Multi-Generational Thanksgiving Celebrations for Senior Communities


Spending Thanksgiving in a senior living community can be a unique, inspirational and joyous occasion. It doesn’t have to be your run-of-the-mill “turkey-and-football” holiday, either. Let’s explore a few ways the staff of a senior community can make Thanksgiving extra special for seniors and their families.

Invite family members to join in, and make sure you have something for everyone to enjoy.

Invite children and grandchildren of senior community residents to join in a giant multi-generational celebration. After dinner, convert the dining hall to gaming tables with board games for children of all ages. Play the classics like Parcheesi, Scrabble, checkers and chess, but also invite guests to bring their own favorite modern game to share.

Other fun family activities include seasonal crafts, such as making turkeys out of construction paper by tracing the grandchildren’s hands, or making macaroni necklaces on rope and colorful Fruit Loops bracelets on pipe cleaners. You can also browse Pinterest for unique Thanksgiving craft ideas or check out Oriental Trading for ready-made, easy-to-do holiday crafts.

You can really create a day to remember by recruiting a jolly old fellow (either from within your senior community or outside of it) to dress up as Santa and providing multi-generational family Christmas photos to the guests.

Encourage seniors to share old family favorite recipes, along with the stories behind them.

Everyone has a unique holiday dish that is exclusive (or believed to be exclusive!) to their own family. Whether it’s a decadent sweet potato mousse, sausage bread or an apple pie like no other, ask seniors to share their family favorites

Begin Thanksgiving meal prep a few days in advance, and let seniors who are able to help do some of the cooking.
Print out the recipes on index cards and, at the end of dinner, swap recipes and let each community member share the story behind the recipe itself or the person who originally created it years ago.

Everybody loves a parade… and a movie.

If planning crafts and coordinating a Santa visit doesn’t appeal, why not make your projection screen the focal point of the celebration, both before and after dinner?

Gather everyone to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade from 9 a.m. until noon, proceed to the dining hall for an early Thanksgiving Day meal, and then head back to the space that serves as your theatre for movie night. Plan three back-to-back holiday movies that are enjoyable for the whole family.

To keep everyone happy, provide access to a second screen in another area for the residents and visiting guests who would just rather watch the football game.

Give back.

Seniors in an assisted living community or nursing home will never be alone for Thanksgiving, but that’s not always the case for seniors who prefer to age in place. Check with the local church or senior day care programs and obtain a list of seniors who may be alone for the holidays. Invite them to join in your Thanksgiving celebration.

You might also invite a few families who have fallen upon hard times and can’t afford to host their own Thanksgiving dinner.

Finally, active seniors in a community may want to volunteer for a few hours at the local soup kitchen serving Thanksgiving dinner to others. The senior community activities coordinator can gather several individuals who want to help out in this way and plan a field trip by arranging transportation.

SeniorLiving.Net is a free service for families to use that are looking for senior care or senior living for a loved one. Call (866) 662-0435 to speak to your local Care Advisor about senior care providers in your local area.