Festive Activities Within Social Care

Posted 16 December 2016

Blog tags: Access to HESocial Work

Christmas is the time of year that most people spend surrounded by family and friends. You’ll carry out the usual traditions; decorating the Christmas tree, singing carols, eating mince pies and opening presents together on Christmas morning. 

For people both living and working in care, Christmas can be a difficult time of the year. Those working in the social care industry spend time away from their own families, while those living in care may not have any loved ones to spend the festive period with. It’s important to make a care home feel like any other home during Christmas to keep spirits high and ensure that nobody feels lonely.

Adult Care

Adult care homes provide residential help and support to adults of varying age and ability. Whether it’s elderly residents with little or no family in need of help with everyday tasks, young adults with physical or learning disabilities or sufferers of dementia, care homes and their staff are an important part of daily life. 

For adults in care, Christmas can be a difficult time of the year. Some residents may have no family to celebrate with or, loved ones may live too far away to visit, for others that may have disabilities or illnesses, every day can be difficult. Latasha Jarrett, administrative assistant and in-house training at South Downs Care states “The power of reminiscence has been found to be particularly noticeable around this time of year”. It is the responsibility of care home staff to make sure that residents reflect on past Christmases but also have a positive, happy experience. 

If you work in a residential adult care home, try to include some of these activities over the festive period to spread festive cheer and lift the moods of those who may be feeling low.

Write Christmas Cards

Jarrett states that within South Downs Care ‘residents are encouraged to spend time writing Christmas cards to any family and friends’. This is not only a great activity to get people into the festive spirit, it allows residents to practise their writing skills, share stories with loved ones and builds excitement as their await a response to their cards.


It’s essential to create a positive, Christmassy atmosphere and involve all residents in fun, festive activities. Decorating the care home is an easy way to get all of the residents involved and in the Christmas spirit. Each resident could decorate their own room and help to contribute to a communal Christmas tree, making the whole place feel festive and homely. 


Arranging for visits from Christmas characters such as Santa’s reindeer or carol singers can raise spirits in a care home. Alternatively, arrange a trip out to a Christmas carol concert or to a farm that has reindeer. A trip out also gives residents the opportunity to spend the day away from the care home, making it even more special. 

One to One Chats

Christmas is a great time to spend some time with each individual resident, as the year draws to a close, it provides the perfect opportunity to reflect and make plans for the future. This activity will be especially appreciated by residents that may not receive many visitors over the festive period. 

Christmas Day

It is likely that activities during the build up to Christmas day will change every year depending on factors such as resident numbers, staff numbers and funding, however, Christmas day and it’s traditions will stay the same. Arrange the dining tables together and put on a big Christmas dinner for the residents and their families so that everyone can spend time together on the big day. Later, put on some Christmas films or music and let everyone exchange presents in a communal area, keeping the festive spirit going throughout the whole day. 

Children in Care

Working in a children's care home can be demanding yet hugely rewarding, especially during the festive period. It can be emotional to spend Christmas day away from your own children however, it’s important that those in care can enjoy their day too. The Christmas atmosphere can be upsetting to children that may not have families or have poor relationships with their parents. Those that are ill or suffer from disabilities can also find the festivities stressful rather than enjoyable. 

If you work with children in care, it’s important to make the run up the Christmas and the day itself as fun and action packed as possible, to distract from any negativity that could arise. It can be difficult to determine the behaviour of children in care over the festive period, in an article for Community Care, David Jones, a residential child care worker recalled a story of a child throwing her toys around the room in a rage after opening them. Despite outbursts, Jones states that “the sense of camaraderie in the home is very real.”

If you work with children in care during the festive period, ensure that their Christmas is full of fun activities, that children of all ages and abilities can get involved with.

See Santa

Santa is an important part of Christmas for children and so arranging for him to make a visit to your care home is a great idea to raise spirits and create excitement amongst the children. You could even get a staff member to dress up as Santa and hand out little presents to all of the children. If Santa is too busy to pop in, arranging a trip to your local grotto gives children the chance to leave their care home and spend a day out, all together. 

Christmas Crafts

Christmas craft days are a great way for children to get creative whilst celebrating Christmas. You could make cards for the children to send to each other, school friends and family members or Christmas tree decorations, paper chains and snowflakes to decorate the home. Craft days are a great way to get groups of children socialising and working together whilst still having fun. 

Christmas Movie Marathons 

There are loads of Christmas movies out there to suit children of all ages. Come up with a timetable of films to allow children to pick and choose what they want to see, get some popcorn and some sweets in and arrange cushions and beanbags so that everyone can sit together and get into the festive spirit with their favourite characters. 

Christmas Party

Everybody loves a party! A Christmas party is the perfect chance to get all of the staff and children together, to let their hair down and celebrate the festivities together. Children can help to decorate the room and pick songs for a party playlist while staff prepare special party food. Children could even invite family and friends so that they can all play party games and enjoy themselves together. 

Although the above-mentioned activities may seem ‘the norm’, they can make a huge difference to the lives of those in care over what can be a difficult time of the year. Spreading Christmas cheer can improve the lives of many people during the festive season and it doesn’t have to take a lot of time, money or effort to do so. 

If you’d like to make a difference to the lives of those that are living in care, our Access to Higher Education Diploma in Social Work could help you get into university and transform your career prospects. Contact us for more information about Access to Higher Education diplomas, or, leave your details and one of your advisors will get in contact with you. 

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