The holidays are finally here! It is time to gather with family, buy gifts for the little ones, and enjoy the season of giving. However, it is also cold whether time. This means that seniors that are more susceptible to colds need to bundle up when running around town for the holiday season. For seniors living in a nursing home, some of these activities would be great to share to the activity coordinator. The good news though is that there are plenty of fun activities to do inside as well as outdoors. Below are a handful of great ideas for seniors to participate in while still staying warm and cozy indoors. If you need to leave home for some activities, make sure to stay warm by wearing the necessary clothing.
1. Host a recipe swap party
One great activity to get the holidays started is by hosting a recipe swap party. Invite your family and friends to share their favorite recipes or special holiday foods for the season to enjoy. Swap each recipe for something you don’t have. You can also make this activity a fun game. There’s different ways to do this, such as asking participates to only bring recipes that have similar or same ingredients. Or, just bring something from their own family cookbook. Ask your guests to supply copies of the recipe so that everyone gets one. What makes this even more fun is when everyone brings a small sample of the recipe being provided. That way seniors can try the food before grabbing a copy.
2. Guess how many
A fun activity to do with the grandkids is the game Guess how many. All there is to do is fill a clear jar with candy, marbles, or even small ornaments and have the kids try to guess how many are in the jar. This is also fun for seniors to participate in and try their luck with mental acuity. For some fun with small children, use a plastic container instead of glass, to avoid dropping it on the floor and getting hurt.
3. Create holiday cards
Creating holiday cards can be fun and a great way to show off some of your natural artistic side. It is an activity that seniors can also enjoy with the grandkids and teach them good handwriting skills, as well as learning to write a heartwarming message in cursive. Seniors who know how to draw may also find it fun to add beautiful flowers in either black and white or in color. Once you are done, be sure to remember the postage stamps and envelopes so they can be mailed out.
4. Take family pictures
Another great holiday activity is having family photos done by a professional photographer. All you need to do is call and set up a session when all are available. Have everyone come together and also dress for the special occasion. You can even have all the family members dress in the same outfits or pajama sets for the holiday photo. By doing so, you will create some picture-perfect memories that everyone will enjoy in the years to come.
5. Watching holiday movies
When it’s cold outside many seniors would rather cozy up in the living area and watch some old holiday classics. In fact, some senior living facilities have a media room with big screen TVs for the residents to enjoy a movie on a cold afternoon. If you still live at home, invite some close friends and family to join you on the couch and maybe even pop some popcorn and other snacks for a more fun night. One of the best holiday classic movies to watch is “It’s a Wonderful Life!”, with Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed. You can also bring over the grandkids for an evening full of animated movies just for them.
6. Decorate mini-holiday trees
Many older adults that live in smaller senior communities do not always have the space for all the holiday decorations, including the average size of a Christmas tree. For this reason, creating mini holiday trees to decorate in your homes will be better suited for seniors that live in these facilities or share a room with someone in a nursing home. You may display the trees on either the kitchen table, an end table, or right on the windowsill. Having a decorating Christmas tree party, ask your guests to bring small or mini ornaments to add to each tree.
7. Build a snowman
When the winter season is upon us, there are many fun activities to do. It could be a great time to enjoy the bright holiday lights hanging over the buildings in your own downtown, or relish at the snow-capped evergreens that line up your city limits. However, for kids young and old, building a snowman is another great pastime. The best part is that everyone can get involved in the process. One person can build the body, while someone else can gather the supplies, such as a carrot for the nose and coal for the eyes. You may also enjoy adding buttons or hay for a more creative look.
8. Go Christmas Caroling!
One of my best pastimes during the winter holidays is going Christmas caroling with close family and friends. You can go door to door throughout the neighborhood or take the Holiday spirit to a nursing home or homeless shelter to bring some good cheer to those less fortunate. If you want to carol indoors, then gather around the piano and sing with your kids and grandkids all of your favorite songs for the season. Seniors can also make a game out of it by seeing who can recall all of the lyrics to a certain song without messing up. Just make sure to make some delicious hot chocolate and warm desserts on those cold winter nights.
9. Go to a holiday light display
One of my favorite pastimes when my kids were little was to drive around our town to watch a street full of Holiday lights from every home we passed by. Every lawn was full of Christmas decorations. Some would even have music playing with the lights coinciding with the beat and rhythm of the songs. After enjoying the wonderful displays make sure to stop by your local coffee shop for some hot chocolate, especially when the weather is cold outside.
