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20 Magical Ways to Spend Christmas Eve

These festive games and activities will help you keep the season bright.

While Christmas Eve is usually all about your favorite traditions, those holiday festivities may be looking a lot different than usual this year. But don't let the fact that it's 2020 bring your celebration down completely. Even if you've had to give up some of the usual merriment, there are still plenty of fun things you and your household can enjoy this December 24. From culinary experiments to icebreakers that don't cost a thing, read on for 20 activities that will make any Christmas Eve at home even more exciting. And if you're the competitive type, check out 20 Super Fun Games to Play on Christmas Eve

Read the original article on Best Life.

Make a hot cocoa bar.

A DIY Hot Cocoa Bar

Hot cocoa is one of the best parts of the holidays, so why not upgrade your favorite beverage on Christmas Eve with a whole hot chocolate bar? Put out both dark and milk chocolate choices along with a wide range of toppings—not just whipped cream and marshmallows, but also chocolate shavings, chopped pecans, and crushed-up candy canes. Everyone in the house will have a blast building the messiest, most extravagant, and most delicious dessert drink they can!

And for the beverage you shouldn't serve, This Is the Most Hated Holiday Drink.

Take your cookie game to the next level.

Little girl making cookies on Christmas

If you have kids or grandkids, they probably love leaving milk and cookies out for Santa. But instead of baking classic chocolate chip cookies this year, consider whipping up some more unusual treats and giving the kids a chance to decorate them. Why not try making peppermint cream thumbprint cookies, gingerbread trees with lemon icing, or any other new recipe you find? Santa will thank you for the variety!

Hold a Christmas cookie competition.

Kids making Christmas cookies with their mother

Here's a delicious game you can play on Christmas Eve: Ask everyone at your small Christmas gathering to bring about a dozen cookies to the table (which will probably lead to many leftovers). Each person who brings cookies can vote on their top three favorites, with three points awarded for a No. 1 vote, two points for a No. 2 vote, and one point for a No. 3 vote. The cookie with the most points wins! (But really, everyone does—because of cookies.)

For the Christmas treat everyone avoids, This is the Most Hated Holiday Cookie.

Sprinkle reindeer dust on the front walkway.

Pink sugar in a white bowl

Just to be extra sure that Santa—who will be delivering gifts in the safest way possible this year—visits your family, urge the kids to sprinkle reindeer dust (colored sugar and edible glitter) on the front walkway of the house.  If they want to get creative, they can even arrange the reindeer dust in the shape of an arrow so Santa knows where to drop off the presents!

Play snowball capture the flag.

Adults having a snowball fight

How long has it been since you were in a good, old-fashioned snowball fight? If you're someone who lives in a place that gets a good amount of snow, turn that winter wonderland into a battleground with a game of capture the flag—fueled with snowballs. It works just like a typical game of capture the flag, but instead of tagging someone, you hit them with a snowball.

And for more holiday trivia to share with your family, here are 55 Fun Christmas Facts to Get You in the Holiday Spirit.

Have a Christmas treasure hunt.

Little girls enjoying a Christmas treasure hunt

Presents are great, but why not make your kids or grandkids work for their gifts from Santa this year? You can add a competitive element to your Christmas Eve celebration by hiding the goods throughout the house and offering up clues about where they are as the night goes on.

Give out brand-new Christmas pajamas.

Little girl opening Christmas presents in pajamas

One of the pleasures of Christmas morning is lounging around in your pajamas. So this year, consider giving everyone in the family a "pre-present": Christmas-themed pajamas that they can wear the next morning. They're just the thing to make you feel cozy as you open your presents and watch Christmas movies all day!

For more movies to watch this holiday, check out The Best Christmas Movie of All Time, According to Critics.


A man holding a box with food while wearing a mask and Santa hat


Add a charitable component to your Christmas Eve by asking everyone in your house to find a can of food or toy that can be donated to an appropriate charity. Or, you and your family can head out to a soup kitchen or toy drive to volunteer for a couple of hours before you start opening your own gifts—there couldn't be a better year for it. And these acts of kindness are what the holiday spirit is all about, after all!

Play Christmas board games.

Family playing Jenga

If you've been watching the same Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer special for years, consider making it more interactive this time around with the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Christmas Journey Board Game. Christmas characters Rudolph, Hermey the Elf, and Yukon Cornelius all make an appearance in this movie-themed game that involves returning the lost toys to the North Pole.

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Build a Christmas cup tower.

A stack of red plastic solo cups

Challenge your family to stack green or red cups high enough to look like a Christmas tree. Keep going until your "tree" collapses or until someone knocks it down. When everyone is done playing, save the cups for next year, or use them to serve some delicious Christmas punch.

