How to Make the Holidays Festive at Your Senior Center
The holiday season is a time to enjoy yourself with friends and loved ones. It's a time of celebration and cheer. However, it's not uncommon to see the December blues set in with seniors at this time of year.
Many seniors feel particularly lonely during the festive season. Friends sometimes have passed away, loved ones don't visit as often, and nostalgic memories of days gone by begin pulling at their heartstrings and create a sense of home-sickness and often sadness.
There are many ways you can make the holiday season a celebration that your residents will look forward to and talk about in the new year. Here's how your senior center can create a festive and fun environment during "the most wonderful time of the year" guaranteed to help seniors celebrate the holidays.
Few things set the mood better than decorations and music! Get creative this season and deck your senior center out in style! Don't be afraid to forgo the traditional "how-you-have-always-decorated" habit and let your residents get engaged. Let them embrace their style and encourage staff and volunteers to pay attention to little personal touches.
For example, if you know Ernie loves old tractors, find a way to incorporate John Deere Green gear into his door wreath or place setting. Janice loves cats, so save the Christmas stocking with the cute kitty just for her or get her involved in making feline decorations that you know will put a smile on her face. We all love feeling like we have had something special "just for us," so going the extra mile, even though it can take time, will be worth it.
Find ways to get your residents involved in your decorating this year and encourage staff to be "secret Santas" with random acts of kindness that make the seniors feel special.
Events and Games
Offer a decoration swap event providing residents with the opportunity to choose their festive decor to inspire the holiday's spirit in their own space. Host craft tables where they can make their decorations, wreaths, or mini trees.
Set up some friendly competition. Create a friendly contest or team-building activity by decorating areas around the center, such as memory lounges, dining rooms, and hallways.
Be sure to string lights and garland. When the competition is over and the decorating is complete, host a "lights festival" walk through the residence or even a supervised "room tour" to share in the fun! Don't forget to have Santa involved with some festive treats.
Holiday Song and Dance
It goes without saying that the festivities begin when we can hear the music. Create a playlist for your senior center that not only recreates nostalgic memories but has them singing along and tapping their toes. Find a playlist that has both secular and sacred music to uplift their festive spirits. Host holiday karaoke, and soon they will be swaying to the sounds of Frosty the Snowman.
December is a time to party! Be sure to plan some festive events throughout the month. Host a "movie night" complete with popcorn and hot chocolate watching feel-good holiday movies like White Christmas or Miracle on 34th Street.
Join in the Spirit
Have staff create elf stations and dress up as Santa's helpers, encouraging fun holiday activities. These mobile stations can be moved throughout the center, showcasing activities including craft creation, wrapping paper, and ribbons. Host a "milk and cookies" story hour with Santa, read a classic holiday story, and have residents share their favorite Christmas tradition from home.
This is a beautiful time to consider other cultures and beliefs, light a Menorah and invite a local children's choir to perform.
Go on an Adventure!
Go cruising! Plan an evening cruise to see the lights in town. Plot the best route, and be sure to have a festive playlist ready to roll as soon as your seniors buckle up.
Consider a holiday-themed carnival night, offering tokens to winners that can be redeemed for fun prizes. Sensory games are a favorite with seniors, and a carnival night is a perfect time to introduce new and unique brain-boosting games. This "Sweet Smell of Christmas" game offers a fun challenge that is sure to generate nostalgia.
A Santa hat ring toss is easy to create and provides lots of laughs. The Gingerbread hole-in-one- will have your residents cheering for each other and swapping favorite golf stories. Be sure to invite a local performer or band to play some festive favorites and have friends and loved ones join in on the fun. A gingerbread house decorating station is a super attraction for visiting grandchildren and residents alike.
It bears remembering that significant days (such as December 25th) are hectic for your seniors' friends and loved ones; some residents are blessed with a family that takes them "home" for the holidays. Others are left behind feeling isolated and lonely.
Host a festive dinner or meet and greet event before the 25th to encourage visitors to spend some quality time with their loved ones.
We Can Help
Helping seniors celebrate the holidays in a meaningful way is key to optimizing their quality of life. Hosting fun holiday activities for seniors and involving not only staff but also members of the community make the holidays festive at your senior center. Sometimes getting residents and staff involved can be challenging, and finding the time and creative ideas during the busiest time of year can have us looking for more than Santa's elves to help.
Luckily Televeda is here to help! You'll be feeling holly, jolly, and prepared this holiday season! To reduce the burden for your staff at your senior community, sign up for a free demo with us now so we can make lives around the holidays easier for everyone.