Spending time with elderly family and friends is one of the most rewarding gifts you can give them. But if you want to really make it special, bring along kids and grandkids and make it a crafting event. Research shows engaging seniors in simple crafts helps brain function and doing it with friends and loved ones relieves feelings of isolation. Even seniors with memory problems or other cognitive impairment can participate with a little help from you. While the sky really is the limit when it comes to crafts for seniors, kids and caregivers, here are a few ideas to consider.
Scrapbooking – Keeping memories alive is easy when you create a scrapbook of images and other memorabilia from recent vacations, graduations, birthdays, anniversaries, or other life events. You can create a scrapbook from scratch or purchase an album and fill it up. This is one craft project that can last longer than a day and provide ongoing opportunities to share more memories throughout the year.
Painted rocks and shells – Painting rocks and seashells is an easy and simple way to express creativity and put your lake and seashore treasures to work. From intricate and beautiful Mandala stones to pretty painted seashell ornaments for the Christmas tree, everyone will enjoy making something ordinary into a keepsake.
Grapevine wreathes – Wreath crafting is a great way to create something beautiful and welcoming for a door, table or window. No matter the season — spring, summer, fall, or winter — everyone will enjoy creating a wreath with silk or paper flowers, ribbon, and artificial or dried greens.
Air plant gardens – If your senior loves plants, there are none easier to care for than air plants – plants that survive and thrive on air with very little attention. Since they don’t require soil, creating a lovely air plant garden is a fun project that even toddlers can help with. You might even consider using larger painted shells to contain your air plant gardens!
Bead bracelets – Bracelets are fun and easy to make for everyone to keep or give as gifts. Depending on the ability levels of your group, you can choose stretch cord, wire (which requires adding clasps), or memory wire, which allows you to easily make one or more bands of beads. Beads are available online or at local craft stores and don’t forget to gather up your old or broken jewelry beads to give them a second life.
Painted pictures – You don’t have to be an artist to love painting so why not throw a painting party? All you need are canvases or painting paper, paint, and brushes, all of which are available at craft stores or online. Keep it really simple with water colors (especially if you have little ones engaged) and choose one object or idea to paint and then enjoy comparing each person’s interpretation. You might be surprised at the talent revealed!
Play with clay – Few media offer the possibilities of modeling clay and it’s easier than ever if you use air-dry clay. From figurines to flowers to bowls and other useful products, everyone will enjoy creating something wonderful from a simple mound of clay. And there’s no kiln or oven needed; just let your projects air dry. Don’t forget to schedule a visit for painting or otherwise decorating your creations after they dry.
Stamping – Rubber stamping is a simple and relaxing way to create original and personal cards and notes, decorate containers, and even make custom designs on cloth and clothing. A great idea for all is to create a set of hand-stamped cloth napkins for your senior to keep and use when you visit. Each person can create their own napkin reflecting something they love to do, a favorite flower or anything else that describes them. Or perhaps you can create personalized totes from inexpensive canvas bags. Remember that just about any object can be used as a stamp so look around the house for interesting shapes to use. You can also create unique stamps by carving them in potatoes. Keep in mind that you can use your stamps to decorate your scrapbook and to embellish your clay creations too!
Pinecone bird feeders – A fun and environmentally friendly project that is easy for crafters of all ages, pinecone bird feeders also teach youngsters about caring for our feathered friends. Just hang them in a tree or bush near a window and everyone can enjoy watching birds of all kinds and colors enjoy a homemade feast.
No-sew fleece blanket – if your group would like to make a cozy gift form everyone, a no-sew fleece blanket is a great group project you can complete together in a few hours. While you are working on it, spend the time sharing with your senior all the good things going on your lives and be sure to ask them about theirs too. Consider it a 21st century quilting bee!
Crafting is not only fun and creative, it also provides opportunities to enjoy the company of family and friends of all ages. No matter which projects you choose, you can be sure your senior will look forward to the day and look back with a smile.