Thanksgiving Crafts for Seniors and the Elderly (Simple, Fun, and Affordable)

Looking for fun and festive Thanksgiving craft ideas to do with the seniors and elderly in your life? Look no further! We've got some great ideas, plus all the necessary information on how to do them and what materials you'll need. So get ready to get crafting!

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
Assistive Technology Professional
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Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate and express gratitude for all our blessings in the past year. What about the seniors and those with disabilities who may not be able to get out and celebrate in person?

That’s why we’ve just put together this easy, affordable Thanksgiving craft ideas list for them! From light bulb ornaments to sea glass trees, there’s something for everyone on this list.

Plus, these projects are easy enough for anyone – no crafting experience is necessary!

So if you’re a senior citizen looking for a fun way to spend your Thanksgiving day or, someone who needs some easy craft ideas to keep you busy during the holiday season, you’ll love this list!

Thanksgiving Craft Ideas for Seniors

1. Pottery Barn-Inspired Thankful Tree

What could be more festive than a personalized thank you tree made from pottery Barn-inspired pieces? With this easy and affordable craft, you can create a beautiful centerpiece for your home in just minutes!

To make it, all you need is some crafting supplies – like clay ornaments, felt sheets, lace, and thread – and an eye for style. This DIY Pottery Barn-Inspired Thankful Tree is a great project for anyone with dementia.

It’s easy to do, requires very little concentration, and doing by any level of crafting enthusiast. The supplies needed are mostly found at home, which means it’s perfect for seniors or those with limited mobility.

Materials:

  • Branches
  • A jar or other container in which to pile the branches (depending on the jar, you may need rocks or other materials to hold the branches up) materials to hold the branches up)
  • Cardstock
  • Hole punch
  • Scissors
  • Leaf template
  • Twine
  • Chalk ink marker

Instructions:

  1. Put the branches in the jar or another container first. Then, trim some of the lower branches.
  2. Using autumn-colored cardstock, trace around the leaf templates. After you’ve cut out the leaves, write something you’re grateful for on each one.
  3. Finally, punch a hole at the top or side of each leaf and tie them to the tree branches.

2. Sea Glass Christmas Tree

Deck the halls with festive Christmas decorations. It’s time of the year again to contact distant relatives, exchange gifts, and consume delectable treats. Christmas is a unique holiday season.

A stunning Sea Glass Christmas Tree is one fantastic option! This project is simple to complete, inexpensive, and ideal for creative seniors who enjoy making things from scratch.

The main aspects of the Christmas experience bring joy and happiness, which is beneficial to people with dementia because it helps them recall beautiful experiences and increases feelings of worth and belonging.

Materials:

  • Sea glass in assorted shapes, sizes, and colors and with enough to cover the cone fully
  • 1 Paper mache cone 7″ high
  • 1 Starfish embellishment
  • 1 Toothpick
  • Acrylic paint in white
  • Paintbrush
  • Hot glue gun with transparent glue sticks
  • Awl

Instructions:

  1. Create a hole in the top of the paper mache cone.
  2. Paint the paper mache cone and toothpick white with a medium-sized paintbrush.
  3. Glue the painted toothpick to the back side of the starfish.
  4. Glue the sea glass pieces into the cone starting at the base.
  5. Continue gluing the sea glass by layering it over top of the previous row of sea glass.
  6. Continue to cover the cone with sea glass to cover it completely.
  7. Insert the starfish toothpick into the hole at the top.
Thanksgiving crafts for seniors angel ornament
Making a light bulb angel can be a relaxing activity.

3. Light Bulb Angel Ornament

Thanksgiving is quickly approaching, and a better way to kick off the festivities than to get our seniors and their loved ones busy crafting these simple, inexpensive craft ideas?

If you’re looking for something a little more complex, a tutorial for making a light bulb angel will make you creative and have fun. Seniors who have dementia may have difficulty in their ability to judge differences.

However, this activity will help to relax. It will reduce stress and anxiety and enable them to focus better on the activities offered.

Materials:

  • Burnt out light bulb
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Acrylic paint in white, pink, and flesh
  • Gold cord or ribbon
  • Gold craft wire
  • Wire cutters
  • A handful of tiny white silk flowers
  • Gold scrap material
  • Fiberfil cotton batting
  • Three plastic white or iridescent flowers
  • Lace curtain remnant with a floral pattern
  • 1 Pair of white nylon angel wings
  • Hot glue
  • Scissors
  • Black marker

Instructions:

1. Wipe the bulb with rubbing alcohol to help the paint adhere to the bulb. Allow drying. Allow the white acrylic paint to dry on the entire light bulb. Put on a second coat; if the finish appears streaked, blot on a “stucco” look with a large paintbrush or a sponge—no need to paint the socket. Allow the bulb to dry completely.

2. While the bulb is drying, make two large flowers out of the lace curtain and a halo out of craft wire (leave enough wire to wrap around the bulb socket).

