Got a small planning budget? Yup, we’ve heard it all before. Activity Directors are consistently given barely-there funds and are expected to plan, literally, hundreds of events a year.

Sometimes a small budget can be discouraging and you wonder if you’ll ever be able to plan fun, engaging activities for the seniors you love so much. And sometimes a small budget inspires creativity to create something special with what little resources you have.

We’re here to give you some idea that’ll spark brainstorming and planning on a tight budget.

There are tons of activities that require minimal supplies and/or barely cost a thing to execute. All it takes is a little digging! Don’t worry about the digging though, we’ve got that covered.

Discussion Groups

Gather residents for a book club, movie group, or discussion group on any topic — currents events, cooking, sports, pop culture. Discussion encourages participation and helps residents get to know one another. The only supplies you really need are the snacks!

Enjoy the Outdoors

A little exercise goes a long way and does wonders for seniors. In fact, it improves moods, boosts energy, and increases strength. Take your residents to the park to enjoy the fresh air. Go on a walk on a nature trail. Or attend a resident’s loved one’s sports games. (Many high school games are free for seniors.)


All you need is a partner and your feet! Hold dancing classes multiple times a week. Perfect a country line dance or learn something new. There’s ballroom dancing, swing dancing, and more. Watch some YouTube videos and become the teacher.

The Classics

Take advantage of classic board games like Checkers and Chess, or bring out Dominoes, Backgammon, and a deck of cards often. Residents grew up playing these games, so naturally, they will be drawn to the nostalgia of it.

Classic Tournaments

Now take those classic games and turn them into a weeklong tournament to compete for prizes. (For those on a really tight budget, bragging rights will do.)

The Question Ball

Cover an entire beach ball in questions and throw it around the room. When a resident catches the ball, they will read aloud a question and answer. Get your seniors on their feet to play as well. That way, they’ll get a little exercise while getting to know the other residents.


Not all craft activities need to cost money. You’d be surprised with what you already have at your community. Paint rocks and golf balls, create wreaths out of wine corks (get resident family members to donate!), or whip up some tissue paper bowls. It must feel good to be resourceful and reuse products that would’ve otherwise been thrown away. Nice work.