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The Gift of the Holidays

Make sure Santa doesn't forget anyone this holiday season

By Pam West

The holidays are quickly approaching, and as caregivers, you want to make sure that every resident has a gift to open on Christmas. This is a problem that many facilities grapple with, especially during these lean financial times. What can you do to ensure that nobody feels left out on Christmas morning?

Try a gift tree

Early in November, give each resident a paper ornament shaped like a holiday symbol, such as a tree, angel, bell or star. Ask each resident to list a few items on the back of the ornament that they would like to receive. Some facilities put the residents' names on the ornaments while others assign each resident a number.

Since this could get quite expensive, set a limit of $10 or so. Have staff, families and volunteers pick an ornament and show you what number or name they chose. A list should be kept of the residents' names and who picked them. You don't want to find out at the last minute that some residents were missed. Set a date for when the gifts need to be turned in to the activity department so that you can go through your list and be sure everyone is accounted for.

Another strategy for the gift tree is to simply have male or female ornaments. Each resident gets whatever is gifted for their gender rather than items specifically chosen for them. It might also be a good idea to have a few of these types of gifts available for new residents arriving at your facility who came after your lists were made up. You really don't want anyone missed. The gifts can be taken to each resident's room or handed out by Santa at a Christmas party or on Christmas Eve/morning.

Also, consider asking local churches or organizations such as the Boy Scouts, veterans or schools to participate.

Gift basket fundraisers

Are resident gifts just not in the budget? Don't give up get creative! Put together some beautiful baskets that can be raffled off. Raffle tickets are easy to make with a computer and printer. The baskets could have themes such as "Beauty" with lotions and soaps or "Movies" with popcorn, candy and a DVD. The tickets could be sold for a dollar or two to staff, visitors or families as they come to visit. The money raised could be used to help buy gifts for the residents. The family members who win the baskets might also enjoy presenting them to residents as Christmas gifts.

Choosing the perfect gift

Christmas gifts mean a great deal to residents and help show how much your facility cares about them. If you don't have a lot to spend, remember that homemade gifts are always special. Sentimental gifts are touching, but silly and lighthearted gifts go a long way to brighten the day. Gifts should be something to make residents feel special, loved and remembered.

When family members and friends bring gifts for residents, be sure to log them on the residents' personal item lists. The gifts should also have the resident's name written on them.

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