3. When the bulb is completely dry, wrap the craft wire around the bulb socket and manipulate the wire upward so that the halo is above the socket (head). Glue the gold fabric strip around the socket (almost at the end where it meets the bulb)—fiber filling any remaining sockets. Prepare Fiberfil by rolling a small amount between your hands to form “tubes,” then glue it in place. Glue tiny silk flowers above the gold band one at a time until the entire socket is covered.

4. Paint the face area with flesh-colored paint. Please make a small bow out of gold ribbon or cord, then glue it to the front of the bulb, about halfway down where the round part begins. Wrap the bow with iridescent or white plastic flowers (as pictured). Make a shawl out of the two lace curtain flowers by starting behind the angel’s neck and working your way forward and around. Do this for both sides, overlapping where necessary.

5. Turn the angel over in your hand, being careful not to put any pressure on the embellishments on the front, and glue the angel wings to the back. Make a loop of gold cord or ribbon and glue it to the back of the angel, just above the wings.

6. Draw both the eyes and mouth with a black marker. Blot excess pink paint onto a paper towel using a small paintbrush. When all leftover paint is off the brush, carefully and gently blot on the cheeks. Hang!


4. Fall Mason Jar

These Fall Mason Jar are the perfect Thanksgiving craft idea for the fall season. Whether you’re seeking something simple like a pumpkin votive or something more complex like an apple pie sculpture, these fall Mason Jar Crafts are sure to please.

Plus, many of them can be done in just minutes – making them ideal for those with limited flexibility or those who don’t have much time on their hands this season.

Additionally, this makes it perfect for those with dementia who may have difficulty following simple directions or remembering simple steps. To fit your style -customize these crafts to make them unique and special for yourself or someone special in your life.

Materials:

  • Pint mason jars
  • Burlap ribbon
  • Chalk paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Scissors
  • Twine
  • Hot glue and a glue gun
  • Letter stencil
  • Stencil brush
  • Flowers

Instructions:

  1. Paint each mason jar. Before painting, thoroughly clean them. I like rubbing alcohol on the surface and letting it dry before painting. Paint as many pots as you need for this project in whatever colors you want. I like chalk paint for this because it only takes one coat!
  2. Cut your burlap ribbon while your jars are drying into 11 1/2 inch lengths. You’ll need as many stripes as letters in your design.
  3. Make a letter stencil for each ribbon. Use a stencil brush to protect your work surface from getting the best results. I’m using a two-layer stencil, but you can use a more straightforward letter. 
  4. Once your ribbon and jars are dry, wrap one ribbon around each jar and secure it with hot glue in the back.
  5. Tie a knot in the twine around the top of each jar. I also like to fray the ends of my yarn, but it’s not required.
  6. Finish your fall mason jars with flowers.
Thanksgiving crafts for seniors mosaic wine
A mosaic wine bottle is a great outdoor summer craft.

5. Mosaic Wine Bottle

This mosaic wine bottle project features beachy colors and shells. It’s a great summer craft for the outdoors. Since most materials are blues and greens, and sea shells, too, seniors, most importantly persons with dementia, will love this craft activity. 

This Thanksgiving craft idea promotes sensory stimulation in seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia by allowing them to stay in the present moment and interact with their surroundings.

From the journal of Occupational Therapy in Health Care, sensory activities such as bringing objects the senior does not usually have around, like sand, seashells, or other items, stir their system. 

Materials:

  • Wine bottle
  • Tiles, 3/8″ to 1/4″ square (blues and greens and peaches)
  • Large scallop shell
  • Small and medium-sized shells
  • Half pearl stickers
  • White sanded grout
  • Mosaic grout sealer
  • Clear silicone adhesive 

Instructions:

  1. Attach the tiles and shells to the wine bottle using glue. Try to keep your grout lines (the spaces between your tiles about 1/8″) as thin as possible. Allow the glue to cure. As a glue, we used 100% clear silicone.
  2. Follow the grout mixing instructions on the package. It’s 1 part water to 7 part grout in ours, but it always needs more. Stir and adjust the proportions until the grout resembles natural peanut butter. You have 15 minutes after mixing the grout to use it.
  3. Spread the grout around the tiles and up to the shell edges. To push the grout between the shells, use a craft stick. Wipe away any excess grout.
  4. After 30 minutes, buff the tile surfaces with a dry paper towel.
  5. Allow the mosaic to dry for 24 hours before applying a thin layer of mosaic sealer. This step required the use of a foam brush.

Summary and Final Recommendations

Thanksgiving is just around the corner. What better way to mark the occasion than by creating simple, low-cost crafts for seniors and the elderly?

You could also have the seniors and elders in your life participate in these fun Thanksgiving-themed games too!

We’ve compiled a list of craft ideas for your loved ones, ranging from Sea Glass Christmas Trees to Light Bulb Angel Ornaments.

Interestingly, seniors and persons with dementia most likely create more meaningful memories by doing the Pottery Barn-Inspired Thankful Tree along with their loved ones, caregivers, or even facility recreation managers.

Hanging their wishes and thank you messages help them relive memories or communicate more effectively. 

Sources:

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Easy Thanksgiving Recipes For Seniors-How To Make The Holidays Easier
Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
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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