Skip to main content


Showing posts from 2014

Don't be "DONE" in December!

This has been a heck of December as Activities Director at the retirement community where I work. This year I was more involved in the planning of the staff's holiday party than I have been in the past and I also escorted a group on a three-day trip at the beginning of the month. Between those two events and the usual Christmas chaos that takes place on the calendar, I fell behind very quickly. There were days when I came home and told my husband that I was done! Done, as in, not able to do one more thing! Done, as in, not interested in another December in my current job position. Just done! Well, with a few good nights sleep, a paycheck that reflects all my hard work and lot of compliments from longtime residents and new to the community resident, I feel recharged. I have always been someone who has to learn lessons the hard way, and this month's experiences was no different. This is what I've learned this time. I would be much happier in December if I would o

Thanksgiving Gratitude

An Activities Director’s Thanksgiving Gratitude   Thanksgiving is in the air! A time to give thanks and show your gratitude.  Melody Beattie,  Author of  Codependent No More  said  "Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow." As an activities director of 27 years, and the author of the  Recharging Retirees  blog for 3 years, I have so much to be thankful for. For those who have been in the field as long as I have, you know that there are good times and bad times - as there is with any profession. The quote from Melody Beattie speaks of unlocking the fullness of life. At first I thought that my profession allows me to do that for the residents…. Make their life fuller and to make

Decorations: Peel and Stick

A new statement  for Halloween in our Lobby I found these in Target. They were easy to do and cover a lot of space! Amazon has a bunch of these wall art stickers.There are some for Halloween  and and other holidays and seasons.

Library Programs for Senior Adults

Let's go to the library! Boring you think? Maybe not these days!  The retirement community where I work has a wonderful relationship with our city library. They provide us with a few programs to assist the residents get the books or other material they want from the library. Let me share with you what the library does for us first, and then I will share what the library does for the community that we are able to take part in. Once a month, we have a speaker from the library come to the community and talk about books that he thinks that the residents will enjoy. He also brings books for the residents to check out if they want to. There is a system with the library and our community where residents can check-out the books from this once a month program, in addition to ordering them over the phone, or order them on-line. The books, no matter which way a resident requests them, are returned to our front desk when the resident is finished, and are picked up once a week by

Tailgate Party!

Are you ready for some football?!?   Take "time-out" to read the how-to's and suggestions for this fun Tailgate Party that I hosted last week in my retirement community. In our community we host a pre-dinner party with appetizers, then the residents go into dinner and have a special meal based upon the theme of the theme of the evening, followed by a show in the auditorium after dinner, again based upon the theme.  How-to's: Tailgate food is a must. 5-layer taco dip, chips, mozzzerlla sticks, pigs in a blanket, deviled eggs, watermelon wedges, etc. Serve food from football theme trays, bowls Put drinks in coolers and serve them from there. (no bowl of punch here) Decorate with pennants  that are general in nature or NFL specific Decorate with hanging football theme decorations Decorate with Megaphones Use a real truck if it will fit into your space to serve off of  Decorations with footballs, referees, football players, etc Buy themed paper goods

Wild West Night

As the weather cools off, it is a great time of the year to get WILD! Yes, this could mean a lot of different things to a creative person such as yourself.... a wild safari party , a wild night in Havana party , or maybe a WILD WEST party ! The residents at my independent living retirement community love this theme. It is one of those that I can repeat every few years and they look forward to it being the same - GREAT! This is what we do at my community: Host the event outside. Usually by the pool where there is a large flat grass area right off of the sidewalks Rent a large tent for the residents to sit under to dine I found great balloon weights that I used on the tables for decorations. They were cowboy boots . Erect 3 sided booths that our maintenance department made for these occasions (they come apart for easy storage) Decorate the boots with western concepts....... the saloon, jail, post office, canteen, tack shop, etc. Make them personalized with your communiti

Flamingo Fun Fosters Future Festivities!

