“It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas,” just like the song says. Time to pull out some of your holiday music. Do you have a favorite carol or hymn? What do you think about when you hear the song? Many older adults can name one or two yuletide tunes that conjure up memories of childhood and family. Gather your group for some holiday nostalgia, as you listen to some familiar sounds of the season.

  • Time of the Year.” Ask: Do you enjoy the holiday season? What do you like about Christmas? How has the holiday changed over the years?
  • Ask participants to name red, green, and white items associated with Christmas. (Examples: holly, evergreen, Santa suit, dove, snowmen, cranberries, poinsettia, candy cane)
  • Sing the song “Deck the Halls.” Reminisce about decorating for Christmas, using some key words: Putz village houses, wooden nutcrackers, Shiny-Brite ornaments, flocked trees, Coca-Cola Santa, snow globes, cranberry chains, popcorn strings, metallic tinsel, ceramic Christmas tree, Dept. 56, creche/nativity sets, red bows, crystal icicles, bubble lights, angel tree topper, toy trains. Look for more ideas in old holiday issues of Better Homes and Gardens and Good Housekeeping.
  • Create some simple holiday crafts – like a snowman, stocking, reindeer, or angel – to use as room decorations.
  • Display an aluminum Christmas tree, red or blue ornaments, and color wheel. Reminisce about Christmas in the 1950s/1960s, as you listen to “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” by Brenda Lee.
  • Don an old Santa suit. Reminisce about the arrival of the Sears and Montgomery Ward toy catalogs, trips to a department store to see Santa and the window displays, and letter writing to Santa. Share memories of hanging stockings and leaving cookies for Santa. Sing the song “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.”
  • In the spirit of Christmas, sing the song “Toyland.” Show pictures of vintage childhood toys such as a Raggedy Ann doll, teddy bear, American Eagle wooden sled, Radio Flyer wagon, pedal car, Lionel train set, dollhouse, Kewpie doll, Shirley Temple doll, Big Little books. Ask: What was the best toy you ever received for Christmas? Did any toy become a keepsake that you passed on to your children or grandchildren? What kinds of toys did you buy your own children?
  • Make a simple fragrant holiday gift: orange pomander balls.
  • Sing the song “Over the River and Through the Woods.” Share recollections of sweet treats at Grandma’s house during the holidays. (Examples: cherry cordials, chocolate cream drops, gum drops, candy canes, peppermint sticks, hard candy, fudge) Display old holiday tins and candy dishes.
  • Sing the song “O Christmas Tree.” Share family traditions related to cutting down the Christmas tree and trimming it. (Funny stories are welcome!) Decorate a small tabletop tree. Serve warm cocoa with cinnamon and whipped cream.
  • Watch the 1954 musical White Christmas, starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera Ellen. Cut paper snowflakes to hang. Ask participants if they “dream of a white Christmas.” Share recollections of Christmas day with lots of snowfall.
  • Read the Christmas story (Luke 2:1-20) and sing some traditional Christmas hymns. (Suggestions: “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” “Silent Night,” “O Holy Night,” “Away in a Manger”) Display a collection of nativity sets. Reminisce about children, Christmas pageants at church, and handmade costumes!
  • Ask for volunteers to read some holiday skits.
  • Host a Christmas tea party with a ginger(bread) theme. Include some spiced Christmas tea and ginger thins.
  • Talk about unusual holiday desserts, like plum pudding, sugarplums, Buche de Noel (Christmas log), gingerbread, stollen, fruitcake, or mince pie. Encourage your group to name a favorite treat. Sing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”


  1. It’s the name of Santa’s reindeer beginning with the letter ‘B’. Blitzen
  2. What is the name of the little boy with crutches in the Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol? Tiny Tim
  3. Who stole Christmas, according to the title of a Dr. Seuss book? The Grinch
  4. Which organization sets up red kettles and rings bells for charity during the holiday season? Salvation Army
  5. According to the holiday tune, what is roasting on an open fire? Chestnuts (“The Christmas Song”)
  6. What do naughty boys and girls get in their Christmas stockings? Coal
  7. Which composer wrote the popular song “White Christmas”? Irving Berlin
  8. In the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” what is given on day three? Three French hens
  9. Which comedian became famous for his USO Christmas shows for overseas troops? Bob Hope
  10. Finish the title of this Christmas hymn: “It Came Upon the Midnight….” Clear

“CHRISTMAS NOSTALGIA” written by Sue Hansen. © 2009 ElderSong Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.

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