The holiday season is fast approaching, and many people are making plans to travel “home” to be with relatives and loved ones. Wherever it may be, “home” holds a special place in our hearts. Rekindle a few nostalgic memories of hearth and home with your group, using the activities suggested below. And discover, as Dorothy in Oz did, that there’s no place like home!
- HOMETOWN: Ask participants to locate their hometown on a map and talk about where they grew up. Ask: Where did you spend your childhood? Was it also your birthplace? What is the earliest memory of your home? When did your leave home? What did you miss about it? How does your childhood home compare with the home in which you raised your own children?
- HOME, SWEET HOME: Learn the history of the old folk song “Home, Sweet Home” by John Howard Payne and composer Henry Bishop. Sing the chorus. Ask: Do you consider yourself a homebody? Describe what “home” means to you.
- HOME SONGS: Listen to songs about home: “Green, Green Grass of Home,” “Homeward Bound,” “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” “My Old Kentucky Home,” “Home on the Range,” “Bill Bailey, Won’t You Please Come Home,” “Keep the Home Fires Burning” “Old Folks at Home,” “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” “Home for the Holidays.”
- HEART’S HOME: Reflect on the following quote by Pliny the Elder: “Home is where the heart is.”
- POETRY: Read the poem “A Home Song” by Henry Van Dyke Ask: What makes a house a home, according to the poem? What do you think makes a place feel like home?
- HOME WORDS: List words that start with “home” (ex. homebody, homebound, homemade, homespun, homework, homestead, homestretch). Ask group members to respond to questions related to the words, such as: Have you ever been homesick? What does mean to be housebound? What is your favorite home-cooked meal? Have you ever raised homegrown vegetables? Do you like homemade Christmas tree ornaments?
- HOME ECONOMICS: Display vintage copies of Good Housekeeping and old home economics textbooks. Ask: Were you required to take a home economics class in school? What did you learn? Did you enjoy “keeping house”? Where did you learn housekeeping or homemaking skills? Is homemaking a calling? How is it different today?
- THANKSGIVING: Read the sentimental poem titled “Thanksgiving” by Edgar A. Guest. Reminisce about going “home” for the Thanksgiving holiday. Create a menu for a home-cooked Thanksgiving feast. Pass around copies of old Ideals Thanksgiving magazines for your group to enjoy.
- HOMECOMING: Paint a colorful “Welcome Home” banner. Share memories of special homecomings or reunions at home (ex. home from war, home from college, annual family reunion or holiday gathering). Show Norman Rockwell 1940s prints related to homecomings (ex: “The Homecoming G.I.,” “Christmas Homecoming,” or “Thanksgiving: Mother and Son Peeling Potatoes”).
- IDIOMS: Talk about the meaning of the following “home” idioms: bring home the bacon, come home to roost, hearth and home, a home away from home, nothing to write home about, till the cows come home, keep the home fires burning, a man’s home is his castle, to be home free. (Add others to the list as they come to mind.)
- VINTAGE HOUSES: Show photos of houses from the 1940s-1960s. Encourage group members to name the house styles (ex: bungalow, Cape Cod, rancher, rambler, colonial, split-level). Ask: When did you buy your first house? What did it cost? Did you ever move to another home or own a second home? What did you like about being a homeowner? Did you ever help build a home? Share some tips for the first-time home buyer.
- WELCOME WAGON: Learn the history of Welcome Wagon, founded in 1928. Ask if anyone ever worked as a hostess for Welcome Wagon. Share tips on welcoming a new family to the neighborhood.
- HOME ACTIVITIES: Ask participants to share memories of events/seasonal activities that took place regularly in the home, such as these: wash day, ironing, long winter evenings, summers on the front porch, family music times, spring cleaning, cooking and baking, when company came, Sunday dinner with relatives, gardening, canning, deliveries, sewing and quilting.
- HOUSE GUESTS: Talk about welcoming houseguests and how to make them feel at home. Read tips from an old Emily Post etiquette book on Hosts/Guests. Ask participants if they agree with Ben Franklin that “Fish and visitors smell after three days.”
- HOME CRAFT: Gather fabric and make a homey wall hanging with a simple house quilt block pattern.
HOME TRIVIA QUIZ
- Name some other words for ‘home.’ Abode, dwelling, house, residence, hut
- Finish this lyric: “Any place I hang my hat….” Is home
- What was Abraham Lincoln’s boyhood home made of? Logs
- Which state is mentioned in the song “Take Me Home, Country Roads”? West Virginia
- What does ‘homey’ mean? Cozy or comfortable atmosphere
- Which famous singer lived in Graceland Mansion in Memphis, Tennessee? Elvis Presley
- When did the rancher-style home become popular? After World War II
- What does it mean to “bring home the bacon”? To be a wage earner
- Which old song begins with ‘Oh, give me a home where the buffalo roam’? “Home on the Range”
- A party to celebrate moving into a new home is called what? Housewarming
THOUGHT FOR THE MONTH
“He is happiest, be he king or peasant, who finds peace in his home.” ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
“No Place Like Home” written by Sue Hansen. © 2013 ElderSong Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.
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