Your Questions Answered: “Can you suggest some ways we can make sure everyone has a meaningful gift at Christmas time, without having to source lots of additional funding?”
Helen Johns, the lead trainer on our Activity Coordinator Training Course, says:
I’ve answered this question in two ways – because I think it’s important to look not only at the pleasure gained from receiving a meaningful and wanted gift, but also to remember the pleasure gained from giving a gift too. Often when people come to live in care settings, they don’t get a chance to give gifts to their family members. Wouldn’t it be great if we could support residents to give a gift too?
When you have a limited budget, we need to look at giving gifts creatively.
Gifts for Residents
Lots of homes set aside a budget for each resident and buy generic gifts, such as toiletries or chocolates, which could appeal to all residents. However, it may also be nice to buy or make more personal gifts which cost the same, but reflect the person’s preferences, interests and current abilities. For example, a gentleman I know enjoys reading about aircraft. A new glossy magazine may bring more joy than shower gel or a box of sweets.
You don’t have to think of different gifts for every single person but, where you are able, by selecting a personal gift for someone, you are likely to create a greater impact if it is meaningful to that person. If you have a small budget, some of the suggestions below may help stretch your budget further. These include creating and personalising things which could be part of an activity session. Residents could make presents for fellow residents or family members.
But how do we do this on a limited budget? Some activity coordinators have provided the following suggestions and included ways that residents can be directly involved:
- Decorating poundshop photo frames with buttons.
- Gift boxes decorated and filled with sweets.
- Peppermint creams and other homemade sweets.
- Baked gifts such as cakes, gingerbread etc.
- A photograph attached to a calendar tab/card with a greeting.
- Personalising gifts by using sew-on or printed initials to a standard product.
Daily Sparkle Resource Magazines always include lots of activity ideas that could produce gifts. Previous magazines have had ideas for autumn lanterns (which could be changed slightly to make them festive), tin foil art, lavender bags and miniature gardens (which you could easily make festive).
As always, the key to success is in the planning:
- Start your plans for gift-making early to give plenty of time to buy resources, make the gifts and wrap them before the big day.
- Allow sufficient time in each activity session for people to contribute without being rushed.
- Whatever ideas you choose have fun and take every opportunity to get people involved and help them feel useful.
Of course this will take some extra effort, but with a little treat at the end of the year, the impact you will have in making people feel that they are cared for – at an often difficult time of year – is immeasurable. Enjoy!
To find out more about our training courses, click here. And join our Activity Coordinators Group here. Helen Johns is the lead trainer for The Daily Sparkle Activity Coordinator Training and has been developing and delivering our courses since April 2017. As well as working for The Daily Sparkle, Helen runs an activity coordinator forum in her local area, provides training and consultancy for care homes in relation to activity and wellbeing and works as an ‘Expert by Experience’ for CQC inspections.