At first, it may seem bittersweet to create holiday activities for a loved one with dementia, especially if he or she was once instrumental in past festivities. Yet your family member is still the same person. If you keep the skills he or she previously excelled at in mind, holiday crafts can be a great way to keep your family member mentally stimulated. Plus, it gets everyone into the holiday spirit!
Setting the Stage
Preparation is the key to a successful craft activity. If you are confused or flustered during set up, your family member will be as well. You’ll want to make sure each craft activity is packaged separately. Within each craft set-up, have everything you need for that activity, whether it be pipe cleaners, glue, stickers or cooking ingredients.
A quiet, uncluttered activity center is best. Even if you’re in a much-used room or assisted living center, making sure that the surface you’re working upon is tidy and organized can provide a comforting oasis. If possible, enhance the environment — soft twinkling lights and low-volume holiday tunes are especially soothing, yet festive.
Chances are, you’ve had a chance to observe what kind of activities your loved one enjoys. Maybe she’s artistic, or perhaps a little more construction-oriented. It’s relatively easy to adapt these categories for easy-to-make holiday crafts. Some ideas to consider include:
- Stickers and coloring. These simple activities are self-contained and are great for those loved ones who frustrate easily at intricate activities. Look for coloring and sticker books that are geared to the holiday you’re celebrating.
- Decking the halls. To get the whole family into the holiday spirit, help your loved one feel proud about how she is contributing to festive decorations. Create pomanders by sticking cloves into oranges. You can make this task easier for by creating holes beforehand with a skewer or nail. Rolling the oranges in ground spices like cinnamon and nutmeg makes them smell even nicer. The holiday pomanders can be heaped in a festive bowl, or wrapped in a ribbon and hung from the holiday tree.
- Creating other decorations. Think crafts like gingerbread cookie ornaments, candy cane animals and simple paper snowflakes for the windows. Craft books and online sources like Pinterest or Martha Stewart are perfect for these.
- Making cards and gifts. Your family member can help you pack baked goods or bath goodies into gift baskets, assist in potting herbal plants, or cut out shapes in construction paper to make gift tags for the gifts you’re wrapping.