Holly, Jolly, and Full of Fun—These Are the Christmas Party Games Every Guest Will Love

‘Cause we all need a better-than-average holiday party.

By Isabelle Eyman
christmas party games for adults

When it comes to party games, I’m a walking contradiction. While I love a good game night and think there’s no such thing as too many episodes of Jeopardy! that can be watched in a single weekend, I’m often hesitant to jump in when I’m told there will be games at a holiday party. Not to be a Scrooge (because really, I am filled with nothing but holiday spirit), I just believe that forced fun just isn’t all that… fun.

Well, this holiday season, that’s all about to change. With the past few years of virtual gatherings making me nostalgic for the classic Christmas party, I’m going all in. That means committing to the Christmas cookie baking, the gingerbread house making, and yes, all the games with friends, family, and every single last one of my favorite people. So with that in mind, I combed the internet for all the best Christmas party games for adults.

Without further ado, here are the best Christmas party games for all the adults coming to your gathering—because hey, kids can’t be the only ones having fun.

feature image by kristen kilpatrick

Christmas Charades

Ah, the classic party game. While it may take getting a few of your guests out of their comfort zone, the result is worth it. For the uninitiated among us, here’s how you play: Come up with a list of Christmas-themed words, songs, phrases, or activities and write them each down on a scrap of paper. Have guests pull the cards from a bowl and act it out while the other players try to guess. I’ll go out on a limb and say you’ll definitely laugh, you’ll probably cry, and you might even turn a few of your hesitant guests into believers.

Christmas Pictionary

Like charades, but different. While the concept starts the same (brainstorm a list of Christmas-themed cards, placing them in a bowl), the medium is different. Players take turns drawing, trying to get others to guess what the picture represents. While you don’t have to be an artist per se to win, it definitely can’t hurt. And if you’re not, well, it’ll make trying to guess your interpretation of a fruitcake all the more fun.

Christmas Cook-Off

I’m all for letting The Great British Bake Off inspire my extracurricular holiday fun. Because everyone’s in the mood already to do nothing but bake until (and after) Christmas, it shouldn’t be hard to convince your crew to come over for a little confectionery competition. Pick a recipe and get ready to go head-to-head. If you have the space, invite your friends to bake together. If not, just have everyone bring over their cakes, cookies, or whatever you’re baking up and get ready to indulge. While I can’t say my creations would be worthy of a Paul Hollywood handshake, I certainly wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to sample and judge a table full of treats.

Gift Wrap Challenge

There are people (my mom) who can wrap a million beautiful presents on Christmas Eve with impressive ease. There are others (myself) who opt for the simple and streamlined option of placing your presents in a still-aesthetically pleasing bag. Whichever of the camps you fall into, get ready to wrap your heart out. Supply the boxes, wrapping paper, and ribbons, and split up into two teams. Whoever can wrap the present the fastest wins. Bonus points if the final result is pretty, too.

Christmas Party Scavenger Hunt

If you’re the sort of host who plans out their holiday decorations months in advance, know you’re not alone. With this game, you can challenge yourself by getting a little strategic with your décor. Write up a scavenger list filled with objects your guests have to hunt down. Whoever comes back with the most items checked off wins.

What’s in Your Phone?

Because we never show up anywhere without our phones, all your guests will have everything they need to play this game. These printable game cards are filled with scavenger-like clues that players have to search their phones to find. Whoever ticks off the most boxes is the winner.

Would You Rather?

You can disregard what I wrote above—I have and will always be up for playing this game at any party I go to. It’s a fast and easy way for guests to get acquainted because there’s really no better way to break the ice. You can use these pre-made cards or create your own. Distribute among the group and get players to share which holiday-themed option they’d rather choose. Here’s a sample: Eggnog or Hot Chocolate? (Personally, I’d pick the latter.) While it isn’t necessarily the goal to end up with a clear winner, there’ll be plenty of opportunities for entertainment when you hear what people choose.

Two Truths and a Lie

It’s a go-to party game for a reason. Two Truths and a Lie is the perfect blend of being simple to learn and fun to play. One person makes three statements while the other players have to guess which two are true and which one’s the lie. Add in a little Christmas flavor by making the stories holiday-specific. Perhaps you’ll share about a wild holiday dinner that never happened or divulge the truth of the strangest present you’ve ever received. Getting creative with your statements will likely bode well for your chances at winning, but honestly, the player with the best poker face will likely come out on top.

Spoon-and-Ornament Race

This game always makes me think of when I was a kid and I looked forward to field days with a five-year-old’s fervor. I loved racing across the school lawn trying to balance a spoon in my mouth with an egg on top (despite rarely being successful). Incorporate some holiday flair into the grown-up version and replace the egg with an ornament. Set up a course and have players race to the finish line. Whoever’s the first to cross without dropping their ornament is crowned the winner.

Guess That Christmas Movie

Is there anything better than bonding over your favorite Christmas movies? I think not. Get ready to put your guests’ knowledge of the classics to the test. Make up the questions ahead of time and host your own live trivia game. Just be prepared for things to get a little heated—the competition will be sure to get fierce with players’ reputation for holiday movie expertise on the line.

Ugly Sweater Contest

Perhaps I’m in the minority of folks who think that ugly Christmas sweaters are actually pretty cute. Regardless of whether or not you think they’re tacky or tasteful (okay, maybe I wouldn’t go that far), everyone will want to join in on the fun. It’s simple: Hit up your favorite consignment store and don your festive find. The uglier, the better.

Gingerbread House Competition

There’s no better way to show your creative side during the Christmas season than by constructing your own gingerbread house. While it’s endlessly entertaining to do with kids, making this an adults-only competition means you can concentrate on making a masterpiece. Set everyone up with a premade house for simplicity’s sake and divide decorations into bowls. Put on a timer and build away. At the end, everyone can vote for their favorite. Side note: This game pairs perfectly with a little boozy hot chocolate.

“Chubby Snowball”

You don’t need much to make this game happen at your next holiday party. Load up on a few bags of marshmallows the next time you’re at the store and get ready to play. Each guest fills their mouth with as many marshmallows as they can while still being able to say, here comes the twist, ”snowball.” Of course, always be sure that you don’t take the competition too far—marshmallows can be a choking hazard.

Christmas Scattergories

Ah, Scattergories. The original, category-based, creative thinking game has been a favorite since the 80s, and IMHO, it’s high time it got a Christmas makeover. Find a printable template for the holiday version here. Have a timer on hand, buy or DIY a 26-sided letter die, and get ready to go. Players have 2-3 minutes to complete the card using Christmas-themed words starting only with the letter that’s rolled. Honestly, it’s a bit addicting, so be sure to set aside enough time for at least several rounds.

Guess How Many Ornaments

This one’s for the betters among us. Upon greeting your guests, hand them a piece of paper and have them write down how many ornaments they think are on your tree. Toward the end of the evening, announce whose guess was the closest. Their prize can simply be the proof that they’re an expert estimator—or you can pick up something small like a candle to congratulate your winner. Pro tip: If you’re playing this game, just don’t forget to count the ornaments as you’re decorating your tree.

What’s your favorite Christmas party game?