This game can be played by individuals or teams. Which will work best, depends on the size of your party. Distribute papers with the alphabet written vertically on each paper, the kind included in the game Scategories. Players must fill in as much of the alphabet as they can within a given time limit. The words filled in must be holiday in theme for each letter. The goal is to have the least words in common with the other players yet still be in keeping with the theme. Whether or not a word or phrase is considered in theme is determined by a vote. For each word on a players list that no one else has, they are awarded one point. The most points wins.
Yuletide Family Feud
Players are broken up into teams. They answer questions from a holiday-themed list. Each team is given a set time to write their three guesses on a piece of paper. The game host then reveals if their guesses were on the list and the value of their answers. It is easiest to get a list of typical responses online and assign all answers the same value. Once all the questions have been answered, the points are tallied to determine the winner.
Blind Festive Drawings
Any kind of medium and paper/canvas works. The cheaper the better, you won’t want to keep any of these masterpieces. Have your guests team up in groups of two to four. Have a Christmas scene already selected and distribute to the instructors of each team without the rest of their team seeing. Consider distributing after the drawers are blindfolded. Everyone except the one instructor for each team are drawers. The most accurate drawing wins!
Blind Christmas Tree Ripping
This is another version of Blind Festive Drawings. Witness how well, or badly, your guests can rip a Christmas tree out of construction paper while blinded. Have your guests vote one which trees they like the most.
Form teams of pairs. Tie one participant’s left hand to her teammate’s right hand. The two must attempt to wrap an item using their two free hands. Think three-legged race but two handed and wrapping. Consider wrapping the same item ahead of time as an ideal example. The item should be more challenging than a typical square box. No restarts are allowed! The neatest or most accurate (to the example) wrapped gift wins.
Stocking Stuffer Mystery
The host must prepare the stockings ahead of time by adding random items in each. Before guests arrive, tie a ribbon around the top of the stocking so that no one can peek. Sit in a circle and pass it around to let everyone feel what’s inside. Give them note cards or scraps of paper so they can write down their guesses in secret. The participant with the most correct guesses, wins. Consider giving items away as prizes to the winner.
Name that Carol
Find a list of carol lyrics and titles. Alternatively, you can YouTube Christmas Songs on a computer and hide the screen from view. This can be done in teams or individually. Play an excerpt, not necessarily the beginning, of each song, one at a time and have your guests guess. The first correct guess gets the point.
Two Gifts and a Lie
Transform this classic into a Christmas game by asking players to think of three Christmas gifts. This is preferably played with co-workers or non-family members, someone who hasn’t been around on Christmas Day to see you unwrap gifts. Two of the Christmas gifts must be gifts that the participant has actually received and one of the gifts is a lie. One participant announces their three gifts in a random order and the other players then try to guess which Christmas gift is a lie.
Funniest Gift Received
If you don’t like the idea of Two Gifts and a Lie, maybe this one will better suit you. Have each person state their name and the funniest Christmas presents they ever received. As players announce their gifts, write down their name and whether you think it is true or a lie. The person who guesses the most correct answers is the winner.
This game works best in teams. I recommend the movie category when coming up with Christmas trivia. One point is awarded for every correct answer. The team with the most number of points wins! You can break the trivia into rounds, go through it all at once or make it a race. In the race, every wrong answer results in a 10 second penalty. After grading the trivia answer sheets and applying any penalties, the team with the shortest time wins.
Christmas Photo Drop
Print out some fun photo props and set up a photo drop. People get more into the spirit of the party if they can share it with friends and family later. Consider having a tablet or camera designated in a set location for guests to use. You can then share the pictures with them later.
Charades has been a failsafe at parties for me for years. When you require your guests to come up with the terms for opposing teams, the terms stay relevant and current. Encourage your guests to use holiday phrases or titles of Christmas movies or songs or else the point may automatically go to the performing team.
Inclusion is Paramount for Fun
Have you ever gone to a party where you knew one person it seems everyone knows everyone? This situation can make even an extrovert uncomfortable. Make sure that you plan games which forces everyone to participate without singling anyone out. If there is a wide age range, feel free to modify the rules to apply to the elderly or less mobile individuals so that everyone can enjoy the game together.
Rules and Examples
Avoid confusion and make sure that you provide a simple explanation of the game to the group. It’s even better if you can act out the first round of the game as an example. Also, I don’t recommend, as a host, that you put the entire night of games on yourself. It is stressful hosting alone but if you’re also providing the entertainment, it could add up to no fun for yourself and make your guests uncomfortable being herded and listening to you all night. Assign willing guests to host games ahead of time so that the preparations and the night-of duties are dispersed enough to let yourself catch a breath and remember that it’s a party, not a job.
Be Prepared For A Mess
Nothing kills a party like a guest accidently spilling a drink while laughing or becoming animated and a host reacting badly or not being able to clean the mess up effectively. Be prepared mentally as well as supply-wise for a spill or two during the natural course of the party. Unless your carpet is more important than your relationship with your guests, don’t freak out. It is okay to accept help in the clean-up as well. Don’t insist on doing it yourself, don’t leave the mess for the end of the night as a reminder to the mess making of their mistake and to overwhelm yourself at the end of the night. Just pause whatever game you’re currently enjoying, grab your ready-to-go supplies and keep the conversation light as you tidy.
Finally, if here is going to be alcohol at your party, part of your responsibility as a host is to make sure everyone has a plan for the end of the night. It isn’t fun to talk about but it is much more taxing to deal with the consequences if you didn’t prepare. Assign designated drivers who are not drinking, call ride share drivers or create a space for people to sleep, slumber-party style. The only bad plan is no plan.
Take Plenty Of Pictures
Capture the moments at your Christmas party by taking candid pictures during the games, lively discussions and activities. Not every picture will be a winner but if you take enough, you’ll get a few to make the memory last and make all the guests who didn’t make it jealous of the fun they’re missing out on. Make sure to always get permission from those captured before posting online or distributing to other guests. You don’t want to make anyone feel uncomfortable, but adding a camera to any event often has the opposite effect and allows people to become more animated and photogenic. Plus it will be great publicity if you plan on making the party an annual event.