Making the Holiday Festive: Planning a Christmas Party for Seniors

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Are you looking for a way to spread holiday cheer to your elderly loved ones this Christmas season? Planning the perfect Christmas party can be a great way to do just that! Here's how to plan the perfect one!

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Christmas Party for Seniors

Christmas is a season of love. We can work to make it even more special for the older adults we love by enthusiastically planning a holiday party.

One that allows them to have fun in a safe and comfortable environment!

Here is everything you need to know about Christmas parties for older adults, including party themes, activities, snacks, jokes, holiday songs, and movies.

We even have suggestions for goodie bags they can take with them!

Christmas Party Themes for Seniors and Elderly

This selection of creative and unique Christmas party themes are the best options for promoting a festive spirit and can be implemented easily at home, a party venue, or even for a nursing home holiday party or senior center community event

1. Stocking Stuffers Party

Who doesn’t like discovering what’s hidden inside a Christmas stocking? Find holiday stockings and stuff them with little gifts and sweets.

Invite friends to bring their own to trade at the party. Or stuff cuddly, non-slip socks they can comfortably wear at home for a more practical solution!

2. Christmas Luau Party

Create a tropical atmosphere by serving fresh fruits and luau-style meals. Pineapples, rice, roast pork, and other savory foods come to mind.

Ask them to wear Hawaiian shirts and red and green leis to the party. Of course, “Mele Kalikimaka” should be the Christmas song of choice for an event like this.

3. Senior Citizen Christmas Give Back Party

Instead of everyone getting a gift, have them give one instead. Hosting a care package party with your family and friends spreads happiness to needy individuals.

Have everyone bring hygiene items, small snacks, daily necessities, and other helpful items that would make any older adult smile. Then have everyone get together and package the items in stockings, gift bags, or gift baskets.

4. Christmas Tea Party

Not all holiday celebrations involve a formal dinner gathering. Having a Christmas tea party with loved ones is also pleasant. Invite visitors to attend in their best holiday attire to enjoy a proper tea and cookie party. Pinkies out!

5. Holiday Card Party

Pre-designed Christmas cards overflow the shelves this time of year. But there is something special about homemade Christmas cards.

With various seasonal decorations, like washi tape, vibrant yarn, buttons, stickers, and more, you and your loved ones can create your own collection of Christmas cards!

Then, have everyone carpool together to hand them out in the community to less fortunate or lonely seniors.

6. Charcuterie Party

Learn to keep the menu lighter this year with easy appetizers to focus more on getting closer to your family members and less on food prep.

Have everyone bring their favorite party foods to share with others. Include a beautiful display of wine, cheese, grapes, and other delectable delicacies.

Don’t forget some softer food items for older adults who may have difficulty chewing or swallowing. 

7. Jammie and Cocoa Party

Have everyone come in their best Christmas or holiday pajamas. Give prizes for the most creative choices.

Also, have lots of marshmallow-topped cocoa and sweet treats available. This is a great time to play the Polar Express on a large screen for everyone to enjoy!

Christmas party for seniors activities
Here are some exciting Christmas activities that will be fun and entertaining for everyone.

Activities for a Senior-Friendly Christmas Party

Arranging engaging Christmas events for seniors in a care facility, a nursing home, or even your own house boosts enthusiasm and fosters friendships.

Here are some of the most thrilling holiday-themed activities to entertain your guests at a senior citizen Christmas party!

1. Secret Santa

One of the most prominent Christmas activities for seniors is Secret Santa. But, this activity requires some advance preparation because names must be drawn to give everyone time to find gifts.

An alternative is to use a more white elephant option and have everyone bring a gift of a specific value, then have people draw numbers at the party.

2. Decorating a Christmas Tree

Make decorating and lighting the Christmas tree a big event to create holiday joy. This activity keeps people moving and allows them to express their creativity.

To make an entire evening out of it, have everyone make homemade ornaments from other arts and crafts activities mentioned here. Then, get everyone together and hang their custom designs on the tree.

3. Art and Crafts

Seniors can enhance their skills in various arts and crafts in addition to decorating a lovely Christmas tree. There are also many Christmas crafting activities for older adults to create their own unique and charming holiday decorations. 

