A guide to celebrating holidays [with a loved one with a disability]

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

PICS family in holiday festive wear The holiday season is a special time that we celebrate with our loved ones. For families who have a member with a disability or complex health condition, it can add challenges to navigate through the festivities. But with a thoughtful approach, it's possible to create memorable moments that everyone can cherish.


  • Start with open conversations. Initiate open and honest communication to lay the foundation for a harmonious holiday season. Discuss plans and expectations with your loved one, considering their specific needs and preferences. This ensures everyone is on the same page and can enjoy the festivities comfortably.
  • Create an inclusive environment. Consider making your holiday celebrations more inclusive by adapting traditions to accommodate your family member's needs. Whether it's modifying the seating arrangements, adjusting mealtimes, or creating a quiet space for moments of respite, small changes can make a big difference.
  • Plan gatherings thoughtfully. Anticipate potential challenges and plan accordingly. If your loved one requires specific accommodations, ensure they are in place. This might include choosing wheelchair-friendly spaces with accessible restrooms, accessible transportation, appropriate seating arrangements, or any necessary medical equipment. If hosting at home, make sure pathways are clear and that there's a quiet area for moments of relaxation. Planning ahead reduces stress and allows everyone to focus on the joy of the season. 
  • Educate and empower family and friends. Educating others about specific needs and challenges can foster empathy and support, creating a more supportive and inclusive holiday environment. Encourage open dialogue, answer questions, and let others know how they can contribute to a positive holiday experience.
  • Prioritize self-care for caregivers. Balancing the needs of a loved one with a disability or health condition can be demanding, so take breaks when needed and seek support from friends and family. By caring for yourself, you'll be better equipped to provide the love and support your family member deserves.
  • Consider sensory sensitivities. Many individuals facing health challenges may have sensory sensitivities. Be mindful of loud noises, bright lights or strong scents that could be overwhelming. Providing a quiet space where your loved one can retreat if needed demonstrates thoughtfulness.
  • Capture and cherish moments. The holiday season is about creating meaningful memories. Take time to notice the special moments — a shared smile, a heartfelt conversation, or a quiet moment of connection. These are the treasures that make the season truly magical.


By focusing on your family's unique strengths, you can make the holiday season a time of warmth, understanding and love that everyone can enjoy.

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