10. Have a mocktail
If you can’t tolerate liquor or any type of alcohol for that matter, but still want to participate in the festive holiday, then try having a mocktail. Mocktails are basically non alcoholic drinks. These are good for children or those with a chemical imbalance. There are several types of cocktails to choose from. Examples are fruit juices and fizzy beverages. Most are made with fresh garnishes in holiday-themed glasses. Some people even add Christmas-shaped ice cubes to the drinks for a more appealing look.
11. Make a holiday wreath
Another fun activity for seniors to do is making their front door look inviting by adding a Christmas wreath for the season. When your neighbors walk by, the first thing they will think is if your front door is pretty, then how festive and lovely your home must be too. There are so many types of materials you can choose from to make the best holiday wreath. The most common type of material is using tree branches, whether fake or real. Handmade wreaths can also be made of pine branches wrapped in a circle with items like candy canes, mini ornaments, ribbons, flowers, and bows. Just remember to be creative and have fun with the family while making them. The more different your wreath is, the better chances it will make an impression the neighbors.
12. Create DIY Christmas Postcards for the season!
Sending out Christmas postcards is an activity that many seniors grew up doing with their parents and grandparents when they themselves were young. Today, unfortunately, not many young folks participate in this heartfelt and meaningful activity. However, it can help bring the family closer, especially if you invite the grandkids to join in on the fun. When making DIY postcards, it can also create togetherness and enhance your grandchildren’s affection toward the meaning of why we celebrate the season. Plus, when you create your own postcards, compared to buying them, you are giving them your own personal tough and will make a difference in the ones that receive them.
13. Go watch a local play or musical
During the holidays, this is a great time to explore your local downtown theater. Some small towns will put on a christmas play or a holiday musical for the whole town to watch. If you want to participate in the event itself, they may offer auditions at the theater a few weeks before the scheduled play or musical takes place. Bring out your close family and friends and have a night out on the town for some good entertainment at the theatre. Most towns that do this will have the event within a few days or week before Christmas. Check your local newspaper for more details.
14. Decorate and fill stockings
Another fun activity for seniors to do is decorating and filling stocking stuffers. There are so many ways to decorate these stockings. You can choose from the classic red and green color stockings or create more modern colors and styles. Some people will add names or initials to the stockings, or add a special character, such as a picture of Santa or Rudolph on the stocking. Stocking stuffing is just as important. Depending on who the stocking is for will determine what kinds of gifts or mini presents should be in them. For little ones, then a small toy car, small games, warm winter socks, or a bag full of chocolate candies. For teens, then maybe a brand-new phone or notebook. Whatever you do, make sure you are creative, and the gifts fit the child’s needs or wants.
15. Donate a Shoebox Gift
If you are a senior that wants to make a child’s Christmas even brighter, then fill and donate a Shoebox gift within your community. Every winter season there is usually a shoebox drive that is open for the residents of your town to give to those less fortunate. This is not only a fun activity to do, but it would really make a difference in the loves of the children. Samaritan’s purse, a nonprofit organization puts these events together as we near the holiday season. It is a great way for seniors to get involved in their own communities.
Remember to Pace activities and modify as needed
It is important to encourage seniors to get out and enjoy the holiday season, especially if they live alone. However, too much stimulation is not always good for certain seniors. As a past caregiver at a nursing home, I would always encourage older adults to join in the festive activities by wheeling them down to the activities room. It was a good time for them to feel part of something and enjoy making all sorts of DIY activities. Just remember that those with dementia tend to feel fatigued much easily because their energy level is not as strong as it once was. Also, they may be confused about what is going on. You may need to modify activities to serve those with Alzheimer’s disease as well. Make sure to keep the activities short and easy to clean up afterwards.
Holiday activities for seniors with limited mobility
Some of the activities listed can work for those with limited mobility, such as driving around town to see the lights. Another activity is decorating and baking Christmas cookies. For seniors that can get around outside, then staying at home around the kitchen table with the grandkids can still make the season bright. Seniors can sit down while using different cookie cutters to help shape the cookie, and then ask a caregiver or family member to put them in the oven for baking. That way, everyone’s involved in the holiday activity. If you celebrate Christmas, use red, green, or white icing. If you celebrate Hanukkah, then use blue and gold icing to make menorahs.