News and Information

Hacks for Family Caregivers During Hectic Holidays

By Haley Kotwicki, content specialist


It’s my mom and my new tradition to watch the W Network’s Hallmark channel during the holiday season. Recently, we were watching a heartwarming holiday movie and discussing upcoming gatherings and parties. By the time we finished listed what we needed to do for the season, we weren’t feeling the holiday spirit. It seems as you get older, the holiday season becomes less jolly and wearier - all the cooking, cleaning, shopping, decorating, etc. Plus, if you are a family caregiver, then you’re doing all of that for you and for your loved one.


This year, though, I’m going to get back into the holiday spirit by hacking the holidays. I want my family to make memories and have fun without everyone being stressed. I can hear you exclaiming, “Yes, me too!” So, let’s get going:


Easy Decorations: In previous years, my family would put up stockings, figurines, snow globes, a tiny Christmas village, and a tree with tons of ornaments, tinsel and lights. When it’s all up, it looks magical, but it is a lot of work to put up and takedown. This year, we’ll only decorate the living room with a few decorations and put up a small tree with a smattering of ornaments and a few strands of lights. Maybe, you could try limiting your decorations like us. Or, you could use the opportunity to bring together older and younger loved ones to make holiday decorations that way it’s a time to make memories and not just another chore.


White Elephant: Instead of stressing to find the perfect gift or buying an impersonal gift card for every family member, I want to add some fun to our celebrations with a game of White Elephant.


White Elephant is perfect if you have lots of nice (but no longer useful) items cluttering your home or love giving gag-gifts. If you have a lot of jokesters in your family, this game encourages silly behaviour, such as “stealing” gifts. You can make up your own variations on the rules, so you can customize the game to your families’ style. For example, you may want all gifts to be used in the kitchen. You could also do a simple exchange, where everyone is given one person to shop for – just confirm everyone gives and receives a gift.


Shop Online: When my mom and I were caring for my grandmother, it was difficult to get out and do all the shopping. Pushing my grandma’s wheelchair through slushy snow and crowded malls was quite the workout. If you or a loved one have limited mobility, order gifts and groceries online from the comfort of home. 


Recipes as Gifts: If your parent, grandparent or older loved one is having trouble finding a present for a relative, ask if your loved one if they have family recipes they would like to pass down. If they have the recipe card, laminate and/or frame it. If they have it memorized but not written down, type or write it down on stationary or a recipe card, then laminate and/or frame it. You could even schedule a day where your older loved one and the gift recipient cook together and make memories.


Pre-Cut Cookies: Whether you’re baking for your children’s school bake sale or to make gifts, it can be time-consuming if you’re making everything from scratch or making several types of cookies. Instead, purchase pre-cut cookies that are ready to bake if you need a break. You could even buy cookies from your local bakery. If anyone asks why they aren’t homemade, tell them you are enjoying your family time and scaling back. The holidays are about family after all, not cookies.


Gift Bags: Wrapping gifts is time-consuming and frustrating, especially for someone like me who ends up with a mess of tape and lumpy presents. So ditch the roll and buy gift bags and tissue paper, making the whole process easy. Gift bags are also more manageable to put together and take apart for older loved ones.


Doing a little less and reducing stress to better enjoy family time are just a few ways you can live your best life possible. From our heart to yours, we hope you have a happy holiday and new year!

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