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  • Debbie Thrower

Christmas Advent 'calendar' idea for care homes

Updated: Oct 14


Get planning your Advent 'calendar' boxes full of surprises for residents in care homes, with this idea from a blog reader in New Zealand, Ruth Dewdney.

'I’m the chaplain at the Carter House Lifecare Retirement Home in Te Puke, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand. Part of my ministry there is with the Camellia Wing Dementia Unit, which is a secure unit. Last year I created an Advent calendar for the residents of Camellia Wing which I called the "24 Boxes of Christmas."


'Yes, 24 boxes of different sizes and shapes each brightly decorated or wrapped and each containing an item to do with Christmas. I used as many senses as I could, from CDs of carols and Christmas songs, to letters to Santa, to fragrant spices such as cinnamon sticks, soft toys, candy canes, Christmas cards, cookie cutters, and yes there was a nativity set for day 24!… 24 items to help them count down through December. The staff opened the numbered box each day with them – a chance to talk, to remember and of course to fiddle with, and the opportunity to reopen the previous days ones as well.


'I was fortunate that the parish I lead has an "Op Shop" who were willing to help with finding items and to help find boxes. I have of course kept the boxes and their contents so I can redo them for this year as well. While we are free to visit the residents here in New Zealand, as our Covid restrictions are very much eased, this is something that could be done and delivered to a care home for the staff to do with residents who, maybe, won't be getting visitors arriving with special things for them.'


The Reverend Ruth Dewdney

Vicar of Te Puke Anglican Parish

Diocese of Waiapu

New Zealand


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