Whatever tradition you celebrate, holiday activities can add a little special fun into the lives of seniors. Crafts, parties, holiday decorations, festive food, these are all part of the excitement - all included in our ideas here.
And activities will vary depending on how active people may be, or if they're experiencing difficult elderly issues and
It can be a difficult time for some seniors, especially if loved ones or pets have passed on, or if they are alone.
So it is especially important to involve the seniors in your life, neighborhood and place of worship in as much as you can. Find some fun and meaningful things to do.
Here are some great ideas shared with
us from all over. Many are perfect to do with children also. No matter
what your location or climate, take a look below, and then just use your
imagination and change these holiday activities for seniors a bit to
fit your needs.
(You can also check out our page with more elderly activities to see what else can be adapted for holidays).
Have a flower shop,
nursery or craft store come to your campus or group (or you can make a
visit there) to demonstrate the art of flower arrangement, and putting
together special holiday centerpieces. They may also have indoor plant
and flower kits available as gift items, or as projects to do in the
home or in a common area.
Make a winter scene display
One campus that I visited had received a gift of a tall animated snowman several years previous. This had set the stage for many years of holiday activities for seniors.
Soon they had set up a snow scene around it with rolls of glittery cotton and mirror for a lake. A volunteer and a few residents spray painted a tree branch white, covered it with glitter, hung white twinkling lights and ornament balls, then stood it in a decorative planter so that it looked like a fantasy tree.
Over the years more greenery, decorations and animated figures where added – elves, animals, lit lollipops, then a little house, etc. Before they knew it, they had created a fabulous community display that people from all over came to visit. Along with the craft fair they also started to make a little extra money.Create a manger scene
A unique manger scene can be a group effort with a little skill from many people and some ingenuity. Characters can be elaborate and made from paper mache, or simply sewn dolls. The men in the group might enjoy making the stable and surrounding area for the scene.
The result can be a keepsake your group or community can have for years, and almost endless holiday activities for seniors for a long time to come.
Grow an amaryllis or two. Or ten.
Kits for these magnificent large blooms are plentiful at holiday time, and they come in many colors. The amaryllis grows significantly every day for weeks, so you can literally watch it get bigger from day to day.
Then it bursts into large blossoms, so in a group of several, they are stunning. It’s one of the fascinating and easy holiday activities for seniors that anyone can enjoy.
Holiday craft fair
A local church had an excellent idea. About two months before Christmas, they announced that people could stop by a table after services and pick up some free money. An envelope with up to $100. The purpose was to loan a little capital for people to buy supplies and make items for the upcoming craft fair.
At the fair the $100 loan would be recuperated, plus profits. It worked like a charm because all that was stopping some folks from participating was the lack of funds they needed to create what they knew how to make. It was one of the more successful craft fairs they’d had. It also created a chance to launch many holiday activities for seniors, with a worthy goal.Crafts and gifts you can make
We have prepared a special book with over 120 ideas for all ability levels, plus many free templates to use with them. So take a look at Easy Crafts and Gifts You Can Make.
Make a gingerbread house
Gingerbread houses are highly creative holiday activities for seniors, and have all sorts of possibilities. Including having an expert visit who has done it before. Especially a baker.
You can tailor the process to your participants, using an easy kit, or baking the gingerbread from scratch and cutting it out from a pattern. (The gingerbread used for these is as hard as cement!) Or just use graham crackers and adhere them with frosting (like glue) to a pre-made form or a simple wooden bird house.
Then decorate. This is one of those projects that “kids” of all ages love to do. And the guys in the group can do a little creative construction for an outdoor scene surrounding the gingerbread house.
No gingerbread house is complete without a few little marzipan creatures and people to populate its scene. We have a fun and easy from-scratch marzipan recipe here.
"Cup of Christmas Tea" party
The well-known book, “A Cup of Christmas Tea” has become a classic. About nostalgia and a visit to an aging Great Aunt, it’s a favorite for elderly everywhere. Written in rhyme, it is delightful to read aloud to a group…while they enjoy a cup of tea served old-fashioned style in good china if possible, with nice table linens, and holiday treats.
Share holiday memories
Reading this book always sparks a lot of conversation about holiday memories. Why not share them aloud with each other while sharing a cup of tea. Many are sure to get plenty of laughs.Sharing cultures
Holiday activities for seniors cross all cultures and traditions. One campus I am familiar with has residents from many different backgrounds, such as Ireland, Germans, Scandinavia, France, Italy, Greece, South America, as well as Israel, Africa, India, Indonesia, and the Middle East.
Almost everyone celebrates something during the winter months. So the campus facilitates a special open house activity. Residents decorate their apartments in their traditional manner, bake or cook special foods, play special music, etc.
Then they sign up and have an afternoon where others can visit them, open house style, and learn about their traditions plus partake in a little holiday snack.
Recipes from other lands
As an extension of the above open house, favorite holiday activities for seniors involve baking and/or eating special foods from other countries. Many have recipes handed down through the family for years.
