12 Holiday Games and Activities for Festive Family Fun

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

It's easy for kids to get restless and bored indoors during the winter holidays—especially if it's cold where you live and you're staying at home. Sit-down family board games are often the go-to, but you can also mix things up and get creative.

These holiday activities can be easily modified to suit your space and the holiday you're celebrating, and are adaptable for kids of all ages and abilities.

Gift Wrap Relay

Brothers are wrapping Christmas gifts at table
Portra / Getty Images

If you're behind on your holiday gift wrapping, this simple 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 the kids 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.

If you have a bunch of children running around, make the relay more challenging by dividing players into teams of two, with each player using only one hand to wrap. Want even more of a challenge? Try blindfolding one team member while the other gives them instructions but no hands-on help!

Christmas Craft Party

From paper snowflake cutouts and decorating pinecones with glitter to making your own ornaments and building graham cracker gingerbread houses, a holiday arts and crafts party will stimulate your kids' creativity and keep their hands busy, especially if you're stuck indoors.

You could also have them trim an artificial mini tree, or everyone can bundle up and decorate a tree in your backyard. Children might also enjoy drawing simple trees or menorahs on paper and decorating them with art supplies. Get crafty and bring your holiday creations to life.

Display your kids' holiday arts and crafts in your home for festive decor or wrap them as presents and give them as gifts to friends and family.

Gift Stacking Game

Whether it's Christmas, Hanukkah, or December birthdays, this holiday party game is a fun indoor activity for the whole family using wrapped gifts. It works especially well for gag gifts, Secret Santa, or a white elephant exchange. Here's how to play:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Each team will take a turn trying to recreate the stack of gifts. The team with the best time wins.

For an added challenge, set a time limit of five minutes and see which team can recreate the most gift stacks in that time.

Treasure Hunt

Hide a small treasure (or several) for little ones to find in a classic scavenger hunt activity that will keep them busy and moving around for as long as it takes them to find the items.

Match your treasures to the occasion you're celebrating. For example, holiday cookie cutters, candy canes, or tree ornaments; Hanukkah gelt or menorah candles; or Kwanzaa mkeka or candles.

Holiday Talent Show

Turn your average Saturday night at home into an instant holiday party with a talent show. Have your kids star in their very own holiday-themed variety show, or better yet, create multi-generational teams for some family bonding.

Cast members can act out a favorite holiday story or add dance choreography to a holiday song. Put a festive spin on the usual party tricks. For example, making Grandma's sugar cookies disappear is a magic trick that both kids and adults will enjoy.

Human Christmas Tree

For this game, recruit a brave volunteer to be the tree and get ready for loads of laughs. Then, have each family member decorate them with whatever you have on hand: bows, ribbons, aluminum foil, tinsel, extra wrapping paper, etc.

You can also take turns decorating each member of the family and have a contest for the best-dressed human tree. The only rule is you can't vote for yourself! When you're finished decorating everyone, be sure to snap a group photo you can share with other loved ones.

Human Dreidel

Gather your family for a life-size version of the classic spinning top game in celebration of Hanukkah. Here's how to play:

  1. 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.
  2. 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 (Gimel), ה (Hey), and ש (Shin).
  3. At the start of the game, one player stands in the center of the mat.
  4. Blindfold them or have them close their eyes.
  5. Then have them spin around and around.
  6. Once the player is thoroughly turned around (and hopefully not too dizzy), remove the blindfold or ask them to open their eyes to find out which quadrant of the mat they've landed in.
  7. Lastly, distribute gelt or an alternative prize to honor the dreidel game tradition.

'Snowball' Soccer Game

No actual snow is required for indoor snowball soccer. This active holiday party game uses paper or balloon "snowballs," so you can play it inside this December and all winter long for a fun twist on a warm-weather favorite.

Before you start the game, clear a large room with enough space for everyone to move around. Establish goals at either end of the space (e.g., between two throw pillows placed on the floor).

Playing as teams or individuals, the objective of indoor snowball soccer is to challenge each other to kick the "snowball" into the goal.

Indoor snowball soccer is an active game the whole family can enjoy that's great for warming up, getting your blood flowing, and even burning some extra calories.

Caroling Charades

Charades traditionally involves acting out a phrase without speaking and having your teammates guess what it is. For this holiday party game, choose classic carols or your favorite festive songs instead.

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

Pass the Ornament

Turn a kids' party classic, Hot Potato, into a holiday party game by swapping the potato for a non-fragile ornament or holiday decoration. The winner gets a prize or has the honor of hanging it on the Christmas tree or in the house.

Santa Says

In this holiday take on the classic game "Simon Says," give your "Simon" a Santa hat and instructions to give silly commands to the rest of the family.

Many classic party games adapt well to any holiday party theme. You could also 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.

Outdoor Fun

If it's not too cold outside and you could all use some fresh air, take the family fun outdoors with these ideas that put a holiday spin on classic games:

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