Holiday Activities for Your
Carren W. Joye email@example.com OnlinePlaygroup.com http://www.onlineplaygroup.com
Whether you celebrate Christmas,
plan something special for your organization this holiday season
besides, or in addition to, exchanging gifts. Here are a several
ideas for adults and their children:
Gift Exchange Drawing names for a gift
exchange is a traditional activity at Christmas. Add to the
fun by making it a “Secret Santa” gift exchange. Keep the names
secret and write only the recipient’s name on the tag, either with
or without a description of the gift giver. Each person will have
to figure out who brought the gift before they can open it.
Another fun activity is to write a description of the gift on the
card and have the recipient guess what is inside before opening
For children, play “Musical
Presents.” Have each child bring a generic gift that they
would like for themselves; for example, a boy brings a gift for a
boy, and a girl brings a gift for a girl. Gather in circles of all
boys and all girls and play
Christmas Carol Music while the presents go around the circles. When the music
stops, everyone opens the present they are holding.
A variation on this goes along with a story and
works well for adults and children. The adults or children sit in
a circle with the gift they brought in their laps. Choose a story
with a repetitive word, such as “The Gingerbread Man.” Every time
the words “ran” or “run” are spoken, instruct the participants to
pass their gift to the person on their right. Alternatively, you
can make up your own silly Christmas
story using the words “right” and “left” frequently. Continue
passing the gifts until the story is over. At the end of the
story, everyone gets to open and keep the gift in his lap.
Instead of exchanging gifts of any type, specify a
specific kind of gift for an ornament party, a candle party, or a
book party. Children particularly enjoy ornaments and books.
A fun variation on gift-giving is the White Elephant
gift exchange. Everyone brings a gift already wrapped, either a
gag gift or something nice, but set a price limit. Do not put tags
on the gifts. Prepare numbered slips of paper in advance and have
each person draw a number. People choose gifts in order according
The person with number 1 picks out a gift and opens
it so all can see what it is. Then the person with number 2 can
“steal” that gift or chose from those not yet opened. Then person
number 3 gets to “steal” any already opened gift or chose one of
the gifts still unopened. This continues around the circle. If
someone steals your gift, you can select another gift to open or
steal someone else's gift, but a gift can only be “stolen” once
during a turn. Also, once a gift has had three “owners,” the third
owner of the gift gets to keep it, and it can't be stolen again.
Depending on how creative and coveted the gifts are, this game can
be very fun with people always stealing certain gifts or trying to
hide their favorites to keep them from being stolen.
Host a cookie exchange. Ask everyone to bring their
favorite homemade cookies, made 2-3 days in advance of the
exchange; the number of cookies depends on the number of
participants, but generally about 2-3 dozen per person. Either
specify no chocolate chip cookies or assign each person a
different type of cookie to bake, so you won’t have everyone
making the same kind. In addition, everyone needs to make copies
of their recipes, or send you the recipe in advance so you can
create a little booklet of recipes for each guest.
Don’t eat the cookies during the exchange. Instead,
serve other snacks and allow everyone to take a few cookies from
each batch home with them. If you decide to sample some of the
cookies during the exchange, make sure to increase the number of
cookies that each participant brings. During the exchange,
everyone shares a story about their cookies, such as the origin of
the recipe or a funny memory of baking them. As a result, guests
leave the cookie exchange with dozens of different cookies to
start the holiday season and nearly as many warm and funny
Include the kids on the fun! Get the children or
spouses to serve as taste testers and judges, and offer prizes for
the most delicious, most beautiful and most unusual cookie.
Kids love to decorate and eat cookies! Make 10
various Christmas shape sugar cookies or gingerbread men per child
so there will be plenty to eat and take home. Set out containers
of white frosting and various decorations for the cookies, such as
colored sprinkles, mini-marshmallows, chocolate chips, M&Ms,
jelly beans, and raisins. You can provide Popsicle sticks to
spread the frosting. Each child will go home with a box of
decorated cookies, if they don’t eat them all!
For an alternative, make small gingerbread houses
out of graham crackers, using icing to glue them together.
Pre-assemble them for the kids to decorate. Ask the parents to
bring something edible with them to use to decorate the houses,
and you will have quite an assortment of decorations to use for
decorating your gingerbread houses.
