Valentine’s Day is about celebrating love and friendship, and it’s the perfect opportunity to get seniors out and about, connected, and having fun together. A very real danger to seniors is loneliness and depression, especially during the colder months. These Valentine’s Day crafts and activities are ideal for seniors in assisted living facilities looking for a fun way to commemorate Valentine’s Day with their neighbors.
1. Homemade Cards for Servicemen
Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to share happy emotions and best wishes. While some seniors might be feeling lonely at this time of the year, connecting with other people can help reduce negative feelings. A great way to do just that is to create homemade cards for servicemen and women. Gather construction paper, glue sticks, magazine scraps, and other decorative craft items and let seniors create and sign cards for deployed servicemen. If you need a less intensive activity, consider purchasing premade cards in bulk and letting seniors simply sign and write a note. Organizations like Hugs for Soldiers make it easy to get the completed cards into the hands of members of the armed services far from home on Valentine’s Day.
2. Vintage Valentine’s Tea Party
Recent research has shown that creating an environment reminiscent of a senior’s past can help encourage conversations, memories, and positive emotions. Why not give your Valentine’s Day celebration a vintage theme and take residents back in time to very happy memories? Set the tone with some music from the era, and research some old-fashioned favorites for snacks, like petit fours, macaroons, and crustless finger sandwiches. Decorate with paper doilies and perhaps even borrow a nicer old-fashioned serving set. Encourage residents to wear a festive hat, or red clothing to help celebrate.
3. Deck the Halls
Now that the Christmas decorations have come down, you have a blank slate for decorating your facility’s shared areas, hallways, and residents’ doors. Gather up your interested seniors, put out some Valentine’s Day cookies, and let the crafting begin. The end result not only makes your facility look festive, but gives the participants a sense of pride every time they pass by their handmade decorations. Ideas include:
4. Gifts for Others
Seniors may be on limited budgets or unable to easily go out and shop for gifts. Give them the means to make small tokens for their loved ones or friends this Valentine’s Day. For example, small clean rocks can be painted for pocket-sized love rocks keepsakes or paperweights. Seniors may also enjoy making and giving the very useful gift of a Valentine’s Day bookmark, customizing it with small pieces of fabric and ribbon. A collection of leftover buttons make the perfect elements to create a button heart, glued to a small square of fabric, cardboard, or wood. With a little bit or preparation and some hands-on time, they can create a precious gift for the ones they love.
5. Pop-up Cards
From childhood all the way on up to our older years, Valentine’s Day cards are one of the most enduring of holiday traditions. This year, help your residents do something a little different with their Valentine’s Day cards. Any kids, grandkids, or other loved ones they want to write to will get a kick out of these pop-up cards.
6. Crepe-Paper Roses
Who doesn’t love roses? Real ones are nice, but they can get costly (especially in February) and will wilt eventually. Paper roses, on the other hand, can serve as pleasant decorations in your shared spaces throughout the entire month.
7. Floating Heart Backdrop
Add some hearts to your lobby or recreational areas with this floating heart backdrop. It’s colorful, whimsical, and easy to make – especially with a group of seniors to help out.
8. Lacy Votive Holder
Candles add such a nice ambience (and you can always go with the LED version for safety purposes). These lacy votive holders from Martha Stewart can add even more ambience to the candles, bring some extra color to the room, and add an aura of class to any space you put them in.
9. Felt Fortune Cookies
Everyone loves fortune cookies – most people less for the cookie part, and more for the fortune. These adorable felt fortune cookies double as both a nice decoration your residents can help make and a fun activity for Valentine’s Day. You can pass around a plate full of fortune cookies and see what the future has in store for your residents. Take some time to write up some fun fortunes for everyone. Here are some ideas you can borrow.
10. Valentine’s Bird Feeders
These Valentine’s Day bird feeders have the especially nice bonus of attracting some lovely birds to your community for everyone to see. They’re simple to make, fit in nicely with the Valentine’s Day theme and are a craft that even the Valentine’s Day cynics can get something out of. You can make some for the facility itself, and stock up on enough supplies for residents to make some as gifts for their loved ones as well.
11. Fabric Hearts
Finally, we have our fabric hearts craft. They’re small, but beautiful tokens your residents can hang onto after Valentine’s Day passes, or give out to loved ones as gifts.
Not everyone loves Valentine’s Day, but those that do will appreciate having a way to celebrate. Those who don’t normally get into the lovey spirit of the day may still appreciate some extra color in the facility or a few more birds stopping by outside.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Written by Kristen Hicks and Megan Hammons