Plus, we have some specific craft recommendations for nursing home residents too.

4. Try Delicious Christmas Recipes

Senior citizens who enjoy cooking should devote some time to trying new dishes. During the Christmas season, they get to test their culinary skills while making traditional Christmas foods like cakes and pies.

Seniors can participate in online cooking workshops where they can discover new and valuable methods to boost their cooking performance. They might just find some new tasty Christmas favorites to savor each season.

5. Christmas Bingo

What more terrific way to celebrate Christmas than by gathering your loved ones for a traditional bingo game? This is a pleasant holiday activity for them since they are already familiar with the rules and how to play.

Don’t be afraid to “Christmas-ify” your game by using candies as markers and festive holiday themed-game cards, which you can find for free online.

We have a complete guide to planning a Christmas bingo game for older adults if you like his idea.

6. Movie Nights

The seemingly infinite Christmas movie selection is one of the most spectacular features of the winter holidays.

A movie night will brighten the atmosphere and enable the elderly to participate in an entertaining event with the entire family. 

Watch their personal favorites to create a Christmas movie night that will also bring back some fond memories for them and stories for the family.

If you don’t have a Christmas movie tradition, here are our recommended Christmas movies for seniors and the elderly.

7. Trivia Nights

A lively night of trivia and quizzes is an ideal Christmas activity for seniors. And a trivia night pairs nicely with a movie night

Playing trivia games provides cognitive stimulation and mental exercises that benefit everyone – regardless of age.

Seniors can also participate in online quiz sessions to play against virtual friends and create online relationships.

8. Dance Therapy

Christmas is a time for sharing happiness, being good to others … and dancing enthusiastically, of course! Dance therapy is an activity most seniors can participate in this holiday season, even though it might challenge some.

Seniors with mobility challenges can participate with the assistance of a caregiver or family member as long as it is safe. For example, if they use a wheelchair, have someone push them in while they move their upper bodies to the music. 

Christmas Themed Treats 

Is there anything better than the warm aroma of a freshly made pie or a batch of just baked Christmas cookies?

Here are some treat suggestions to balance the temptation of sweet cravings with getting some good for you nutrients too.

1. Pecan Berry Bursts

A burst of color can liven up your dessert menu! This beautiful combination of confectioners’ sugar and freeze-dried fruit is sprinkled over baked pecan cookies.

These buttery pecan cookies feature holiday color and a subtle tartness from finely chopped freeze-dried fruit.

(Via Good Housekeeping)

2. Reindeer Profiteroles

Christmas happiness is served in loads of cream puffs! Melted chocolate, edible antlers, and button noses transform spiced cream-filled puffs into Santa’s four-legged pals.

Make a festive display on your dessert table by adorning these pastries with eyes, noses, and antlers (don’t forget one red nose!).

(Via Good Housekeeping)

3. Flourless Chocolate-Walnut Cookies

These soft, chocolatey cookies are gluten-free and made with confectioners’ sugar and cocoa powder. You won’t even notice the absence of flour!

The cocoa powder and dark chocolate chips have a rich chocolate flavor that is delightfully complemented by a dash of flaky salt.

(Via Good Housekeeping)

4. Snowy Pine Cones

These edible pine cones are made by molding a chocolate hazelnut mix to a pretzel rod and using goldfish-shaped graham crackers to create the appearance of a real pine cone. Nothing on the cookie platter this year is more entertaining or inventive!

(Via TasteofHome)

5. Gingerbread Wands

No need for cookie cutters! Use a pizza wheel to cut the rolled-out dough to create edible, enchanted batons covered in edible glitter or colored sugar crystals. 

(Via Good Housekeeping)

6. White Chocolate Raspberry Thins

These gorgeous pink cookies are made with a simple dough and freeze-dried raspberries. This will be the unique treat that will have everyone asking for the recipe. 

(Via Good Housekeeping)

7. Sugar Cookie Ornaments

These traditional holiday cookies serve as both a delicious snack and a handcrafted tree ornament by threading a ribbon through them. Just be sure to make a hole in them before baking.

