It’s the most wonderful time of the year to celebrate with friends and family, so let us help you get ready to spread holiday cheer with our favorite Christmas party ideas and themes for 2023. Use our handy Holiday Party Checklist to start planning festivities for the holiday season, then kick it up a notch with some of these Christmas party games, activities, food and drink ideas and more!
Whether it’s a Chrismukkah party with family, an ugly sweater party with friends, or an office holiday party with co-workers, we’ve got lots of fun and festive Christmas party themes to get you and your guests into the holiday spirit.
While yearly holiday traditions are a staple, you can create new memories with some of these Christmas party ideas for adults and kids to ensure no one is a Grinch this holiday season. From a classic Santa visit to a white elephant gift exchange to a Christmas movie marathon, and everything in between, these 56 holiday party ideas will make this year’s get-togethers with loved ones the best yet.
1. Christmas Tree Decorating Party
Put out the Christmas ornaments, candy canes, string lights, and garlands, and invite your friends to join you in trimming your tree. Play your favorite Christmas movies or music in the background to enhance the Christmas cheer even more.
Go old school this year by making your own cranberry and popcorn garlands to wrap around the evergreen. If crafts aren’t your thing, you can purchase an artificial one on Amazon to reuse every year.
2. Holiday Cocktail-Making Contest
Photo: Yulia Furman/shutterstock.com
Have everyone submit a simple (3-4 ingredients) recipe ahead of time, and have all the ingredients ready for the cocktails (or mocktails). You can also have guests bring their own ingredients for their drinks. Buy small serving cups and have each guest play bartender while they prepare their cocktail. Vote at the end for a winner! Need some inspiration? Check out these Christmas & Holiday Cocktail Recipes.
Pro Tip: You can also hire a bartender to come to make a variety of holiday cocktails and taste test a few to pick a favorite of the night!
3. Christmas Karaoke
Photo: Atstock Productions/shutterstock.com
Having a big celebration with friends? Hire a karaoke DJ and host a night of singing popular Christmas songs. Get ready for multiple versions of “All I Want for Christmas is You” and put Mariah Carey to the test. Serve some Christmas themed-cocktails to help with nerves, don Santa hats, and you’ll have a Christmas karaoke party you’ll never forget.
4. Holiday Photo Booth
A photo booth at your company Christmas party is a must! Not only does it get everyone involved, but the printables can double as an easy take-home party favor. Between the holiday props and silly poses, everyone will be showing off their pictures around the office on Monday!
5. Live Holiday Music
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What better way to celebrate a favorite holiday than with some live music? Whether it’s a cover band or a soloist, live music is unique entertainment that every guest will enjoy. Request that your band or musician includes some holiday hits and Christmas carols for an extra special touch.
6. Secret Santa Gift Exchange
Photo: Iryna Kaliukina/shutterstock.com
A Secret Santa gift exchange is a great way to get all family members involved in the gifting. Have everyone draw a name ahead of time so that everyone gets a Christmas gift. Set a budget and chat with your gift buddy about what they may want for Christmas this year. Older guests will feel like a kid again!
If you’re drawing a blank on gift ideas, you can never go wrong with a sturdy water bottle, restaurant gift cards, or custom subscription gift packages based on their interests.
7. White Elephant Gift Exchange
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A gift exchange is always fun, but sometimes it can be tough to find the perfect gift. With a white elephant gift exchange, also known as a Yankee swap, you bring a gift to contribute to a common pool that everyone gets to choose from. Before you know it, your coworkers will be picking gifts, stealing from others, and having a blast.
Pro Tip: If you’re celebrating virtually this year, there is an easy online version of the white elephant gift exchange.
8. Ugly Sweater Party
Everyone loves an ugly Christmas sweater party. Invite your friends over, ugly sweaters required, host a contest for the best (ugliest) sweater, make spiked eggnog, and set up a DIY photo booth area with funny props. This Instagrammable Christmas party idea is a true crowd favorite and will never get old.
9. Grinch-Themed Christmas Party
Host your own holiday Whobilation with a fun and festive Grinch-themed Christmas Party. Crown the Holiday Cheermeister, snack on roast beast, and you can’t forget a visit from the Grinch himself! Bring Dr. Seuss’ world of Whoville to life with this Christmas party idea you’re going to want to steal.
10. Elf on the Shelf
Everyone’s favorite elf is back to cause mischief during the holiday season! Prior to your party, hide the elf somewhere creative (maybe in the ice bucket, the coat closet, or just in plain sight) and the first guest to find it wins a special prize.
11. Nightmare Before Christmas
Whether you feel this Tim Burton classic is more suitable for Halloween or Christmas, it can definitely be used as a unique party theme for either holiday. Easily repurpose your spooky fall decor by adding Santa hats, garlands, and Christmas lights that will make decorating a breeze. Serve up some eerie eats like Halloween candy canes or snake and spider stew to combine two of the best holidays into one epic party theme.
