It goes without saying that the holidays are an especially family-centric time of year. Maybe you’re traveling to visit loved ones, or expecting company in your home. Sometimes it can be a challenge to bridge the gaps between generations. To know where to start a conversation or how to bond with your children, parents, or grandparents. If you’re celebrating the holidays with family and/or friends–particularly beloved senior loved ones–here are few activity ideas to consider trying with them.

Start an advent (or Hanukkah) tradition.
There are a variety of ways people who celebrate Christmas observe advent. Some families light candles in an advent wreath; some read sections of the Christmas story leading up the actual holiday; and some use advent calendars with candy, toys, activities, educational opportunities, or chances for reflection and religious devotions. Those who celebrate Hanukkah can use similar traditions with Hanukkah countdown calendars.

Go for a Christmas lights drive.
Some seniors have mobility issues and are unable to get out of their homes as often as they might like. Throughout the cold winter blues, people need a little light (and holiday sparkle) in their lives. Take them on a leisurely drive through residential areas so they can admire the holiday decor. If their dietary needs allow, treat them to a seasonal snack they might enjoy, like a peppermint milkshake.

Decorate ornaments together.
Embrace your creativity while making new memories and Christmas keepsakes. It’s a nostalgic gift that keeps on giving every Christmas when you decorate your tree. This can be a fun activity for people of all ages, especially kids. Craft stores–as well as many general merchandise retailers (such as Walmart and Target)–carry plain ornaments and art supplies.

Pass down an old recipe.
Look through your old recipe books and find a recipe from a friend, family member, ancestor or even a member of your community. Cooking with your loved ones can be an organic way to bond with them, as following recipe instructions and focusing on a task can minimize social awkwardness. Plus, sharing old family recipes is another chance to learn about your family’s heritage and past.

Make holiday (or new year’s) cards.
This is another creative outlet, but also a way to share the love and holiday spirit to others, especially those who may not be feeling it this year. There are different opportunities to send holiday cards to people who are hospitalized this season. TheMighty.com teams up with multiple psychiatric and general hospitals throughout the country. Learn more here.

Decorate and frost cookies together.
Does your family have a favorite cookie recipe and/or some cut-out stencils? Play some soft Christmas music, bake cookies, and decorate them together. (The latter is usually the most fun part.)

Grandma teaching granddaughters to bake Christmas cut-out cookies.

Read to each other.
Reading aloud doesn’t need to be limited to children. Adults and adolescents can enjoy listening to stories, too! It’s nostalgic and calming. Seniors can appreciate it, too, as many older adults deal with vision problems, and some have trouble flipping book pages due to arthritis or fine motor skill challenges.
Additionally, consider purchasing a recordable storybook for your senior loved one to read aloud and record.

Give manicures.
If you both feel comfortable with it, give your senior loved one a manicure. Nail care is helpful for both men and women. Just be gentle.

Reminisce over old photos.
Leafing through albums of former glory days can start conversations and give your elderly loved ones a chance to tell their stories. This can be an amazing way to connect with and learn more about your family and their friends. It’s also free of charge.

Knit together (or learn how to).
Is anyone in your family skilled at hobbies like knitting, crocheting, sewing, or quilting? Maybe they would be willing to give a lesson. Knitting is a peaceful (and productive) way to relax and wind down.

Have a holiday movie night.
This one is an obvious and popular past-time, but still worth mentioning. Watching holiday films–whether cheesy Lifetime rom-coms or the classics–is a cherished holiday activity for many. Curl up in the glow of Christmas tree lights with a cup of hot cocoa and enjoy.

Wherever you are, or whomever you’re with, Consulate Health Care wishes you a safe and happy holiday season. We also want to give a shout-out and a special thank you to our dedicated care center staff members who will spend their holidays caring for our valued residents!