(Via Good Housekeeping)

8. No-Bake Waffle Dippers

These three-ingredient cookies are a safe bet whether you’re searching for a last-minute gift or a fast cookie exchange recipe. These are the ideal and perfect cookies to satisfy a sudden craving too.

(Via Good Housekeeping)

9. Snowman Chocolates

Bring Frosty to life in chocolate form using your ice cube tray (seriously!). This winter, warm up with a cup of cocoa and some simple snowman chocolates.

(Via Woman’s Day)

10. Mint Snowman Marshmallows

These adorable and festive mint snowman marshmallows never fail to put you in the season’s spirit. Especially when you pop one (or two!) into your mouth.

These mint-flavored snowmen are much warmer and more attractive than building the real thing out of snow.

(Via I Am A Food Blog)

Christmas party for seniors jokes
A good laugh will surely make the holiday even more cheerful.

Christmas Jokes

They say laughter is contagious. And making people laugh this Christmas is a worthy effort to promote good feelings and strengthen social engagement.

These Christmas jokes for seniors and the elderly fill awkward silences and getting the conversation off to a great start. 

1. Punny Christmas Jokes

  • What desserts do snowmen love? Ice Krispies.
  • What was said between the Christmas trees? Lighten up!
  • What was the message of the stamp to the Christmas card? We’ll go someplace if you stick with me!
  • What are elves taught at school? The elf-abet.
  • What happens after the end of Christmas? The letter “S”!
  • What month do Christmas trees favor the least? Sep-timber!
  • Which game does reindeer play when they get together for a sleepover? Truth or deer.
  • How do the elves clean Santa’s sleigh on the day after Christmas? They use Santa-tizer.
  • What is the name of a rude reindeer? Rude-Dolph.
  • What is the location of Santa’s reindeer’s coffee stop? At Star-bucks!

2. Santa Claus Jokes

  • Who is the most chill among Santa’s friends? Jack Frost.
  • If Santa suddenly stops moving, what do you call him? Santa Pause.
  • When Santa calls for attendance, how do the elves respond? “Present!”
  • What was Santa’s preferred academic subject? Chemis-tree!
  • Why is Santa scared about being trapped in a chimney? He has Claus-trophobia.
  • What is the name of Santa’s dog? Santa Paws!
  • How do you find out when Santa is nearby? You can always sense his presents.
  • What was the cost of Santa’s sleigh? Nothing, it was on the house!
  • Who is the singer Santa likes the most? Elfish Presley.
  • On Christmas Eve, why did Santa Claus receive a parking ticket? He parked his sleigh in a snowy area.

3. Christmas Tree Jokes

  • After the bank had shut down, what did the Christmas tree do? It started its own branch.
  • How can Christmas trees access email? They log-on.
  • How did things go between the two competing Christmas trees? They signed a peace tree-ty!
  • Which shape did the Christmas tree prefer? A tree-angle!
  • What candy is the favorite of a Christmas tree? Orna-mints!
  • What do you call the process of removing a Christmas tree? Christmas chopping!
  • What songs are sung at retirement parties to Christmas trees? Fir he’s a jolly good fellow, fir he’s a jolly good fellow…
  • What has the same size as a Christmas tree yet weighs no more than a feather? Its shadow.
  • What did Luke Skywalker remark when he established a Christmas tree farm? May the forest be with you!
  • How do holiday trees prepare for a night on the town? They spruce up!

Planning a Celebration for People With Dementia?

Of course, seniors with dementia have special needs that might not be addressed here specifically. See our guide to celebrating Christmas with dementia for more information.

Learn More

Christmas Music and Songs

Music is powerful. Even people with dementia may never forget the words to their Christmas songs.

So, while enjoying that cocoa and conversation with friends and loved ones, here is some fantastically festive music to play at your party. For variety, we chose both traditional Christmas music and songs with a more contemporary hook.

