Four tips for a hearing loss-friendly holiday party or family dinner
Make your holiday party a hit for your guests with hearing loss
The holiday season is a time to gather with friends and family, maybe eat a little turkey and leave cookies for Santa. Festive parties full of holiday music and the laughter of guests are welcome events for many of us—but they can be a challenge for people with hearing loss. Considering how common hearing loss is, it's a good idea to make sure your gatherings are inclusive of people with hearing loss.
The good news? All it takes is a few small accommodations to make sure your guests with hearing loss feel welcomed at the table, too. Be sure to add these to your list of party idea to-do's:
1. Designate a quiet area or room
If you can, set aside one area of your house or party that is a "quiet area" without a lot of background noise or loud sounds.
Also, take a few moments to consider who is coming. Will there be a lot of young children? Consider designating a playroom where they can play with their toys together. Got football fans expecting to watch the big game? Make sure the TV won't be playing loudly in the same area as your quiet area.
2. Dinner table considerations
When it's time to eat, how the table is arranged matters more than you might realize. Round tables, for example, make it easier for a person with hearing loss to keep up with conversation. Here are other things to consider:
3. Reduce the noise level and holiday music
If you can’t designate separate rooms for the big game or kids playroom, at least turn the television off during dinner. Also, turn down the holiday music—or turn it off completely—while you eat. It tends to make people speak louder. Wait until your guests have left the table before clearing the dishes.
4. Know the do's and don'ts of talking to someone with hearing loss
For people with hearing loss or other hearing impairments, a noisy environment or friends who speak too quickly can make communication extra challenging. We've got a full list of tips for talking to someone with hearing loss here, but here's a quick summary.
More: How to hear better in challenging places (like a crowded restaurant), even if you don't have hearing loss.
How to accommodate someone with hearing loss
If you have hearing loss, remember to self-advocate
If you’re a guest at a holiday gathering, don’t be afraid to take the hosts aside and politely discuss your needs. It’s okay to ask to be seated so that the majority of guests are on your “good" side (if you have one) or the farthest away from the kitchen clatter or television din. Enlist a friend or family member to be your dinner partner so they can help you catch conversation you might otherwise miss. If background noise is distracting you from hearing the conversation, speak up (politely) and let someone know you are having trouble hearing.
And remember—consider visiting a hearing care professional near you if you have trouble hearing your family during the holidays.