Festive Holiday with Christmas Activities for Seniors & the Elderly

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Most older adults love to spend the holidays participating in the same family traditions they always have. Sometimes, though, modifications are needed. Here are some of the most fun Christmas activities we recommend for seniors and the elderly.

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Christmas Activities for Seniors

Christmas is one of the rare times when many families and aging loved ones get together for the sole purpose of spending time with each other either at intimate family gatherings or large, institutional Christmas parties.

It is an occasion where everyone can have fun, join in some exciting holiday activities, and share the holiday spirit.

Don’t assume that your older loved ones have the holiday blues and aren’t interested in joining you in the Christmas activities and games you are planning.

Most seniors can participate in almost any activity, but some may need slight modifications to enjoy the festive season safely.

Whether you live with a senior or stay at a nursing home, there are countless safe and meaningful activities for seniors to enjoy this holiday!

But you’ll have to start in early December if you want to get all these holiday activities in!

So keep on reading to learn more – or – we have video and audio-only options for you too!

Easy Home Holiday Ideas for Seniors

1. Put Up Holiday Decorations

Ask the seniors you love to help decorate your home for the holiday season. Or, even better, go to their house and help them decorate.

However, make sure that the seniors work with safe decorations based on their personal abilities. Most senior citizens can decorate the shelves with holiday figurines, place stockings above the fireplace, or hang Christmas ornaments on the tree. 

If they have any mobility or balance problems, don’t let them use ladders or stand on furniture to reach the higher areas. Do that for them instead – without embarrassing them about it. Just jump in and do it without discussion first. 

You can also work with the older adults and make DIY holiday decorations that you can put up before Christmas day.

Interested in Christmas decorations for dementia?
Learn More

2. Wrap Gifts

Christmas isn’t Christmas without Christmas gifts, right? Holiday gift wrapping is a wonderful activity you can do together. Chances are they are better at it than the younger generation anyway!

Gift wrapping is an easy Christmas activity that does not require much physical effort, making it one of the best home holiday ideas of an appropriate activity. It can even be therapeutic and help them relieve stress and exercise their fine motor skills. Just provide periodic breaks. 

3. Write Handwritten Letters

The Christmas season is the perfect opportunity to revive the tradition of writing letters to express your love and gratitude toward friends and loved ones.

Start a pen pal program between seniors and their grandchildren. The older adults will feel delighted when they receive letters from the children. The children will enjoy drawing and writing in the notes. Get the other relatives involved too. 

No need to get too deep with them – just write down how you are doing and what’s going on in your life. What’s important is that the family bond will grow stronger with this activity.

4. Send Holiday E-Cards

An alternative to writing handwritten letters is sending electronic Christmas cards, which the younger generations might prefer.

Since the internet is not limited to letters and text, seniors can record video messages, which might be easier than typing. They can also upload photos or videos on social media to tell beloved family members how much they miss them.

Video chats and calls foster real-time greetings that make you feel like you are together, even if you live miles away.

5. Make Easy Christmas Crafts

While you can always buy Christmas decorations, making them yourself is much more fun. There are many easy and safe Christmas-themed crafts that you can make at your home.

Making Christmas crafts is fun for seniors to bring on some holiday cheer. It also has various health benefits, like relieving stress and anxiety and improving fine motor skills.

You can also use crafting as family bonding time while preparing for Christmas.

See our list of easy Christmas crafts for seniors here plus some special crafts for nursing home and assisted living residents.

6. Take a Photo with Your Whole Family

Taking a group photo is an excellent way to capture happy memories of the holiday festivities, which are often forgotten in our digital age.

Having a printed, physical family photo to put in a picture frame helps seniors remember the special times they spent during the past Christmas holidays. It’s a thoughtful gift idea, too, for those grandparents who already have what they want.

You should also upload family photos on various social media platforms and share these beautiful memories with the world.

7. Watch Christmas Light Shows

See the Christmas light shows near you at your local parks or city centers. Ride around the town and drive through the neighborhoods known for their light displays. Every city has them!

If the seniors have mobility issues or other illnesses that keep them from getting out, have them enjoy the holiday lights from a nice, warm car.

Just be sure you give them the best seat in the house!

8. Create Festive Collages

Make festive collages using magazines or photocopies of family pictures and add different Christmas decorations. Pick images like fireplaces, stockings, wreaths, and other things you associate with Christmas.

Making collages brings out creativity and resourcefulness. This fun activity is also excellent for older adults with dementia to stir up pleasant memories or stories you’ve never heard before.

9. Sing Festive and Christmas Music

Singing together is always an excellent way to celebrate and bond together. It’s one of the most ancient forms of expression.

Numerous holiday songs, such as Christmas carols and classic holiday music, can get you in a festive mood. Buy or rent a karaoke machine and make it a celebration.

10. Go Window Shopping

Malls will have all sorts of Christmas decorations, so it’s the perfect time to go Christmas shopping with your family.

