8 Easy Christmas Crafts for Seniors with Dementia (Fun Too!)

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Craft activities are a big part of many families' Christmas festivities. Include your loved ones with dementia with these easy Christmas crafts that are safe, fun and allow for creative expression!

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Easy Christmas Crafts for Dementia

Christmas arts and crafts are an excellent way to set the mood and ring in the holiday celebrations.

For seniors with dementia, the right craft keeps the mind and hands busy. Basic Christmas crafts such as cookie decorating, making pinecone ornaments, arranging poinsettia, making Christmas cards, tying hand-made fabric wreaths, decorating stockings, and constructing and decorating gingerbread houses add to the fun of the holiday season for people with dementia.

Additionally, a carefully selected Christmas craft may foster social participation and emotional regulation. It may lead to other positive behaviors that improve their overall health and well-being.

For this article, we’ve selected a list of arts and crafts that you can use for individuals with dementia. Along with our list, we’ve also provided basic instructions and materials.

Learn more about celebrating the holiday season with dementia in our Ultimate Guide to Chrismas With Dementia.

Christmas Cookie Decorating

Decorating pre-made Christmas cookies is very simple and doesn’t require a lengthy preparation time. Most of the supplies are edible and safe to use.

This activity allows the individual to get messy and to create whatever they want with few parameters. 

Materials

  • Pre-made sugar cookies
  • Pre-made icing in holiday colors
  • Plastic utensils for scooping
  • Holiday sprinkles
  • Ice tips and bags
  • Disposable table liner
  • Wipes

Instructions

  1. Layout the cookies on a table lined with the disposable liner (because this activity is meant to get messy). 
  2. Decorate the cookies with the provided icing and sprinkles to create your desired Christmas cookies. 

Christmas Pinecone Ornaments

You can still control this very hands-on activity with the right disposable and cleaning supplies. Individuals can be creative with their choice of glitter and the number of pine cones they want to complete.

However, this activity is short and can allow for structured instructions if needed. 

Materials

  • Cleaned and dried out pine cones
  • Glue sticks
  • Holiday glitter
  • Disposable plates
  • String
  • Disposable table liner
  • Cleaning supplies

Instructions

  1. Lay out the pine cones on the table lined with the disposable material.
  2. Sprinkle a generous amount of glitter onto a disposable plate. 
  3. Assist the individual with applying glue to the pine cone along the tips. 
  4. Roll the pine cone into the pile of glitter and allow it to dry.
  5.  Hang the pine cone up on your Christmas tree. 

Tying Fleece Blankets

Tying fleece blankets is a straightforward task and can provide an individual with sensory comfort since the fabrics are soft and comfortable. 

Materials

  • Fleece material with holiday prints
  • Sizes of your choice for children or adults

Instructions

  1. Pre-cut the edges for your seniors by taking material scissors and following the exact measurements found here
  2. Once the edges are all properly cut, tie the edges to create a beautiful holiday blanket. 
easy Christmas crafts for dementia poinsettia
A poinsettia arrangement is a simple craft that can light up someone’s room for the holiday season.

Poinsettia Arrangements

This craft is simple, requires minimal supplies, and can light up a person’s room for the holiday season. 

Materials

  • An assortment of artificial poinsettia stems and other coordinated flowers
  • Plastic or non-shattering vases
  • Floral arrangement foams to be placed in the vase (do not use decorative beads or glass pebbles since some individuals will mistake these items for food)

Instructions

  1. Place the foam into the bottom of the vase. 
  2. Poke the stems into the foam to arrange the flowers how you see fit for a beautiful Christmas arrangement. 

Christmas Cards

This activity is elementary and allows multiple ways to create a card with little to no parameters.

However, you can also modify this activity to set up some structured rules for individuals who may need those parameters to complete the activity. 

Materials

  • Cardstock or pre-cut blank greeting cards
  • Stamps
  • Stamp pads
  • Markers
  • Pencils
  • Glitter
  • Glue sticks
  • Disposable table liners 

Instructions

  1. Lay out all of the Christmas card craft supplies on the table and create your own Christmas cards
  2. For an individual with dementia, you may have to start small and only present a small number of supplies not to overwhelm them.
Interested in Christmas crafts for nursing home residents?
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Holiday Hand-tied Wreaths

This craft is straightforward, especially if fabric pieces are already pre-cut. It provides individuals with fine motor strengthening and coordination.

