The end-of-year holidays are always a time for strengthening relationships at McKnight Place Assisted Living & Memory Care in Ladue. Keeping the season bright may prove a bit more challenging this year, but staff members at the residence are working to ensure that seniors still have plenty of opportunities to celebrate and stay connected, says executive director Laura Ritthamel.

“We are keeping many of our beloved holiday events on the schedule but modifying them to ensure everyone’s safety,” she says. “Cookies with Santa is always a resident favorite, along with hot chocolate and fireside chats. We also added some new ways to celebrate such as a door decor contest, tree trimming, a special outdoor light display, cookie decorating and more. We consider these to be festive new holiday traditions in the making.” Residents each worked with a staff member to come up with their own personalized door designs, and highlights have included a hockey-themed door devised by an enthusiastic St. Louis Blues fan. “The contest has been a real hit with our residents,” Ritthamel says.

At Thanksgiving, the community’s courtyard was open to relatives so they could participate in a dessert celebration with loved ones while keeping socially distant. There were five window visit locations where family members could interact with residents and enjoy traditional Thanksgiving pies together. “We are always looking for innovative ideas like this to keep families and loved ones connected,” Ritthamel notes.

There are other creative ways for residents to safely keep in touch with family as well. They can arrange socially distanced window and patio visits, talk over FaceTime or Zoom, and communicate via Happy Grams (electronic messages and photos sent by friends and family). “We also encourage family members to call and write to their loved ones often,” Ritthamel says.

Bright, festive surroundings lend themselves to special holiday memories just as much as celebrations do. Trees in the community’s lounges are decorated in holiday themes like Candy Cane Lane, Silver Bells and Let It Snow, and the outdoor display features colorful figurines, inflatables and thousands of lights. “All of these are unique ways to spruce up our usual traditions in a challenging year,” Ritthamel says. “My favorite part of the holidays is when we are decorating and residents stop by to watch, share their input or pitch in and help. Even though much of it could be considered just a normal part of the season, it still is fun to see our residents participating and reminiscing about things they have enjoyed doing for many years.”

All of these activities further the goal of helping McKnight Place residents stay engaged, connected and happy, according to Ritthamel. “We advise them to get creative, make use of technology and stay safe,” she says. “We are proud to create holiday traditions that bring them so much joy.”

McKnight Place Assisted Living & Memory Care in Ladue is part of The Gatesworth family of communities. For more information, call 314.993.3333 or visit

Cover courtesy of McKnight Place

Pictured at top: Residents and staff enjoy holiday activities
Photos courtesy of McKnight Place Assisted Living & Memory Care