Below are the best songs for a playlist for background music (and sing-alongs, too) this holiday season:

  • “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” by Frank Sinatra
  • “White Christmas” by Bing Crosby
  • “The Christmas Song” by Nat King Cole
  • “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” by Bruce Springsteen
  • “All I Want for Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey
  • “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” by Brenda Lee
  • “Run Rudolph Run” by Chuck Berry
  • “The Twelve Days of Christmas” by Perry Como
  • “Merry Christmas Darling” by Carpenters
  • “It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas” by Perry Como
  • “Wonderful Christmastime” by Paul McCartney
  • “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” by Andy Williams
  • “Feliz Navidad” by José Feliciano
  • “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” by Dean Martin
  • “Believe” by Josh Groban
  • “Silent Night” by The Temptations
  • “Blue Christmas” by Elvis Presley
  • “Christmas Time is Here” by Vince Guaraldi Trio
  • “Jingle Bells” by Frank Sinatra
  • “Santa Baby” by Eartha Kitt
  • “Carol of the Bells” by Trans-Siberian Orchestra
  • “Deck the Halls” by Nat King Cole
  • “Jingle Bell Rock” by Bobby Helms
  • “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” by Gene Autry ft. The Pinafores
Interested in more Christmas music for older adults?
See Our Top List

Christmas Movies

Holiday gatherings with the family nearly always include watching everyone’s seasonal favorite movies… or, at least, having them playing in the background.

If you don’t have a traditional selection, enjoy the season by watching these recommended heart-warming movies!

1. A Christmas Story

This American classic, often shown all day on Christmas Day, will always have a spot on any list of holiday movies. Anyone who was ever young identifies with wanting an unobtainable gift.

And every parent connects with the holiday season’s craziness and the parents making the best of the most trying circumstances.

2. Miracle on 34th Street

By infusing enchantment and fantasy with a bit of spirit and soul, this film explores the age-old question: Does Santa really exist?

It’s mature enough for older adults’ entertainment and is also ideal for watching with grandchildren without any holiday spoilers!

3. It’s a Wonderful Life

This movie studies the impact of our lives on people around us and what a real Christmas is. Watchers learn why family is important.

Even though it is set in a black-and-white world, it is still relevant. Skip the “colorized” version, though!

4. Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol 

This time-honored classic is a great approach to emphasize the value of life. It communicates that every soul counts, every interaction is significant, and how we treat others does matter.

This classic has endless video editions, from animated shorts to black-and-white classics to expanded mini-series specials. So, there is a version for everyone!

5. We’re No Angels 

Three fugitive criminals who practically destroy the holidays for others due to selfishness are the subject of this film’s spin on the classic feel-good Christmas movies.

However, after preparing a delectable Christmas lunch for their neighbors, the criminals turn their attitudes around.

6. Christmas with the Kranks

This Christmas film appeals to baby boomers and empty nesters whose adult children seem to be moving on without them. It tells the story of a middle-aged couple who attempt to avoid the Christmas crisis by taking a cruise instead.

But, as they prepare to leave, they get surprised by their daughter, who is coming home for a traditional holiday celebration.

7. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

In this blockbuster film, Steve Martin is hilarious as he experiences a sequence of comically bizarre happenings as he tries to get home for Christmas.

We can all identify with him as he tries every trick in the book to get home in time to celebrate the holidays but keeps running into setbacks.

8. White Christmas

This is a stunningly beautiful film from start to finish. The main plot has two GIs putting on a Christmas song and dance show to save their old commanding officer’s resort hotel. Every scene is rich in detail and captures the festive mood.

9. Elf

This is one of those movies that your grandkids probably watch repeatedly. Maybe you should join in a time or two… or three! This movie warms the heart because it has many amusing and life-lesson-inspiring moments.

We have more Christmas movie selections for you to choose from here.

Christmas Party for Seniors goodie bags
Make everyone at the party feel special by giving well-thought Christmas goodie bags.

Christmas Goodie Bags

Make goodie bags to hand out at the party’s end to show them how much you care. Here are our top Christmas goodie bag ideas for older adults, seniors, and the elderly!

1. Winter Holiday Goodie Bags

Here are some excellent winter holiday items to incorporate into your goodie bags at your next Christmas or Kwanzaa party, New Year’s Eve, or even Valentine’s Day party:

  • Sprinkles, frosting colors, and toppers for holiday cakes and cookies combined with cupcake liners.
  • Lip balms with seasonal flavors and fragrances, like peppermint or gingerbread
  • Gloves or mittens that are stretchable
  • Hot toddy ingredients
  • Small wall hanging or ornament with the year on it

2. Christmas Treat Goodie Bags

Candy and other seasonal sweets and treats are always excellent goodie bag options. They don’t take up much room and are always appreciated.

