What do you do when the wind is howling, the ground is crunchy with ice and you are feeling the chill of winter? Well, it is time to get creative! With older age sometimes comes the reality that getting out of the house is hard in the winter. So, for those long winter days, we have come up with some ideas for seniors at home or even for those who are in a group setting.
Of course, seasonal craft ideas are ideal and plentiful before the holidays – but these can be done anytime in the winter to cheer up a dull indoor winter day!
Window Crayons – Nowadays, they make these awesome window crayons and markers for temporarily decorating the glass in your window. When the light shines through your designs, it can bring some cheer to an otherwise dull view.
For Seniors in a Group setting – getting a large white sheet or piece of canvas and hanging in a common area with sponges and paints. Let people paint a mural to brighten up the activity hall.
Flower Arranging – Find silk flowers on sale and some dollar store vases and pebbles – make new arrangements to pretend it is spring!
Ice Ornaments – take shallow plastic restaurant containers and get some nature items like holly berries, pine needles, small pine cones, orange slices, cinnamon sticks, etc. and fill the container with water. Place a string deep inside the water for hanging it later. Make your design and set it outside to freeze. When frozen – hang it outside the window or on a nearby tree where you can see it often. When it melts completely – spring is on its way!
Paint a clay pot or some Garden Rocks – Nothing says “spring is coming” like getting ready to plant something! Decorate an inexpensive clay pot to use when spring comes! Or, buy large stones from a craft or building store and paint those for your outdoor garden. You may not be able to put them in your garden till the snow melts – but you can arrange them on your windowsill while you wait!
Make a Collage – Take old magazines and cut out pictures to stick glue onto a large piece of cardboard. It can be “themed” like making cutouts of things you would like to do in the summer, travel, inspirational, etc.
Stimulate your Sense of Smell – pomodors are wonderful winter treats – not just for Christmas. Use clementines, ribbon, whole cloves, and plastic spiked decorations (optional). Hang these near the window and let them dry out. They have a wonderful aroma and are a nice old fashioned craft!
Make a Recipe Book – whether you use online services like shutterfly or just old fashioned pretty recipe cards or a three ring binder, consider going through all your recipes and organizing your favorites to give to family members as a gift.
Feed the Birds - Take large pine cones (store bought or collected) and “paint” them with peanut butter. Roll them in a pan of bird seed and hang them on nearby trees.
Paint Picture Frames – get inexpensive wooden picture frames at a discount store and decorate with paint or glue objects like buttons and odds and ends onto the frame. Place your favorite family photos in them for yourself or gifts!
Other Winter Activities for Groups
Need ideas for an adult day center or assisted living facility? Here are some fun ones. Some of these can be done at home too - or during family gatherings.
Name that Tune – get old music that most of the people will know and play a few seconds of each. Group people so that different skill levels are in each “team.” The team to get the most number of songs correct wins! Variety on this game can be with pictures of plants/flowers/trees/old actresses/old movies/etc.
Taste Testing – get a mask for the eyes and let people taste different things and decide what they are. Can be done as a team or individually – you can pit different brands of the same things (like salsa) to just vote on a favorite or you can have residents figure out which is the “expensive” brand versus the generic. You can do small bites of different classic candy bars and see how many people can guess correctly.
Play the White Elephant Gift Exchange – You can buy all the gifts from a dollar store (some funny, some useless, some great) and have residents each get a gift privately and wrap it. There should be one gift for every person playing. Then, get together and place all gifts under the tree. Draw numbers to see who goes first, second, and so on. The first person selects a prize, opens it. The next person (and every person after) can either steal from a gift already opened by someone or select a new unwrapped gift. If a person is stolen from – they get to go next to replace their gift and then it goes to the next number. Each gift can only be stolen 3 times. If you are the third person to steal the gift, you get to hold on to it!
Guided Meditation – Play a meditation tape or get guided meditations from books in a local library. Someone reads the meditation and experience the relaxation! We have a basic one here to play.
Charades – break into groups so that teams can have all skill levels on each team. Make up some cards with simple things to act out like animals, phrases, food items, etc.
Sensory Box – get a dozen or so shoe boxes and put odd items in them – like sunflower seeds, cooked spaghetti, hard boiled eggs, jello, cotton balls, etc. and make a small hole just large enough for a hand to go through. Number the boxes and have people guess just by feeling with their hand what is in the box. See how many you can guess!
Have a Reminiscing Group Meeting – this can be done in a facility or a family gathering. Pick a topic like “your most embarrassing moment,” “weddings,” “school,” or “your best day” and have people just chat about their experience.
Plan a “Fancy Dinner" - You’ll need a menu, candles, center piece, nice table cloth, dress-up clothes, etc. Divide up all the tasks needed to prepare for an evening of luxury. Get crazy and make it a “fondue” party!
Music Night! You can get some CDs or play a listing on “Pandora” to some tunes that everyone knows. Or, you can get some drum sticks, maracas, a triangle and have a “drumming” session with everyone trying to get a tune going naturally.
Gifts for Elderly
Finding Elderly Home Care
Caregiver Self Care
More Simple Ideas
- Clip Coupons
- Board Games
- Movie night (see our top movie picks!)
- Decorate cookies or cupcakes
- Bird watching
Activities for Seniors
Movies for Seniors
Avoiding Caregiver Isolation
Finding a Sense of Purpose
Bathing and Hygiene