7 Holiday party games that level up the fun for all ages

For getting off your phones and into the action.

For getting off your phones and into the action

(Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

f you're throwing a holiday party this year, you'll face the inevitable challenge of keeping your guests entertained enough to stay off their phones, out of your liquor cabinet and engaged with each other. Your first thought may go to Secret Santa (and there are a bunch of fun variations, too), but that game is kind of, well… played out. So, if you're in the mood for some old fashion fun with guests of all ages, give these classics and modern variations a try.

Limbo Santa Limbo

What you need: broomstick, balloons/stuffing

It's just like regular limbo, but not - instead of the stick getting lower, your belly gets bigger. Use balloons or stuffing (like wrapping paper), placed under your shirt to grow your "belly", and then try to limbo under the bar. Each round, make your belly bigger until you see what breaks first, the stick or your back.

Santa Belly Bust

What you need: balloons

If you're using balloons for the limbo game, this is a fun follow-up. Each participant places a blown-up balloon under their shirt and then has to pop it, without using their hands, as fast as possible. The last person left with their balloon unpopped is declared the loser, and must accept a punishment of the host's choice.

Way Harder Charades

What you need: papers and pens to give answers

Charades are always good for some low-maintenance fun, but it's time to level it up for the holidays. Make each answer a more difficult holiday song lyric (eg. "while mortals sleep, the angels keep") or quote from a holiday movie ("Beat that, you little trout sniffer.") so everyone has to be on top of their game. After each answer is guessed, award extra points if the teams can also guess the songs ("O Little Town Of Bethlehem") or movie (Home Alone) the answers came from. This is for serious charaders and holiday aficionados only.

Gift Guessing Game

What you need: odd objects, wrapping paper

We'd all like to think we're expert gift guessers, but now it's time to put it to the test. Box or wrap the oddest items you can find and have each player take turns writing down what they think each wrapped item is - the points going to the player who guesses with the most specificity (eg. if it's a CD, who is the artist?). You can play just for fun, using weird items around your home, or get some truly eccentric gifts for each of your guests.

Tie Up Wrap Up

What you need: rope, objects, wrapping paper, scissors, tape

Are you a good gift wrapper? Let's see how you do as part of a two-headed wrapper. Players get into pairs, stand shoulder to shoulder and are roped together around their waists and inside arms, while their outside arms remain free (another option is to put them both inside an oversized Christmas sweater). The pair must work together using their free arms to wrap objects either the best or in the fastest time.

Best/Worst Gift Guessing Game

What you need: papers, pens, hat

A perfect ice breaker for getting to know friends and co-workers. Each guest writes down the best gift they've ever received, folds the paper up and places it into the hat. The host (or guesser) then goes through the papers and tries to match them who wrote it down. Once discovered, each writer shares the story and circumstances of that gift. Other rounds can include the worst gift you've ever received and the best/worst gifts you've given.

Snow Pictionary

What you need: snow, shovels, squirt bottles, food colouring, water

Sure Pictionary is fun, but it's way better when you can take it outside. Fill each squirt bottle with a mixture of water and food colouring. Instead of using a paper and pen, the snow is your canvas - have each drawer squirt-draw their answer into the snow as their team tries to guess. When the round is over, just shovel some fresh snow onto the drawing for another blank canvas. Not only will you have a fun game, but by the end, you'll have an art project in your backyard.

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