HATS OFF TO SEPTEMBER – Activity Ideas for September

Don’t put away your sun hat quite yet, September is National Hat Month! We’ve put on our thinking cap in order to give you a few ideas on how to celebrate this month. Scour your local resale shops for gently used hats to feature all month long. We’re tipping our hat to Hats Off to September!

CELEBRATION – Kick off your hat-themed month with a tailgating party for “National Tailgating Day,” September 3. Encourage residents and staff to wear their favorite football team’s hat and jersey. Work with your dining team and host an outdoor picnic party in your community’s parking lot. Serve hot dogs and hamburgers. Many collegiate football games kick off their season today; show the game on the big screen in your community room.

MUSIC – Feature the song “Mexican Hat Dance” during your fitness classes this month. Dig out those sombreros that you used for Cinco de Mayo and create an easy fitness routine using the hats. For example, start by holding the hat in your hands close to your chest and then push the hat outward and pull it back inward for a few beats. Then, extend the hat to the left, then to the right, up and down, as your participants are able to move. Reach out to your therapy team to help you choreograph a short routine if you need additional ideas.

CRAFTS – Plan a hat decorating contest for one of your craft groups this month. Purchase plain hats or visors at your local craft store. Provide participants with a variety of decorative items, such as puffy paint, sequins, pipe cleaners, pom-poms, ribbon, and foam shapes and letters. Consider turning this into an all-day craft event, where participants can drop in and decorate a hat at their convenience. Encourage your co-workers to pair up with a resident and decorate a hat together. Hats off to you if you coincide this event on “Make a Hat Day” on September 15.

FOOD – We tip our hats to our chefs this month! Coordinate a “Cooking with the Chef” event with your dining team. Ask your dining team to do a food demonstration for your residents. Arrange for a resident to assist your chef during the demonstration. Ask your dietician to provide a recipe with nutritional information. Provide chef hats for participants to wear during the demonstration.

REMINISCING – There was a time when you didn’t leave home without your hat and many of your group members may remember those days. Put together a basket of hats of all shapes, sizes, and purposes and reminisce with about hats. Include hats such as a cowboy hat, chef hat, graduation cap, hard hat, military hat, baseball cap, winter hat, sombrero, pillbox hat, sun hat, etc. Gather participants in a circle and select one hat at a time to pass around the circle. Ask participants where this hat might be worn, what kind of person wears this hat, and if they ever wore a hat like this. Provide a mirror and encourage participants to share their memories as they try on the hats.

FAMILYSeptember 11 is National Grandparents Day. Host a “Mad Hatter Tea Party” for your residents and their grandchildren. Encourage residents and their families to wear crazy hats. Decorate using hats, tea pots, and tea cups as centerpieces. Purchase these items at a resale shop. Serve cucumber sandwiches, fresh fruit, scones, and tea. After tea, show the animated film Alice in Wonderland.

SPIRITUAL – Many religious ceremonies include hats. Consider asking your chaplain to present a program on the symbols and meanings of religious caps. If you don’t have a chaplain, reach out to your local churches and parishes and invite local religious leaders to share about their traditions.

COGNITIVE – Pull out that basket of hats again and play “Guess the Hat.” There are several ways you can play this game, so pick which option might work best with your group. Option one: gather participants and divide into two teams. Pull out a hat and ask team 1 to name the hat or occupation in which the hat is worn. Give the team a point if they guess correctly. Then, repeat with team 2. Continue until all the hats have been correctly identified. Option two: lay all the hats on a table and number them. Provide lined paper and pencils for participants. As participants drop-in, encourage them to identify and write out the name of the hats. Option three: lay all the hats on a table and number them. Give participants a paper with a list of the hat names and a pencil. Instruct participants to write the number that matches the hat name on the paper you provided.

INTERGENERATIONAL – By now, most schools are back in session. Invite a local preschool, daycare, or elementary class over for a Crazy Hat Day Parade. Encourage your group members to don crazy hats, too. Safely line the halls or your community room with adults wearing hats and parade the kiddos around. Select a few adults to serve as judges and award prizes for silliest hat, most original, most creative, and craziest hat. After the hat parade, read “Cat in the Hat” by Dr. Seuss and serve cookies.

FUN & GAMES – Pull out your basket of hats again and play a friendly game of toss the hat. Place three hula hoops on the floor in varying lengths away from your starting line. Label hula hoops with point values. Escort a participant to the starting line; they can sit or stand, depending on their balance. Hand the participant one hat at a time and instruct him or her to toss the hat, aiming at any of the hula hoops. After the participant has tossed all of the hats, add up the score and invite another participant to play the game.

SENSORY KIT – Use your basket of hats for your sensory kit and one-on-one visits this month. Add a hand-held mirror and a few extra props to pair with the hats, such as long gloves to pair with a pillbox hat, a mock diploma to pair with a graduation cap, or sunglasses to pair with a sun hat. During one-on-one visits, lay out a couple of hats with their matching prop and encourage residents to match the hat and prop. If this is too difficult, place just one hat and the matching prop on the table and let the resident explore the items. Participants will enjoy touching and exploring the different fabrics and varieties of hats, as well as enjoy trying on the hat and looking in the mirror.

FOR THE MEN – The Red Hat Society is an organization of women who meet for tea while wearing red hats and purple clothing. Start a similar group for your men this month and call it the Blue Cap Society. Provide blue baseball caps for your men and host a men’s luncheon. After lunch, play a game, such as poker or bingo, and serve non-alcoholic beer or root beer floats. Continue to host Blue Cap Society events beyond the month of September. And if you haven’t started a Red Hat Society for the ladies, visit the Red Hat Society website to learn how to start a chapter in your community.

GIVING BACK – Pass the hat this month and collect coins for charity. Select a local or national charity with your residents. Create a small poster to display that describes the charity and requests coin donations. Place a hat upside down at your receptionist desk or centralized place to collect coins. Count the coins at the end of the month and donate to the charity of choice. If the charity has a local office, consider taking a couple of residents with you to make the donation in person. This would make a great feature story in your facility newsletter.



Can you name the hat described below?

  1. Worn while riding a motorcycle or bicycle. Helmet
  2. Worn while at the beach or while gardening outdoors. Sunhat
  3. Worn by many sports fans at the stadium or arena. Baseball cap
  4. Worn at a birthday party. Party hat
  5. Worn by many women in the 1960s and made popular by Jackie Kennedy. Pillbox hat
  6. Worn with a tuxedo or used by a magician during a magic show. Top hat
  7. Worn by ranchers, Texans, or while doing a line dance. Cowboy hat
  8. Worn in Mexico and while dancing the Mexican Hat Dance. Sombrero
  9. A popular hat worn in France. Beret
  10. Worn by graduates during commencement, along with a gown. Cap



“With hat in hand, one gets on in the world.” ~ Berthold Auerbach


“Hats Off to September” was written by Erin McCart. Copyright 2016 ElderSong Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.

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