The holidays are upon us once again, and that means festive cheer for everyone. From family dinners to parties and gatherings with friends and even coworkers, there are a lot of activities to do during the holiday season.
One of the best ways to celebrate is with a social gathering, and this means busting out some lighthearted games. Whether you’re planning an office party (more great non-festive games) for your crew or just attending one, these fun games are sure to please all!
If you’re looking for more ways to celebrate during the holiday season, check out free online Advent calendars for kids and adults alike.
1. Cards Against Humanity Holiday Packs
If you’ve ever gone to a party, then you’ve probably played Cards Against Humanity at some point. It’s one of the most popular party card games out there, and it classifies itself as “a party game for horrible people.” Think of it as the adult version of Apples to Apples.
Cards Against Humanity (CAH) has the core game, which costs about $25. There are many expansions and additional packs for it, which can range from $5 to $20. For the holidays, CAH does have several older holiday packs from 2012-2014 that you can purchase for $5 a pop. Each pack nets you another 30 cards that are vaguely holiday themed, and the company donates all profits from them to charity.
But if you think it’s too expensive, don’t worry — you can print your own Cards Against Humanity cards, along with plenty of other great games.
How Do You Play CAH?
For the uninitiated, playing Cards Against Humanity is simple, and it leads to some epic, hilarious results. Seriously, it’s hard to not have a good time with this game. It’s recommended to play CAH with around 6-8 people, but there’s no minimum or maximum limitation. Each player gets to draw 10 white “Answer” cards.
You determine the first “Card Czar” by finding the “person who most recently pooped.” Yeah, it’s that kind of game. If that makes people uncomfortable, you can go by whoever has the next upcoming birthday, or make up your own way to determine the first Card Czar.
Each person then takes turns being the Card Czar. The Card Czar draws a black card from the “Questions” stack, reads it aloud, and then leaves it face-up on the table.
The other players pick one white card from their hand that they think best answers the Card Czar’s question card. The goal is to have the funniest answer, or the answer the Card Czar would like most. The white answer cards are placed in a face-down pile.
Once all players have submitted their answer, the Card Czar shuffles the cards and reads them all aloud. When the best answer’s picked, the person who supplied it gets an “Awesome Point.” The easiest way to keep track of these is to give players the black card that they won.
Play until everyone’s tired of it. The goal of the game is not necessarily getting the most points, but rather just to have a good time. And with the holiday packs, you’re bound to have some joyful cheer.
2. Heads Up!
Nearly everyone knows of Ellen DeGeneres. But you might not have heard of her little game called Heads Up! (we reviewed it when it first came out), which is often played on her show. It’s a perfect game to spice up your holiday parties.
Heads Up! is available for both iOS and Android. The initial download comes with a handful of complete decks, each one having a unique central theme. These include topics like Celebrities, Animals, Movies, Characters, and more. If those aren’t enough to satisfy you, you can download plenty of other decks for around $0.99 each. The game also offers special freebies every so often, so make sure to check regularly.
There’s a special free Holiday Deck that shows up in Heads Up! around the beginning of December, and you can grab it in the More Decks! section. The Heads Up! holiday deck is filled with popular holiday-themed songs, items, and characters. But if you can’t wait until the official deck is out, you can create your own and customize it even further.
How is this possible? There’s the Build Your Own Deck! option available through a $0.99 in-app purchase. You have complete control over this deck. This means you can name it however you wish, pick the cover art, and fill it with as many cards as your heart desires.
If you need some ideas for creating a custom holiday-themed (not necessarily Christmas) deck, try filling it with items and celebrations for Diwali, Hanukkah, Ramadan, and Kwanzaa. Or think of some general winter terms, like “snowball fights” or “hot cocoa.” This is your own deck, so make it how you want!
How Do You Play Heads Up?
While Heads Up! has been around for a few years now, not everyone may have played it yet. Fortunately, it’s super easy to play.