12. Wreath Making
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Wreath making is the perfect idea for a company Christmas happy hour. Buy wreaths from a local farmers market, ornaments, holly, and other decor to add to the wreath. Set up a hot toddy bar and get ready for an interactive company Christmas party idea that everyone will love.
13. Christmas Around the World Theme
This is the perfect opportunity to highlight different cultures and traditions from around the world. Send out passport inspired party invitations, display a large map to show all the countries you’re “visiting,” and of course, serve food from different nations! Some holiday classics across the globe include panettone and limoncello from Italy, Stollen from Germany, and Pepparkakor from Sweden.
14. Santa Visit
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There’s nothing more exciting than a visit from Old Saint Nick. Whether it’s for the kids or to cue the nostalgia in adults, a Santa visit is always a great Christmas party idea. Get ready for photo ops, gift-giving, and some ho ho hos by booking a Santa visit.
15. Charlie Brown Christmas Theme
You probably already watch “A Charlie Brown Christmas” at some point during the holidays, so why not turn it into your holiday party theme? Start by sending out invitations to look like Peanuts comic strips, encourage guests to dress like their favorite character, and of course you’ll need a little Charlie Brown Christmas tree. Serve up popcorn, jelly beans, and Snoopy dog bowl punch!
16. Christmas Crafts
Photo: Katerina Morozova/shutterstock.com
When it comes to a kids’ party, crafts always come to mind. Whether it’s Christmas characters made out of toilet paper rolls and construction paper (pictured above) or some traditional paper snowflakes, a Christmas craft is always a hit with the kids and can be displayed all winter long.
17. BYOB - Bring Your Own Board
Charcuterie and grazing boards are one of the most popular appetizers for any type of get-together. Get creative with your spread by requesting each guest assemble and bring their own type of board, almost like an hors d'oeuvres version of a potluck. These boards can range from the traditional meat and cheese option, to even dessert, Asian cuisine inspired, Christmas candies, you name it.
18. Reindeer Ring Toss
Who doesn’t enjoy a little friendly competition? Turn this fun game into a festive Christmas version using this inflatable reindeer ring toss game from Amazon. Form teams to go head to head (or in this case, antler to antler) to try and get the red and green rings around the antlers.
Photo: Caterina Trimarchi/shutterstock.com
In addition to the eggnog and mulled wine on the cocktail menu, you’ll want to serve Christmas ornamentinis that are just as aesthetic as they are delicious. Prepare your favorite martini recipe, but instead of pouring it into chilled glasses, you’ll pour it into clear glass or plastic ornaments! Then, place the filled ornaments in martini glasses with a sprig of rosemary and sugared cranberries for garnish. Guests will be able to pour their serving into their glass for the perfect Christmas cocktail.
20. Scavenger Hunt
Put together a Christmas scavenger hunt with this printable template. The kids will be entertained for a good amount of time while bonding with friends and family.
21. Christmas Cookie Decorating
What’s better than cookies and frosting?! Make sugar cookies in different shapes, have frosting ready in different colors with a variety of sprinkles and you’re good to go. All guests will love to decorate and then eat their cookie creations.
22. Indoor S’more Station
There’s something about ooey gooey melted chocolate and marshmallow made over an open fire that screams holiday cheer. You can easily arrange a s’more station next to your fireplace with different marshmallows, chocolate candy, and various graham crackers, or you can even get an electronic tabletop s’mores maker that is perfect for the indoors.
23. Toy Drive
‘Tis the season of giving. Teach the children what that’s all about by organizing a small toy drive or finding one within your local community. Have each little guest bring a wrapped gift, talk to them about the charity you’re donating to, and drop off the Christmas presents together.
This classic party game is the perfect ice-breaker, especially for a Christmas party. Start by having guests write down Christmas movies, songs, and phrases for others to reenact, and have fun trying to guess by everyone’s acting skills.
25. Christmas Song Emoji Pictionary
Did you know you can name a ton of Christmas songs completely through emojis? Put your guests’ holiday music skills to the test by hosting an emoji Pictionary game. Of course, you can make your own version, but you can also purchase a printable version from Etsy.
26. Holiday Trivia
During your virtual Christmas party, host a few rounds of holiday trivia. From movies to history to sports, it’s a fun game that can get everyone involved.
27. Reindeer Food
Kids love crafts and activities during holiday parties, especially when they involve getting Santa Claus to their house. Have the kiddos create their own bag of reindeer chow for Santa’s furry friends on Christmas Eve. Set up a table with the materials; uncooked oats, different color sugars, and plastic bags with other craft supplies to decorate. This is meant to be sprinkled on the front lawn on Christmas Eve so the reindeer can refuel while Santa is delivering the presents.
