One of my favorite holiday traditions is exchanging Christmas cards and letters. I know, in this age of social media that probably sounds old-fashioned. But when December rolls around, I love to run out to the mailbox and peer inside to see how many cards arrive each day. And I’ll admit that I feel a bit sad when the final card of the season arrives, turning the contents of my mailbox back into bills and junk mail.
I also love to compose a personal note for each person on my list. No form letter for me! (Okay, I do admit that my handwritten notes have given way to letters created on my computer.) Best of all, I cherish reading every letter tucked inside the cards I receive, and I especially enjoy finding a photo card.
I’m willing to bet that many of your residents feel the same way. Yet, they no longer have the opportunity to fully enjoy this wonderful holiday tradition. I hope this year you’ll make it a priority to help residents create and send holiday cards.
Better yet, I hope you’ll hire a photographer and help your residents design photo cards. This is a unique opportunity to get all dolled up for a picture that they’re proud to send to family and friends. Additionally, you’ll create something that’s priceless to their families. Here’s how:
Prior to the event:
- Choose a photographer. If you aren’t able to hire a professional photographer, check with staff, volunteers, or family members. I know you’ll find a person or two with a high-quality camera who enjoys photography. They’ll probably welcome this opportunity to take pictures of your residents.
- You can find lots of online articles and books with plenty of tips on how to take beautiful portrait photos.
- Check with beauty consultants from companies such as Mary Kay or Avon to see if they’ll help residents apply makeup. In return, you can provide them with free publicity that they appreciate around the holidays.
- Contact nearby cosmetology schools to see if students can help with styling hair.
- Be sure to recruit plenty of volunteers. You want the residents to feel pampered and not rushed on this special day.
- Set up appointments in conjunction with the photographer.
- A good way to help fund your project is by offering to take holiday photos of staff members and their families for a reasonable fee.
On the day of the event:
- Create a beautiful holiday background. Look at online family holiday photos for ideas.
- Do a few test runs with volunteers posing as residents. You don’t want any surprises showing up in the pictures after the event begins.
- It’s fun to have someone dressed as Santa Claus to pose with residents if they wish.
- Facility pets are another great addition to pictures.
- Minimize the number of people in the room while pictures are been taken to avoid distractions.
After the event:
- Provide each resident with a free photo. In addition, offer them the option to purchase larger prints or Christmas photo cards at a low price. Watch for great deals from companies such as Shutterfly, Vistaprint, Tiny Prints, or Snapfish at this time of year.
- Invite volunteer groups to come in and help residents address envelopes and write Christmas notes. (This is a good way to recruit new volunteers. After they come out for a one-time event like this, they just might decide to come back on a regular basis.)
- Make regular holiday cards available at a minimal price for residents who chose not to do photo cards.
- Be sure to personally thank everyone who helped with the project.
- Get your planning committee together and talk about what went well and what you’ll do differently next year. Jot down notes so you’ll remember the details.
Need more encouragement to take on this project? Then check out this delightful video: