Making Holidays Special: How to Help the Elderly at Christmas

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Making the holiday season less stressful, less lonely, and easier to navigate is the best way to help the elderly during Christmas. Here are 20 ways to let older adults know they matter. 

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Help the Elderly Christmas

Summary & Highlights

1. There are many ways to help make the holiday season enjoyable for older adults.

Some examples are bringing them useful gifts, planning an evening out, making their favorite holiday meals, helping them decorate, inviting them to religious services, hand-writing a Christmas card, providing transportation, visiting their home, and involving them in your family’s activities.

2. Lack of money shouldn’t be an obstacle to helping older adults.

Some ways to help seniors during the holiday without spending a lot of money include offering time and companionship, giving an act of kindness, making a phone call, sending a letter or card, and helping with chores. All you need is to show compassion and a willingness to help.

3. Helping anonymously is a great way to give back and spread holiday cheer.

Drop off care packages at a senior care facility, buy groceries for an older adult, volunteer through a local service organization, send anonymous cards or letters of encouragement, or participate in a Christmas Shoebox program for the elderly.

How to Support Older People During the Christmas Season

The elderly can enjoy the Christmas season in various ways, from attending religious services, delicious seasonal treats, and caroling to visiting family and friends.

Many enjoy participating in the special holiday events offered this time of year, such as concerts, plays, and festivals.

Many older adults find this season a natural opportunity to reflect on the past year and make memories with their loved ones. 

Here are ways you can support older people and help them enjoy the holiday season:

1. Bring Them Free Christmas Gifts That Are Helpful Too

Christmas gifts can be a great way to show your appreciation and love for elderly people in your life. Get them a special gift that will make their lives easier and that they will also appreciate. 

We have a list of practical gifts for older adults you can read for some ideas.

2. Plan an Evening Out

Get elderly parents out of the house to enjoy special holiday events such as a concert at church, driving through a light display, or dinner, followed by a bit of shopping. These outings can be a great way to create warm holiday cheer.

3. Make Their Favorite Holiday Meals

Prepare a special holiday meal for older people in your life – one that has all their favorites. If you need clarification on what those are – just ask!

This gives you a chance to spend time together. It also shows you care because of the time and concern you took to create a delicious reminder of the season.

4. Help Them Decorate

Decorating for the holidays can be a fun and festive activity. But it can be exhausting and sometimes unsafe for some elderly people. Offer to help them put up their holiday decorations and Christmas tree or prepare their home for a holiday party. 

5. Invite Them to Religious Services

Invite elderly neighbors and loved ones to join you at religious services or other special holiday activities like a Christmas cantata or children’s nativity play. They’ll appreciate being with other people and celebrating the season meaningfully

Help the elderly Christmas card
Writing a holiday card or letter to a senior is a heartfelt gesture.

6. Handwrite a Christmas Card

Take the time to write a holiday card or letter to a senior in your life. Explain what they mean to you and do it by hand. Handwritten communication demonstrates your affection and appreciation because you took the time to make a personal and heartfelt gesture.

7. Give Them a Ride

Provide transportation to holiday events or activities. Ask them if they need to make a trip to the mall for holiday shopping. Run them to the grocery store to get what they need for their holiday meal. 

8. Visit Their Home

Take the time to visit the elderly in their home. Spending time just sitting on the couch and talking is a rewarding activity in itself. Let them share stories and memories to help them feel more connected to you.

This visit is also a great time to look for home improvements and repairs that need to be done. 

9. Involve Them in Activities

Involve the seniors in your life with traditional activities at your home, such as baking, crafting, or playing games. Invite them to Christmas dinner or lunch.

These activities can give them a sense of purpose, community, involvement, and a chance to bond with loved ones.

Make sure seniors around you feel included in your holiday celebrations.

Invite them to join in conversations, ask them to share their experiences, take them for a drive to see a Christmas lights display, and remind them that they are an essential part of your family or circle of friends.

Let them know they matter.

How to Help Without Spending A Lot of Money

When it comes to helping older people, money isn’t always needed or the answer. There are many ways to show your support and love without spending much money.

The best examples are spending quality time together, helping with tasks such as errands, and providing emotional support.

Using a little creativity and thoughtfulness, you can make a positive impact on their lives without breaking the bank.

Here are other ways:

1. Offer Your Time and Companionship

Offer to spend time with them during the holidays. Just sit and chat. Weather permitting, go for a walk around the block.

Play games, watch a movie, or just listen to their stories. Ask how they are doing and if they need any help with anything. Spend time developing a meaningful relationship with them.

2. Give an Act of Kindness

Show kindness and a willingness to help by performing a small service, such as running errands, helping with their garden, changing their bed linens, or cleaning their home.