28. Name That Tune
Photo: Ramil Gibadullin/shutterstock.com
If music is more your thing, Name that Tune, a Christmas edition will be a blast. Put together a few Spotify playlists featuring a variety of Christmas and holiday hits, and get ready for a Christmas party game everyone will love.
29. Family Skating Party
Ice skating is one of the most exciting wintertime activities, and the perfect way to get the whole family involved. After spending the day on the ice playing hockey, racing, or just skating around, invite guests to warm up with bowls of soup, chili, and warm beverages.
30. Hot Chocolate Bar
Photo: Arina P Habich/shutterstock.com
Make a large batch of hot cocoa in a crock pot to keep it hot throughout the party. Set up Christmas mugs or holiday throwaway hot cups, and add marshmallows, candy canes, chocolate chips, and more. Looking for a boozy option? Have Baileys, Kahlua, Creme de Cacao, Peppermint Schnapps, and Brandy available for the adults to make holiday faves like a Dirty Snowman,
31. Christmas Cookie Bar
Rather than waiting for dessert, have cookies on display and available throughout the Christmas party. These will be a perfect addition to the hot chocolate bar too!
32. Dress Up as a Christmas Song
Costume parties are probably the most fun type of party, even for Christmas. Easily assemble an outfit to symbolize your favorite song. Don’t know how? Wear an all-blue outfit for “Blue Christmas,” dress in brown with a red nose for “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” or DIY a wrapping paper ensemble for “Christmas Wrapping.” Whatever song you choose, get creative with it! Guests will have fun guessing your outfit and song choice.
33. Egg Nog Bar
You can always serve traditional eggnog, however this year we’re seeing an oat milk eggnog version too. Add Brandy, dark rum, or cognac if you’re feeling festive and don’t forget to top it off with some fresh ground nutmeg.
34. Christmas Pajama Party
Photo: Tatiana Gordievskaia/shutterstock.com
We also like to call it a winter informal-themed party. Requirements: Christmas pajamas, a marathon of Hallmark Christmas movies, mulled wine and/or hot chocolate, and a big charcuterie board. Count us in!
35. Chrismukkah Party
Photo: Izzet Safer/shutterstock.com
Combine Hanukkah with Christmas and there you have it—a Chrismukkah party! It’s the best of both worlds and inclusive for two special occasions. For decor, set up a tree and a menorah, use colors like white and gold, and incorporate greens, reds, and blues. Create a playlist with Christmas and Hanukkah songs, and serve foods ranging from latkes and challah to eggnog and Christmas cookies.
36. Christmas Brunch
Photo: Tatjana Baibakova/shutterstock.com
Brunch is always a good idea—and it’s even better when it’s Christmas-themed. When celebrating with friends, brunch is a great alternative to a nighttime party and takes some of the party pressure off. Head to your local brunch spot, or host it at home with a mimosa party, Christmas playlist, and muffins/bagels from a local shop.
37. Christmas Card Making and Writing
You can approach this Christmas party idea in a couple of ways. You could make it a DIY party and create holiday cards by recycling old cards or using craft supplies to fashion festive designs. Alternatively, you can turn what is oftentimes a solo activity into a group effort and host a get-together to write Christmas cards.
38. Gift-Wrapping Session
Rather than wait until Christmas Eve to wrap gifts at the last minute using the same roll of paper, invite your friends over for a soiree of gift wrapping. Ask each guest to bring a couple of rolls of wrapping paper and then let your guests mix and match for a variety of designs to display under the Christmas tree.
39. Christmas Potluck
Rather than having the host handle everything for Christmas dinner, a family potluck will be a fun twist on your classic holiday foods. Have everyone bring their favorite Christmas appetizer, side, or dessert to add to the main Christmas dishes.
40. Progressive Dinner Party
Get together with friends in your neighborhood for a progressive dinner party, which is similar to a potluck party except for each course of the meal is served at a different home. This will give guests the opportunity to enjoy each host’s Christmas decorations and build up an appetite between courses with strolls through the neighborhood.
41. Christmas Cookie Exchange
Photo: Elena Veselova/shutterstock.com
At any Christmas party, cookies are a necessity! Have guests make dozens of their favorite Christmas cookie recipe (depending on how many guests at the party), and swap. This way, each guest goes home with a variety of Christmas treats. Use a Google form or some kind of sign-up sheet beforehand to avoid any duplicates.
42. Gingerbread House Decorating Party
You’re never too old to decorate a gingerbread house! Grab some gingerbread house kits (or if you’re really feeling ambitious, bake your own), icing, and candies, and set up a big table for everyone to sit around. Guests of all ages will enjoy this family Christmas party activity.