Covered Dish Dinner
Share a Christmas dinner during the last date before
the holiday break and have everyone bring a covered dish. To
prevent too many green bean casseroles, plan in advance what each
person will bring. Chip in together on the cost of the meat,
whether ham or turkey or some other choice. Use holiday paper
plates, napkins and cups to make the meal festive. Progressive
Dinner At a Progressive Dinner a group of friends plan a meal
together where each course is served at a different participant's
home, and the party progresses from house to house. A progressive
dinner works best with friends who live close to one another in a
neighborhood, an apartment building or a condo complex. This even
works well for offices in a large company. Then everyone can walk
from home to home or office to office without worrying about
organizing cars and wasting time driving to the different
locations. However, if driving is a necessity, plan for a 3-hour
evening at minimum.
When planning your dinner, schedule about 3-4
courses so there won’t be too much time wasted on “progressing.”
Potential courses may include hors d'oeuvres and cocktails;
appetizer; a first course such as soup, salad or pasta; main
course including side dishes; cheese, fruit and nuts; and dessert.
Go Christmas caroling. Pick several neighbors’ homes
in advance, or a nursing home, homeless shelter or hospital ward.
Prepare a sheet of paper with the lyrics to some favorite carols
and make copies for everyone; if done in advance, everyone will
have a chance to practice. Consider bringing goodies or small
gifts to distribute after singing. Or, bring decorations made by
the children and help decorate the Christmas tree.
Invite Santa or Mrs. Claus to read “Twas the Night
Before Christmas” or other holiday stories to the children in your
organization. The local librarian may be willing to dress up as
Mrs. Claus. To make it even more fun for the children, ask them to
bring a letter for Mrs. Claus to take home to Santa. Hire someone
or ask a friend to dress as Santa Claus. Give each child an
opportunity to sit on Santa’s lap and tell him what they want for
Christmas. Parents can take pictures of their child with Santa,
which is much less stressful than standing in line at the mall.
Santa can end the visit by passing out little toys or gifts
previously bought by the parents.
Play games with the children. “Pin the Nose on
Frosty” and “Pin the Nose on the Reindeer” are two variations of
“Pin the Tail on the Donkey.”
“Pass the Candy Cane” is played like hot potato,
except the children pass a large candy cane until the music stops.
The person with the candy cane at the end of the game gets to keep
In “Pass the Present,” wrap a small Christmas
chocolate Santa or candy cane in a tiny box, then put it in a
bigger wrapped box, inside a bigger wrapped box, inside a bigger
box, etc. Alternatively, wrap the gift in several layers of
different Christmas wrapping paper. To play the game, everyone
pass the gift around while Christmas music plays, and when the
music stops whoever is holding the present gets to open it before
stepping out of the circle. The gift continues around the circle
until the last box is opened or the last layer of paper is
unwrapped. The person who unwraps the final box gets to keep the
Both children and adults would enjoy playing
charades or Pictionary using the names of Christmas carols or
Organize a scavenger hunt. Group participants into
pairs or trios and have them find items in the house, office
complex or in the neighborhood, weather permitting. Include items
such as a red bow, candle, Christmas cookie, religious Christmas
card, mistletoe, broken ornament, and burned-out tree light. Or
include items in various holiday colors, such as red, green, gold,
silver and white.
Happy Birthday, Jesus
Invite the children and have a birthday party for
Jesus. After some time to play, read the Christmas Story, but
include the children in the story. Choose a book that describes
each of the people that were a part of the birth of Jesus and give
each child a figure from a nativity scene. When you get to each
person from the story, have each child place the figure on the
table set up for the scene. At the end of the story the whole
nativity scene will be set up.
Have a birthday cake and sing “Happy Birthday” to
Jesus. Let the kids blow out the candles.
For gifts, have each child bring a $10-15 gift. Then
go to the children’s ward of a hospital, a homeless shelter, or a
lower income school in the area and distribute the gifts to the
children. Be sure to make arrangements in advance with those in
charge of the hospital, shelter or school.
Using some of these ideas as a springboard, you may
come up with other ideas on your own. Or combine several for a
truly memorable holiday party!
About the Author: Carren W. Joye
is the author of A Stay-at-Home Mom's Complete Guide to Playgroups
(ISBN 0-595-14684-8; $13.95) and founder of OnlinePlaygroup.com. A
homeschooling mom of four children, she has founded five
successful playgroups and helped start countless other playgroups
around the world. Visit her web site at
http://www.OnlinePlaygroup.com for more information about
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