20 Magical Ways to Spend Christmas Eve in 2019 That You've Never Tried

These Christmas Eve activities are fun for the whole family.

christmas eves games to play

Christmas Eve is all about tradition. It's a time to get nostalgic about the Christmases of decades past and reminisce about that one time Uncle Bob burnt the Christmas ham or cousin Amy got caught nibbling on Santa's cookies. But if you're someone who likes a little novelty mixed in with their holidays, maybe it's time to try some new activities on the night before Christmas all through the house. (If you ask us, creatures should be stirring—just not mice.) From culinary concoctions to games that don't cost a thing, here are some Christmas Eve activities worth adding to the rotation.

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. Guests will have a blast building the messiest, craziest, and most delicious dessert drink they can!

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 of these other 25 tasty recipes? Santa will thank you for the variety!

Hold a Christmas cookie competition.

Christmas Eve traditions

Here's a delicious game you can play on Christmas Eve: Ask everyone to bring a dozen cookies (or two dozen, depending on how many guests you're having over). 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, cookies.)

Sprinkle reindeer dust on the front walkway.

Christmas Eve traditions

Just to be extra sure Santa makes his way to your house this holiday, urge your kids or grandkids to sprinkle reindeer dust (colored sugar and edible glitter) on the front walkway. 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.

snowball fight Christmas Eve traditions

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.

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 celebrating by hiding the goods throughout the house, 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 they can wear the next morning. Nothing beats being cozy as you open your presents and watch Christmas movies all day!


Man volunteering at a homeless shelter during Christmas dinner

Add a charitable component to your Christmas Eve by asking guests to bring a can of food or a toy with them that you can then donate to the appropriate charity. If you're celebrating with your family, you can also head out to a soup kitchen or toy drive and volunteer for a couple of hours before you start opening your own gifts. That's what the holiday spirit is all about, after all!

Play Christmas board games.

Cute black family playing the board game 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.

Build a Christmas cup tower.

A stack of red plastic solo cups

Challenge everyone to stack green or red cups high enough to look like a Christmas tree. Keep going until your "tree" collapses or until one of your party guests 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

This Christmas Eve activity calls for at least three family representatives to serve as figurative Christmas trees dressed in oversized green fabric. Divide the little ones up into teams and have them decorate each "tree" with different Christmas baubles. The best "human Christmas tree," as determined by the other adults at your party, wins!

Play "Christmas Is All Around."

large family at christmas

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.

Pin the nose on Rudolph!

a little rudolph Christmas Eve traditions

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 Christmas Eve guests around too much with this activity.)

Play a stocking guessing game.

Christmas Eve traditions

First, you need a host 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!

Christmas-ify "Who am I?"

people playing a game Christmas Eve traditions

"Who am I?" is best played in large groups. And the best part is that all you need to play, aside from a lot of people, is something to write with and sticky notes.

Gather in a large circle, write down 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 is a bad xmas tradition

A scavenger hunt to find Santa's friends is a friendly game in which everyone wins. Here's how to set it up: After collecting a variety of plastic elves and reindeers, hide them throughout the house. Some of Santa's friends should be easy to find, just in case younger kids choose to play, whereas other items should be harder to find for the older kids. Each kid that finds one of Santa's friends will receive a Christmas gift.

Or try out "Christmas A to Z."

Christmas Eve traditions

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. Teams 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 guests instead of numbers.

Christmas Eve traditions

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 holiday-oriented traits and activities to match the Christmas spirit in your home.)

Players then have to walk around the room and find guests 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."

Christmas Eve traditions

Draw eight Christmas images—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.)

Play the candy cane game.

Christmas Eve traditions

This is a silly game that has the added benefit of providing a Christmas party favor for your guests to take home. You will need a lot 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 the 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 their chopstick. Whoever gets the most candy canes in the stocking wins!

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