Is your care home planning a Christmas party this year? With restrictions still necessary due to COVID-19, many may be put off by worrying about keeping everyone safe. But with a few careful tweaks, everyone can still have an enjoyable time celebrating. Our useful tips can make all the difference and can hopefully save a few headaches on the day.
- Start to plan early. Make a note of numbers of guests and those who may need special consideration e.g. dietary allergies or physical difficulties. How many staff members will be on hand – this is crucial to everything. Allow extra staff for taking any vulnerable people to the toilet and such like.
- Enlist some help. Some family members are often more than happy to help. If they are unable to enter the premises, they may be able to assist in their own homes with food preparation such as making mince pies, sausage rolls and other finger foods that can be heated prior to serving. Transfer the foods to your own dishes for added safety once out of the oven. Some may like to help prepare some party game questions (see item 10) which can save time too.
- Involve residents. Enlist the help of residents with party decorations. Making paper chains can be fun and is something all abilities can join in with – even if they are in isolation. Set up individual trays with a few blank cards and envelopes with some glue and an assortment of felt pens and stencils for people to make their own Christmas cards. These can be done on a lap or even in bed.
- Secret Santa. Do a Secret Santa gift list with all the residents’ names in a hat – get one staff member to pull out a name and give it to each resident – secretly. Plan a craft activity for each resident to make something for that recipient – decorated photo frame or ceramic tealight holder maybe? This means everyone gets a gift and makes a new friend!
- Medical needs. Ensure anyone with a hearing aid has it working, others have the correct glasses and that all medication needs are catered for. Staff or residents having to go and search for items can severely disrupt the smooth running of an event. Make allowances for anyone with mid-late stage dementia to be able to go somewhere quiet and de-stress if noise levels become too great.
- Start your party at lunchtime. Don’t wait until mid-afternoon to start the party – many residents like to sleep at this time of day – especially after a heavy dinner. Ideally, have your party on a different day to eating a traditional dinner with all the trimmings as it can make people sluggish and not best suited to joining in the fun. It’s a good idea to sit everyone down to eat first before playing games. If socially distancing, why not serve a tray to each resident with an assortment of foods to enjoy. Ensure drinks are on hand but keep them away from the trays to avoid spills.
7. Dietary hints. If guests are able to sit together, highlight those with special dietary requirements by sticking a label to the back of the chair with codes such as D (diabetic) V (vegetarian) C (coeliac) or any other thing staff need to be aware of. Ideally seat them together so one member of staff can ensure they do not eat the wrong food when sharing plates. You could have different coloured plates for each special foodstuff for easy identification too.
8. Icebreakers. While they are enjoying their festive food, give everyone a card with three questions to fill in, such as:
- What 3 things would you take to a desert island?
- What character would you most like to be and why?
- Something that made you laugh?
Go around the room with a microphone (if you have one) and ask people at random what answers they put (get staff to join in this game too). Makes a good icebreaker and helps get everyone in a fun mood.
- Allow a short break. Allow time for a short nap if people want it, this can give staff time to clear away plates and prepare for party activities. If no social distancing rules apply, encourage residents to help gather up dishes or wipe tables/trays down.
10. Fun and games for all. Get everyone involved in a game for all abilities to enjoy.
Play your cards right:
Two people to host – one for reading out the questions and one to turn the cards over.
You will need:
pre-prepared set of random questions - people have to guess whether the answer is higher or lower (or could be true or false).
Select random volunteers to answer a question. If they correctly answer, they must guess whether a set of 5 cards are higher or lower as they are turned over (a mantelpiece or similar is ideal for this). If they guess correctly right to the end, they can win a prize (sweet from a selection?). If they lose, move on to another player and so on.
Open the Box:
One person to host – they can read the questions and open the box for the recipient.
You will need:
Set of small boxes with lids closed – these can be made in advance (you could also use old cereal or food boxes). Label the boxes with numbers 1 – 10.
Selection of items to insert into the boxes – sweets, forfeits, party blower etc.
Pre-prepared set of random questions to ask players. True or false are always good and are less stressful.
Select random volunteers to answer a question correctly. If they get it right they can either choose another to play or open a box. If they choose the latter, they say a number between 1-10 and get whatever is in the box (or do the forfeit!)
And most importantly, enlist someone to take photographs of the event to share with relatives who are unable to be there with their loved ones. These will be welcomed and much appreciated. Print them out and arrange in an album for residents to enjoy until the next party!