Happier Holidays Happen at Home

3 Ways to Bring the Spirit of the Season to Your Nursing Home


The air has started to chill, and each morning I wake up hoping it’ll snow—I can’t help it. This time of year brings back memories of spending time with my family, cooking (or waiting to eat), and sharing gifts with everyone I love.

Yet for a lot of seniors, especially those in long-term care, decking the halls with boughs of holly isn’t really much of an option. While others begin to celebrate a year well-lived with their families, residents in nursing homes may start to feel lonely. For me, the holidays have always represented a time of being at home, and I want residents to feel the same way.

There are plenty of posts about senior-friendly holiday activities or tips on how to decorate, but I want to recommend something different. I want to challenge you to recreate that same sense of “Home” and “Family” in your facility. And here are some ideas:


  • Connect with Local Organizations

There are so many possibilities when you connect with local groups or religious organizations. Students could perform the Nutcracker, volunteers can come by carolling, a town-wide holiday party could start at your facility.

Take a page from the Hospice of Golden Isles in Brunswick, Georgia. Every year, they host a memorial service and lighting ceremony called “Lights of Love.” It’s become an important local event and a time to honor the patients and families who have been cared for over the previous year.

  • Start a Gift-Giving Campaign

Search for foundations that are coordinating gift-giving campaigns or may be willing to help start a new tradition. Talk to your city council or ask for volunteers to be a Secret Santa for your seniors. Start with a $50 gift limit and a list of potential items for locals to buy. There’s no doubt that your community would love to support the cause.


  • Coordinate a Letter-Writing Event

Sharing special moments with one another is what the holidays are all about. Talk to business owners and ask if you can put up a box for people to drop off holiday cards to share with the residents in your facility. Ask for their help in promoting the cause and reach out to the family members of your residents to do the same. You can keep the letters for years to come and remind your patients that someone is always thinking about them.

The real tip is to get involved with others outside your facility this season. The relationships you’ll build with business owners and local organizations will be the gift that keeps on giving. So with this extra effort, you can bring a true sense of community to your residents and make them feel right at home.