Individuals can walk away from this craft and return later to finish if needed. 

Materials

Go to your local craft store and walk down the wreath aisle for metal or plastic wreath frames. There are also dozens of options when mixing and matching fabrics for a Christmas wreath. 

Instructions

There are many online patterns for hand-tied wreaths


Decorating Christmas Stockings

Although this activity has the potential to get messy, it can be quite manageable with the right disposables and cleaning supplies in place. It allows for a lot of creative expression too and provides festive Christmas decorations for dementia patients too!

Materials

  • Pre-made blank Christmas stockings
  • Fabric glue
  • Glitter
  • Fabric paint
  • Markers
  • Disposable table liner

Instructions

  1. Layout the blank Christmas stockings on the disposable table liner at the table. 
  2. Lay out the decorative supplies. 
  3. Make sure the individual is wearing clothes or a smock they don’t mind getting paint on. 
  4. Decorate the socks with a wide assortment of holiday colors. 
  5. Allow the socks to dry and hang them in a special place for the Christmas season. 

Benef in place. It allows for a lot of creative expressions. 

easy Christmas crafts for dementia gingerbread house
Making a gingerbread house is ideal for safety purposes.

Gingerbread Houses

This allows seniors to create a Christmas craft and get messy freely. Still, solid instructions are provided for those who need additional structure.

The craft is also completely edible, which is excellent for safety purposes. 

Materials

  • Order simple gingerbread kits, ones that can be completed by a wide age group (8+ years and up)
  • Disposable table liners
  • Wipes
  • Cleaning supplies

Instructions

Follow the instructions provided in the gingerbread house kit, but also allow the seniors to create the house however they see fit. 

Interested in more Christmas activities for people with dementia?
Learn More

Types of Crafts to Avoid

When presenting a craft idea to an individual with dementia, there aren’t necessarily types that need to be avoided on a universal level.

Dementia is a progressive disorder that worsens with time, and each individual will function at a certain cognitive level.

Furthermore, each individual will have specific preferences and present with certain limitations in safety awareness.

With that in mind, family members and caregivers must tune into those unique needs and modify the activity accordingly.

Here are a few safety concerns to consider when choosing a Christmas craft:

  • Avoid crafts that utilize excessive heat: hot glue guns, hot blow guns, etc.
  • Avoid crafts that present small inedible objects that can be mistaken for food, as this can create a choking hazard.
  • Avoid crafts that are too lengthy and cumbersome for the individual to the point where it triggers stress and agitation. If you have the individual participating in a simple craft and you notice signs of frustration, offer your help or redirect them for some time off from the activity.
  • Avoid crafts that make the individual feel silly or childish. If they don’t want to participate, don’t make them feel obligated to do so. 

Infographic: Christmas Crafts for Dementia

Easy Christmas Crafts for Seniors with Dementia Infographic
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Christmas arts and crafts for individuals with dementia can provide numerous emotional, cognitive, physical, and social benefits.

Family and caregivers should be selective and thoughtful in what craft they present to their loved ones and highly consider their individual needs, preferences, and current cognitive capacity to foster success.

For more Christmas craft ideas, check out this guide.

We hope you found this guide to Christmas crafts for dementia helpful and that you are ready to tackle your first project. We would appreciate a share on your favorite social media! If you have a particular craft you like to do, please let us know in the comments below!

Meredith Chandler, OTR/L

Registered/Licensed Occupational Therapist

Meredith has worked as an occupational therapist for 9 years and as a content writer for 6 years. She primarily works with the geriatric population, focusing on their rehabilitative needs and instructing caregivers and family members for home care. Her specialties include ADL training, neurological re-education, functional mobility training, adaptive equipment education, and wheelchair assessment and mobility training. She is a painter, a musician, and a mother of 4 who loves spending time with her family,

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