• Simon O'Donovan

Christmas Cheer

Here are some suggested activities to dip into for a Christmas themed CST Group. Start the session by pulling a Christmas cracker together and putting on the hats. IDIOMS Ask members to complete the following phrases ... Jesus Mary and - JOSEPH Away in a - MANGER Three wise - MEN The holly and the - IVY Mulled - WINE Underneath the - MISTLETOE Good King - WENCESLAS Rudolf the red nose - REINDEER Robin - REDBREAST Father - CHRISTMAS Santa - CLAUS Jack - FROST Snow - FLAKE, BALL White - CHRISTMAS Ebenezer - SCROOGE Advent - CALENDAR, CANDLE Carol - SERVICE Nativity - PLAY Midnight - MASS Cranberry - SAUCE Sage and onion - STUFFING Brussels - SPROUTS Mince - PIES Chocolate - LOG Jingle - BELLS Fairy - LIGHTS Wrapping - PAPER Queen's - SPEECH Christmas - TREE, DECORATIONS, CAROL, CRACKER, PRESENT, PUDDING, CAKE, EVE, DAY Boxing - DAY New year's - EVE, DAY, RESOLUTIONS Auld Lang - SYNE We wish you a merry - CHRISTMAS (AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR)

Next, discuss Christmas Past. Ask people to list things which remind them of Christmas. Here's a list to get things going: IN THE RUN UP TO CHRISTMAS (ADVENT) - Writing and receiving Christmas cards - Posting letters to Santa - Opening the Advent Calendar each day - Decorating the Christmas tree, with tinsel and baubles - Placing the angel on top of the tree - Putting up the crib - Making paper chain decorations - Twisting crepe paper trimmings - Putting up the fairy lights - Christmas and New Year Radio Times - Picking holly and ivy - Making a Blue Peter Advent Lantern - Carol singers coming to the door - Nativity Play in school - Carol Service - Peeling shallots for pickled onions - Making a Christmas cake - Icing the Christmas cake and decorating it - Baking mince pies CHRISTMAS EVE - Putting presents under the tree - Putting the Christmas stocking at the foot of the bed - Leaving a glass of milk and a minced pie for Father Christmas, and a carrot for Rudolph - Carols from Kings - Stuffing the turkey - Excitement - Counting the hours - Praying for snow - Not being able to sleep - Midnight mass CHRISTMAS DAY - Early mornings, excited children - Christmas breakfast - Bucks fizz - Opening presents - Selection box - Christmas Annual - Christmas jumper - Socks from Granny - Laying the table - Pulling Christmas crackers - Turkey, ham hock and beef - Pigs in blankets - Lumpy gravy - Cranberry sauce - Sprouts, and their after effects - Flaming Christmas pudding, with a sixpence inside - Pulling the wishbone - Queens Speech - The Christmas film (maybe list some films which people have enjoyed over the holidays * see below) - Morecombe and Wise Christmas Show - Mince pies and Christmas cake - Tangerines - Nuts in a bowl and a nutcracker, which were always left over - After Eights or a Chocolate Orange - Tin of biscuits - A cup of Christmas cheer, such as warmed Mulled Wine, Hot Butter Rum or Irish coffee - Common tipples were Baby Cham, Mateus Rose, Black Tower, Blue Nun, Snowball, a glass of Sherry or Port or Cherry brandy - Too much alcohol and family arguments

- Or a kiss under the mistletoe BOXING DAY - Christmas sales - Cold meats and pickles - Bubble and squeak - Turkey sandwiches for days afterwards - Going to see the Christmas Pantomime - Playing with games - Resting - Going to the races NEW YEARS EVE - Counting the seconds down to midnight - Watching Jools Holland Hootenany - Watching the fireworks display on The Thames - Big Ben countdown - Singing and dancing

- A kiss at midnight - Champagne - Auld Langs Syne - New Years resolutions - Dry January

CHRISTMAS FILMS Ask people to rate the 'Best Christmas Film Ever' from the following list ... 'Home Alone', 1990. Starring Macaulay Culkin

"Where's Kevin?"

'It's A Wonderful Life', 1946. Starring James Stewart

"Every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings."

'Love Actually', 2003. Starring Hugh Grant and Martine McCutcheon

“To me, you are perfect!"

'White Christmas', 1954. Starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney & Vera Ellen

"And may all your Christmases be white."

'The Snowman', 1982. Starring Aled Jones

"We're walking in the air!"

'The Polar Express', 2004. Starring Tom Hanks

"The thing about trains ... It doesn't matter where they're going. What matters is deciding to get on."