3. Make a Phone Call

Call senior neighbors and loved ones to check in and see how they are doing on Christmas Day.

Offer to make phone calls to schedule services they need or help them conduct business. Make the call from their home, where they can authorize you to speak on their behalf.

4. Send a Letter or Card

Sending a handwritten note offers encouragement, builds a relationship, and lets them know you’re thinking of them and that they matter.

5. Help with Chores

Lend a hand with grocery shopping, laundry, and cooking chores to make the holidays less stressful. Vacuuming and changing the bed linens are a great place to start.

Help the elderly Christmas anonymously
Helping the elderly anonymously at Christmas can make a difference in their lives.

How to Help Elderly People Anonymously

Helping older adults anonymously at Christmas time provides the satisfaction of knowing that you have made a difference in someone’s life without seeking recognition for your acts of kindness.

Anonymous help can take many forms. Try volunteering at a local food pantry or soup kitchen, donating to a charity the provides Christmas assistance programs for seniors, and providing random acts of kindness without revealing your identity. 

1. Donate to Christmas Assistance Programs That Support Seniors 

Four charities that specialize in supporting older people specifically are Meals on Wheels (mealsonwheelsamerica.org), Rebuilding Together (rebuildingtogether.org), The Gray Panthers (graypanthers.org), and The National Council on Aging (ncoa.org).

These charities provide meals, home repairs, advocacy, and services to help the elderly remain independent and safe.

To help seniors locally, ask that your donation be directed to the local branch. another option is to visit a local gift tree at the mall where you can anonymously fill the Christmas wish list of a needy elder.

No matter how small your contribution, it can make a massive difference in someone’s life this Christmas.

Helpful Christmas Donations for Seniors and Elderly
Learn More

2. Pay for Groceries or a Meal for a Senior

Grocery shopping is a key but challenging activity for many elderly individuals, especially for the homebound or those unable to get out. 

To provide groceries anonymously, buy a few bags of essential food items and leave them on the porch of a senior in your community.

Randomly pay for an elder’s groceries at the grocery store. Arrange an anonymous grocery delivery from your local grocer or use an online app such as Instacart. Leave a gift card to a local grocery store in their mailbox.

3. Volunteer at a Local Service Organization

Volunteering with a senior program that provides services for older adults in your community is an excellent way to give back during the holiday season while remaining somewhat anonymous.

Working through these organizations, you can anonymously help the elderly in your community by providing services such as grocery shopping, meal preparation, or running errands.

Some organizations may require you to fill out an application or provide references so you won’t be completely anonymous. But once approved to volunteer, you can serve people in the community without revealing your identity. 

Another option is virtual volunteer opportunities you can do from the comfort of your home. Examples include anonymously writing letters of encouragement to seniors, donating to charities that support older adults, and participating in virtual fundraisers.

Other ideas are working as an online tutor, teaching them technology, or reading books over the phone or via video chat.

4. Drop off Care Packages at a Senior Care Facility

Another excellent but anonymous way to help is to drop off care packages at a local retirement home or assisted living facility.

Pack a Chrismas care package with basic toiletries, warm clothing, blankets, or non-perishable food items to make a needed difference in a senior’s life.

It is also a great way to spread holiday cheer and bring joy to those who may not have family visiting during the holidays.

Contact your local retirement home or assisted living community for more information on how you can help bring some holiday cheer this season.

5. Send Anonymous Cards or Letters of Encouragement

Sending cards or letters to elderly individuals can be a great way to show your support and spread holiday cheer this Christmas without putting your name on it. Contact local churches or seniors programs and ask for a list of people you can encourage.

You can also do this at nursing homes and senior care facilities, but privacy laws may prevent you from getting actual names.

6. Participate in a Christmas Shoebox Program for the Elderly

Christmas Shoebox programs are a great way to bring joy and companionship to older adults in your community.

These programs allow you to fill a shoebox with personal care items, warm clothing, blankets, non-perishable food items, and even small gifts.

These shoeboxes can be given to retirement homes, assisted living facilities, and other organizations that serve seniors in your area.

Participating in a Christmas Shoebox program for the elderly can spread joy and cheer to those who may not have families to celebrate with this holiday season.

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Infographic: Ideas to Help the Elderly at Christmas

Ideas to Help the Elderly at Christmas infographic
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We hope these ideas and acts of kindness will provide rewarding ways for you to help the elderly in your community during Christmas.

Use them as opportunities to build meaningful relationships with older people near you and appreciate the wisdom and life experience they offer.

We would be honored if you would share this information with your friends on social media. If you have ideas to contribute, please do so in the comments below!

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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