How time flies! We’ll soon be entering the twelfth and last month of the year. Winter officially arrives during December, just as the holiday season is in full swing. The month is associated with family gatherings, special meals, festive music, and gift-giving – the perfect combination for creating lasting memories. Engage your group of older adults in some activities to welcome the twelfth month, capture the holiday spirit, and bid the old year goodbye.

  • Setting the Scene: Show various photos of items with the number 12, such as a football jersey, clock, or road sign. Ask participants to name things that come in sets of twelve. (Examples: months in a year, hours in half a day, numbers on a clock, inches in one foot, steps in AA, constellations in the Zodiac, face cards in a card deck)
  • Discussion: Choose some of these conversation starters to use with your group: Were you born on the 12th day of the month? Did you know a family with 12 children?  Have you ever worked the midnight shift?  How many times have you cooked for 12 people? What’s your favorite midnight snack? Have you ever attended a noon wedding? Did you ever hear anyone play a 12-string guitar?  Have you ever taken vitamin B-12? Did you ever see 12 inches of rain fall in 24 hours?  Have you ever served on a 12-man jury?  Have you ever ridden in a 12-passenger van? When was the last time you sent or received a dozen roses? Did you watch Adam 12 on TV? Do you know the history of the 12th Man tradition at Texas A&M? Have you ever decorated a 12-foot Christmas tree?
  • Discussion: Talk about the family heritage of group members, and learn the numbers 1-12 in the language of an ancestor (ex: Italian or German).
  • Discussion: Show pictures of 12-month-old babies. Try to get family photos of participants’ grandchildren or great-grandchildren. Talk about milestones for a one-year-old – walks with help, says mamma/dada, plays peek-a-boo. More challenging: Using multiples of 12 as age – 12, 24, 36, 48, 60, 72, 84 – ask participants to pick a number and share something about themselves. (Example: At age 24, I got married to my high school sweetheart.)
  • Game: Challenge your group to a “12 for 12” Trivia Contest. (Use trivia questions from the ElderSong resource Quiz Me from A to Z, a featured product for the month.) Divide your group into pairs, and take turns asking each pair a trivia question. The first pair to answer twelve consecutive questions correctly is the winner. (Note: You may need several tiebreaker rounds.)
  • Game: Basket games: Display a basket with 12 small Christmas gifts – 6 for men and 6 for women. (Examples: hand lotion, tea bags, tie, socks, CD, mug, ornament, holiday pin) Cover the basket and ask the group to name the items, or ask them to match a price tag to an item. Play a word game (ex: Which item in the basket rhymes with box?). Challenge participants to come up with a list of 12 unique or unusual gifts for men and women. Give a small gift to each participant.
  • Music: Listen to Perry Como’s rendition of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” Share the history of the song. Talk about the custom of gift-giving during the 12 days of Christmas – from December 25 through January 6. Find out today’s cost of the twelve days of Christmas (look online for the annual “Christmas Price Index,” compiled by PNC Wealth Management). Write a parody of the song with the group.
  • Music: Celebrate Frank Sinatra’s birthday on December 12.  Share some facts about the life of the entertainer. Ask participants to recall memories of bobbysoxers and the teen idol. Listen to holiday music by “Old Blue Eyes.”
  • Activity: Discuss the meaning of the following idioms: a dime a dozen, six of one/half dozen of the other, by the dozens, daily dozen. Watch the 1950 classic comedy Cheaper by the Dozen, and talk about the benefits of a large family. Snack on a dozen old-fashioned cake donuts, just like Grandma used to make. Learn the significance of the number 12 in the Bible. (Examples: 12 tribes of Israel, 12 minor prophets, 12 disciples of Jesus)
  • Activity: Celebrate Poinsettia Day on December 12. Display a pot of silk poinsettias. Share the Mexican legend of the red poinsettia, known as the flower of Christmas. Talk about how to care for the plant. Make holiday cards, using a poinsettia rubber stamp.
  • Activity: Learn 12 new words from updates of the Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary in the past few years. (Examples: ginormous, tweet, supersize, robocall, man cave, aha moment – See if group members can explain what these mean.)
  • Reminisce: Read Robert Frost’s “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening,” and listen for ‘the sweep/of easy wind and downy flake’ in the poem. Make six- and twelve-sided paper snowflakes to hang (try the 3-D version). Enjoy some snow songs: “Snowbird,” “Let It Snow,” “Sleigh Ride,” and “Winter Wonderland.” Ask: As a kid, did you ever shovel driveways for money? Did you ever walk to school in the snow? What’s the biggest snow storm you ever remember as a youngster? What kind of sled did you own? What type of clothing did you wear in the snow?
  • Craft: Create a 12-month calendar for the new year. Download and print out a calendar template, and design a quilted calendar cover to use with it. (See the quilted calendar fabric project in The Fabric of Our Lives, a featured product for the month.) Ask: What is your favorite month of the year? Did you ever collect or save old wall calendars? What can you use them for?


  1. Which British poet/playwright wrote the comedy Twelfth Night? William Shakespeare
  2. What gift is given on the 12th day of Christmas, according to the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas”? Twelve drummers drumming
  3. What was the 12th state to join the United States of America? North Carolina
  4. Name the famous New York Jets quarterback who retired the number 12. Joe Namath  
  5. How is number 12 written in Roman numerals? XII
  6. How many are in a “baker’s dozen”? Thirteen
  7. Name words that rhyme with twelve. Delve, shelve
  8. What song is sung at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve? “Auld Lang Syne”
  9. What are the traditional gifts given on a 12th wedding anniversary? Silk or linen
  10. Twelve U.S. astronauts have walked on the moon. Name the first one. Neil Armstrong


“God gave us memory so that we might have roses in December.” ~ J.M. Barrie

“DECEMBER, THE TWELFTH MONTH” written by Sue Hansen. © 2012 ElderSong Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.

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