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Activities for Fall Holidays

Fall is here and that means cooler days, turning leaves, and a long, festive holiday season. Holidays provide many opportunities for long-term care residents and staff to decorate, dress up, and celebrate. The next big holidays are Halloween and Veteran’s Day, so here are some ideas you can use in your facilities. 

October 31 – Halloween

Halloween is one of the best holidays for decorating. Almost anything orange, black, or purple will do, and there are countless images and motifs you can use. Children in masks, full moons, pointy witch hats, and grinning jack-o-lanterns. On thing to consider, though–Some people are bothered by the death and monster imagery in some Halloween decorations.

Skip the skeletons and tombstones and play up the fun side of the holiday with colorful, non-threatening decorations. Suggestions include creative jack-o-lanterns, festive candy treats, and “safe” images like black cats and haunted houses. Decorations can be as simple as crepe paper around a window, or as elaborate as transforming a room into a spooky scene.

Pumpkin carving is also a Halloween tradition, and don’t forget to save the seeds for roasting! There are several recipes for pumpkin seeds, but two of my favorite are here. The first is for lightly salted seeds, and the other is for a more spicy, savory variation.

If working with real pumpkins is too challenging for some residents, provide them with orange construction paper pumpkins and black or yellow paper to create their spooky faces. You can even cut out some shapes ahead of time and give your crafters a selection to chose from. Pumpkin painting is an easy option, too. The mini pumpkins and gourds you can find at the grocery store are just the right size for everything from a reception desk to a resident’s room. You can find several pumpkin carving patterns online, or visit Nursing Home Activity Resource for a long list of halloween recipies and craft ideas.

Since parties are always a big hit, consider scheduling a day when residents, staff and visitors can show off their Halloween costumes. For even more fun, encourage families to bring their children in costume and have them go trick or treating at the resident rooms. Residents could even prepare popcorn balls or cookies beforehand. It’s a great activity to bring all generations of residents and visitors together.

November 11th – Veteran’s Day

This is the perfect opportunity to celebrate the service of any military servicemen and women in your facilities. Encourage residents to show off their military uniforms, medals, stories and photographs. Ask residents and families to contribute pictures of themselves while they were enlisted and display the pictures on an “Honor Wall” that everyone can see. If your residents have children or grandchildren currently in the service, ask for those pictures, too. Residents can write letters to those currently serving, or assemble care packages. Three great websites are Operation Gratitude, Soldiers Angels, and Adopt a Platoon.

Have idea we haven’t covered here? Feel free to leave a comment below.

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