Kids love Christmas, but they don’t always love sitting around the house while waiting for the figgy pudding to cook. Break out these 25 games, organized by age, at your next Christmas get together and become an instant hero for both the kiddos and their parents.
2. Red Christmas Light, Green Christmas Light - This classic playground game already features Christmas colors, and it’s easy for kids of all ages to master. Have kids stand in a line 10 feet or so away from you, and call out “red light,” “yellow light” or “green light” at different times, encouraging them to stop, walk slowly or run based on the light color. The first kid who makes it to your spot wins!
3. Reindeer Race - Write the names of each of the reindeer on pieces of paper and attach one to each child. Have the kids run a short foot race while you announce the results in real time, using each reindeer’s name. If you can, get each child to race in the style of their reindeer: Dancer should dance, Prancer should prance, etc.
4. Santa Makeover - Have a large stash of cotton balls, paper and glue ready, and help kids glue the soft pieces onto the white paper in the “beard” shape of their choosing. When they’re done, you can help affix it to their face for a cute “Santa” picture their parents will love.
Organize supplies for a holiday class party with an online sign up. SAMPLE
6. Candy Cane Fishing - Put several candy canes hook-side-up in a Christmas mug or cup, and fashion a candy cane tipped “fishing pole” with a stick, some string and a hook-side-down candy cane. Have kids “fish” for candy canes in an allotted amount of time (say, 90 seconds or so) and see who can hook the most. If you don’t have enough candy canes for everyone, just have the kids take turns.
7. Toilet Paper Snowman Bowling - This one’s easy to put together and won’t necessarily waste your TP rolls. Stack several rolls of toilet paper in a pyramid or square, and use construction paper to tape snowman features on them. Then have kids roll a small, soft ball at the snowman to see how many rolls they can knock down.
8. Trim the Tree - Even if you wouldn’t dream of letting kids design your main Christmas tree, consider adding a small tree that they CAN decorate. Buy lots of inexpensive, non-breakable ornaments for the kids to use.
10. Draw One - Write the names of several holiday objects like “ornament,” “candy cane” and “present” on slips of paper and have children take turns drawing the objects for their playmates to guess. Remember, the artist can’t talk or otherwise describe the object — his or her artistic skills will have to do.
11. Pin the Nose on Rudolph - Using construction paper, fashion a large Rudolph face on a blank wall or door, leaving off the red nose. Then blindfold the kiddos and spin them around a couple of times before attempting to stick the nose in the right place. Remove their blindfolds and let them laugh at how close they got.
12. Snowball Soccer - This one’s great for indoors or out. Make several soccer “snowballs” out of crumpled white paper and use tape or cones to designate two “goal” areas. Then divide kids into two teams and tell them to try to get as many “snowballs” into their goal as possible without using their hands (there are no goalies).
13. Peppermint Bingo - Go online and print Bingo cards with Christmas images (or just numbers in a red-and-green motif) and give kids peppermints to cover their spaces. After a winner shouts “Bingo!” give kids the option to swap cards or stay with their current one. For the older kids, you can use traditional Bingo cards with letters and numbers, and use an online Bingo number generator to call the game.
Collect Christmas craft supplies with an online sign up. SAMPLE
15. Holiday Jenga - If you don’t have a Jenga set, several large and long blocks will do. Write Christmas-specific tasks or trivia on each block and have each child complete the task after pulling the block. Some examples: “What day of the week is Christmas on this year?” and “Give your best Ho! Ho! Ho!” You could also draw a Santa on one block, and whoever pulls the Santa block gets a small prize.
16. Snowball Race - Divide kids into relay teams. Have them balance “snowballs” (Styrofoam balls, cotton balls, it’s up to you) on a large spoon and attempt to walk from one end of the room to the other without dropping them. Then they should deposit the balls in a “snow bucket” and run back to their team to hand the spoon to the next person in line. Set a time limit, and the team with the most balls in their bucket at the end wins a prize.
17. Snowman Drawing Game - Give each child a paper plate and a marker, and instruct them to put the paper plate on top of their head. Then tell them to use the marker to draw a snowman on the plate — without taking the plate off the top of their head. Kids will get a kick out of how silly their “snowmen” look.
Plan a night of caroling with an online sign up. SAMPLE
19. Guess Who? - Write the names of holiday characters or Christmas pop culture references (Bruce Willis in “Die Hard” anyone?) on index cards and use double stick tape to attach them to young partygoers’ foreheads. Then have them ask one another questions to try to figure out who they are. Once they figure out, they can remove their card. The goal is to get rid of your card as fast as possible.
20. Millennial “12 Days of Christmas” - If you have a large crowd of middle/high schoolers, separate them into groups of at least two and get the creative juices flowing by modernizing this song. Give each group a random number (or two) from one to 12, and have them come up with modern lyrics for their section of the classic song. For example, “10 teens a-texting,” “Eight screen-shotting Snapchats,” etc. Then go around the room and have each sing their new verse when you point to them.
21. Pass the Book - Tell all your teenage partygoers to bring their current favorite book to the party to give to a friend. Then have everyone sit in a circle while you read a version of “The Christmas Story” or “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” that contains lots of “LEFTS” and “RIGHTS.” You can find these stories online by searching “Christmas left right game.” Each time you say “left” or “right,” guests should pass their book in the corresponding direction. Guests get to keep whatever book they’re holding at the end of the story.
22. What’s in the Stocking? - Put several Christmas-related items like a bell or a gift bow into several small stockings and tie off the ends so no one can peek inside. Then pass around the stockings and have partygoers guess what’s inside them simply by squeezing, shaking and feeling around. Whoever guesses the most correctly gets a prize.
23. Who’s Santa? - Similar to the popular murder mystery winking game, “Who’s Santa” is a fun way to sharpen kids’ perception skills. Select one child to be Rudolph and ask him or her to leave the room while another child is chosen to be Santa. Then have everyone sit in a circle and call Rudolph back into the room to join the crowd. “Santa” will start winking at each child in the circle, who should then should “Ho! Ho! Ho!” Rudolph will have to keep an eye on all the other circle members to see who’s winking, and ultimately should be able to figure out “Who’s Santa?”
24. Musical Gifts - Much like musical chairs, this game uses music to tell players what to do. Wrap a stocking stuffer or two in many layers of gift wrap and instruct kids to remove them one at a time while you play a Christmas carol. But when the music stops, they have to pass the gift to their left for the next person to keep unwrapping. Whoever unwraps the gift all the way before the music stops gets to keep it.
25. Shake the Snowballs Out - Run a long piece of ribbon or strong tape through a tissue box, and tie it around a guest’s waist with the box in back. Then fill the box with a few ping-pong balls and instruct the child to shake, shake, shake until all the balls fall out — they should easily fall out the hole in the top of the tissue box. Time each participant, and whoever shakes the snowballs out the fastest wins a small prize.
No more antsy kids this holiday season. Try a few of these ideas, and you’ll have the merriest bunch around.
Sarah Pryor is a journalist, wife, mom and Auburn football fan living in Charlotte, N.C.