Hailey Westenskow, contributing writer

Whether you are hosting your annual neighborhood party, a classroom full of elementary-aged students, or cousins you see just once a year, every Christmas party is more fun with games! Here is a round-up of holiday party games that can be adjusted, depending on the ages of guests, to ensure fun for all.

One game that is a brain challenge for adults and kids alike is the Christmas Emoji Game! Using only two emojis as a hint, guests must guess which holiday movie (or funny memory from that year) the emojis describe.

Match the Movie is set like a typical matching game, except each pair is a movie title and a scene or joke from the movie. For bonus points, attach prizes to specific matches, such as a bag of cotton balls for Elf, or a red nose for Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

The most classic of all holiday party games are minute-to-win-it. With these games, it is a good idea to find challenges that everyone can participate in, or even make a few that certain matchups will love. For example, pair fathers against sons to see who can score the most basketball hoops in under a minute, or set two teenagers in a game against each other to try to pop ten balloons with just their hands in winter gloves. Have a “wreath toss” where players toss cheap wreaths onto empty paper towel holders glued to Christmas-colored poster board. With minute-to-win-it games, the options are truly endless! Pinterest is a great place to find ideas for more challenges. Of course, prizes always bring out the best competition. For added fun, theme prizes around the holidays, like favorite movies, a Christmas music album, an ugly Christmas sweater, candy, or homemade cookies.

The Saran Wrap Ball Game is one everyone can get into. To prepare, use a roll or two of Saran wrap and roll up varied prizes to create a big ball. Prizes can range from candy bars and toy trinkets to gift cards and cash, you decide! When you are ready to play, guests sit in a circle and take turns unwrapping layers of Saran wrap, keeping the prizes they uncover. Simultaneously, dice are being passed and rolled. Every time doubles are rolled, the ball moves on. To make things even more interesting, you can add challenges like every time a “6” is rolled, the ball must be unrolled behind players’ backs, or every time a “10” is rolled, players must wear oven mitts while trying to unwrap the ball.

Gift exchange games ensure that everyone feels like a winner. It’s up to the host and participants whether the gifts are silly or serious, but often, a mix makes it even more entertaining. To facilitate the actual exchange, here are three ideas:

  • Christmas Dice Game: Have each guest bring two wrapped gifts, keeping the price range under $20. Place all the gifts in a pile on a table, have everyone randomly pick two, and then sit in a circle. Display a sign explaining the simple rules: A dice roll of “1” means switch a gift with the person to their right, and “4” means switch with the person at their left. If a player rolls a “2” or “5,” they can steal any gift, and if they roll a “3” or “6,” they may unwrap one of their gifts. Continue around the circle with everyone rolling until the game ends when the final gift is unwrapped.
  • Heads or Tails is a more simplified version of the Christmas Dice Game: Instead of dice, a coin is passed around the circle, and each person flips the coin. Heads means they choose a gift to unwrap and tails means they can steal a gift from another person.
  • Left-Right Christmas Games: A quick Google search for left-right game poems or stories will give you plenty of options for this game, depending on the age and interests of the group you are entertaining. Once you have found the poem or story you like, have the group sit in a circle with the gift they brought in hand. Read the story aloud. The gifts are passed in the respective direction every time “right” or “left” is said. When the story ends, guests get to open the gift they are holding. If you have a large group of varied ages, consider separating into two circles with different poems, one for kids and one for adults.