There’s no minimum number of people needed to play Heads Up!, but the game works best with at least two others. When everyone’s ready, just start the game and then hold your phone facing outward so that everyone else can see the screen.
An answer shows up on the card and it’s up to your friends to provide clues without saying the word itself or rhyming with it. The clues can be said aloud or gestured if necessary. If you guess correctly, just tilt the device downward to get the next card. To pass, just tilt upwards.
Each round lasts for one minute, and you’ll want to get as many as you can within that time. The number of cards guessed correctly is shown at the end, and then you can pass the device around and see how your friends do.
Another nice feature of Heads Up! is that it can record video of your friends as they give clues. This can lead to some hilarious results in certain deck categories.
3. Holiday Charades
If you’ve been to parties, then chances are you’ve played Charades at least once in your life. It’s a staple party game, and it’s perfect for holiday get-togethers! We imagine most people are familiar with how to play Charades. But if not, the rules are simple.
To play Charades, split everyone up into at least two teams. Have one person from each team do the acting, while the rest of the team guesses. Each team takes turns acting out as many words or phrases as they can within a pre-determined time limit.
When the team guesses the charade correctly, they get one point. The first team to reach 20 points wins.
In Charades, when the person acting out words and phrases is up, they must act it out in a silent performance. This means they’re like a mime, physically acting out each word or phrase and gesturing their teammates when they’re getting close to the answer. Silent mouthing of words for lipreading, spelling, and pointing are all usually banned.
For the holidays, Charades can feature many Christmas-themed words and phrases that many should be familiar with. These words can include things like “Christmas Tree,” “Mistletoe,” “Let It Snow,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and more. You can find a great list of words on a page like this [Broken Link Removed].
If you prefer to use your phone, there are apps available to make setup easier.
Download: Charades! for iOS (Free)
4. Christmas Pictionary
Like Charades, Pictionary is a commonly played party game that’s a ton of fun for people of all ages. It can also be a great hit for holiday parties.
Pictionary is similar to Charades, except you illustrate words or phrases rather than acting them out. Again, like Charades, everyone is split up into teams, given a word or phrase to illustrate, and one minute to draw it. If the team guesses the picture correctly, they gets one point. The first team to 20 wins.
Since holiday-themed Pictionary could be a little too vague, try focusing on certain elements of the holiday season. For example, an interesting theme could be “Christmas Carols.” To illustrate this, a team could draw bells with musical notes coming from them for “Jingle Bells.” Or a scribble of a planet Earth with smiling people can symbolize “Joy to the World.”
Prefer using a phone app? Grab a free download below for your preferred platform.
Download: Pictionary on iOS (Free) | Android (Free) [No Longer Available]
5. 20 Questions: Winter Edition
This definitive party game requires zero extra tools or materials, and anyone can join in on the fun. It’s also easy to make this one all about the holidays.
In 20 Questions, you pick one person as the Answerer. Everyone else is a Questioner. The Answerer picks one Christmas (or otherwise holiday-themed) object, but does not reveal this item to others.
The Questioners take turns asking a question, and Answerer responds with “Yes” or “No.” If 20 questions are asked and the object is still a mystery, then the Answerer picks another item, and the process repeats itself.
For the Answerer, the goal is to stump the Questioners with a hard-to-guess Christmas object. Answerers want to ask questions that narrow down the possibilities so they can guess the object.
6. Christmas Movie Trivia
When it comes time for the holidays, we all love some good Christmas movies, right? It’s a rightful tradition for everyone, unless you’re the Grinch.
But who’s the biggest Christmas movie fan? The only way to determine that with a trivia showdown!
Setting this up is an easy task. You’ll want to find a template for a quiz, like those from ChristmasTrivia. There are a few options to choose from here, including “General Christmas Movie” or A Christmas Story trivia. If you don’t want movies, there’s also general Christmas, Christmas Tree, and Christmas Music trivia. Trivia experts can create their own trivia questions.
