Holiday Party Themed Games for Kids

Make your winter holiday party even more festive with fun themed games.

Perk up your winter holiday party with themed games and activities for your guests. These are easily adapted to work with your style, your space, your party's theme, and the number and ages of guests and players. Best of all, they offer a welcome dose of physical activity.

Christmas Theme: Gift Wrap Relay

wrapping game for winter holiday party theme
Klaus Vedfelt / Getty Images

If you play your cards right, you could get your holiday party guests to finish all your gift-wrapping (as long as you can give up on quality control)! Set up a wrap station with paper, ribbons, scissors, and tape, then stage a relay race to see who's the fastest wrapper around. Make it more challenging by having players work in teams, using only one hand each (or with one blindfolded and the other providing instructions but not hands-on help).

Christmas or Hanukkah Theme: Gift Stacking

This one works for any party theme that includes wrapped gifts—Christmas, Hanukkah, birthdays, baby showers. It would be especially fun for a party featuring gag gifts (like a Secret Santa or white elephant exchange).

Start by gathering a stack of wrapped gifts of various sizes and shapes (try to have pairs of similar boxes). The more gifts, the better. Make sure those presents aren't fragile, though!

Then, divide the gifts into two groups, with similar items in each group (one round box, two rectangular boxes, three small boxes, and so on). Start with five or six boxes. You can add more as the game progresses to make it more challenging.

Select the first two players and have them sit back to back, each facing a group of gifts. Have a third player create a stacked arrangement with the gifts: standing them on end, piling them on top of each other. Each gift must touch at least one other gift, and no other props are allowed.

Now, the player who can see the stacked pile of gifts must describe it to the other player so he can recreate it, without being able to see it for himself. Use a stopwatch or timer to track how long it takes.

Once this team has successfully recreated the stack of gifts, move on to a new team. Whichever team can complete the task the fastest is the winner. (Alternatively, you can give each team a time limit of 3 to 5 minutes and see how many stacks they can create and recreate in that time.)

Any Theme: Find the Hidden Treasure

Before your holiday party, hide a small treasure (or several) for young guests to find. Match your treasures to your occasion and hide holiday cookie cutters, candy canes or tree ornaments; Hanukkah gelt or menorah candles; the Kwanzaa mkeka or candles; and so on.

Christmas Theme: Human Christmas Tree

Recruit a brave volunteer to be the tree, then let guests decorate him or her with green crepe paper, aluminum foil or tinsel, paper and tape. Or divide guests into teams and have a contest for best-dressed human tree. Don't forget to take a photo of the results!

Hanukkah Theme: Human Dreidel Game

Get your dreidel game off the table and onto center stage with this life-size version of the classic spinning top game. First, you need a dreidel mat. Use a large piece of cardboard or paper, an old sheet or exercise mat, or even painter's tape directly on the floor. Divide the surface into four squares, and label each square with one of the Hebrew letters used in the dreidel game: נ (Nun), ג (Gimmel), ה (Hey) and ש (Shin).

A player stands in the center of the mat. Blindfold him (or ask him to close his eyes) and then have him spin just like a dreidel does. Once he's thoroughly turned around, remove the blindfold or have the player open his eyes. Which quadrant of the mat is he in? Distribute gelt (or an alternate prize) as needed.

No actual snow required: This holiday party game uses paper or balloon snowballs, so you can play it inside for a winter twist on a spring/summer favorite.


Christmas Theme: Caroling Charades

Can you guess the classic carol (or silly Santa song)? Try a holiday charade game! Vary the level of challenge depending on who's playing; save easy songs for younger players and go obscure for older ones.

Any Theme: Holiday Talent Show

Get the kids to put on a holiday-themed variety show; or better yet, set up multi-generational teams. They might act out a holiday story or add choreography to a holiday song. Award prizes to all after they perform.

Any Theme: Take It Outside

Young girl pulling sled through the snow
Adie Bush/ Cultura/ Getty Images

Bundle up and walk the neighborhood, singing songs and enjoying the decorations. Or get cheeks rosy with active outdoor games (how about giving everyone a red nose and headband antlers and calling them "reindeer games"?), such as:

Christmas Theme: Pass the Ornament

Turn a kids' party classic, Hot Potato, into a holiday party game by swapping the "potato" for a Christmas tree ornament. Winner gets to take it home—or has the honor of hanging it on the tree.

You could plan an entire party around the "12 Days of Christmas" song—just think of the potential for decorations, crafts, and food, not to mention these 12 game suggestions.


Christmas Theme: Santa Says

Give Simon a Santa hat and play "Santa Says" (tell Santa that silly commands are the best kind). Or try another classic party game and adapt to a holiday theme. For example, play holiday music during Musical Chairs, or call the chairs "Santa's sleigh."

Christmas Theme: Trim a Tree

Give young guests their own tree to decorate. It could be indoors, outdoors, real, artificial, or even drawn on a large piece of paper and hung on a wall. Supply simple, durable ornaments or have kids create their own with basic art supplies.

Christmas or Hanukkah Theme: Craft a Holiday Creation

Simple crafts for Christmas and Hanukkah are a great way to engage children at your holiday party. It's even better if you have a few teens or adults who can serve as helpers and cheerleaders.

  • Make gift wrap
  • Make snow globes
  • Create oversized art
  • Decorate cookies
  • Decorate gingerbread houses

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