Life enrichment teams are entering the busiest time of the year for them and their communities; The holiday season. Starting off with Oktoberfest, special events include Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukah, Christmas and New Year’s Eve. These can mean multiple parties, special events and campus-wide family programs that need big-vision thinking along with very specific details to make memorable experiences for the residents. This doesn’t even include the multitude of schools, churches, choir groups and performers that want to schedule free entertainment for your residents. This requires a juggling act in order to fit them all in while giving them proper promotional time. All of this is on top of maintaining your regular schedule and calendar of resident programs.
To put this into the proper perspective, think about planning a family Thanksgiving event and all the details, meal planning, invitations, coordination that goes into such an endeavor. Now quadruple that and you have just scratched the surface of what the life enrichment teams are facing this time of year.
The pressure is on, as you and your life enrichment teams need to find time to properly plan these events in order to make them fresh, exciting and impactful. Too many times, activity professionals are stuck in a paradigm where they are planning the same party with the same entertainment with the same decorations. In our own homes, we do not serve the same food or have the same themes for our parties, so why would our residents want the same? It’s too easy to book the same entertainment because you don’t have the time to listen or research a new musician or band. Yet that musician’s CD that is buried under the pile on your desk could present the WOW factor you need for this year’s holiday program.
The same goes for your decorations. Is your Christmas tree in the same area with the same ornaments for the past 10 years? Does Santa sit in the same seat in front of the same fireplace? Or are your decorations more suited for a child’s classroom rather than an adult living community? Just switching up your decorations and the location of the programs can renew the energy in these events.
And finally, don’t forget to engage your resident committees and councils in the planning process. What kind of theme or party would they like to see? We can come up with a million ideas, however if they are disconnected from the people we serve, then we are just spinning our wheels.
With a little planning, foresight and courage to get out of your box, you can breathe new life into your holiday parties and create long lasting experiences for your residents and your team.
Michael McCann, MS, is the director of lifestyles for Friendship Senior Options. Readers with questions they would like answered in the blog for future articles can email him at at mike.mccann@myFSO.org.