Growing Up

Family Fun Christmas Activities

Family is at the core of the Christmas season, so creating fun memories with your family is always at the top of the must-do list this time of year.
ChristmasAccessoriesWhat fun activities can you incorporate into your family life that makes Christmas memorable and fun? Plenty, really. There are the traditional and the things a little bit out of the box.
Think back to your childhood and Christmas time in your house. Are there particular memories that are clearer than others? Those are likely the traditions your parents created for you and your siblings. Trying to create traditions in your own home with your own children is one way to make Christmas fun, exciting and memorable. Perhaps it’s decorating cookies, or making gingerbread houses. Maybe when you were younger your mom always had something yummy smelling coming from the kitchen. You can create the same tradition by simply keeping potpourri warmed and smelling nice, if you don’t have the time to bake frequently.
If you want to do a fun family activity in the kitchen, but baking’s not your thing, you can make a variety of other gift items in your kitchen. The kids love making chocolate and candy covered pretzel sticks, and you can pair those with homemade hot cocoa mix to give as gifts.
Be sure to incorporate music into your family’s traditions. How about some family fun singing Christmas carols or creating your own family music CD? Record your family singing Christmas carols and use that CD as your music CD for the holidays. If you all are particularly talented, you could make these look pretty and give them as gifts.
Many families like to cut down their own Christmas tree. This is a really fun family activity that can add a lot to the Christmas season. Christmas tree farms are located just about everywhere. Check into a local grower’s group for locations. You simply show up, grab a saw (this is mom or dad’s job) and go hunting. Depending on the location of the tree farm, you might walk only a short distance, or you might have to hike up and down hills and far into the farm’s reaches to find just the right tree.
To add even more fun to this activity, create another family tradition that will annually go with the tree cutting. It can be as simple as also having lunch (at the same place each year) and picking up candy to eat in the car on the way home. You might also add a shopping excursion to the day; after the tree is safe at home in a bucket of water, you might all go shopping as a family for some new ornaments.
Other fun family activities can include annual visits to certain places in your community. Does your town have an annual “Christmas tree lane” where all the homes on one street decorate (sometimes in an over the top fashion) for the holidays? You can make a tradition of driving down the street each year, or walking the entire street, if the weather allows. Walking gives the kids a chance to see some of the details of the various décor items.
Many children think hot cocoa is an essential part of the Christmas season. If that’s the case with yours, you could start a fun family activity each year where you make a big batch of hot cocoa mix at the start of the season. Let the kids have a small cup each night before bed during the month of December and closer to Christmas, add special items to the hot cocoa, like mini marshmallows one night and whipped cream another. Be sure to leave this family-made hot cocoa for Santa on Christmas Eve!
At a certain age, children enjoy decorating their room for the holidays. One fun family Christmas activity is to encourage this decoration by letting the kids shop for items to put in their rooms and letting them do the decorating. Be sure to take a picture of them in their decorated room each year. They’ll enjoy looking at the pictures year after year.

