Disclosure:  Some of the links below are affiliate links to products I’ve tried and trust.  At no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. 

  1. Holiday photo booth.  Set up your own photo booth using wrapping paper as a backdrop, an instant camera, and holiday photo booth props.  This was extremely popular with the kids (and moms as you can see from the photo below), so be sure to have lots of film and an extra set of batteries on hand.
  2. Festive attire.  Kids were encouraged to wear their most festive holiday attire and we got some really fun Santa hats, tacky Christmas sweaters, and even a pair of light up reindeer antlers.  For encouragement, offer a prize for the best ensemble.
  3. Gingerbread house building contest.  Let the kids be creative and build their own “gingerbread” houses from scratch using graham crackers and vanilla cake frosting.  For decorations, provide M&Ms, life savers, gum drops, holiday Peeps, and peppermint sticks.  We broke the kids up into teams of four and loved seeing their creativity!  Judges evaluated each house on engineering, aesthetics, and attention to detail.
  4. Hot chocolate bar.  This is a lot easier than it sounds — simply heat chocolate milk in a crock pot (microwave first if you’re short on time).  All you need for condiments are a couple of cans of whipped cream, some miniature chocolate chips or sprinkles, and peppermint sticks.  Ours was such a huge success that the kids completely demolished it before I had the chance to take a picture.IMG_5062
  5. Music.  No party is complete without the perfect playlist.  Ours consisted of a compilation of popular Christmas songs and Top 40 hits.  A portable bluetooth speaker was all we needed to get the party started.
  6. Wrapped ball game.  Find around 15 small, inexpensive gifts (gum, toys, candy, etc.).  Take the first gift and wrap it in Glad cling wrap (plastic wrap also works) and continue to wrap in each toy until you have a giant ball.  For older kids, make it more challenging by wrapping the ball in packing tape periodically.  To play the game, the kids sit in a circle and one person begins rolling a pair of dice while another begins unwrapping the ball.  When the person rolling the dice rolls doubles (the same number appears on each of the dice), it’s their turn to unwrap the ball and the dice are passed to the next person in the circle.  Whatever each kid unwraps while the ball is in their possession, is theirs to keep.
  7. Finger food.  Knowing that the kids would likely be too distracted to eat much, we kept the food simple.  Finger foods like pigs in a blanket, chicken nuggets, fruits, veggies, and chips are easy to grab and don’t require utensils.  Desserts included cupcakes and rice crispy treats.IMG_5023
  8. Holiday charades.  There are several versions of charades that you can download and print for free.  This version of Christmas Charades by Childhood 101 was my favorite.  Divide kids into two teams and have them pick a folded piece of paper to act out.  Their team is then given one minute to try to guess the answer.  At the end of the game, the team with the most correct guesses wins.
  9. Musical chairs.  Our group of 5th graders was more than happy to flash back to their kindergarten days and play a round of musical chairs.  Update it with a playlist of popular pop songs and it’s more like a dance party than game.IMG_5063
  10. Prizes.  We kept prizes simple with items like Pez dispensers, inexpensive light up photo clips (to hold instant photos from the photo booth), Christmas socks, and candy bars.  We also provided empty gift bags and Sharpies so that the kids could label a bag with their name and keep their photos and prizes in them.