Holiday Party Activities

by - Monday, December 11, 2017


It's time to let poor Rudolph join in the reindeer games! I've listed seven different games below that you can incorporate into your holiday parties to bring a little extra fun and magic to the event. My family does a white elephant exchange every year and that's something that we all look forward to because it's a chance to get together for some {usually} friendly competition. There's always room for a little challenge throughout the holiday season.

White Elephant Gift Exchange

To play the White Elephant gift exchange, you would have each person bring a wrapped gift within a certain price range (something that anyone could use/enjoy) and put them in a pile in the center of your circle. Draw numbers to decide on the order of selecting gifts and then begin the selection. Each participant can pick an unwrapped gift or steal from a player before them. The person whose gift was stolen then has the same options, however they can't steal their gift back immediately. Once an item has been swapped three times, it's off limits and the person who ends up with it keeps it. Once everyone has selected their gift, the first participant has the option to swap with anyone or keep their gift. A full list of rules can be found here.

To mix things up, one time our family wrapped up an actual white elephant - a small elephant statue that we had painted white - and at the end, my dad announced that the person with the elephant could choose from two envelopes (both had different gift cards) so that no one left feeling disappointed or cheated, but it was a fun aspect added into the game and everyone wanted to swap the white elephant.

Christmas Pictionary


This game is perfect if you have a whiteboard on an easel - but you could also use a big notepad on an easel and turn the page for each turn. You just want to make sure the drawings are big enough for everyone seated around the room to see them. Before your party, spend time writing different Christmas images and holiday related items that could easily be drawn on small slips of paper that you put into a bowl. On your party night, divide the group into two teams and have members of each team take turns to draw the item they pull out of the bowl. You can play with each team having a chance to guess or set a time limit for the drawing team member's team to guess and if they don't get it in time, give the opposing team a chance to steal.

Ugly Sweater Contest


We're doing our first ugly sweater contest this year! I'm excited to see how it goes. This one is so simple, all you have to do is ask all of your guests to wear an ugly Christmas sweater to the party! Anything goes. To pick winners, you can have each person write down their vote on a slip of paper then collect and count them. I would ask people not to vote for themselves so you don't end up with one vote for each person in attendance. You can have categories for funniest, most creative, tackiest, etc. OR just have one overall winner of the ugly sweater contest. Either way, it's fun to have small prizes, ribbons, or small trophies to present to the winner(s). Read this post for DIY tips, an ugly sweater roundup, and a DIY award!

Cookie Swap

A cookie swap is almost an entire event itself, but it can be a fun thing to incorporate into one of your Christmas parties. Depending on the number of guests, you'll want to ask each guest to bring enough cookies for everyone in attendance to take several home, along with extras for sampling during the party. The guests should also bring copies of their recipe for each participant. Be sure to provide bakery boxes for the guests to take cookies home. You can coordinate in advance to avoid lots of duplicates. You can read more details and rules from Martha Stewart before your party.

Guess the Carol Game


This game reminds me of Beat Shazam - the TV show that was popular this summer, but it's been around longer than that. Before the party, create a playlist with short (3-5 seconds) clips of different popular Christmas songs and then create a worksheet either with multiple choice selections of song titles or just numbered blank lines if you want to make it more challenging. After dividing your guests into teams and providing each team with a worksheet, you should play a clip (once or twice) and give the teams a minute or two to write down their answer. After you've played every song, collect the worksheets (or have the teams swap to grade them) and compare them to your playlist. The team with the most correct answers wins. It's always more fun when there's a small prize up for grabs.

Pass the Present


If you want to do a gift exchange at your event, but don't have time for the white elephant exchange - this game is for you! Similar to the white elephant, you'll have each guest bring a wrapped gift that could work for any guest within a certain price range. Have everyone sit in a circle holding the wrapped gift that they brought and then slowly read this story with the guests passing their gift to the left or right when the words LEFT or RIGHT are said in the story. When the story is over, the gift that you're holding is the gift you unwrap and keep. The story linked specifies that no one will end up with the same gift they brought if the game is played correctly. This is a fun, quick way to exchange gifts because it only lasts as long as it takes to read the story. There's no passing, stealing, and swapping to lengthen the game.

Gingerbread House Contest


This is an activity that will take some time so you may want to use this as the main event at one of your get-togethers. For a gingerbread house contest, you can pick up several sets of boxed gingerbread house kits - depending on how many people you want on each team - and also round up some extra toppings and decorating materials to create a little more diversity and variety than the boxed kits will provide. Once you have your creation stations set up and stocked with supplies, set a timer for how long you want to give each team to work. When the timer goes off, the team with the best gingerbread house (judged by the hostess) or maybe even the team with the house that's still standing wins. The teams can snack on their houses at the party or take them home.


What's your favorite holiday party activity? 

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