Accessible Holiday Party Planning: Ensuring a Joyful Christmas for Everyone
|Inclusivity||Ensuring your holiday party is accessible to guests with disabilities enhances the festive spirit for everyone.|
|Decorations||Choose decorations that are safe and do not obstruct mobility.|
|Food & Drink||Offer options that are easy to handle and consume, considering various dietary needs and physical abilities.|
|Seating Arrangements||Provide comfortable and accessible seating options, consider the Trabasack Mini Lightweight Wheelchair Tray Bag for added convenience of guests with limited mobility.|
|Facilities||Ensure restrooms are accessible, possibly with aids like the Buckingham Foldeasy Toilet Safety Frame.|
When it comes to holiday celebrations, inclusivity is key. Hosting an accessible holiday party for disabled guests during Christmas not only spreads goodwill but also ensures that everyone has a chance to participate in the festive joy. The holiday season is a time for togetherness, celebration, and joy.
As a host, you want all your guests to feel welcomed and included in the festivities. This year, be intentional about making your holiday party accessible to guests with disabilities.
With some thoughtful planning and simple adaptations, you can ensure everyone feels comfortable and can fully participate. This article will guide you through essential steps to plan an accessible holiday party, considering the needs of disabled guests.
Understanding Accessibility in Party Planning
To create a truly inclusive environment, it's important to understand what accessibility entails. Accessibility goes beyond just physical access; it includes considering sensory needs, dietary restrictions, and providing clear communication. Here are some points to consider:
Venue Accessibility: Ensure the party location is wheelchair accessible, with ramps and wide doorways. Check if there are accessible parking spots and toilets.
Insider tip: Very few homes have an accessible bathroom, please don't exclude your guests who may need one because of this! Disabled people are experts at managing their lives in a sometimes inaccessible world. Chat to them beforehand to see if there is anything you can do in advance.
Sometimes providing a private space is enough, perhaps to empty a catheter bag into a bottle, there's no need to make intrusive enquiries but you could offer a space availablbe if you think it is a possibility.
Similarly many wheelchair uses own small ramps that they could bring along. Communication in advance is the key.
Sensory Considerations: Some guests might be sensitive to bright lights or loud music. Having a quiet room or adjusting the sensory environment can be helpful.
- Clear Communication: When sending out invitations, clearly state the accessibility features of the venue and ask guests to respond if they have specific needs.
Creating a Welcoming Atmosphere
While decorating, keep in mind the safety and mobility of your guests. Avoid floor decorations that could be tripping hazards and opt for safe, non-flammable materials. Decorations should enhance the festive atmosphere without creating physical barriers.
Food and Drink
Place food and beverages on tables of varying heights to accommodate wheelchairs. Position items closer to the front of the table so they are within reach. Offer straws, light-weight cups and plates, and finger foods for guests with limited mobility.
Offering an array of food and drink options caters to different dietary needs and preferences. Using products like the Handsteady Drinks Cup can aid guests who may have difficulty with standard cups.
Similarly, the Scoop Plate can make dining easier for guests with limited hand dexterity. These are low cost items that could be provided as a thoughtful gesture, again, if your guest has agreed in advance.
Seating and Mobility
Have some chairs without arms, at different heights, maybe a barstool height chair, and floor cushions available. This allows your guests to select what works best for their needs. Also consider reserving prime seating near food tables for elderly or disabled guests who may have difficulty walking across the room.
Older people can find very low seated chairs difficult to rise from.
- Remove a chair at the dining table in advance if you have a wheelchair user visiting
- Consider buying or borrowing a lightweight folding ramp for steps and thresholds if this is appropriate.
- Consider the use of floor markers or tactile paths to guide visually impaired guests to their seats or important areas of the venue.
- Ensure there are spaces for guests who use mobility aids, such as wheelchairs or walkers, allowing them to remain comfortably seated.
- Comfortable and accessible seating is crucial. The Trabasack Mini Lightweight Wheelchair Tray Bag, available at Disability Health Shop, doubles as a convenient tray for wheelchair users or anyone with limited mobility. This innovative accessory allows guests to continue to engage in dining and socialising without fuss.
Make Time For Individual Check-Ins
Catch up one-on-one with your guests with disabilities. Ask them privately if there is anything you can do to help them feel more comfortable and cared for. Make any requested accommodations.
If you are choosing a public venue, make sure they have accessible toilets. Even better is a larger and well equipped Changing Places Toilet.
If at home, an accessible toilet is not possible, do not worry. This will not be a surprise for disabled people! They will expect this and make preperations before attending, but do communicate with your guest to see if there is anything that you can do to help.
If you have older guests or guests with a mobility issue, you could consider buying a Buckingham Foldeasy Toilet Safety Frame in advance. This offers support and stability, ensuring comfort and can be folded and put away when your guest leaves.
Entertainment and Activities
When planning activities and entertainment for your holiday party, consider the variety of needs of your guests. Here are some ideas:
- Music and Performances: Ensure the volume is at a comfortable level. Provide subtitles or sign language interpretation for performances if possible.
- Games and Activities: Choose games that are inclusive and adaptable to different ability levels. Simple modifications can make traditional games accessible to everyone.
- Quiet Spaces: Having a designated quiet area where guests can retreat if they feel overwhelmed is thoughtful and considerate.
Communication and Emergency Preparedness
Keeping Guests Informed
Good communication is key to an inclusive event. Provide detailed information about the party’s layout, the type of food being served, and the activities planned. This allows guests to prepare and makes them feel more at ease.
Being prepared for emergencies is crucial. Try to keep exits clear and have a plan about where would be safe to retreat to in a fire or other emergency. Having a first aid kit and asking if there is any special medical needs to be aware of, can make a big difference in ensuring everyone's safety.
