Tips for Making Christmas Special for Mom and Dad
Even if geography has put some distance between you and your parents, you can still make them feel at home for the holidays. In fact, the comfort, safety, and companionship that assisted living provides creates many opportunities for sharing your loving tidings throughout the season.
Prepare Their Favorite Holiday Food
Gingerbread cookies, spicy apple cider, and yes–even the dreaded fruitcake–spell “Christmas” for generations of revelers. Why not send a care package with Mom or Dad’s favorite baked goods, drink mixes, or candy? If your parents’ health backgrounds require dietary restrictions, look for modified recipes, such as softer or sugar-free versions of their favorite treats, or speak with one of the residential chefs for ideas.
Not much of a cook? Even a scented peppermint or gingerbread candle can bring back those flavors of the season.
Pamper Them with a Festive Look
Did Mom love to get her hair or nails done before moving to assisted living? Surprise her by hiring a cosmetologist to give her a glamorous Christmas makeover, complete with a fresh cut, color, and glittering nails. Want to give Mom an even bigger surprise? Show up with your own beauty products and treat her to your own personalized spa treatment.
You don’t have to be a Pinterest Princess (or Prince) to make a delightful decoration that will make Mom or Dad’s Christmas extra special. Buy a small artificial tree to decorate with homemade ornaments, such as photographs of grandchildren’s faces glued to glittery snowflakes (available at most “dollar” stores). Make a Christmas countdown chain with colored construction paper, writing something you appreciate about your parent inside every link of the chain. Enlist the help of the assisted living staff ahead of time if you think Mom or Dad may need help detaching or reading the links.The last link, opened on Christmas Day, can contain a “clue” to a special gift or surprise you’ll give them on that day.
Help Them Be Themselves
The transition to assisted living–and aging in general–often means a loss of certain freedoms. Did Mom or Dad have an interest or hobby that helped define who they are today, such as playing an instrument, building furniture, or gardening? Think about how you can celebrate and enhance memories of those activities by making scrapbooks with photographs showing off their accomplishments, sending videos or books about those interests, or even taking them out to a concert, ice fishing derby, or other event where they can rub shoulders and reminisce with people who “get” and value what they love.
Remember the Gift of Time
Spending time with Mom or Dad will mean the world to them, especially at this time of year. While it’s a busy season to schedule extra visits or phone calls, those moments are among the best gifts you can give. If need be, talk with other family members and friends about scaling back the usual demands of shopping, parties, and cooking so you can take time out to talk, listen to Christmas music, or just sit with the people who love you most.