As we age, we sometimes find the need to move to smaller quarters. But tighter dimensions don’t have to squelch our creativity and, in fact, they can be a catalyst for fresh ideas.
Even before those change-of-address cards are sent out, you can start planning some new traditions to make your home a warm, welcoming and comfortable place for your family, friends and you.
Do you have new neighbors across the street, or across the hall? Try hosting a “getting to know you” event on a come-and-go basis. Neighbors can drop by and stay a short time and enjoy your company and the company of your other neighbors. Serve a simple beverage and finger foods that don’t require sitting at a table. Let guests circulate through your home. Place a few favorite photos from your life in a pretty container on a coffee or end table. These are wonderful conversation-starters. Your new front door or a special focal point in your new home could be the backdrop for an annual snapshot of family or friends.
If you’re new to the area, invite others who are more familiar with it to your home to plan some group outings for next year’s calendar. Your home can even serve as a gathering place for a group going to a play, museum, shopping center or seasonal event. If you go on a group trip to a restaurant, invite them back to your home to play a game or two afterward.
Your home can become the favorite setting for watching football games, the New Year’s Day Rose Bowl Parade or classic movies. Ask your guests to bring a favorite drink and a snack to share. How about a progressive dinner among nearby friends or neighbors? Each person hosts one course of a dinner. You could also host one new neighbor for coffee each month to get to know them in greater depth.
As the holidays approach, you’ll have lots of new opportunities to create memories. Thanksgiving can be celebrated any day. Invite a few friends or neighbors with no nearby family to enjoy a simplified holiday meal around your table. You could ask each person to bring a favorite dish. Turkey doesn’t even need to be on the menu! Let each guest share something they’re grateful for.
If your former home was holiday-central for your family, let a younger family member take on the tradition, reserving your new home for crafting simple holiday decorations or baking cookies with your grandchildren or great-grandchildren. Or you might have access to a community room with plenty of seating, restrooms and kitchen/dining amenities that you could use. How about a Christmas story-telling evening with family or friends? Each person brings a favorite Christmas story from a book, movie or an actual event from his or her life.
As you bid your guests farewell, treat them to a small token of your hospitality. Perhaps fill a basket by the door with individually-wrapped gingerbread men, meaningful bookmarks, pads of holiday-themed sticky notes, candy canes, small Christmas ornaments or even holiday noisemakers!
No matter where you live, your hospitality will create warmth and sweet memories that your family, friends and you will cherish.
By Nancy (Nan) Brown, MS, M. Div.
Senior Living Consultant