Seniors can stroll around and admire the Christmas lights, Christmas trees, and other ornaments and decorations the mall has put up. Even better if your locale still has a downtown shopping area.

However, seniors should be careful in crowded places, so it’s recommended that you visit your favorite holiday stores early so that there will be minimal people around.

Don’t forget to bring any mobility or safety equipment they need.

Christmas activities for seniors fun games
Win a candy jar filled with Christmas candies by correctly guessing the number of sweets in it.

Fun Christmas Activities for Seniors and the Elderly

1. Festive Charades or Pictionary

When it comes to party games, everyone knows about Charades and Pictionary. Using Christmas-themed topics, you can play these games with seniors during the holidays.

Select words that relate to Christmas, like Santa Claus, making snow angels, gingerbread houses, and other things you associate with Christmas.

You can also use classic Christmas songs such as “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” and “Rudolf, the Red-nosed Reindeer” to play Christmas Carol Pictionary. 

There are countless ways you can play this game, and that’s why it’s so fun.

2. Pin the Nose on Rudolph

To play this game, print out a picture of a reindeer and make a red nose using red paper cut into circles with tape at the back. 

Usually, this game is played with players blindfolded. But, if this seems unsafe, play without blindfolds, and you’ll still have fun.

3. Christmas Bingo

Look for Christmas-themed bingo cards online and print them out. Most seniors will probably know how to play bingo, making it a fun game that seniors love to play, and you won’t have to explain the rules.

Find Christmas-themed markers for the seniors to add even more Christmas spirit to the game.

4. Christmas Candy Jar

Christmas Candy Jar is a game where you fill a small jar with Christmas candies like candy canes and other Christmas-colored candies. 

Then, ask seniors to guess how many sweets are inside the jar. The senior who guesses the closest wins the jar!

5. Name the Carol

Give each senior a blank piece of paper and a pen, then play short snippets of classic Christmas songs and carols. The participants must write down the song’s title, and whoever correctly guesses the most pieces wins.

You can make it a team competition if you have a large group. Give bonus points if they get the correct artist too.

6. What’s in the Stocking

The purpose of this guessing game is to guess what’s inside the stocking. Seniors can touch and study the stocking but can’t open it. The person that guesses correctly wins a prize.

7. Christmas Alphabet List

List each letter from A to Z on a sheet of paper, then have seniors name something that starts with each letter for a particular category. For example, Christmas song titles or characters from holiday movies. 

Play in teams or individually. All you need is pen and paper, and playing provides excellent mental exercise.

8. Christmas Who Am I

In this game, players will get a card with a Christmas-themed clue or identity. Then, they hold the cards to their foreheads while asking other players questions to figure out what Christmas-themed item or person they are.

If it is difficult for the players to hold the cards to their foreheads, they can keep them in front of them or write the clues on sticky notes instead of cards.

Interested in more Christmas game choices for older adults?
See More Here

12 Days of Christmas Activities for Seniors

1. Make 12 Days of Christmas Treats

If you enjoy baking, make a different Christmas treat each day for 12 days to represent the 12 days of Christmas. 

A few ideas to try are gingerbread cookies, eggnog, chocolate treats, cinnamon rolls, and other Christmas treats. 

This can also be an excellent way to share your blessings with the community.

2. Door-to-Door Caroling

Caroling around the neighborhood is a beautiful activity during the 12 days of Christmas. Invite children to sing carols to seniors or escort the seniors around the neighborhood and go door-to-door.

This can be an opportunity for seniors to show their talents at singing while also doing physical activity.

3. 12 Days of Christmas Charity

Christmas is about giving love to others, especially those less fortunate. Encourage seniors to think of ways to share their blessings with other seniors and local families.

Some easy examples are making meals for homeless shelters, donating clothes they don’t use, and sending holiday cards to others.

Christmas Eve Activities

1. Make Meals for Christmas

Show off your cooking skills to your friends and family by preparing all your family’s traditional recipes for Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

Preparing food like ham and baking cookies together provides a bonding experience. It is an excellent chance to pass on favorite recipes to the next generation.

Seniors might even learn new recipes and techniques from their children and grandchildren.

2. Watch Christmas-themed Movies

Watching movies together in the living room is always fun with your loved ones on Christmas Eve.

Choose classic Christmas movies to share with your family, ask for recommendations, and watch the movie marathons together. It’s a Wonderful Life is always a wonderful way to spend the evening.

This activity is an excellent way to relax before the holiday hustle of Christmas Day.

3. Read A Book Together

Reading Christmas storybooks to your loved ones is an excellent way to spend Christmas Eve. Stories like the Grinch and the Nutcracker are classics that seniors will love and remind them of their childhood.

Seniors should take a few moments to read their favorite holiday stories to children to create lasting memories for these little ones.

4. Take A Stroll Around The Neighborhood

Walking around the block or neighborhood is an excellent way for seniors to stay active and get fresh air. It’s also an opportunity to look at the Christmas decorations put up by the neighbors and greet them with a Merry Christmas.

However, ensure that the seniors are adequately equipped with warm winter clothes that protect them from the cold. Occasionally, ask them if they’re tired or need a break. 

5. Go For A Drive

If your senior loved one has some mobility issues and cannot take a long walk outside, then going for a drive in your car can be a great alternative.

Drive them around the town and let them admire the snow, Christmas decorations, and all the people enjoying the Christmas spirit.

As mentioned earlier, drive them through light shows and other Christmas events near your area.

Christmas activities for seniors day activities
It is always exciting to participate in a secret Santa gift exchange event.

Christmas Day Activities

1. Give Back to the Community

Giving back to the community is one of the best ways to celebrate Christmas and feel a purpose when the house is no longer full of children.

Look around for items that can be donated, such as old clothes, stuffed toys, and other items that you won’t use anymore but can still be used by other people.

Donate holiday meals and handmade holiday treats to homeless shelters or charity events. Many organizations need volunteers who donate time as well.

2. Hold a Secret Santa Gift Exchange Event

Who doesn’t look forward to a secret Santa gift exchange event? Assign a gift theme to make it more exciting and fun.

For example, if the theme is “something round,” then everyone participating can only buy round gifts.

3. Remember A Special Holiday Memory 

Reminiscing about the past together with your loved ones is a simple yet magical activity to do on Christmas. Discovering a senior loved one’s favorite memory is always entertaining. You may even find out things that you did not know about them.

Seniors enjoy remembering their special times in the past and the joy that past holidays brought them.

Share your own stories about your experiences and enjoyable activities you remember doing with an older relative. Especially if you live far away, are home for a Christmas visit, and don’t have many opportunities to reminisce.

4. Resolution Shuffle

Have everyone write their New Year’s resolutions on a card, then shuffle them and pass them out.

This is an excellent activity for big family Christmas reunions or parties at senior living communities because it helps seniors socialize and learn more about the people around them.

Need some jokes to entertain older adults?
See our favorites

Assisted Living and Nursing Home Holiday Activities

1. Ugly Sweater Party

Hosting an Ugly Sweater Party on Christmas day is an excellent way for seniors to participate during Christmas. All they need to do is wear an ugly sweater and enjoy the day.

If they don’t have one, make them as a nursing home holiday craft from long sleeve white T-shirts or plain sweatshirts.

2. Christmas Pageant

Caretakers can ask elementary or middle schools if they can invite the students to perform a pageant or give holiday concerts in the nursing home.

This activity provides live entertainment for seniors and allows them to interact with the little ones.

3. Santa’s Helpers Visit

Ask a local animal shelter if they can bring a few friendly animals (Santa’s helpers) to visit the nursing home residents. The seniors will be allowed to give treats and play with the animals.

This activity not only entertains the residents but also benefits the shelter animals.

4. Christmas Skit

Provide short and easy skit scripts for the residents to act out. You can even hold auditions and rehearsals beforehand to make the performances more polished.

On Christmas day, the seniors will perform their prepared skits and have fun performing and watching the acts of other residents. You can even make this a competition with a prize on the line.

5. Secret Santa Note Exchange

Secret Santa activities for elderly residents don’t have to require material gifts. Draw names or assign residents to send encouraging letters or notes to other residents throughout the holidays.

Then, have them reveal themselves to each other on Christmas day. This activity brings the senior care residents together as a community and encourages them.

6. Find the Elf

The caretakers will hide a festive elf, angel, or Santa doll daily around the premises. The residents will then search for them. The senior who finds the toy will get their name displayed and receive a prize.

This activity improves cognitive health and focus and encourages the residents to get out of their rooms, interact with fellow residents, and make new friends. 

Video Guide

Audio Article

Infographic: Christmas Activities for Seniors and the Elderly

Christmas Activities for Seniors and the Elderly infographic
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We hope this list of Christmas activities for seniors and the elderly have been helpful and encouraging.

We could have included many other activities for elderly holiday enthusiasts, such as decorating sugar cookies, playing board games or card games, having a white elephant gift exchange, or simply drinking hot chocolate and spending quality time with loved ones.

We would appreciate a social share if you found it beneficial. Please share your favorite Christmas activities in the comments below!

Sources: 

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
Senior Home Safety Specialist (SHSS)®
Assistive Technology Professional

Scott Grant has spent more than 20 years serving seniors and the elderly in the home medical equipment industry. He has worked as a manufacturer's rep for the top medical equipment companies and a custom wheelchair specialist at a durable medical equipment (DME) provider in WV. He is father to 4 beautiful daughters and has three terrific grandkids. When not promoting better living for older adults, he enjoys outdoor activities including hiking and kayaking and early morning runs.

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