How to Celebrate a Sensory-Friendly Holiday

by | Dec 6, 2021 | ABA, Occupational Therapy

The holiday season can be frustrating for a child with sensory sensitivities and challenges – bright lights, loud music, new foods, crowded rooms! Even if your child loves the holidays, the season can be very overwhelming, especially for children with sensory processing disorder. In order to make the most of the holiday season, it may just mean celebrating in another way. Here are a few tips to help your child prepare for the exciting month of December.

  • Keep festive lights, decorations, and holiday scents to a minimum since this can cause a visual, auditory, and olfactory overload. If they can not be avoided, have your child sit facing away from bright light displays and consider bringing a lotion with a familiar scent.
  • Seek out sensory friendly events in your area to prevent overcrowded events with loud festive music. Sensitive Santa is an event put on every year in the valley that is great for our friends that need a quieter experience with Santa!
  • Opening gifts can be a challenging task for those with sensory hypersensitivities, talking to family members about appropriate gifts for your child would be a good idea. Also, opening one gift at a time or opening gifts gradually could help. 
  • Use a visual schedule and timers to help with the events of the day and to reduce meltdowns with transitions. Practicing before hand can help your child prepare for the new events.
  • Have your child participate in their sensory diet throughout the day to help your child regulate better. 
  • Utilize your child’s sensory tools such as weighted blanket, fidgets, and noise canceling headphones. Make sure to bring them with you to family homes or on outings. This is especially helpful for kids who have a hard time keeping their hands to themselves. Preparing a “busy bag” will provide a few calming activities to allow them to take a break.
  • If your child is a picky eater, bring along a few food items that they prefer.
  • Lower your expectations as most children with sensory processing difficulties will have increased meltdowns and get overwhelmed during holiday events. Be prepared to possibly have to sit aside with your child or leave the event earlier than originally planned.
  • Enjoy family time together and have a celebration that works for your family! Focus on making the event exciting and enjoyable for the whole family.

If you have any concerns with your child’s development, give us a call at TEAM 4 Kids! We hope you have a safe and joyful holiday season with your loved ones!


Egle Majute OTR/L