'The Holiday', 2006. Starring Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz, Jude Law & Jack Black

"Shakespeare said, 'Journeys end in lovers meeting'. What an extraordinary thought."

'Scrooge', 1951. Starring Alastair Sim

"God bless us, everyone!"

'The Shop Around The Corner', 1940. Starring James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan

... reimagined and remade as 'You've Got Mail', 1998. Starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan

"I wanted it to be you. I wanted it to be you so badly."

'Gremlins', 1984. Starring Zach Galligan

"First of all, keep him out of the light, he hates bright light, especially sunlight, it'll kill him. Second, don't give him any water, not even to drink. But the most important rule, the rule you can never forget, no matter how much he cries, no matter how much he begs, never feed him after midnight."

'Miracle On 34th Street', 1947. Starring Richard Attenborough

"Faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to."

'Sleepless In Seattle', 1993. Starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan

“It was a million tiny little things that, when you added them all up, they meant we were supposed to be together, and I knew it. I knew it the first time I touched her. It was like coming home, only to no home I’d ever known. I was just taking her hand to help her out of a car and I knew it. It was like magic.”

'Elf', 2003. Starring Will Ferrell

“The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.”

'How The Grinch Stole Christmas', 2000. Starring Jim Carrey

"Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more."

Ask members if they have any other Christmas movies to recommend that are not included on this list. Ask people to describe the story lines of the top three films they have rated.

Maybe show a clip or two of the top rated film from YouTube. (Links to trailers included above.)

CHRISTMAS CRACKER JOKES To continue the tone of good humour and festive spirit, ask members to complete the following 'Top Rated Christmas Cracker Jokes'. How does Good King Wenceslas like his pizzas? One that's deep pan, crisp and even! What did Adam say to his wife on the day before Christmas? It's Christmas, Eve! How many letters are in the Christmas alphabet? 25. There’s "no EL"! What do you get if you eat Christmas decorations? Tinsilitis! What does the Queen call her Christmas Broadcast? The One Show! How did Mary and Joseph know that Jesus was 7lb 6oz when he was born? They had a weigh in a manger! What do you get when you cross a snowman with a vampire? Frostbite! What do you call a blind reindeer? No eye deer! Why was the snowman looking through the carrots? He was picking his nose Why did Santa's helper have to see the Psychologist? Low elf esteem Why did the scarecrow get a promotion? He was outstanding in his field How will Christmas dinner be different after Brexit? No Brussels What’s round and bad tempered? A vicious circle Why are pirates called pirates? Because they arrrrrrr! What goes "Oh, Oh, Oh"? Santa walking backwards What do you call a woman who stands between two goal posts? Annette Who hides in the bakery at Christmas? A mince spy Why did no-one bid for Rudolph and Blitzen on eBay? Because they were two deer Why couldn’t the skeleton go to the Christmas party? He had no body to go with What do you call a train loaded with toffee? A chew chew train Why are Christmas trees very bad at knitting? Because they always drop their needles Why did the pony have to gargle? Because it was a little horse What do snowmen have for breakfast? Snowflakes What does Miley Cyrus have for her Christmas dinner? Twerky What did Cinderella say when her photos didn’t arrive on time? One day my prints will come What did Santa do when he went speed dating? He pulled a cracker What do you call a boomerang that does not come back? A stick My wife rearranged all the herbs in the cupboard. I asked "how do you find the time?" She said "Next to the sage." What do you call a line of men waiting for a haircut? A barberqueue Who is Santa's favourite singer? Elfis Presley

DISCUSSION TOPICS Ask members the following questions, to promote discuss and recall. - Things you most like about Christmas?

- The best or most memorable Christmas you ever had? - The best Christmas present you ever got? - The best Christmas present you ever gave? - Does anyone have any New Year’s resolutions? Can anyone remember being given, as a Christmas present, one of these ...

(*Click on the above image for a slides show*)

Ask members to choose their favourite Christmas present from the list.

