December is full of reasons to celebrate, and it is the perfect month to focus on Comfort and Joy at your community. The holiday season can be a happy one for some, but for others it can be a time of increased depression, anxiety, and even anger. Bring a little comfort and joy into the lives of your group members by focusing on sensory experiences that revolve around familiar and comforting sounds, tastes, and sights. Try a theme of comfort and joy at your community with a few of these ideas:
Food – Coordinate a family favorites-themed-dinner at your community as a family event and celebration. Ask residents to share their favorite comfort food recipes and memories with the dining department. Serve a special menu full of the foods that make your participants think of home – don’t forget the appetizers, desserts, and drinks, too!
Atmosphere – Use a few special ingredients to add a welcoming smell to your community, all while stopping the spread of airborne germs. Simply diffuse orange oil and clove oil in a diffuser to take advantage of the antiseptic properties and listen to how everyone compliments the smell. Or, use real cloves and slices of orange in water in a small pot at your community stove.
Reminiscence – Host a reminiscence group to discuss holiday memories and travel traditions. Ask participants to share their favorite gift, tradition, experience, or decoration that reminds them of the holiday season. Don’t forget to include all December celebrations – Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s, Kwanzaa, etc.
Give Back – Encourage participants, family, and staff members to give back to those in need during the month. Work with a local social service organization to purchase items that shut-in seniors or at-risk children need to make their holiday season more comfortable.
Say Thank You – The holidays are a wonderful time to express gratitude for services. Lead participants in baking or making cards for first responders who work with your community, such as fire fighters, police officers, and ambulance drivers.
Spread Joy – Don’t forget to spread joy to everyone this month by passing out gifts, organizing a staff caroling session throughout the halls of your community, or booking a favorite entertainer for your New Year celebration. A little extra love can go a long way during this month.
Craft – To add a little extra comfort to the lives of your participants, consider a craft group to make a relaxing sugar scrub that they can use in the shower, bath, or even on their hands in the sink. Participants may also choose to gift their homemade sugar scrub to a family member. With sugar, olive oil, and some lavender essential oil that you can pick up at your local health store, you have a comforting and smoothing scrub that most will enjoy. You can try out the recipe here.
Intergenerational – Invite grandkids to your community to have some snowy fun indoors. Host a snowball toss by crumpling up balls of white paper and tossing them into hula hoops, or make homemade snow globes together. Share a snack of snowball snack cakes and hot cocoa before watching the cartoon “Frosty the Snowman,” and then heading home.
Sensory Kit – You can take comfort and joy with you using a portable sensory kit. Grab a holiday tin and fill it with Christmas-patterned fleece, Hershey Kisses (if it suits the dietary needs of your participants), a box full of artificial snow, curling ribbon, wrapping paper, candy canes, and scents of pine, peppermint, clove, and cinnamon. You can also make up an entire kit dedicated to holiday cookie baking with a rolling pin, cookie cutters, flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, and icing pipers.
Spiritual – Some group members might find great comfort in the ritual of church during the holiday season. Work on making your religious gatherings special in this month. It doesn’t need to be a lot of extra work – a few lighted candles can make all the difference. Invite your religious volunteers to hold a special service during the month. Also, consider hosting a religious sing-along during a bus ride to check out a local holiday event, like a live nativity.
Movie Nights – Set up a weekly movie screening of a favorite holiday movie that group members love. Schedule the movies and serve popcorn with hot cocoa for an easy activity that will leave everyone happy.
COMFORT AND JOY TRIVIA
1. What Christmas carol has the words “O tidings of comfort and joy”? “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen”
2. What Charles Dickens classic references the song “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen”? “A Christmas Carol”
3. What are the three ghosts that visit Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol”? The ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Yet to Come
4. Which ghost warns Scrooge that the other ghosts will come? Jacob Marley
5. How did Marley and Scrooge know one another? They had been business partners before Marley’s death
6. In “A Christmas Carol,” what character first says, “God bless us, everyone”? Tiny Tim
7. What does Scrooge send the Cratchit family for Christmas dinner? A turkey
8. In the song “Jingle Bells,” what are the singers riding in as they dash through the snow? A one-horse open sleigh
9. In the Thanksgiving song, how do you get to Grandmother’s house after you go over the river? Through the woods
10. In the carol, who was Mommy kissing underneath the mistletoe last night? Santa Claus
THOUGHT FOR THE MONTH
Let there be more joy and laughter in your living. ~ Eileen Caddy
“Comfort and Joy” was written by Haley Burress. Copyright 2015 ElderSong Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.
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