Christmas Fiesta favorites

By Rae Jefferson
A&E Editor

Christmas parties are a common tradition that bring friends and family together under one roof to celebrate the joy of relationship during the holidays. With parties sometimes comes the pressure of providing quality entertainment and fun for guests. Fortunately, there is a plethora of Christmas party games and activities that will bring together holiday party attendees and can be used as a great tool for helping guests mingle with one another.

1. White elephant – This tried and true classic involves one of the best things about Christmas: gifts. Before the event, establish what kinds of gifts will be given. Some versions include purchasing gifts worth a certain dollar amount; setting a theme, such as a color; or contributing low-priced gag gifts. This helps to ensure gift value is as consistent as possible from person to person.

Participants set their wrapped gifts in a common area, being sure to avoid drawing attention to which gift is theirs. Someone then numbers slips of paper, one per player. Participants draw slips, which will determine playing order. The player with slip number one chooses a gift from the pile and opens it. The next player, who will have slip number two, can choose a gift from the pile or steal the first player’s present. If the present is stolen, player one must choose a different gift. After the gift is selected, player three’s turn begins.

Game play continues like this until the last player has selected a gift. Players who’s presents are stolen cannot immediately steal that present back. Each item may only be stolen three times; the fourth person to have it in their possession becomes its permanent owner.

2. Giftwrap relay – Wrapping gifts is often inseparable from Christmas tradition. This game, however, puts a twist on the task. Two to four player are provided with a box, wrapping paper, scissors, tape, bows… and oven mitts.

Each player takes their place before a wrapping station and waits for a two-minute timer to begin. When the clock starts, players must race to wrap the boxes while wearing the oven mitts. The player who produces the most appealing package at the end of the timer wins.

3. Photobooth – Selfies will surely abound at any good Christmas shindig, so why not provide guests with the perfect location to capture the shots? Cheap backdrops can be made using items such as party streamers, fabric, Christmas lights or paper banners, and props are an added bonus. The mustache-on-a-stick never gets old.

4. Cookie/ gingerbread decorating – Cookie decorating can be used as a contest or just a fun activity. The best part is that it can be altered to fit your needs. Attendees can use homemade, pre-made or store-bought cookies, and the icing can be made in-house or come from a can. Many grocery stores sell gingerbread house and tree kits with all the supplies included. There is even an ugly sweater sugar cookie kit available for purchase.

5. Ugly Christmas sweater contest – With the resurgence of vintage clothing came the famous ugly Christmas sweater. It is quickly becoming a staple of the holiday season, with local thrift stores being swept clean of every mothball scented snowman sweater in their possessions. For those who are not fond of purchasing someone’s old knits, some stores now sell new holiday sweaters with intentionally obnoxious designs.

The best Christmas sweaters, however, are always homemade, so check out Pinterest for some great ideas for ugly Christmas sweaters.

6. Secret Santa – This is another traditional group present game. Each participant writes their name on a slip of paper and puts it into a container. Some versions of the game even require players to fill out a fact sheet to guide their secret santa while shopping. Each player draws a name and then purchases a gift for the person on their slip of paper. Players bring their gifts to the party without revealing who each santa is. As each person opens their present, they make guesses at who their santa is. At the end, any santsas who were unidentified should confess who they purchased a present for.

7. Heads Up – One of the easiest ways to get party guests to interact is to pit them against one another in a cut-throat competition, otherwise known as Heads Up.

The game is a phone application that involves guessing a word or phrase that pops up on the screen. Players take turns holding the phone horizontally above their foreheads with the screen facing the rest of  the players. As words pass across the screen, players give the phone-holder clues as to what the screen says. When the guesser has successfully identified the word, the phone is tilted up to move on to the next word. If the word cannot be guessed, the  phone must be tilted down to pass the word. The player with the most guesses in the end wins.