The f lamingo is a fun and interesting bird and one more reason to party!   Party you ask? Why not! It was about time that I hosted a dance in my retirement community and I usually create a theme for the dances in order to decorate and get the residents involved. Instead of doing the same old themes based around the holidays or seasons of the year, I created a Pink Flamingo Dance. I asked the residents to dress in pink and almost everyone did! Of course, there was a man or two who declared that he did not own anything pink, but that was fine. I even suggested that they could dress like a flamingo if they wanted, which no one did, but a few people did wear their shirts with flamingos on them.  I bought some great decorations through Amazon  such as an inflatable 4ft flamingo to take photos with and pink flamingo floating coasters  that I used as floats in our lobby's fountain. I put balloon weights and pink balloons in them for the reception that was held before din

Smart-Phone Helps With Activities Director Job

In the retirement community where I work, and probably in yours, there is a "no personal cell phone during work" policy. Lately, of course, I see more and more fellow managers carrying their phones around and bringing them to meetings. For me, as the Activities Director, I have found a few uses of my smart-phone that has helped me do my job better. Here is a quick list. Set a reminder so you will remember the weekly video(s) or other task that you need to set-up. Use the timer on the phone to go off when the video is over so you can be there as people leave and shut it off  (Great way to get their opinions about the show.) Use the timer to go off when you need to stop what you are doing (ie. working in your office) and go to the next task (ie. go to a meeting) Take photos of residents while they are with you on outings to promote your programs in the future. How cool would it be to have a file on your computer for outing pictures, so the next time you go to that loc

Royal Garden Party

Spring is nature's way of saying, "Let's party!" ~ Robin Williams Every summer, The Queen hosts at least three Royal Garden Parties at Buckingham Palace, and one at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh. Over 30,000 people attend. Garden parties have been held at Buckingham Palace since the 1860's, when Queen Victoria instituted what were known as 'breakfasts.'  Today, the Garden Parties have evolved into a way of rewarding and recognizing public service. They are attended by people from all walks of life. Here is a link to see a  Royal Garden Party . With this traditional special event in mind, and because I love flowers, I thought it was time to host a Royal Garden Party in my retirement community. Over the 16 years that I have worked for my company, I have accumulated many different types of silk flowers. I also have two wonderful "sister-communities" within a 10 minute drive from my community who use silk flowers for t

A Good Job

If you do a good job for others, you heal yourself at the same time, because a dose of joy is a spiritual cure. It transcends all barriers. - Ed Sullivan What is a “good job”? Sometimes looking good at your job is as easy as telling others that you are! No, I am not talking about bragging, because that is not my style. I am speaking about letting your actions speaking louder than your words, which then becomes the resident’s perception of you in your role as Activities Director. Let me share a few examples with you now. If a resident asks you to provide a program, movie , outing, etc., when it is time to promote it, be sure to say that it is a resident requested program. This shows your community that you are open to suggestions and that you act on the suggestions given.   That tells the community that you are a good listener .    Keep a log of entertainers who have performed at your community, and rate them so that you can accurately promote the program the next tim

Winter in Paradise Theme Party

The retirement community where I work is in South Florida. While other states have been experiencing terrible winter weather, we have been living in paradise, for the most part. I wanted to celebrate a South Florida winter day with the residents. I created a Winter in Paradise theme party to do just that. Here are the details. Where: outside, at the pool by the lake. What: Make s'mores over a fire pit and watch a movie. We saw The Butler. When: After dinner How:  Get the residents involved. I asked them to dress for the evening by wearing all white - to represent the snow that we don't have to endure, or as a "snow-bird" - sometimes refereed to as a "tacky tourist," or to mix their south Florida fashion with winter wear. For the last item, I was thinking someone might wear flip-flops with socks or a bathing suit with a scarf or jacket, but that did not happen. Even I took the easy way out and wore all white as did most of the people. I

Resident's Activities Committee

Do you work with an Activities Committee in your retirement community? I do! It is a committee that is created through our Resident Board and serves to support me and to report to the community what  exactly is going on in the activities department. Most likely you will not have a say in who is on your committee, so how do you make the relationship work for everyone? Below are a few key points so you can be successful with your activities committee. Get to know your chairman well. It will go a long way for you. Get to know the residents on your committee. They will be the extension of your department in so many ways. What are their personal strengths and weaknesses? Interests? Abilities? Remind the committee that they are your eyes and ears from the community for anything related to your department. The committee is not for sharing their personal wants, opinions, etc. unless they are supported by others in the community. When meeting your committee for the first time, share w