Make a human Christmas tree.

Girl getting on her father's back for a piggyback ride on Christmas

For this Christmas Tree Activity, you only need two people dressed in green to serve as figurative Christmas trees. The kids of the family can divide up into teams and then decorate each "tree" with different Christmas baubles. The best "human Christmas tree," as voted by your family, wins!

For some incredible trivia about your evergeen, here are 30 Amazing Christmas Trees Facts to Make the Holidays Extra Magical

Play "Christmas Is All Around."

Four people at a table in front of a Christmas tree and one woman holding a phone

Take a cue from Bill Nighy's character in Love Actually and play "Christmas Is All Around." Take some of your favorite songs and replace the word "love" with "Christmas." Whoever can make it sound the least awkward is the winner.

And for all the songs that shouldn't be included in this game, check out The Most Hated Christmas Songs of All Time

Pin the nose on Rudolph!

Felt Rudolph decoration

Draw (or print out a picture) of Rudolph, then cut out a circle from a piece of paper and color it red. And well, you know the rest! (Just don't spin your family around too much with this activity.)

Play a stocking guessing game.

Christmas stockings hanging on mantle

First, you need someone to put random things in a stocking. Once it's stuffed, tie a ribbon or string around the top of the stocking so no one can peek inside. Sit in a circle and pass the stuffed stocking around so everyone can try to gauge what's inside. Give them note cards so that they can write down what their guesses are. The person with the most correct answers wins the goodies!

For Christmas celebrations that used to be all the rage, check out these 15 Weird, Forgotten Christmas Traditions Nobody Does Anymore.

Christmas-ify "Who am I?"

Friends playing Who Am I?

While "Who am I?" is usually played in large groups, this game is still perfect for even small families. And the best part is that all you need to play is something to write with and sticky notes.

Gather in a large circle, write famous Christmas characters on the sticky notes, then stick them on each other's foreheads. Once everyone has a character on their forehead, each person needs to guess what character they are by asking the other players yes-or-no questions. The goal is to not be the last person to correctly guess who they are.

Play "Find Santa's friends."

Elf on the shelf holding paper

A scavenger hunt to find Santa's friends is a friendly game in which every player wins. Here's how to set it up: After collecting a variety of plastic elves and reindeer, hide them throughout the house. Some of Santa's friends should be easy to find for younger kids, whereas other items should be harder. Every kid who finds one of Santa's friends will receive a Christmas gift.

And for more on the country's biggest holiday traditions, check out the 20 Ways Christmas Is Celebrated Differently Across the U.S.

Or try out "Christmas A to Z."

Little girl writing a letter to Santa

This game requires only a little bit of movement, but there is a lot of thought involved. First, gather a few sheets of paper with the entire alphabet written vertically on them. Players must then compete to fill in the entire alphabet list with a holiday word for each letter. The first team to complete their list—without too much stretching of the truth—wins.

Play bingo with family members instead of numbers.

Group of friends wearing reindeer antlers and celebrating together

People bingo is entirely too much fun. Simply create a list of 10 to 15 traits or activities and give every participant the same list. (Be sure to throw in a few entries specific to your family and how you celebrate.)

Players then have to walk around the room and find people who match up with the items on the list, checking them off as they go. The winner is the person who fills in their list the fastest, using a different person for each item.

Play "Christmas memory."

Little boy and girl wearing Santa hats and doing crafts

Draw eight Christmas pictures—a Christmas tree, Santa, a snowflake, etc.—and then make duplicates of each for a total of 16 cards. Place the cards on the table upside down in a 4×4 layout. Each player gets a chance to pick a card and find its match. When a player finds a match, they get to keep it, and it counts as a point. Play until someone reaches 20 points, which will take multiple rounds. (You can adjust the scoring depending on the number of participants and time constraints.)

And for tips that will take your decor to the next level, here are 20 Genius Christmas Tree Decorating Tips, According to Experts.

Play the candy cane game.

Candy canes in a clear glass

This is a silly game that has the added benefit of providing each player with a treat at the end of it. You will need lots of candy canes, chopsticks, a large bowl, and a small stocking. (You can usually find these stockings at your local dollar store.)

Here's how to play: Fill the bowl with candy canes and place it on one end of a table. Put the stocking on the other end of the table and place a cup inside to keep the stocking open. Give each person a chopstick to put in their mouth. At the start of the game, players must put their hands behind their backs and try to transfer as many candy canes from the bowl to the stocking as they can in one minute using only the chopstick. Whoever gets the most candy canes in the stocking wins!

Alex Daniel
A journalist based in Brooklyn, New York. Read more
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