As always, there are a number of special days to keep an eye out for this month. Find our tips and activity ideas below. If you’re already a subscriber of ours, don’t forget that you can access ready-to-use session plans linked to this month’s Featured Events in your Activities Booklet. Enjoy!
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4th January – World Braille Day
Louis Braille is our person of the month. Find background info and inspiring activity ideas here.
5th January – Twelfth Night
Twelfth night is the last official day of the 12 days of Christmas, with Christmas day being the first.
This day is also the day when all Christmas decorations must come down. Many people consider it unlucky to leave them up after this date.
Traditions vary throughout the world, but in the UK, it was the day houses were blessed and Twelfth night cakes were made. It is also the old date for wassailing and the blessing of the apple orchards, although nowadays this takes place later in the month.
Take down Decorations
- Involve residents in taking down decorations. They can wrap baubles up in tissue paper and roll up the Christmas lights. It is important to let them be as involved as possible.
- Some residents may be able to cut off the back of Christmas cards and bundle up the pictures for crafts next year.
- Make a morning of it and chat about how you would give the house a good clean after the decorations came down. Maybe they could help with polishing some brass and some light dusting. Give them a dustpan and brush to clean up the pine needles. Many will want to be involved and want to help. It is a great opportunity for meaningful reminiscence.
Have a sing-song
- Print off lyrics to the songThe Twelve Days of Christmas
- After singing the song together, talk about the lyrics.The song dates from a time of religious persecution with each element a code for a religious truth.The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus; the two turtle doves are the Old and the New Testaments; the three French hens stand for faith, hope, and love; the 4 calling birds are the four Gospels; the fivegold rings are the first five books of the Old Testament; the six geese stand for the six days of creation; the seven swans represent the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit; the eight maids are the eight Beatitudes;the nine ladies are the nine fruits of the holy Spirit; the ten Lords are the ten commandments; the eleven pipers represent thefaithful Apostles; the twelve drummers symbolise the points of doctrine in the Apostles Creed.
Now make up your own 12 days song! Here are some ideas, but personalise it to your own setting.
On the first day of Christmas my carer gave to me
A nice cup of hot cup of sweet tea!
On the 2nd day of Christmas my carer gave to me
2 warm mince pies!
On the 3rd day of Christmas my carer gave to me
3 holly sprigs!
On the 4th day of Christmas my carer gave to me
4 loving words!
On the 5th day of Christmas my carer gave to me
5 custard creams!
On the 6th day of Christmas my carer gave to me
6 swigs of sherry!
On the 7th day of Christmas my carer gave to me
7 pairs of knickers!
On the 8th day of Christmas my carer gave to me
8 woolly blankets!
On the 9th day of Christmas my carer gave to me
9 rolls of paper!
On the 10th day of Christmas my carer gave to me
10 prunes and custard!
On the 11th day of Christmas my carer gave to me
11 socks for darning!
On the 12th day of Christmas my carer gave to me
12 songs for singing!
- Bake a cake
As a group, choose a cake to bake and enjoy together with afternoon tea.There are no rules to this. Discuss with your residents what they would like to make – a lemon drizzle cake or Victoria sandwich always go down well or you could ice some little cakes and write the numbers on the top with squeezy tubes of icing.
- Make mulled apple juice
Celebrate the old tradition of blessing the apple orchards with this warming drink. The smell is wonderful.
This recipe will make enough for about 8 servings. Double the recipe as necessary.
You will need:
1 carton of apple juice
2 Cinnamon sticks
A squeeze of lemon juice
Honey to taste
A few strips of orange peel
Simply simmer all the ingredients together for 10-15 minutes or use a slow cooker if you have one. If you want an alcoholic version, simply substitute the apple juice with cider.
12th January – The National Trust founded 1895
Many of your residents will have been members of the National Trust. Hold a discussion exercise – ask your residents to share memories of National Trust properties and places they have visited. You could go on a virtual tour of certain properties via their website.
If you can get out and about with a small group of residents, the trust offers a link pass to registered care homes. This provides half price entrance fees, with carers going in free.
Recreate one of the NTs most famous landmarks, stone henge. You could use bits of wood, dominoes or even Bourbon biscuits!
Many NT houses are stuffed full of paintings. Have a go at painting a portrait of each other. Hang them up in a corridor for all to admire!
15th January – Martin Luther King born 1929
Martin Luther King was the youngest man to be awarded the Nobel peace prize.
Based on Martin Luther King’s I have a dream speech, write your own speech based on what your residents dream a better world would look like. Decorate the speech with cut-outs of cloud shapes, and key words that result from your discussion: peace, harmony, unity, love?
22nd January: Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year is a great opportunity to explore the culture, foods, traditions and crafts of China. This year is the year of the rabbit. See if anyone has any pet rabbits they could bring in for the residents to stroke and feed. Alternatively have a go at making your own rabbits in a craft session, using a template, pieces of felt, stick-on eyes, and cotton wool for the tail.
You may want to try some Chinese food in a session or organise a Chinese buffet for supper. The choice is yours! Have a word with your kitchen team and see what they would be happy to help you with. It could be something as simple as a few spring rolls, some prawn crackers and a go with some chop sticks, or you might want to go all out with chow Mein, special fried rice and even sticky ribs! Always adapt it to suit the needs of your residents.
Explore the Zodiac
Help your residents to research which of the 12 Chinese zodiac animals they are according to their year of birth.Print off pictures of all the animals on card and give each resident the corresponding picture. Staff may like to join in as well! Write their name on the back in case they get mixed up
28th – 30th January – RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch
Every year the RSPB invites individuals and groups to record the birds they see in their garden. They provide lots of free information on their website, including where to send your findings. Register for your free pack here.
Cheerios threaded on to pipe cleaners make a great craft activity and a tasty snack for the birds. These can be hung easily from anywhere in your garden (ideally near to windows!) and will certainly encourage some feathered visitors to your outside space.
Bird alphabet challenge
How far can you get through the alphabet adding birds names to the letters? A: Albatross, B; blue tit, C: Chaffinch, D: duck, etc
29th January – RNLI SOS Day
This day is to raise awareness of the work on the RNLI and also to raise vital funds. If you are lucky enough to live in a coastal area, there may be an event near to you.
Fun activity ideas –
- Gather the inner tubes of kitchen roll paper. Paint them white, then add red bands (either red tape or strips of paint) Once dry, draw on details such as windows, etc. Glue on to a cardboard base.
- Ask for donations of old wellies. Paint yellow and fill with compost. In the spring add bedding plants and sell in aid of the RNLI at a charity fundraising event, such as a coffee morning or tabletop sale.
- Blow up a seaside rubber ring. Lay it on a colourful beach mat. See how many bean bags you can throw in it.
We hope you find these suggestions useful. We always love to see and hear what our readers have been up to – please email photos and stories to for your chance to be featured in our Reader’s Corner!