Family, Youth and Community Sciences News

Research-based information, resources, and tips for families, consumers, and educators; provided by the faculty of the University of Florida/IFAS Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences.

20+ Ways to Help an Older Friend or Family Member Prepare for the Holidays

Carolyn Wilken, Associate Professor, Extension Gerontologist

Holidays are known as times for being with family and friends, for sharing traditions and for helping others.   Unfortunately, family members and friends may no longer be able to prepare for the holidays as they once did. The decorations once cherished are now out of reach, and the risk of falling when hanging lights is frightening; baking cookies involves carrying heavy groceries into the house, and tracking down the most recent address of your sister's youngest grandson, who has moved twice this year, can be nearly impossible.  

So, how can you help an older family member or friend prepare for the holidays?  Here's a list of 20 ways you and your family can help someone prepare for the holidays. You may have special things to add to this list -please do...post it on your blog or website and link back to us! Just remember that the most precious gift you can give is your time.

1)      Hang outdoor holiday lights (commit to taking them down as well)

2)      Clean house before company comes to town

3)      Spend an afternoon baking cookies in their home -the good smell will last for days.

4)      Take them on mini-shopping trips

5)      Update their address book

5)      Address holiday cards

6)      Bring stamps from the post-office

7)      Help them create their own 'wish list' to share with family and friends

8)      Take them 'internet shopping'...there is lots of free shipping this year!

9)      Get holiday decorations down from the attic or out of the closet

10)     Drive them to religious services

11)     Create a family tradition album making a record of cherished traditions of the past and present (great project for scrapbookers and older children)

12)     Take them on a holiday light tour around town

13)     Listen, listen, listen

14)     Involve children of all ages whenever possible

15)     Share memories of holidays you've enjoyed together

16)     Together, create a new tradition

17)     Have a 'gift wrapping party'

18)     Drive them to visit a friend they haven’t seen for a while

19)     Watch a traditional holiday movie together

20)     Take dictation and write a letter. Many people still communicate in writing!

21)     Offer suggests for gifts for people they want to buy for...keep budget restrictions in mind.

22)      Remember to go back and help with post-holiday clean up!