This past weekend, we brought some Christmas Cheer to a local home for the elderly. We have been visiting since my two eldest were 3 and 1.5 and we caroled with a play group. That first year, my daughter asked if she could play piano. We didn’t have her music so she just played “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” Every year since then she has wanted to go back, this time with Christmas carol sheet music.
Organizing a sing-a-long can be done any time of year and we hope to return in the spring to sing again.
If this sounds like something your family would enjoy, here’s how to get started:
1. Pick a date. I checked with some interested friends (using Doodle–an free tool I use a lot!) and picked a couple of dates and then coordinated with the home where we sing.
2. Choose a theme. Themes add extra fun to the performance for the performers and the audience. You can choose a holiday theme, a seasonal theme, or something else, like “animal songs.” You can also use “props” and/or dress to the theme. I offered the kids reindeer antlers and jingle bells to shake.
3. Invite Friends. Invite classmates, scout groups, playgroups, clubs–whatever works for you! We used Facebook events for this but you could easily use Eventbrite or any other service. Make sure you set the privacy settings to what you prefer and let invitees know if they can invite their own friends, too.
4. Create a Song List and Program. Distribute lyrics to your group in advance and bring along lyrics so the audience can join in the fun! This is especially important if you have young singers who may need a little amplification. The beginning readers also get good reading practice. You can practice with your group but we have a hard enough time getting everyone together for the event itself, so I just distributed song lyrics two weeks in advance and encouraged everyone to practice with their family. We also had three kids (my two eldest and a friend) playing the piano.
5. Bring Goodies. We asked each family to bring a dozen cookies. If the home does not allow homebaked goods, just ask if you can bring decorations, cards, or even potted plants to add to the cheer. This has the added benefit of getting the kids to interact with the seniors. My daughter also brought her American Girl doll, Marie-Grace, all dressed up for Christmas. One of the seniors reminisced about having to put on button-up boots as a child.
There were lots of smiles on faces young and old! You do not have to be a professional-level opera singer to share some cheer with people in your community!