These can be shared in a community cookbook. Or shared by typing them up and making copies to pass out and share when folks come to taste your special treats. If some participants are not able to cook, someone else (even the campus kitchen or activities director) can help out and try something new.
You may have so many fascinating new recipes that you want to start a club to share them. Some groups meet weekly and a share different type of recipe on a given week, pot-luck style: soups, snacks, cookies, other desserts, beverages, etc. And bring any special music (plus good stories) that go along with it.
Paint a window mural
Painting holiday windows are unusual holiday activities for seniors -- even if you don’t have much artistic talent. You can always use templates and a picture to copy as a reference.
Water-based acrylic glass paint is easy to put on and easy to wash off (or keep it). You can learn all about how to paint glass at the link. (The specifics of this particular project are not included.)
But with a window project like this, the painting was made in several layers of paint, of course. Some parts had two coats to make it more opaque and less streaky (as some glass paint can do).
You first make a drawing to-size and tape the sketch onto the back of the window. Trace over it with a thin permanent marker. Then choose your colors and paint. A lot of the paint here was applied by sponge painting, great for large areas. (We tell how on the painting on glass link).
A window mural looks fabulous on either a large picture window or in sections on smaller panes. Even on a mirror. Make it in your own home, or in a community area.
I have a friend with a large old window that someone got from salvage and painted with a snowman scene. She’s had it for decades and props it up on her window sill every December as part of her holiday décor.
Try pine trees, or cardinals on a pine branch, snowmen, singing carolers, an old-fashioned church, or a cottage, plus plenty of snow (or a landscape scene from the area in which you live).
Your local craft store can help you with paint selection and ideas as well. Or perhaps you know someone who has painted on windows before and/or who has a bit of artistry to lead the project. This is great to do with a group or individually.
We also have a book with loads of patterns and templates useful for this, and many other projects.
We’re probably all familiar with Toys For Tots and coat and food drives. Even if we have limited funds ourselves, we can get together in holiday activities for seniors to help others. Organize or join in with a group, even in a small way.
It helps us get out of ourselves, put our attention on the needs of someone else. And makes us also feel really good inside. Some organizations have special activities for senior citizens.
For those who know how to knit or quilt for instance, yarn and fabric can often be donated – they just need the people who have the skill to make the mittens, hats, scarves and quilts for people in need or who may be ill. For those able, it is a very rewarding experience to help out at a shelter for the homeless or a food pantry.
Make a gift basket
See our page for ideas on making quality gift baskets for many themes and occasions. These holiday activities for seniors are ideal to use for give-aways, fund raisers and silent auctions, and special gifts. Just go to: Make A Gift Basket.
Make greeting cards
You can participate in an effort to make greeting cards for soldiers overseas or for children who need to spend the holidays in the hospital. There are organizations in most towns and cities that do community service and that can help you link up with those who would appreciate cards. And you may discover ways to have many of the materials donated as well. Or make them for friends, family or to sell at craft fairs.
Reading with kids
You can either have a child read to you or a group, or have a senior read to the children. At any rate, story times can be very special holiday activities for seniors. Besides classics about Frosty, Rudolf, and The Night Before Christmas, explore the children’s section of a local book store or library and see what else is out there. The December holidays is a prime time for book publishers to come out with new listings of children’s books, and most are beautifully illustrated. Then share some coco or cider, and cookies.
Make old-fashioned ornaments with kids
Perhaps you or your group remember stringing cranberries and popcorn. Or holiday cookies to hang. Or making paper snowflakes and strings of cut-out angels, or paper chains. Maybe felt ornaments with glitter and sequins. Then there are those Styrofoam balls studded with fancy beads.
Maybe you have something even more unique to share. Kids love to create and to learn about how things were made and done in the past. Sharing those simple (or fancy) traditions are meaningful holiday activities for seniors; children too. And when everything is made, everyone can decorate a tree or room together. Plus take something home.
Share “Then and Now” stories with kids
Talking about how things used to be vs. how they are now actually helps close the so-called generation gap, and promotes appreciation and understanding. This is important for teens as well. So if you have a school or scouting group that comes to visit (or that you can arrange to visit) plan on a little story swapping about “the good old days,” as well as the new ones. With lots of food too, of course.Make popcorn balls
This is also fun to do with children, or to make to give away. There are popcorn ball recipes galore, including those with nuts, mini marshmallows, mini gumdrops, M&M’s or Red Hot candies. Wrap them in colored cellophane and tie with a bright ribbon, and they’re good to go (or give).
Other treats to make
Check out some of our other pages, like easy dipping chocolate, or learn to make chocolate covered strawberries. Both of these are easy holiday activities for seniors and make wonderful gifts too. You can top the frosting with colored sprinkles, a dab of colored frosting, or a holiday candy.
Visit an indoor arboretum or conservatory
Going on short day trips are appealing holiday activities for seniors. Many cities have beautiful indoor gardens to have a get-away from the cold climate (if you live in one). And some areas of the building may also be dressed for the holidays. If a fee is involved (some are just on a donation basis) there are usually special rates for seniors.