- Slinky

- Clackers

- Stylophone

- Operation

- Scalextric

- Hornby Train Set

- Subbuteo

- Twister

- Mastermind

- Mouse Trap Game

- Monopoly

- Cluedo

- Play-Doh

- Spirograph

- Etch A Sketch

- Snakes and Ladders

- Dinky Toys

- Tiny Tears

- Barbie

- Action Man

- Simon

- Mr Stretch

- Pogo Stick

- Scooter

- Teddy Bear

- Space Hopper

- Rubix Cube

- Game Boy

- Chopper bike - Doll's house - Painting by numbers - Ludo

- Lego - Guinness Book Of Records - Blue Peter Annual - Meccano - Chemistry set - Magic kit - Roller skates - Tape recorder OTHER ACTIVITIES Buy small Christmas presents, for example selection boxes, and some sellotape and wrapping paper. Wrap presents together, so that everyone takes a gift home with them to give to their loved one. Make Christmas Cards, purchasing the card, coloured pens, stickers and stamps etc to help people along the way. Hobby Craft or a similar shop is a great resource. Sing Christmas Carols together. Prepare music sheets. Refreshments. Make a Mulled Wine (with non alcoholic red wine, sliced oranges, a teaspoon of five spice and some lemonade to sweeten - warm it in a pan) and enjoy a glass of this with a mince pie. Ice a ready made Christmas cake. Use a coating of apricot jam, a layer of marzipan, ready made icing and cake decorations. Share this later in the session, or have people take a slice home with them. Make origami snowflakes. Make Christmas chain decorations and decorate the room.

CHRISTMAS ADVERTS If there is any time left and you have access to YouTube on a large screen TV, run the following YouTube Playlist and ask members to choose the 'Best TV Christmas Advert'. Rank them as you go along. - 2014 Sainsbury ‘Christmas Truce’ - 2016 John Lewis ‘Buster The Boxer’ - 2017 M&S ‘Paddington And The Christmas Visitor’ - 2017 BBC ‘Single Dad’ - 2014 John Lewis ‘Monty The Penguin’ - 2013 John Lewis ‘The Hare And The Bear’ - 2017 Waitrose ‘Christmas Together’ - 2015 Sainsbury 'Mog's Christmas Calamity' - 2010 Coca Cola ‘Holidays Are Coming’ - 2006 Irn-Bru ‘Snowman’ - 2017 Debenhams ‘You Shall’ - 1992 Quality Street ‘Magic Moments’ - 2003 Yellow Pages 'Mistletoe' - 2014 Mulberry 'Win Christmas' - 2016 M&S 'Christmas With Love From Mrs Claus' - 2017 Audi 'Parking Lot' - 2018 John Lewis 'Elton John'

- 2019 John Lewis 'Edgar The Dragon'


