Can you believe that we’re approaching Christmas, with 3 weeks to go? I don’t know where November has gone, let alone 2021. I really hoped that Christmas this year would be as we used to know, but sadly with a new COVID variant, it’s looking likely we’ll be having a more controlled festive period yet again.
But that won’t stop us from celebrating and giving the people we support the best festive period possible!
Step 1 – Ask people what they want to do
First and foremost, ask the people you support these questions:
How do you want to celebrate Christmas?
- What music do you want?
- What food do you want?
- Are there any Christmas traditions you want to continue with?
Do you want to see family and/or friends?
- Do you need to buy any presents or send any cards?
- What presents would you like?
What activities would you like to undertake?
What will make Christmas special for you?
Remember, get ideas from your team. They know the people you support and will have some amazing ideas!
Step 2 – Choose your activities
Christmas carols and singalongs
Nearly everyone loves listening or singing to music, regardless of their age, neurodiversity or health, and research has proven this decreases stress. I’d recommend asking residents what their favourite Christmas songs are and you can then put together a playlist of songs to sing and listen along to.
You could even take it further and have:
- Solo songs
- Group singalongs
- People playing instruments
- Carol services for friends or families, in-person or online.
Singing really is an event that can bring people together and the National Activity Providers Association (NAPA), Music for Dementia and Live Music Now produced a leaflet last year called Keeping singing in tune with COVID-19 restrictions. It contains some handy information on leading safe group singing and music activities over the festive period, with controlled measures you can put in place to help with planning and risk assessments.
I love nothing more than watching a Christmas film, with many taking me right back to my childhood – this is no different for the people we support. You could ask each resident what their favourite Christmas film is and put together a schedule to show these. Why not make an event out of it? Dig out some mince pies, drinks and snacks and make it a real cinema experience.
Here’s a list of the top 65 Christmas films to give you some inspiration!
Many families spend time baking together in the lead up to Christmas and this can be a great activity for anyone of any age. Last year, in my care home, we made:
- Gingerbread men
You can do these from scratch for those or get pre-made ones to decorate.
- Gingerbread houses
You can split residents and staff into teams and have a competition.
- Mince pies
Who doesn’t love them?
- Cookies and shortbread
You can cut them into stars or snowmen.
Why not get your staff and residents into teams and have a festive quiz? These are always entertaining and really help to keep everybody’s brains active. You can even get small novelty Christmas prizes!
You could get your team and people you support to do a secret Santa, writing a letter or giving presents.
Elf on the shelf
This always leads to fun and laughter – the elf can be good, naughty or even cheeky!
You can also do ‘find the elf’, where a resident can hide the elf and the person who finds it first is the winner.
Christmas crafts and decorations
There are so many options for what can be made and done! Research has proven crafts and decorations improve cognitive ability, help with dexterity, and reduce stress, pain and blood pressure. Some ideas include:
- Christmas tree decorations
- Salt dough ornaments
- Displays, such as putting up a tree and lights
- Decorating bedrooms
- Advent calendars
- Christmas wreaths
- Christmas cards
- Designing Christmas hats.
Here are a few more ideas to add to the list!
Family and friend involvement
It really does make me sad to be writing about family and friend involvement, but I’ve seen more and more care homes over the last couple of days closing their doors and stopping visits or going back to visits in pods and behind plastic screens.
It’s vital that we ensure that the people we support stay connected with their loved ones and friends over the festive period. There are numerous ways we can do this and of course the first way I’d recommend would be in-person, but for those services who aren’t doing this:
- Help residents send out Christmas cards
- Support those in your care to purchase or make presents
- Facilitate video calls
- Create personalised videos from the person that they can send to their friends and/or family.
Let the festivities commence!
I know you’ll be doing everything they can to ensure that the people you care for have the most festive time of the year. I can’t wait to see what yuletide activities you get up to, so be sure to post lots of pictures and videos on social media, tagging @LogmyCare.
Please do feel free to contact me if you want to explore any of these ideas further or to let me know of other ideas you have that I’ve missed.