We all know the flow of good feeling that comes with gift-giving – and this impulse doesn’t change with age. Just ask the nursing home residents and home health care clients who were part of our recent study. Four-fifths of these older adults told us that giving gifts is one of their top preferences (see PELI Tip Sheet: Top Preferences Across LTSS Settings).
Victoria Crumbie, MS, CTRS, Director of Recreation at Horsham Center for Jewish Life, and Sarah Humes, MS, CTRS, Humes Consulting, shared their go-to activities for the holidays. All are low-cost, easy to put into action and can be adjusted to match residents’ interests and abilities. Recently, the ideas have been updated for Covid-19 guidelines. Please keep in mind that participants should wear masks and maintain social distance during activities.
Fun & Easy Ideas for Holiday Gift Giving
CARDS AND LETTERS
- Residents create holiday cards they can send to loved ones, or donate to other residents who can send the cards onto family or friends.
- With holiday stationery, residents write or dictate a note to family and friends. Also, they can become pen pals with students from a local school and exchange holiday greetings. This is a great option for residents without family or friends, yet who want to reach out to others.
BAKING, KNITTING AND CRAFTS
Seasonal group projects can provide joyful experiences that draw on residents’ lifelong traditions, while building community. Examples are:
- Gather a small group of residents for a holiday cooking demonstration hosted by an activity staff member. The group can select a favorite cookie recipe and watch as the staff member bakes the treats. The group can present the cookies to the care team on the household or unit. This is an excellent alternative for communities that do not permit staff to receive individual gifts. (Baked goods should be individually wrapped.)
- Does your community have dedicated knitters? If so, consider purchasing or seeking donated supplies so residents can create hats and scarves for family. (Knitted goods can be laundered easily.)
- Provide a self-contained holiday decoration or ornament kit for residents who enjoy arts and crafts. Residents can create a decoration for family or friends, or for display to boost holiday cheer in the community! (Use an antibacterial wipe to clean the item before giving it to someone else.)
- Residents may enjoy sharing the gift of reading with pre-school and elementary school kids via Zoom or another online platform. Of course, residents can read with their grandchildren and great-grandchildren, but also consider forming a partnership with a nearby school. With school age children, older adults and students can take turns reading to each other for true intergenerational sharing.
- Shopping is a mainstay of the season. To keep up this holiday tradition, ask family members to recommend store catalogs for the resident to peruse and select gifts for loved ones. Kitchen supply and toy store catalogs are two examples – all available for online browsing or purchases.
- For those who are unable to shop and need one-on-one support, care team members or volunteers might talk with residents about gifts they would like to give, or reminisce about times past when they gave gifts.
- Turn your community gift shop into a traveling cart. This mobile store can travel to resident rooms for easy shopping.
THE GIFT OF MUSIC
- Use Zoom to bring live, interactive holiday concerts to residents. Performers can take residents’ musical requests, talk about favorite tunes and the season, and build connections with the audience!
GRATITUDE AND LOVING WORDS
For residents of any ability, and particularly for those with the greatest need for support, everyday interactions provide surprising and precious opportunities to receive and express gratitude. During the pandemic, we’ve all been racing to meet new and unpredictable needs. If you can, use the holiday season as a time to pause — let residents know we are thankful for them, we appreciate being together, and we are grateful for the gifts each person brings to our lives every day. Taking this opportunity may be the easiest and loveliest gift of all.
SHARE YOUR IDEAS
Does your organization have a special program or activity that helps honor the preference for gift giving? If so, we would love to hear about it. Your community’s efforts to honor preferences could be highlighted in one of our monthly newsletters! Contact us: PELI-Can@MiamiOH.edu or 513-529-3605
ABOUT THE SERIES
This is one in a series of Tip Sheets on using the Preferences for Everyday Living Inventory (PELI) to improve person-centered care. Topics include: How to Get Started, Interview Tips, Working with Proxies, Helping Staff Engage, Integrating Preferences into Care Plans and more. View our full series of Tip Sheets.
Have questions or comments? Please e-mail us at PELI-Can@miamioh.edu or call our helpline at 513-529-3605.
Victoria Crumbie, MS, CTRS, Sarah Humes, MS, CTRS, Katherine Abbott, Ph.D. & Kimberly Van Haitsma, Ph.D. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at https://preferencebasedliving.com/. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/4.0/.