Final Touches for an Inclusive Holiday Party
Make space for transport
Guests arriving in an accessible taxi or mobility adapted vehicle may need a close parking space. Can you arrange this, maybe by chatting with neighbours?
Consider sending out personalised invitations that include Braille or large print options. This shows thoughtfulness and a commitment to inclusivity.
Feedback and Improvement
After the event, seek feedback from your guests about the accessibility of the party. This can be done informally, via message or text. This not only shows that you care about their experience but also helps you improve future events.
Recognise and celebrate the diversity of your guests. A holiday party is a great opportunity to honor different traditions and cultures, making everyone feel valued and included. Try to do this in a way that doesn't highlight someones disability though, people are just trying to have fun and want to get on with ordinary life!
Embracing Technology and Innovation for Accessibility
In today’s world, technology plays a significant role in enhancing accessibility. Incorporating assistive technology into your party can make a world of difference for guests with disabilities. Here are some innovative ideas:
- Hearing Aid Loops If at a public venue, check the settings for any PA system to work better with hearing aids.
- Mobile Apps for Navigation: Using mobile apps that help guests navigate the party venue can be incredibly helpful, especially for visually impaired guests. Simply sending the location via a google maps link, can be a great help.
Virtual Participation Options: Offering a virtual participation option for those who cannot attend in person ensures everyone can be part of the celebration. This can include live streaming of the event or virtual meeting rooms.
Or just making a time for a whatsapp video call to say hello from a few of the guests to those who cannot attend.
Incorporating Accessibility into Every Aspect of the Party
When choosing your party theme and decorations, consider how they can be made accessible.
Decorations should be both festive and accessible. Use bright, well-lit decorations to assist guests who are visually impaired and include tactile elements like ornaments that can be touched or jingle bells for an auditory experience.
For instance, tactile decorations can be a delightful addition for visually impaired guests or guests with cognitive impairments who enjoy sensory stimulation. For example, our son with dravet syndrome used enjoy tinsel and foil decorations on his tray.
Offering a menu with Braille and large print options not only caters to guests with visual impairments but also adds a thoughtful touch to your party planning.
Wrapping Up: A Holiday Party for Everyone
Remember, the goal of an accessible holiday party is to create an environment where all guests, regardless of their abilities, can participate fully and enjoy the festivities. With careful planning and consideration of the needs of guests with disabilities, your holiday party can be a joyous and inclusive event that everyone remembers fondly.
By following these guidelines and incorporating accessible products from Disability Health Shop, such as the Trabasack Mini Lightweight Wheelchair Tray Bag, the Buckingham Foldeasy Toilet Safety Frame, the Handsteady Drinks Cup, and the Scoop Plate, you can ensure a comfortable and enjoyable experience for all your guests.
Accessible Holiday Party Planning Checklist
- Send out personalised invitations, including Braille or large print options if necessary.
- Ask guests about specific needs and preferences in advance, including dietary restrictions, sensory considerations, and mobility requirements.
- Provide detailed information about the venue's accessibility features, such as ramps, wide doorways, and accessible restrooms.
- Consider mentioning or offering to order products like the Trabasack Mini Lightweight Wheelchair Tray Bag for guests who might find it useful.
- Ensure the venue is wheelchair accessible, including ramps and wide doorways.
- Verify that there are accessible parking spots and accessible toilets, or discretely mention the limitations of your bathroom to your guest in advance. Consider aids like the Buckingham Foldeasy Toilet Safety Frame.
- Check for availability of a quiet room or space for guests who might need a break from sensory stimulation.
Decorations and Setup
- Choose safe, non-obstructive decorations that don’t create physical barriers or tripping hazards.
- Ensure pathways are clear for easy navigation around the party area.
- Food and Beverage Considerations
Seating and Mobility
- Arrange for comfortable and accessible seating, including spaces for wheelchair users.
- Consider having mobility aids like the Trabasack Mini Lightweight Wheelchair Tray Bag available for guests who require them.
- Have an emergency plan in place, ensuring all safety exits are accessible.
- Talk to family members who are helping to host about how to assist in case of an emergency.
- Keep a well-stocked first aid kit readily available.
Read More: Finding an Accessible Party Venue in the UK
Scope: For guidance on checking the accessibility of venues for disabled people, visit Scope. Their website provides practical advice on researching venues. Scope's Guide on Venue Accessibility.
Equality and Human Rights Commission: This commission's guide covers essential considerations for finding an accessible venue, including public transport access and the availability of suitable refreshments. It emphasizes the importance of a venue being easily reachable and accommodating for all. Equality and Human Rights Commission's Accessibility Guide.
Euan's Guide: An invaluable resource, Euan's Guide allows disabled individuals to rate the accessibility of places they visit. This platform offers insights for those seeking accessible venues, helping identify party venues that are inclusive and accommodating for disabled guests. Visit Euan's Guide.
About the Author: Duncan Edwards
Organising inclusive home parties has always been a passion of mine, ensuring everyone feels welcome and engaged.
My journey includes managing the Disability Health Shop, where inclusivity is not just a concept, but a practice.
Drawing on my experience in welfare benefits and homelessness, I understand the diverse needs of different communities, meeting disabled people and helping them access disability benefits and suitable housing.
As a parent and spouse to disabled family members I'm sensitive to accessibility and comfort needs and have co-hosted hundreds of family parties at home
Collaborating with Disability Horizons' Magazine team, I've learned innovative ways to create spaces that are welcoming to all.
As a business owner in the Healthcare sector, I have attended dozens of shows and events where accessibility was paramount because of the diverse range of disabled visitors.
My personal commitment to inclusivity extends to every aspect of life, especially when it comes to celebrating together.
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