Activity Ideas

Halloween Activity Ideas for Senior Living Communities

September 1, 2023

It’s never too early to start preparing for big holidays in your senior living community — Halloween is practically around the corner! These frightfully delightful Halloween activity ideas for seniors will help you celebrate one of our favorite holidays with the residents in your community.

  1. Host a Spooky Scary Halloween Party 

Ghosts? Check. Goblins? Check. Ghouls? Check.

Invite your residents to dress up in costumes or black and orange, play some Monster Mash, and get residents in the Halloween spirit as you serve some Magic Potion Punch or Witch’s Brew. Decorate your community with Halloween decorations and organize some activities: pumpkin carving, door-to-door trick or treating, and costume competitions. There’s lots to deliver a fun and spooktacular ghostly affair. 

Image via HomeCare4u

  1. Host a Murder Mystery Party 

Have you ever wanted to be a detective? Are you that person that always solves the crime before the end of the show? In this activity, residents receive individual character dossiers and are encouraged to mingle and spread out in order to bribe, blackmail, and, in general, be sneaky to obtain as many secrets about the other characters as possible. At some point during the event, someone dies. Yes, one of the participants died and one of them did it! An investigation ensues with lots of finger-pointing as the secrets become revealed. There are lots of websites and businesses that offer support to run a murder mystery party within your community.

Image via The Spruce

  1. Build a Scary Story Activity 

This activity is a great way to get your residents' creative juices flowing and is guaranteed to make everyone laugh.

Each person in the circle is only allowed to say one sentence and must continue the story. Tell them the theme is Halloween/Scary. The first person begins the story by saying “Once upon a time” and completes the sentence. The next person continues the story (has to make sense). The process continues until it reaches the end of the circle and the final person who began the story must conclude it in one sentence.

Image via Thrillist

  1. Create a Halloween Sensory Kit for Your Memory Care Residents

This is the perfect sensory kit for the season of little goblins.

The goal of this sensory kit is to provide a variety of interesting, theme-oriented stimuli (for a variety of ability levels) that will enhance the sensory environment and encourage a memory tie-in to the sensory experience.

To put together the kit, you will need:

  • Trick-or-treat bag, plastic pumpkin, or pillowcase to hold all of your “goodies.”
  • Halloween masks. Simple ones on a stick are easy to hold up in front of your eyes.
  • Other items that might be part of a Halloween costume, such as a cowboy hat, witch hat, fairy wand, pirate sword, white sheet with holes for eyes (ghost), etc. Select items with different textures and colors.
  • Halloween decorations: fake cobwebs, plastic spiders, black cat, black crepe paper streamers, etc.
  • Halloween stationary and cards.
  • Pumpkin-scented candles.
  • A jack-o’-lantern (preferably a real one with battery-operated tealight inside).
  • Recordings of Halloween music, such as “The Monster Mash,” “The Addams Family Theme Song,” and “The Funeral March of the Marionettes.”
  • Candy corn and other Halloween candy.
  • Other treats associated with Halloween: fresh popcorn, apples, apple cider, candied apples, pumpkin seeds, etc.
  • Halloween napkins, plates, and cups.
  • Pictures of children dressed in costumes.

Pass around one item at a time so that everyone can enjoy an appropriate sensory relationship with the object. Encourage participants to examine the object. If appropriate, ask people to describe how the object looks, feels, and smells. While you do this, you can discuss each item. For example, ask questions like: 

  • Did you dress up for Halloween when you were a child? Did you make costumes for your children?
  • Do you prefer “pretty” costumes (like a princess) or “scary” ones (like a witch or warlock)?
  • If you were wearing this hat (cowboy hat), what might you be?
  • What would you use to scoop out the inside of a pumpkin?
Image via Paper & Glue

  1. Host a Community Trick-or-Treat Opportunity at Your Residence

Create posters and social media posts to invite neighbourhood kids to come visit your community to do some trick-or-treating. Purchase some candy for your residents to hand out to kids when they come knocking at their door. Encourage them to decorate their doors (you can even do a craft program to support this!). You can encourage your residents to dress up. This is a great way to get residents, staff, and volunteers involved and to get connected with your local community!

It will be a spooktacular time!

Image via City of Irvine

  1. Halloween Pumpkin Decorating Contest

Get into the Halloween spirit by holding a Halloween Pumpkin Decorating Contest! Provide a pumpkin and supplies to participating residents to decorate it.

Supplies could include: 

  • Paint
  • Brushes
  • Carving knives and tools
  • Newspapers and garbage bags
  • Large spoons to carve out pumpkin insides

You could decide to choose a theme such as spooky pumpkins, celebrity pumpkins, and more! You can be as creative as you'd like. Get staff and residents to act as judges and award a first, second, and third prize!

Image via South Georgia Tech

  1. DIY Halloween T-Shirts 

With this DIY activity, you and your residents can create custom t-shirts with spooky Halloween designs. The best part is that you can get all the materials you need at a dollar store!

For best results, you’ll need t-shirts in a dark colour, since the design is created by spraying the shirt with bleach. This technique is sometimes called reverse tie-dye. You’ll also need Halloween-themed cut-outs to use as stencils. Usually, you can find wooden cut-outs in the seasonal section of a dollar store, but you could also make the stencils yourself. 

Lay the t-shirts on a flat surface in an outdoor or well-ventilated area. Your residents can choose the stencils they want to use and arrange them on top of the t-shirt to create their designs. Fill a spray bottle with bleach and spray all around the stencils. Allow the bleach to dry before rinsing the shirts with water. Here’s a video tutorial that uses all dollar store materials!

Image via DIYQHW Blog

Did these activity ideas spark your creativity? Get more inspiration with these September Activity Ideas and Fall Activity Ideas for senior living communities!

Katie Stewart

Katie is a member of Welbi’s Customer Experience team! She has a background in communications and recreation and is passionate about older adults, exercise, coffee and people.

Holly Mathias

Holly is a member of Welbi’s Marketing team! She has a background in communications and marketing, and is a compassionate individual who loves team work, story telling, and wellness.

Wendy Riopelle

Wendy is a student in the Honours BA in English program at the University of Ottawa, where she has won numerous awards for her writing.

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