Festive Holiday Party Games to Get the Family Moving

The right mix of winter holiday party games will have something everyone in your family can participate in and enjoy. Fun holiday party activities for all ages are a great way for generations of family members to bond and make memories together.

During the winter holidays, especially if it's cold outside where you live, it's easy to get stuck in the mindset that sit-down indoor games are the only option. Mix things up (and, in some cases, maybe even burn off a few party treat calories) with these 12 games that can be easily adapted to your space, party theme, and the number and ages of your guests.

Gift Wrap Relay

wrapping game for winter holiday party theme
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If you're behind on your gift wrapping, this game will be just the fix—fun and productive (if "done" is better than "perfect," that is). First, set up a wrapping station with paper, ribbons, scissors, and tape. Then, assemble your guests and stage a relay race to see who's the fastest wrapper. Encourage players to stand, rather than sit, for this activity if they're able to.

If you have a larger group, make the relay more challenging by putting players in teams and having them wrap as a duo, each using only one hand. Another variation is having one team member blindfolded while the other gives them instructions, but no hands-on help.

Gift Stacking

wrapped gifts

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This one works for any party theme that includes wrapped gifts—Christmas, Hanukkah, birthdays, or baby showers. It works especially well for parties that feature gag gifts (like 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—just make sure none of them are fragile.

Next, 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 in each grouping; 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 or piling them on top of each other. Each gift must touch at least one other gift, and no other props are allowed.

The player who can see the stacked pile of gifts must describe it to the other player who will try to recreate it without being able to see it themselves. Use a stopwatch or timer to see how long it takes them to complete the task.

Each team will take a turn trying to recreate the stack of gifts. The team with the best time wins. Alternatively, you can set a time limit. Set your timer for five minutes and see which team can recreate the most gift stacks 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 the littlest guests to find in a scavenger hunt that will keep them busy and moving around.

If you want, you can match your treasures to the occasion: Try hiding some holiday cookie cutters, candy canes, or tree ornaments; Hanukkah gelt or menorah candles; or Kwanzaa mkeka or candles.

Human Christmas Tree

Playful girl decorating sister with Christmas garland, decorations and star
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For this game, recruit a brave volunteer to be the tree. Then, have your guests decorate him or her with whatever you have on hand: bows, ribbons, aluminum foil, tinsel, extra wrapping paper, etc.

You can also divide guests into teams and have a contest for the 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 Hanukkah guests together for a life-size version of the classic spinning top game. First, use a large piece of cardboard or paper, an old sheet or exercise mat, or even painter's tape directly on the floor to create your dreidel mat.

Next, 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).

At the start of the game, one player stands in the center of the mat. Blindfold them or have them close their eyes. Then, have them spin around. Once the player is thoroughly turned around, remove the blindfold or have them open their eyes to see which quadrant of the mat they've landed in. Then, distribute gelt (or an alternative prize).

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.

This is an active game that's great for warming up, getting your blood flowing, or burning some extra calories. Since everyone will be moving around, you'll want to clear a large room.

Before you start, establish goals at either end of the space (e.g, between two throw pillows placed on the floor). Then, playing as teams or individuals, challenge each other to kick the "snowball" into the goal.

Caroling Charades

Women singing Christmas carols
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Charades traditionally involves acting out a phrase without speaking and having your teammates guess what it is. In this game, choose a classic carol or favorite holiday song instead.

For the youngsters, stick to the tunes that are well-known (and well-loved) and therefore easy to guess. For the older crowd, make the game more challenging by throwing in some golden oldies or more obscure (or forgotten) classics from holidays past.

Holiday Talent Show

Kids singing carols near the christmas tree
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Have your kids star in a holiday-themed variety show. Better yet, create multi-generational teams. Cast members can act out a favorite holiday story or add choreography to a holiday song. For more seasoned partygoers, challenge them to put a festive spin on their usual party trick. (Making Grandma's sugar cookies disappear is a magic trick kids and adults can all enjoy.)

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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In this take on "Simon Says," give your Simon a Santa hat and instructions to give silly commands to your guests.

Many classic party games adapt well to any holiday theme. Put on holiday music during Musical Chairs or design a game of Pin the Tail on the Donkey that uses candles and a menorah or Santa's sleigh and reindeer.

Trim a Tree

A young girl decorates her personal Christmas tree.
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Give your younger guests their own mini tree to decorate. Play inside or outside, use real or artificial trees, or draw simple trees on a piece of paper and provide art supplies.

Dig out your craft box or use extra wrapping or decorations for the kids to use to bring their creations to life. Proudly display them as part of your holiday decor or have the kids gift them to each other before they go home.

When You Are Able to Get Outside

Young girl pulling sled through the snow
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If it's not too cold and you could all use some fresh air, take the fun outside with these options:

  • Snow play: Build a fort or snowman together, start an intergenerational snowball fight, or find a hill for sledding.
  • Capture the flag with a holiday twist. Use a Santa hat or a bag of Hanukkah gelt as the flag.
  • Snow painting: Have extra food coloring from making cookies? Use it to mix up some "paint" and use the fresh white snow as a blank canvas.
  • Kickball can be fun even with snow on the ground! Snowbanks are built in goal posts.
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