Your local nursery
As an alternative, larger nurseries have wonderful areas to visit and even to stop and “smell the roses.” Including in winter. Nurseries can be quite spectacular to visit at this time, and also offer gift items with many great ideas for those hard-to-buy-for folks as well. Inquire as to whether the nursery or conservatory offers a class or demonstration in flower and/or centerpiece arranging. This can also give plenty of ideas for more activities later.
Department store displays
Visiting holiday displays in the large department stores (along with a little lunch perhaps) is another fun day trip that can also combine with shopping. The fantastical scenes change from year to year, and include plenty of lights and animation. Also an excellent place to take children. I remember doing this for years with my grandparents when I was growing up.
Holiday concert or ballet
Every year for awhile our family had a tradition of going to a well-known “Nutcracker” ballet matinee in December. Holiday activities for seniors are especially fun when you can get dressed up and have an afternoon out, complete with hot coco and dessert somewhere afterwards.
You may also have a church or choir in town that has become known for their special concerts and recitals. If attending the complete Handel’s “Messiah” is a bit lengthy, perhaps you can arrange to have a choir come in and sing a shorter version. And be sure to invite a local ballet school to come and give a Nutcracker (or other) performance.
Music and movies
And then there are, of course, all the holiday movies and song fests that we just can’t do without. So be sure to plan plenty of senior activities and parties around these. (Any excuse for a party!)
A few games
Games are favorite holiday activities for seniors, and here are a few we’ve come across (with prizes of course):
Marshmallow toss -- The biggest ones you can find, tossed into a holiday basket or tin, or through a wreath. Dust them with a little flour first so they don’t get too sticky.
Guess How Many -- How many cranberries, colorful gumdrops or candies are in a large glass vase? The person with the closest guess wins a prize.
Break Your New Year’s Resolutions -- In advance. Why not. We all do anyway, so might as well make it into a game. Before your party have a team write some outrageous (or real) resolutions on pieces of paper, slide into balloons with a piece of candy, then blow up the balloons. Tie them with ribbons around your party room. At the designated time, everyone can break a balloon and read their resolution -- then rip it up and eat the treat.
Just about any game can be adapted for holidays. Take a look at some other ideas on our games for the elderly page, and see what you can do with them.
And don’t forget to go out and see all the holiday lights and decorations in your area!
Our Template and Craft Books!
(PDF e-book format)
”200 Template Drawings” Book
We have loads of other templates for crafts and activities in our handy little e-book (in PDF format) called “200 Template Drawings – For Arts and Activities,” with 239 pages of nature patterns and templates. It’s 200+ pre-drawn pictures of all kinds of subjects to give you a hand with the art part of any project. They range from silhouettes, to simple, to fancy. You can use them as is or mix and match them for endless possibilities. Excellent for either individuals or groups. And there is a special Bonus section perfect for holiday activities for seniors. See some Sneak Peeks of the pictures in this comprehensive template book.
"Easy Crafts and Gifts" Book
We have lots of crafts in many places on our web site, for many ability levels. But why hunt all over? Our crafts (and other activity ideas too) are all consolidated and organized, along with dozens of new never-seen-before projects for both men and women, in our e-book! You get over 120 projects, with plenty of tips on different ways to make them! Many are excellent for various holiday activities for seniors. Plus, bundled with a free mini booklet of about 30 templates.
Two books for one:
“Easy Crafts and Gifts – For Little Money & Lots of Fun,” -- plus “Bonus Templates & Patterns.”
Click here to get more information!
Kindle Activity Book!
If you need a comprehensive book with loads of activities, then we have the perfect Kindle book for you! (Kindle books can also be easily be read on your PC without an actual Kindle device.) This book contains lots of new ideas,
as well as neatly organized activities from our web site -- so you
don't have to search all over. It's sectioned into handy categories,
such as General Activities, Activities for Men, Fun Food Activities,
Holidays (including more winter holiday activities for seniors), Outdoor
Activities, Dementia Activities, and much more! Just go to our Kindle
201 Fun! Senior Activities.
Be sure to also read:
Free For Seniors
-- (Any others too, of course!) Check out the various items you can
download for free, or link to, to get free items and information. Many
may be great to use in your crafts and activities.
Health, Music and Mood -- Is there a correlation between health, music and mood? You may already know that music can make us healthier. Get the amazing scoop on why music and Mozart beat the blues and mend the mind and immunity. Some of the favorite holiday activities for seniors involve music.
Finding A Hobby -- Finding a hobby that is just right for you will give you a lifetime of enjoyment. Here’s the coolest list of hobby ideas (for all ages) either to do alone or in a group. And many can be modified to create holiday activities for seniors.
Delicious Healthy Dessert Recipes -- Our healthy dessert recipes are delicious and fresh. Lots of ways to modify and use them too, including for low salt or sugar ideas. Fun to make for either groups or individually. Check these out!