PLAYLIST LINK There are a lot of Christmas songs here. You might want to be selective, or split over a couple of sessions. 2000 Miles - The Pretenders. In the video for this Christmas song, lead singer Chrissie Hynde is dressed in a Salvation Army costume. What is the Salvation Army motto? BLOOD AND FIRE (The ‘blood’ of Christ and the ‘fire’ of the Holy Spirit.) Chrissie Hynde is also someone who does not eat any animal products. What are they called? VEGANS All I Want For Christmas Is You - Mariah Carey. This song featured in the film 'Love Actually'. Who played the newly elected Prime Minister in that film? HUGH GRANT Who starred with Hugh Grant in the 1999 film 'Notting Hill'? JULIA ROBERTS Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) - Michael Buble. Michael Buble is Canadian by birth, but he also became a citizen of which country in 2005? ITALY What sport did Michael Buble excel at? ICE HOCKEY (He co-owns the Vancouver Giants) The Christmas Song - Nat King Cole. ‘Folks dressed up like Eskimos...’ What is the correct name for the indigenous Eskimo people of Greenland? INUIT Does anyone fancy staying in the 'Ice Hotel' in Iceland? Do They Know It’s Christmas - Band Aid. Who originally reported on the famine in Ethiopia, which led to this fundraising single? MICHAEL BEURK Which two artists co-founded the charity? BOB GELDOF & MIDGE URE Driving Home For Christmas - Chris Rea. Chris Rea had another hit single about driving. What was it? THE ROAD TO HELL Where will members be spending their Christmas Day? Fairytale Of New York - The Pogues & Kirsty MacColl. ‘The boys of the NYPD Choir...’ What does NYPD stand for? NEW YORK CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT In 1981 Kirsty MacColl had a top 40 hit single with a song about a guy working down at the chip shop called what? ELVIS Happy Xmas (War Is Over) - John Lennon. John Lennon’s wife co-wrote this song. What was her name? YOKO ONO How old was John Lennon when he died 8th December 1980? JUST 40 Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas - Judy Garland. Which 1945 Christmas film did Judy Garland sing this song in? MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS What was Judy Garland's best selling song? OVER THE RAINBOW I Believe In Father Christmas - Greg Lake. Father Christmas is also known as which saint? SAINT NICHOLAS (the patron saint of children, sailors, merchants, pharmacists, brewers and many others) His other names include ... SANTA CLAUS, SAINT NICK, KRIS KRINGLE & PELZNICKEL I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day - Wizzard. Who founded Wizzard and was their lead singer (he also co-founded E.L.O.)? ROY WOOD Who is the famous wizard with a lightning bolt on his forehead? HARRY POTTER It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas - Bing Crosby. What Christmas song did Bing Crosby and David Bowie sing together? THE LITTLE DRUMMER BOY What was the other name for that song? PEACE ON EARTH It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year - Andy Williams. What star sign are you if you were born on Christmas Day? CAPRICORN What is a common name for a person born on Christmas Day? NOEL Last Christmas - Wham. What was George Michael’s real name? GEORGIOS KYRIACOS PANAYIOTOU Who was his fellow band member in Wham? ANDREW RIDGELEY Lonely This Christmas - Mud. Who was the lead singer of Mud? LES GRAY What 'feet' did Mud have a hit with in 1974? TIGER FEET Mary’s Boy Child - Boney M. What name is given to the event, nine months before the birth of Jesus, in which an angel tells Mary, "Fear not, thou hast found favour with God”. THE ANNUNCIATION What song about a Russian did Boney M have a hit with in 1978? RASPUTIN Merry Christmas Everyone - Shakin’ Stevens. Where was Shaky born? ELY, CARDIFF What colour 'door' did he sing about in 1981? GREEN DOOR Merry Xmas Everybody - Slade. Traditionally, what are usual stocking fillers? ORANGES, GOLD COINS, CANDY STICKS & SMALL TOYS (‘LEGS’ gets a bonus point!) Who was the lead singer of Slade? NODDY HOLDER Mistletoe And Wine - Cliff Richard. True or False. Mistletoe is a parasite, growing on host trees and robbing them of water and nutrients? TRUE True or False. Mistletoe is poisonous? TRUE Mull Of Kintyre - Wings. How many weeks did this song stay at number one in the UK charts in 1977! NINE WEEKS Where is the Mull Of Kintyre? SOUTHWEST SCOTLAND The Power Of Love - Frankie Goes To Hollywood. The video for this song was based on The Nativity, or birth of Jesus Christ. What is the proper name for the Three Wise Men? THE MAGI OF BETHLEHEM (Balthasar of Arabia, Melchior of Persia, and Gaspar of India) And the gifts they brought? GOLD, FRANKINCENSE AND MYRHH Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer - The Crystals. What were the names of the other reindeer, in the poem ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas’? DASHER, DANCER, PRANCER, COMET, CUPID, VIXEN, BLITZEN AND DONNA Sing the song together Santa Baby - Eartha Kitt. Eartha Kitt starred in the TV series Batman in the late 1960s in which role? CATWOMAN Rather unfortunately, "Eartha Kitt" is Cockney Rhyming Slang for what? SHIT Somewhere In My Memory - John Williams. Who was left at home in the film 'Home Alone'? KEVIN MCALLISTER/MACAULAY CULKIN Where were his family travelling to? PARIS A Spaceman Came Travelling - Chris de Burgh. What led the three wise men to the manger? THE STAR OF BETHLEHEM (JUPITER is known as 'The Christmas Star', so this will also be correct.) What colour dress was the woman wearing in Chris de Burgh's 1986 song? LADY IN RED Stay Another Day - 'Boxing Day' is the feast day of which saint? SAINT STEPHEN (The first Christian martyr.) Why is called 'Boxing Day'? The day after Christmas was traditionally a day off for servants and they received a 'CHRISTMAS BOX' from their master Step Into Christmas - Elton John. How many months have 28 days? ALL OF THEM! What was Elton's birth name? REGINALD DWIGHT Stop The Cavalry - Jona Lewie. On Christmas Day in 1914, peace broke out in no mans land. What carol did both sides sing? SILENT NIGHT/STILLE NACHT Any what game did they play? FOOTBALL Twelve Days Of Christmas - The Spinners. SINGALONG. How many swans were a swimming? SEVEN How many gold rings were there? FIVE Walking In The Air - Aled Jones. Which author wrote the book 'The Snowman'? RAYMOND BRIGGS Aled Jones presents a radio show on which station? CLASSIC FM When A Child Is Born - Johnny Mathis. What date is the feast of 'The Epiphany' (early Christians celebrated this as Jesus’s birthday)? 6TH JANUARY Which angel told Mary she would give birth to the Son Of God? GABRIEL A Winter's Tale - David Essex. When is the shortest day or 'Winter Solstice'? 21ST DECEMBER In terms of daylight, how many hours shorter is the Winter Solstice than the Summer Solstice? 8 HOURS AND 49 MINUTES Frosty The Snowman - The Jackson 5. What are 'Merry Christmas' and 'Happy New Year' in Welsh? NADOLIG LLAWEN & BLWYDDYN NEWYDD DDA Would anyone like to have a go at spelling them??? Away In A Manger - Vera Lynn. Nearest guess. When was the first Christmas Card sent? 1843 (By John Calcott. He printed and sent it to his friend Sir Henry Cole, the man who gave him the idea.) How many Christmas cards get sent every year in the UK? 900 MILLION, THAT'S 16 CARDS EACH Jingle Bells - Bing Cross & The Andrews Sisters. In The Simpson’s, what is the family dog’s name? SANTA’S LITTLE HELPER Singalong Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! - Dean Martin. Where did the 2018 Winter Olympics take place? PYEONGCHANG COUNTY, SOUTH KOREA What year did Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards represent the UK in ski jumping? 1988 White Christmas - Bing Crosby. Who wrote the songs for the 1954 film 'White Christmas', including this one? IRVING BERLIN When was the last time we had a White Christmas? THERE WAS SNOW IN 2010, BUT NOT IN THE SOUTH. ACROSS THE UK IT WAS 2004 Silent Night - Ella Fitzgerald. SINGALONG. In what decade did N.O.R.A.D. (North American Aerospace Defence Command) start tracking Santa on Christmas Eve? 1950s (specifically 1955) Traditionally, how does Santa deliver presents? DOWN THE CHIMNEY God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen - The Chieftains. In Charles Dickens 'A Christmas Carol', which four ghosts visited Ebenezer Scrooge? JACOB MARLEY AND THE GHOSTS OF CHRISTMAS PAST, PRESENT AND YET TO COME Once In Royal David's City - The Chieftains. Marzipan is made from sugar and what? ALMOND PASTE Traditionally, what layer goes on a Christmas cake before marzipan? APRICOT JAM O Come All Ye Faithful - The Chieftains. List the ingredients of a Christmas (or Plum) Pudding? DRIED FRUITS HELD TOGETHER BY EGG AND SUET, MOISTENED BY TREACLE OR MOLASSES AND FLAVOURED WITH CINNAMON, NUTMEG, CLOVES, GINGER, AND OTHER SPICES. SERVED WITH BRANDY, ALIGHT. WITH SIXPENCE FOR LUCK Hark! The Herald Angels Sing - St. Paul's Cathedral Choir. In the Frank Cappra film, 'Its A Wonderful Life', "Teacher says every time a bell rings an ..... gets his .....". ANGEL - WINGS. The angel's name was? CLARENCE Wonderful Christmas - Paul McCartney. Name as many Christmas drinks as you can? MULLED WINE, SNOWBALL/EGGNOG, HOT BUTTER RUM and of course, for New Year's Eve, CHAMPAGNE (It might be nice to have a taste of mulled wine at this point!) Winter Wonderland - Darlene Love. Which country has given a Christmas Tree to Trafalgar Square each year since 1947? NORWAY (in gratitude for the role of Britain in preserving Norwegian liberty during the Second World War) Has anyone tried ice skating? Or skiing? We Wish You A Merry Christmas - The Cambridge Singers. What year did Queen Elizabeth II deliver her first 'televised Christmas message to the nation'? 1952 What time is The Queen's Speech broadcast each year? USUALLY 3PM