And, of course, a traditional candy cane should be a part of every Christmas celebration! Here are a few more ideas:

  • Tic Tacs
  • Almond Joy
  • Santa Kisses
  • Snowman Bark
  • Reese’s Christmas Tree
  • Large Classic Candy Canes
  • Hot Chocolate – Single Serve Packet
  • Individually Wrapped Peppermint Bark Candies

3. Foodie Favorite Goodie Bags

Sample-sized quantities and individual servings of packaged food items help your food gifts go further. Individually wrap homemade treats or place them in smaller jars to make them suitable for goodie bags.

Consider:

  • Individually customized cookies with unique designs
  • Mini cupcakes or muffins
  • Flavorful dips using artisan bread, homemade mustard, and olive oils that have been spiced up
  • Gourmet maple syrup sample with pancake mix
  • Retro candy like candy buttons or gourmet lollipops
  • Homemade pasta sauce with pasta and spoons
  • Gourmet macarons in a box with various flavors

4. Quirky Yet Useful Goodie Bags

Here are several useful products with a festive feel to include in your goodie bags:

  • Funny sticky notes with sarcastic humor
  • Personalized photo socks
  • Cell phone PopSocket grip
  • Painted stone paperweights
  • Reusable drinking straws
  • Alternative to using a standard deck of cards for adult card games
  • Matching coasters for your party or season

5. Non-Edible Goodie Bags

If food isn’t appropriate for your situation, here are small non-food Christmas party favor options that many older adults would enjoy:

  • Lotions are an affordable goodie bag option – avoid intense aromas for more-sensitive people.
  • Socks – just make sure you get non-slip socks with grippers. ‘
  • Bookmarks – even better if they are handmade.
  • Shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, and other toiletries are helpful.
  • Gift cards to grocery stores, online shopping, gas stations, and home improvement stores. 
  • Small notepads or paper are perfect. Throw in a few pens too.
  • Gloves, scarves, and hats are always appreciated in the cold winter.

6. Eco-Friendly Goodie Bags

The environmental impact of Christmas isn’t well-known. Many people don’t have the time or energy to recycle because of the craziness of Christmas, family traditions, overnight guests, and other holiday activities.

So, packaging such as shopping bags, cardboard boxes, gift wraps, and other items ends up in the trash after Christmas.

Here are some eco-friendly Christmas goodie bag ideas for older adults to reduce the environmental impact:

  • Giving candles is a traditional Christmas custom, so treat your loved ones to a soy candle in a reusable glass jar. This vanilla-scented candle will add a pleasant ambiance wherever it is placed, plus it can be used to store other items once it has been used up.
  • Gifts like Tree Seed Matchbooks come with a tiny box of seeds and growing instructions. And it’s always nice to get a reminder that spring is on the way once the holidays have come and gone.

7. Virtual Goodie Bags

Just because someone is in their senior years, don’t assume they avoid technology. Even older people can take advantage of the new trend of virtual goodie bags.

Virtual gift bags’ typical items include various digital products, including coupons, e-books, and games.

They are a terrific way to remain in touch with friends and family. Plus, you can fully customize them to the recipient’s personality.

The best part is that most virtual goodie packages are free. 

8. The Great Outdoors Goodie Bags

Not everywhere is covered in snow at Christmas, so pack your bag full of items that honor nature in the areas with warmer winters, such as:

  • Bandana in various holiday prints and patterns such as Santa Claus, Skiing Snowman, Gingerbread Man, and Candy Cane
  • Handheld compass
  • Hand spade or trowel
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Multi-tool for the wallet
  • Succulents in a pot

Video Guide

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Infographic: Christmas Party for Senior Citizens

Christmas Party for Senior Citizens infographic
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We hope you found this ultimate guide to planning a Christmas party for older adults helpful and are ready to plan your holiday event.

We would appreciate a share on your favorite social media if so. Please share any other suggestions you have in the comments below!

Happy Partying from Graying With Grace!

Sources and Additional Resources:

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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