Healthy Holiday Party Games for the Family

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 and family members of all ages. These games can involve both the adults and the kids. That can build bonds and memories between the generations.

It's easy to get into a fixation on food and sedentary activities. These games offer a welcome dose of physical activity. That doesn't have to mean running and jumping. Simply getting up and moving around is beneficial for everyone's health.

Many games also help exercise the mind and hone fine motor skills, both of which are great for young and old alike. They can also get everyone laughing, which is a great form of exercise in itself. These games are easily adapted to work with your style, your space, your party's theme, and the number and ages of guests and players.

Gift Wrap Relay

wrapping game for winter holiday party theme
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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). Encourage this to be a stand-up game rather than sit-down.

Gift Stacking

wrapped-gifts
A pile of wrapped holiday gifts. Image courtesy m01229 via Flickr

This one works for any party theme that includes wrapped gifts—Christmas, Hanukkah, birthdays, or 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.)

Find the Hidden Treasure

Curious boy digging through presents under tree
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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.

Human Christmas Tree

Playful girl decorating sister with Christmas garland, decorations and star
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Recruit a brave volunteer to be the tree, then let guests decorate him or her with green crepe paper, aluminum foil, 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.

Human Dreidel Game

Young boy playing dreidel
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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.

Snowball Soccer

Boy (4-5 years) holding toy soccer ball, standing against brick wall, portrait
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No actual snow is required for indoor snowball soccer. This holiday party game uses paper or balloon snowballs, so you can play it inside for a winter twist on a spring/summer favorite. It's an active game, so you'll want to clear a large room and establish goals at either end. Then teams or individuals battle to kick the snowball into the goal. It's a great way to burn off energy or a few excess holiday calories.

Caroling Charades

Women singing Christmas carols
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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 more obscure ones for older players.

Holiday Talent Show

Kids singing carols near the christmas tree
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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.

Take It Outside

Young girl pulling sled through the snow
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Bundle up and walk the neighborhood, singing songs and enjoying the decorations. Or get cheeks rosy with active outdoor games such as:

Pass the Ornament

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

Santa Says

Smiling woman putting on Christmas Santa hat
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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."

Trim a Tree

A young girl decorates her personal Christmas tree.
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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.

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