2016-2017 National Hospital Ambassador
Share the Spirit of the Season with Hospitalized Veterans This Year
We will soon be celebrating Christmas and other seasonal holidays. What a wonderful happy, joyful and spiritual time of year! Everyone is excited about upcoming family gatherings, gifts under the tree and celebrating religious beliefs.
But what about veterans who will not be celebrating with family and friends because they are hospitalized, homebound or living in an extended care facility? How can you lift their spirits so they enjoy the holidays, too? Here are some ideas:
- Plan time the week of Christmas to drop by and spread cheer. Wear a Santa or elf hat, reindeer antlers or a jingle bell necklace. Bring a card with a candy cane or other holiday treat to give each of them.
- Partner with other veterans and/or civic organizations to provide Christmas gifts to hospitalized and/or homebound veterans. By partnering with other organizations, you can stretch your budget and increase your people-power when delivering gifts.
- Ask a church, school or municipal choir if they would visit hospitalized veterans to sing carols. The sound of song is uplifting for many. You’ll see veterans smiling ear-to-ear, remembering the words, singing along and asking if you know a certain tune.
- Decorate the door or inside a room of a hospitalized veteran. Need some inspiration? Be sure and look at the 15 door decorating ideas on the VFW Auxiliary All About Christmas/Winter Pinterest page!
- Invite a youth group to work with hospitalized veterans on a craft project. Many hospitalized veterans love visiting with young people and appreciate their handiwork. It makes them feel good to know young people understand the sacrifices they made while in military service. Visit the VFW Auxiliary’s All About Christmas/Winter Pinterest page for creative crafts such as:
- Santa binoculars
- Paper plate Christmas trees/snowmen
- Terra cotta snowmen
- Cola bottle snow globes
- Various ornaments
- And more!
Don’t forget a New Year’s celebration! This is really fun to do. You could host a “Noon Year’s Eve” or “Noon Year’s Day” party with the countdown ending at noon instead of midnight. Be sure to always ask a facility what food and drinks are allowed. Here are two ideas:
- Make or purchase New Year hats, crowns and noisemakers. Purchase balloons, gold and/or black table cloths and plastic champagne glasses. Buy 2 or 3 yards of tulle, corsage pins (or push pins), thin white ribbon, sparkling grape juice or apple cider, and sugar free holiday cookies. Purchase an inexpensive battery operated clock with large numbers on it.
- Decorate the tables in gold and black. Place on each table the words to the traditional New Year’s song: Auld Lang Syne (the first verse and chorus: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auld_Lang_Syne).
- Blow up about 20 balloons, attach the tulle with enough give to hold the balloons to the ceiling with the corsage pins (or push pins if it isn’t a tiled ceiling), tie long strings of white ribbon to each pin in each corner, and set the balloons inside the tulle.
- Hand out hats (but hold off on the noisemakers until after the games).
- At 10:30 a.m., begin playing bingo, cards and/or board games and play for about an hour.
- When the games are finished, pour sparkling grape juice or apple cider, hand out noisemakers, cookies and other treats.
- When the clock nears 12:00 p.m. (noon), assign one veteran to each string to the balloons in the tulle, do a count down and then wish everyone a Happy New Year, have the veterans pull the strings to release the balloons, sound the noisemakers, and sing Auld Lang Syne (the first verse and chorus: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auld_Lang_Syne).
- If your Auxiliary would like an alternative to traditional games such as bingo, card and/or board games, think about hosting a “Pajamas and Pancakes” party and make a craft such as a paper plate snowflake or their own noisemaker.
- Invite attendees to come in their best pajamas for a “New Year’s at Noon” pancake brunch complete with pancakes, sausage, bacon, orange juice and coffee. Begin the brunch at 10:30 a.m. and allow them up to one hour to eat.
- After breakfast is finished and tables are cleared, start on the craft. Ideas for crafting with the elderly are available on the VFW Auxiliary All About Christmas/Winter Pinterest page and include decorating masks and a DIY noisemaker.
- When the clock turns 12:00 p.m. (noon), drop balloons and sound the noisemakers!
I wish you all a very happy holiday season and thank you for all you do to bring joy to the lives of so many of our nation’s veterans!