19. Cook simple meatless meals together with your kids. This will be a good sacrifice opportunity for you. 😉
  20. Listen to the stations of the cross on CD. We love listening to ours at home, and this is a great for car trips, especially if you’re traveling to see family on Easter.
  21. Sing “The Lent Song” with your kids.
  22. Wash your children’s feet on Holy Thursday.
  23. Encourage better attention during Mass by assigning each member of the family 1 reading to pay special attention to (first reading, Psalm, second reading, and the Gospel). Have everyone give a re-cap of “their” reading on the way home in the car. Have a family discussion if anyone had thoughts about the readings.
  24. On Good Friday, have an hour of silence at your house from 3-4 (because Jesus died at 3). Allow your kids to read spiritual books during this hour of silence.
  25. 40 bags, 40 days. You pick the size of the bag (Paper bag, Wal-Mart bag, trash bag, lunch sac) and you get rid of 1 bag full from your house every day. Donate what you get rid of. This is an excellent exercise in living simply.
  26. Lenten cleaning– rather than the idea of “Spring cleaning”, clean 1 area of your home every day during Lent. Your house is beautiful and clean for Easter!
  27. Sing a Lenten hymn together each day as a family. We like to do this in the morning. You can sing the same hymn each morning until everyone has learned the words, then move onto another one.
  28. Attend extra activities happening at your parish, such as Friday fish fries.
  29. Do some of the works of mercy together with your kids.
  30. Watch a Lenten movie together as a family- I like The Greatest Adventure Easter Story for little kids.
  31. Read 1 Saint story per day. (I like this set because the stories are short, and there’s a picture for each one)
  32. Read the Bible together as a family daily. This can be done in the morning at breakfast, and doesn’t have to take long. You can just read a paragraph each day. See my tips on how to get started reading scripture with your family here.
  33. Decide 1 day of the week during Lent to go “screen free” as a family. I have a list of 50 various ways to fast technology here
  34. Light a candle at church on Sunday.
  35. “Un-decorate”  your mantle to keep things simple for Lent. Put a purple table cloth out on the table. Explain liturgical colors to your kids. See my post about setting up a Lent table here.
  36. During Holy Week, read the story of Palm Sunday, the Last Supper, and the crucifixion from the Bible.
  37. Memorize a new prayer together as a family.
  38. Bake unleavened bread together. 
  39. Basically, make sure you’re including more prayer, fasting, and almsgiving than during ordinary time.
  40. And the number 1 easy thing that takes no extra effort that I really want you to do is…. Save all of the Easter celebrating for Easter!

Real Life At Home has a printable list of 40 Lenten activities for families, so you might like to check that out, too! 

Please don’t think that I’m trying to say you should do all of these things every year. Sometimes, when our expectations for ourselves are too high, we get overwhelmed, and then we do nothing. Don’t over complicate things. Just choose a few things that you think are a good fit for your family this year, and implement them. You can always add more things next year.

You’ll find all of my Lenten resources for kids here


  1. so many GREAT ideas here—
    I shared your link on my blog. 🙂

  2. Rosemary Bergeron says

    Great Ideas. . .I tell my friends about your site all the time – we’re too old to have children but all have grandkids, g-grand-kids.
    BUT, I needed to ask you to read the ‘regular’ email I sent you to your email In-Box re: BD dress. . . I don’t know how to write you a personal message on this site.

  3. Instead of giving up for Lent, which can put a negative aspect to it. If you look in the 2013 missal Year A section, it will tell you that giving things up was overemphasized in the past & it has little value in itself. As a priest said this past Sunday before Ash Wednesday, give to Jesus instead-Stations of the Cross, rosary, reading psalms, and the like. That way, along with the fasting & abstinence, it is a positive Lent, and donate food or visit a cemetery that you normally don’t do during the year so it stays a Lenten seasonal item.

  4. Thank you so much, SO MANY OF YOUR POSTS have been soo helpful for me trying to get back into my faith. I had to write a whole blog post mainly just about this website because I LOVE IT! Thank you so much.

  5. Great ideas here! Shared on my blog for our parish faith formation families…thank you, and have blessed Lent!

  6. A friend of mine shared that after fasting on Good Friday, the first thing they taste on Holy Saturday is a spoonful of vinegar to remember Christ’s suffering on the cross.