It is often easiest to plan activities that revolve around holidays from October through December. It can be a lot of fun, and obviously provides easy themes. However, not everything has to be holiday focused. When people get busy, often times a home-cooked meal is the last thing they have time to make. So if you want to help your residents in the busyness of the season, I suggest trying a meal event.
Feed them AND have some fun! I am becoming well known for this saying, “If you feed them, they will come. If you feed them well, they’ll come again. If you feed them well and introduce them to a friend, they will keep coming.” Remember: The end goal is to get your residents interacting.
I have two favorite meal ideas that I feel are easy for almost anyone to do, although don’t discount the ease and excitement that comes from serving pizza. Adding some games for people to enjoy after eating can be lots of fun.
Put the beef in the crock pot in the morning, every few hours, stir to make sure the meat is crumbling well, and then serve for dinner! (Note: Crockpot liners from Reynolds Wrap are amazing!) Warm up VEGETARIAN refried beans in another crock pot.
Put the rest of the ingredients in serving dishes right before the event: soft shell tortillas, cheese, shredded or chopped lettuce, salsa or pico de gallo, and sour cream. Guacamole is always a hit if you have the extra budget to spare. See Chipotle’s guac recipe on the right.
We recommend having the staff serve the meat to make sure you don’t run out too quickly.
Italian food Night
Boil lots of pasta, and make sure to toss in copious amounts of olive oil. That way, they won’t stick together as you keep them warm.
Spaghetti is always inexpensive, but some bulk stores like Sam’s Club, Costco, Smart & Final and Cash ‘n’ Carry also carry other pastas shapes. Penne pasta can be a perceived upgrade, even if the cost is only slightly higher.
I’ve also found some surprisingly great tasting large cans of sauce at the same stores listed above. We always have two batches of sauce, one with meat and the other without, or we serve meatballs on the side.
And if you don’t have a ton of time, throw the sauce into those fantastic crockpots first thing in the morning, keep them on low, and get to work.
Bagged garden salads, with croutons (tossed in or on the side), and Caesar dressing makes an easy and inexpensive side dish.
Rolls from Costco or Sam’s Club tend to be very low cost for a high quality as well.
The Fun—easy group games
Having games around the room on the tables can be enticing. Maybe enlist a friendly resident to be the inviter/game instigator, but don’t be afraid to have the staff join in.
Uno is easy for people to join in and leave as needed, can be played with lots of people, is great for all ages, education levels and even can be played with non-English speakers.
Connect Four is usually short, and can be a great starter game for a couple of people.
Win, Lose or Draw can be fun for larger groups, and doesn’t need any table space. We improvised and used Pictionary cards, split the group into two teams, and used the large Post-It Pads stuck to a wall for our drawing board.