Growing Up

Dress Santa Game

If you are willing to put a little time and energy into a Christmas game, this one is surefire hit. It’s called “dress Santa” and it’s funny and silly and worth having a camera round to record the fun. You might even want a camcorder as well.
72015Here’s how it works. Create a dress-up box with a Santa costume and other items that Santa might or might not wear. You want to have a full-bore Santa costume, so you can either rent one or purchase one if you think it will get used years after. They can be found for around $100 or maybe a little less if you buy one at a costume shop that’s used.
You’ll put the Santa suit in a large suitcase or trunk. Be sure you have as many Santa items as possible; for example, you want to have a pair of boots, gloves, a big belt, etc. Then in the trunk or suitcase, mix in other items, like jewelry, hats, socks, shoes and feather boas. It’s probably obvious where this is going.
At the Christmas party, someone volunteers to play the game. Ideally, you’ll have several volunteers so you can time people and award a prize for fastest or most interesting, or whatever works based for your party.
The chosen person gets blindfolded and stripped down to their bare essentials. No, it’s not that kind of game, but if a woman is wearing a sweater over a T-shirt and shoes, the shoes and the sweater can be removed, so she has less on her to begin with. Once the person is blindfolded, begin timing them. Tell them they must dress Santa as quickly as possible in his Santa suit only, nothing else. To spice up the game and make it more interesting, be sure to include some items in the trunk that might feel like Santa items, but aren’t. For example, you’ll have Santa’s black gloves in the trunk, but also include a pair or two of garden gloves, and Santa has a belt, but you could include other belts as well. Be sure to include several hats (even a princess hat, which might feel like a Santa hat to a disoriented participant).
Once Santa is dressed, stop the timer and take the blindfold off. Everyone can get a good laugh at the result. Santa might have his suit on, but he might also be wearing a robe. Or he might be in his suit, but with garden gloves, a rhinestone belt and a princess hat. Be sure to take pictures of your good sport and move to the next participant. It’s better if the other players aren’t in the room, since many might remember the various items in the trunk and make mental notes about what to ignore and what to use.
After the Santas are done with their dressing and the requisite pictures have been taken, decide on a winner. Is the winner the Santa who dressed in 45 seconds, or the one that wore the garden gloves, princess hat and rhinestone belt combination? It’s a tough call, but a winner must be crowned, so to speak. You can award prizes (Santa hats filled with candy are fun) or you can keep this all in fun and let the good sports know the fun is in the silly playing.

Growing Up

School Christmas Gift Exchange Games

Many public schools don’t allow gift exchanges during the Christmas season, but some do and certainly many private schools do. Many fun games can be created to make the gift exchange really fun and festive for kids.

Putting festive sweets in the school cafeteria could also help!

There are several activities you can impose to make the gift buying interesting. For example, you can declare that one of the rules of the gift exchange is that gifts must be handmade or put together in some way and not purchased. You can take this a step further by declaring that the gifts feature the school’s colors in abundance. Perhaps they might also somehow incorporate the school’s mascot.

Definitely in a gift exchange with children, there should be a low dollar limit on the gifts (such at $5).

But once the gifts are ready, there are many fun exchange activities and games that can be used to make this even fun and memorable for the kids.

You can use a “white elephant” gift exchange method; here the kids draw a number and choose their gift from the pile of gifts in order by the number they drew. They can exchange their gift for a different one if they choose. A gift can only be “stolen” three times and the person who drew the first gift can “steal” a gift at the end of the gift exchange if they like. Kids always get a kick out of the “stealing” aspect of the white elephant gift exchange.

Children enjoy buying gifts for other people, so having them draw names is an excellent activity for a gift exchange. To add a twist, make the gift activity interesting by telling the children they can’t tell their recipient they are buying for them. Then create a fun activity during the exchange itself to play up the “mystery” element of the gift exchange.

In the mystery scenario, you can have each child open their gift, then try and figure out who it is from. If the children were asked to make a gift, this can be particularly fun, as some children might have drawing skills, or woodworking skills which might make it easier or harder for the other children to decide who have them a gift.

As the children open the gifts, have them guess who the gift is from. If they are wrong, they have to do a little dance or silly physical act before making another guess. This repeats until they guess the right giver of the gift they have been given.

Another fun activity for gift giving among children in a classroom is to have each child make a game piece for an unknown game board. Everyone brings a handcrafted game piece (there can be rules as to its size, for example, no larger than 2 inches high), to play with on the communal game board.

The “game board” can be nothing more than a large rug that’s been fashioned into some sort of game, ideally a Christmas-themed game. Always popular is “get Santa back to the North Pole” played much like Chutes and Ladders or Candyland. Since most children know how to play these games, the learning curve is small and at the Christmas party, they can get to playing right away. To keep with the gift exchange idea, each child can be asked to bring their handcrafted game piece wrapped and the pieces can be exchanged as gifts before everyone plays on the big game board.