Auld Lang Syne - Andy Stewart. What is New Years Eve called in Scotland?


Perhaps dance with arms linked and singalong to bring the group together in celebration?

Wishing all my followers a very Merry Christmas and a happy, peaceful New Year.

Thanks so much for your support during 2019. It means a lot x

About Me

Simon O’Donovan MBE has worked in NHS Wales for most of his adult life, supporting people with dementia, their carers and families and developing and improving services to benefit this client group. 

He recently retired from working as a Community Mental Health Nurse within a Young Onset Dementia Service and continues to contribute to weekly CST 'Friendship Group' sessions as a volunteer co-facilitator.


He has been keeping a weekly 'Young Dementia CST Blog' to share and archive tried and tested activities resources, with the ultimate aim of providing an 'off the shelf' resource library of weekly themed CST sessions which can be used on rotation throughout the year. 


The main aim of this website is to share experience and resources freely, in order that others can dip in and out and use some or all of the materials provided in their own CST work. Thus it is hoped, facilitating and supporting the provision of uplifting and enjoyable sessions that optimise people with dementia's quality of life.

This site is not owned by or affiliated to any organisation. It’s a personal commitment, a not for profit exchange of ideas and a resource library which aims to enable more widespread use of CST approaches for people with dementia. 

To this end, 'Guest Blogs' are VERY welcome, but bearing in mind that no images of clients are to be used without their express written informed consent.

Please note that some images are reproduced on this blog from the internet under the 'fair use copyright' principle, in that they will only be used for educational purposes with disability groups and in no way will be linked to profit making activities.


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