To play, divide everyone into two teams. Then ask the question and have the teams guess the answer or pick from a multiple choice selection. The team that gets the right answer gets a point. Whichever team ends up with the most points is the winner.
This is a simple game that everyone’s bound to enjoy. Oh, and don’t forget to watch some great Christmas movies on Netflix!
7. Family Feud Christmas
Most folks are familiar with Family Feud, a classic American game show. It’s the game where two families compete against each other to determine the most popular responses to survey questions. Hilarity ensues with Family Feud, whether you’re watching or playing it for yourself.
When you have a gathering of many people, Family Feud is always a good game to play. Split everyone up into teams, and then have two teams face off against each other. One person needs to be the judge for all rounds. Once they’re up, each team’s asked a holiday-themed question from a list like this, which includes the survey responses.
Both teams have only three guesses, and these get written down on paper and given to the judge. It is then up to the judge to reveal whether their guesses were on the list and how much each is worth. For example, if an answer is the number-one ranked result, then it’s worth 50 points. If it’s second, it’s only 40 points, etc.
The process repeats until all teams have gone through the list. At the end, tally up the points for each team, and the one with the most points is determined the winner. The game works best with two teams, but if you have more, try to ensure each team pair gets a fair chance.
Family Feud is always a fun experience, and it’s guaranteed to bring in some good laughs at the Christmas party. There’s also a mobile game to get your Family Feud fix any time of the year.
Download: Family Feud 2 on iOS [No Longer Available] (Free) | Android (Free)
8. Penguin Waddle
Remember those relay races you had in grade school? They always brought out the competitive side in people, and there’s a winter-themed one that’s sure to brighten up your holiday gatherings.
First off, the Penguin Waddle requires a bit of space, so make sure your party has enough room. Split everyone up into teams of four — there can be an unlimited number of teams. For each team, set up some cones (or whatever objects can represent a marker) to indicate where to stop. These should be 15-25 feet apart.
For the race, have the first player on each team place a balloon between their knees and then waddle to the cone. Once they reach the cone, they turn back and hand off the balloon to the next player. But if someone drops the balloon, they must restart from the beginning.
The waddle is similar to how a penguin walks, hence the name. The first team to have all four players complete the relay is the winner.
9. Gift Relay
Another option is to do a “gift relay” instead. This one calls for a minimum of two teams of 10 people each. Set up two tables for each team about 20 feet apart. Put five gifts (or empty wrapped boxes) on each table. The teams should have five people at each table.
The first player takes one gift and carries it to the other side, then passes it along to the next team member. The next person who goes grabs another gift or box from their table and stacks it on top of the first gift. Then they carry both gifts back to the other table. The third person stacks another gift on top, and rinse and repeat. Don’t drop any gifts though, because then you’ll have to start over.
The Gift Relay ends once a team has successfully stacked and carried all 10 gifts back to the original table without dropping any. Again, these two take some space to set up, but they’re sure to result in some interesting action shots and videos at your Christmas party.
10. Two Truths and a Lie: Christmas Edition
Here’s another staple that doesn’t need much work on your part. The original game has guests tell each other just what the name says: two true statements and one that’s completely made up.
To give this timeless game a holiday twist, have your guests think about Christmas gifts. Everyone should come up with three gifts. Two of these must be actual gifts that they have received, while the other one is a lie. Then the participants try to guess which gift was falsified.
This is a super simple party game that is also a great way to break the ice amongst your guests.
Spread That Holiday Cheer
The holidays are upon us, and these games are definitely good ones to help liven up your yearly Christmas parties. While these are some of our favorite options, they’re far from the only ones (more great Christmas party board game options). There’s a ton of other great holiday party games out there, and you can always get creative with your own.
Forget to get a gift for your next Christmas party? Check out how to easily give the gift of entertainment.
Did we miss a favorite of yours? What are your favorite party games for holiday parties? Have plans for a super awesome Christmas party for your team, family, or friends? Let us know in the comments below!
Image Credit: monkeybusiness/Depositphotos