Growing Up

Pin The Beard On Santa Game

When it comes to silly party games, it seems unfair that birthdays get all the attention and Christmas none. It’s time to bring back some silly party games for Christmas, and “Pin the beard on Santa” is as good a place to start as any.
santa_1024x678To begin this game, you need a cardboard cutout of Santa. This can be purchased at some party stores, or even little gift shops. It doesn’t have to be large, but it should be a big face of Santa. You can also find these at educational supply stores, or teacher supply stores, in the section of other cardboard decoration items that teachers put on classroom walls.
Once you get Santa’s face home, cut off his beard. That’s right, cut if clean off. There’s no point in pinning Santa’s beard on him if it’s already there, right? The beard you sliced off can either be thrown away or keep it to tape back up later, if you want to use Santa’s face for another game or as decoration.
Now, you can create several beards out of different items. It’s easy to take a piece of thick cardstock and cut the beard out of that, or you can use foam with adhesive backing. You can simply peel the backing off right before it’s used. You could also make the beard out of crumpled white paper, simply computer paper or the like. If you want to get a bit more elaborate, create Santa’s beard out of cotton balls or a large piece of cotton pulled and shaped into the semblance of a beard.
If you have 5 people playing this game, you’ll need 5 beards. 10 people? 10 beards. You get the idea.
You play “pin the beard on Santa’ exactly as you play “pin the tale on the donkey” and similar games. Spin the person around, make sure they are blindfolded and then have them try to replace Santa’s lost beard. Self-adhesive foam works well because once they place it on the picture of Santa, it’s not going to move, so they can’t change their blindfolded mind and change the position once they pick a position. It’s there for the duration.
No, you can add several variations to this game. For example, you can buy a full-size cardboard Santa (again, the party stores often have these, or school supply stores, or you can make one of your own without much effort). You might have people pin the boots on Santa, pin the hat on Santa, or pin a red button nose on Santa.
One fun (adult) version of this game is to pin the chest hair on Santa. Create a fun cardboard Santa with his suit unbuttoned. It’s a big macho for Santa, but also a bit fun. Then fashion “chest hair” out of yarn, threads or fake fur. Attach some sort of adhesive to the back (foam stickers work, or heavy-duty double-stick tape) and have people try and pin the chest hair on Santa the same way they attached his beard or might attach his boots.
Any good game offers a prize for the winner, and this one is no exception. You could always offer Santa to the winning ‘pinner” or you could have something more elaborate like a Santa goodie bag, filled with Santa pencils, Santa erasers, a Santa coffee mug, and Santa-themed candy.

Growing Up

Christmas Games For Elementary Age Children

ColdChristmasDelightsIf you’re planning a Christmas party for a group of elementary-age children, there are a myriad of really fun games you can include. Be sure to have lots of prizes and take lots of pictures because some of the games can be silly!
To get the kids moving around, start with the “fill the stocking” game. In this game, create teams so there are at least 3 people and no more than perhaps 6 people on each team. Have a stocking for each team. Place the stockings on the wall and have also a bowl of candy and spoons. The first person on each team will put the spoon in their mouth (backwards, so the bowl of the spoon is sticking out) and get some candy out of the bowl. Still holding their spoon in their mouth, they must walk or run to the stocking on the wall and get the candy in the stocking. They run back to the line and the next child has a turn (each child should have his or her on spoon). The game continues until the candy bowl is empty.
The obvious prize for the stocking game is a big bowl of candy!
Another active game is an “unwrap the game” relay. Provide two piles presents at one end of the room (these can be presents with real teats inside, or “dummy” wrapped presents). The children are divided into two teams and a relay is created. One person runs to the stack of gifts, unwraps it, throws away the paper and runs back. Then the next child in line runs up, unwraps a gift, throws away the paper and runs back. If the paper lands outside the trash can, the child must run back and put it back in the trashcan before returning to the line and allowing another person to take a turn.
If these to games are played first the kids might want a little rest. Now’s the time to play a sit-down Christmas party game, like “remember this”. Get a large cookie sheet or baking tray and fill it with Christmas-themed items. You might include an ornament, a candy cane, a Santa hat, garland, ribbon, etc. There should be at least 20 items on the tray. Give each child about 20 seconds to look at the items, then cover the tray and remove it from sight. Give the children another 20-30 seconds to remember everything they saw on the tray. Have them quickly write don their guesses. The prize is for whoever remembers the most items!
Another good sit down game and one that’s also a learning game is a word find game. Provide children with a list of Christmas words and have them find other words within those words. For example, if one word is “reindeer” they might find in, deer, red, den, and so on. Longer words are best, so think of words like Christmas, snowballs, poinsettia, holly berry and the like).
Children love games that involve sitting in a circle and having fun that way. Here’s a “circle” game children are sure to love. This tests their ability to remember little details about other people, like their voice. Have handy a sleigh, either one cut out of cardboard or a small one purchased a gift or dollar store. Blindfold one child and have another child hold the sleigh. The child with the sleigh calls out to the blindfolded child something like this:

Santa, where’s your sleigh?
Someone’s come and taken it away.
Who has it? Who?

The blindfolded child has to guess who has the sleigh. Give the child 3 chances to get it right before giving the sleigh and blindfold to other children.
Frosty the Snowman - 1600x1200 -For another sit down game, give each child a piece of paper and a pencil. Tell them to close their eyes and then tell them what to draw. Give them the shapes, but don’t tell them exactly what they are trying to draw (though most children will figure it out). So, first tell them to draw three circles, with the largest being on the bottom and the smallest on the top. Then tell them to draw dots for eyes, and buttons for a coat. Keep going until you have described a snowman. Then have the children open their eyes to see what they have actually drawn. Award a prize for the drawing that most closely resembles a snowman.


Fun Office Gift Exchange Games

223160_2057There are dozens of fun office gift exchange games people can play during the Christmas season. Officemates might have a “secret Santa” gift exchange or a popular “white elephant” gift exchange. All are popular and always fun, provided the rules are clear and everyone understands them.
One of the most popular office games involving Christmas gifts is the “white elephant” gift exchange. The rules can vary depending on the office and participants, but generally it works something like this. Each person participating purchases a gift not to exceed a certain dollar amount (determined in advance and might range from $5 to $20, again depending on the group). The object here is a fun gift, so anything particularly practical is not welcome. You’re looking for unusual and interesting, perhaps funny, and something other people will want.
Everyone who’s participating in the exchange gets a number (the number should be the same as the number of presents). The numbers should be they drawn out of a hat or something else (perhaps a Santa hat, in recognition of the season?). So, the person who draws number “1” goes first and picks a present. They open it and keep it. The second person can either pick a different present or they can “steal” the first present. They can’t open a present until they are sure they are keeping their choice and not picking the first gift. This continues until everyone has a present. Any present that’s been opened can be subject to stealing, but a gift can only be stolen three times.
At the end of the game, the person who was the first to open a present can steal a gift if they choose, since they didn’t have an opportunity earlier.
In this game there’s always one gift that everyone wants and will steal over and over again. What makes it fun is trying to figure out who is going to get the most coveted gift. In some cases, people can end up with the gift they brought.
Originally the “white elephant” gift exchange was a way for people to “regift” or give someone a gift they themselves received and don’t want. For a fun twist, you could ask people to bring something from their home like that, or you can require they purchase something (with the aforementioned limit on spending).
There are many varieties of the Secret Santa game, which is so popular in offices, but one option that’s fun involves putting a dollar limit on the purchase and having participants actually make “Santa lists”. Here’s how it works: Those participating create a little list for “Santa”. There should also be a dollar limit placed on this gift exchange, so if that is $10, then people should only list items on their Santa list that can be purchased for $10 or less.
Everyone who is participating draws a list out of a hat, or some other object, and sets about shopping for that person. They know who they are shopping for, but the recipient doesn’t. On exchange day, the Secret Santas must deliver the gifts to their officemates’ desks without being seen. Those participating can decide if they want people to sign the cards attached to the gifts, or if the secret should stay a secret. If they choose the latter, gift giving can be interesting, since it’s anonymous, but many people choose to have cards signed so in the end, people who to thank for their gifts.