Patient Referral

Napkin Rings: Activities for Dementia Patients

napkin ring craft

As we approach Thanksgiving and other family holidays, it’s natural for families with a loved one with dementia to feel trepidatious about upcoming gatherings.

They are thankful to be able to celebrate another holiday with their loved one, but they are also well aware that the noise, crowds, and change in routine can be upsetting to someone with dementia.

Planning activities with your loved one with dementia in mind can put fears to rest and lead to a successful holiday for the whole family.

Prepare your guests. Connect with everyone who will be attending your holiday meal to update them on your loved one’s dementia diagnosis and current condition. Explain their limitations and how to include them in activities throughout the day. Remind them not to debate with their loved one if they say something that doesn’t make sense or forget someone’s name. Family members should go with the flow and keep the conversation light.

Set up a quiet room. When a loved one has dementia, they may tire easily. A quiet room where they can take a nap can be a blessing. It’s also a good place to take a break if the festivities become overwhelming. Another family member or two might want to join them for quiet conversation.

Schedule dinner early in the day. Individuals with dementia are generally at their best early in the day. An afternoon dinner can help them enjoy the meal before the sun begins to set.

Encourage stories from the past. Your loved one with dementia may not remember a family member’s name or current events, but they will often still have memories from their childhood. Ask them how they celebrated the holiday when they were young and what their favorite meals were.

Plan family activities. Activities for a loved one with dementia helps them be involved in the holiday planning and gives family members another way to engage with them. Crafts like the napkin rings below are a great way to add fun for the whole family into your holiday.

Napkin Rings

What You’ll Need: 

  • Air-drying clay
  • Cardboard toilet paper roll
  • Clay roller
  • Clay knife
  • Ruler
  • Alphabet stamps


  1. Knead the air-dry clay to condition it and make it soft and easy to manipulate. 
  2. Roll a piece of clay into a one-inch ball.
  3. Use the clay roller to roll the ball out into a rectangle that is long enough to wrap around the toilet paper roll.
  4. Cut the clay into a strip as wide as you would like your napkin rings to be. 
  5. Wrap the clay around the cardboard tube, smoothing the edges together where they meet.
  6. Stamp your holiday message onto the clay using the alphabet stamps.
  7. Let the napkin rings dry for 24 hours before removing from the tube.

See more activities for dementia patients.

Caregiver Tips

  1. Practice stamping the messages on the rings with spare clay before trying it on the napkin rings.
  2. Encourage family members to read our tips for communicating with a loved one with dementia.
  3. While doing activities with a loved one with dementia, engage them in conversation. Play music they enjoy softly in the background to create a positive mood.
  4. Even though your loved one may not remember names or things that happened in recent days, they may still remember their childhood. Talk to them about parties they remember from growing up.
  5. Activities for people with dementia have the best chance of success early in the day when your loved one is well rested. If they don’t want to participate or get frustrated, don’t force it. Try again another time.
  6. Remember that the goal is to have an engaging activity with your loved one with dementia. Don’t worry about the end result.

Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year to support patients with dementia and their families. Please call us at 1-888-564-3405 to learn more about how our unique care programs help provide a higher quality of life for dementia patients while helping caregivers avoid burnout.


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Copyright © 2019 Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care. All rights reserved.

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