43. Christmas Movie Marathon
From Hallmark movies to Christmas classics, there’s no short supply for a holiday movie marathon. Have everyone wear their pajamas, make popcorn, and get ready for a relaxing day watching all of your favorite Christmas movies.
44. Apres Ski Theme
Winter isn’t complete without a trip to the mountains for a day of skiing. If you’re not a pro on the slopes yet, you can still take part in the post-ski festivities, which is arguably more fun that the actual skiing. Invite guests to wear their favorite ski attire, serve warm drinks, and decorate the space to replicate a cozy cabin. An Apres Ski party theme will for sure put everyone into the holiday mood.
45. Virtual Christmas Party
Invite friends and family from near and far to celebrate with a virtual Christmas party. Set up a Zoom call or Google meet, send out an Evite, hire a virtual vendor (Santa? Christmas Carolers? A caricaturist?) for some entertainment, and don’t forget a Christmas Zoom background.
Pro Tip: Here are 25 virtual Christmas party ideas to help you celebrate online.
46. Christmas Caroling
Photo: Marcos Castillo/shutterstock.com
The perfect activity for an outdoor Christmas party theme is, of course, Christmas caroling. Grab your friends and family and get ready to sing your hearts out to “Joy to the World,” “Deck the Halls,” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”.
Pro Tip: You can also hire Christmas carolers to serenade your outdoor Christmas party or help you sing along.
47. Wrapping Paper Table Cloth
The worst part about hosting is the cleanup afterward. Save some time and avoid another load of laundry by creatively using wrapping paper on your tables and festive disposable napkins. Cover the top with your choice of gift wrap, and tape it to the underside of the table. This will add a festive touch to your decor and also make clean-up a breeze because you just toss it out. This is a perfect way to use up the wrapping paper supply you’ve collected throughout the season.
48. Pet Christmas Party
Photo: Evgeny Atamanenko/shutterstock.com
If you’re hosting an outdoor Christmas party, a Pet Christmas is the way to go. Have everyone bring their pet (Christmas sweaters optional), have holiday treats available, and don’t forget to take lots of pictures.
49. Holiday Guess Who
Place a card on every guest’s back with the name of a Christmas character from various movies and books. Then players must mingle with others and ask yes or no questions to try and guess their character. With characters including Ralphie from A Christmas Story, the Grinch, and Ebenezer Scrooge, this is sure to keep guests entertained and having fun.
50. Christmas Photo Hunt
Similar to a scavenger hunt, this photo hunt is all about being the first to find the given items. Create a list of different object and decorations around the space to have guests snap pictures of. Whoever takes a picture of all the items wins a prize! This is a great Christmas party game to get everyone involved and having fun.
51. Outdoor Christmas Decorating
Photo: Mariia Korneeva/shutterstock.com
Find a tree (or trees!) in the neighborhood, ask guests to bring some Christmas lights and decorations, and prepare to transform the area into a holiday winter wonderland. It doesn’t have to be an official Christmas tree, just the decorating alone will get you into the Christmas spirit.
52. Snowman Making Competition
If you’re lucky enough to have snow already, take advantage by hosting a snowman-making competition. Race to see who can build their friend the fastest, or compete with neighbors for the most creative snowman attire. Accessorize your new friend with different hats, scarves, and jackets and make sure to appoint a judge to declare the winner.
53. Silent Disco
If you’re having your Christmas party at a more quiet spot, but still want a dance party, a silent disco is the way to go. Rent silent disco headphones from a vendor and get ready to dance the night away, without disrupting the rest of the venue. Create your own playlists, and let partygoers choose based on their favorite music.
54. Christmas Wine Tasting
To stick with the Christmas theme, organize a wine-tasting party of various red blends for guests to try, but use whichever wine you like! Each guest can bring a bottle, pour samples, and partygoers can have a taste of each and keep track of their thoughts with these wine-tasting scorecards from Etsy. Serve a few snacks to pair like cheese, nuts, and chocolate for a classy Christmas wine-tasting party.
55. Letters to Santa
If there are little kids in attendance, writing letters to Santa is the perfect party activity to keep them occupied. Arrange a station with paper, envelopes, a mailbox, and other craft supplies so the kiddos can send their wish list to Saint Nick. Don’t forget the stamps!
56. Reverse Christmas in July
Christmas in July celebrates the wintertime a few months early, so why not do it for the summer too? For a reverse Christmas in July party, you’ll want to decorate with a tropical or luau theme with food and entertainment to match. Book hula dancers, steel drummers, and fire eaters that will transport guests to the warm island sand. Rather than sweaters, encourage guests to wear their best floral prints and bathing suits.
Find more Christmas party ideas and inspiration here on The Bash.