Nothing says “bonding” like mutual embarrassment and some good ol’ fashioned, laugh-out-loud moments. Perfect for Thanksgiving or Christmas, try these icebreaker games for some holiday hijinks and instant memories in the making!
While the holidays are often a time for family and friends to get together, it’s not uncommon to find yourself in a group of people you don’t know very well. Maybe you’re sitting around the table with extended family you only see once a year or a friend group that has expanded since the last time you got together. Or maybe you’re in a new relationship and visiting your boyfriend’s or fiancée’s family, and there are more faces around the room you don’t recognize than ones you do.
The pressure can feel even heavier when you’re the one hosting the holiday get-together. Of course, you want all your guests to feel comfortable, forge new relationships, and have a holiday to remember. There are fifteen fun icebreakers to bring everyone together, whether it’s a meal, a cocktail party, or a family gathering. Nothing says “bonding” like mutual embarrassment and some good ol’ fashioned, laugh-out-loud moments. Perfect for Thanksgiving or Christmas, try these icebreaker games for some holiday hijinks and instant memories in the making!
1. Two Truths and a Lie
A well-known favorite, this game involves each player writing down three statements about themselves. Two statements are true, and one statement is a lie. Everyone takes turns guessing which of the statements is a lie. It’s a fun way to get to know obscure facts about each other and try to shock your friends and family!
This age-old classic game is a winner for every occasion. If it’s a Christmas party, try incorporating Christmas movies into the pot to draw from. If it’s Thanksgiving, you can always have someone act out favorite meals like turkey and dressing or popular films like Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.
3. Bowl of Questions
Before your guests arrive, have a bowl of questions on the table ready. Or have each guest contribute a question to the bowl upon arrival. Then, when everyone is there, take turns asking the questions at random. These questions can be as fun or as serious as you’re like—or, ideally, a mixture of both!
Nothing says “holiday hijinks” like a rousing game of Pictionary! There are plenty of Pictionary board game versions available to purchase, or if you’d rather make your own, grab a sheaf of paper and some pencils and divide your guests into teams. It’s like Charades, but with drawing! Set the timer, and get ready to laugh! Feel free to theme it for your specific holiday celebration.
5. Gift Wrap Challenge
For a more hands-on icebreaker, pair everyone into teams of two. Each station contains a roll of wrapping paper, a box, a roll of tape, and scissors. Each team stands in front of their station, with their hands nearest each other tied together via rope or ribbon. The challenge? Wrap the box together using only your untied hands! Teamwork at its finest.
6. Unwrap It
Another gift-wrapping icebreaker game is loud and sure to get the competitive juices flowing! Before your guests arrive, use plastic wrap to roll up a bunch of random trinkets such as small pieces of candy, batteries, toy cars, dollar bills, etc., into a giant, plastic-wrapped ball. Bring out a pair of dice. The first person starts unwrapping the plastic wrap layers from around the trinkets while the person next to them rolls the dice over and over. Once they roll doubles, the person unwrapping must immediately stop and pass the plastic-wrapped ball to the next person. The person on the other side starts rolling for doubles, and the game continues until everyone has a turn or the plastic is completely unwrapped. Whatever you unwrap during your turn is what you get to keep!
7. What’s on Your Phone?
This game is simple and great to incorporate with prizes. Make a list of common things found on a phone. This could be a particular app, game, or even a photo of a particular object. Read through the list and have everyone prove with their phones if they have an item or not. The person with the most items on their phone wins!
8. Sneaky Stickers
For a fun icebreaker to last the whole evening, supply your guests with a sheet of holiday stickers when they arrive. The goal is to get rid of all their stickers by placing them on other guests. If they are caught, they have to take their sticker back, along with one of the stickers from the person who busted them! Whoever successfully and sneakily gets rid of all their stickers first wins!
9. I’m Thankful For…
For a more serious game, simply go around the table or living room and have each person state one to three things they’re thankful for. If you want to make it more interesting, have a rule about no one getting to repeat an item someone has previously mentioned. You could also have a rule that their item must start with a certain letter or can’t contain a certain letter. Have fun!
10. Name That Tune with Christmas Carols
Music trivia is always a hit at parties! Divide your guests into teams and play a few notes of popular Christmas carols. Keep score and have a prize ready for the team that knew the most carols the quickest!
11. Holiday Scattergories
Before your guests arrive, make a long list of holiday-themed categories, such as Holiday Side Dishes, Christmas Movies, Cold Weather Gear, etc. Then give your guests paper and pencils, and randomly select a letter of the alphabet. Your guests must then write an item that starts with the chosen letter of the alphabet for each category on the list. If the chosen alphabet letter were D, for example, they would have to think of Holiday Side Dishes that started with the letter D. Set a timer for mass panic and let the fun begin!
12. Don’t Say “X”
Before your guests arrive, pick a common word that tends to naturally come up in conversation during parties, such as “bathroom” or “kitchen” or “please.” This is now your buzzword. When your guests arrive, whisper the buzzword to them and explain that they can’t say that word the whole evening. Of course, it will happen anyway by accident, and guests can have a blast shouting “aha!” and telling on each other. Your “or else” can involve a light-hearted punishment such as “can’t speak at all for ten minutes,” or maybe they have to wear a silly hat until the next person uses the buzzword. Get creative!
13. Holiday Bingo
There are a ton of free or affordable printable bingo games online that are beautifully colored and easily printed for guests to enjoy together! You could even make your own with a little bit of time, some scissors, and plenty of construction paper. Instead of shouting out numbers for your bingo card, have Christmas or Thanksgiving images on your game board going across, up and down, and diagonal. The first one to Bingo wins!
14. Pin the Feather on the Turkey
Pin the tail on the donkey just got a lot more interesting! Hang a printed photo (or hey, just draw it yourself!) of a giant turkey on one wall, and have your blindfolded guests attempt to get the closest at taping the feather in the right place on the bird. You could do a similar game with any holiday theme, such as Pin the Hat on Santa or Pin the Nose on Rudolph. To make it harder, have your blindfolded guest spin around several times before steering them in the right direction. You could also have teams assisting each other, where a partner must shout instructions to the blindfolded teammate, like “left” and “farther to the right.”
15. Hot Potato with Christmas music & a Santa Hat
Have your guests sit in a circle around the table or living room and play some Christmas tunes. Upbeat music works best for this game! As the music play, the guests pass a Santa Hat around the room as fast as possible. When the music stops, the person holding the hat is out. The game continues as the circle gets smaller and smaller. Great to incorporate with prizes!
Photo Credit: ©Rodion Kutsaev/Unsplash
Betsy St. Amant Haddox is the author of over twenty romance novels and novellas. She resides in north Louisiana with her hubby, two daughters, an impressive stash of coffee mugs, and one furry Schnauzer-toddler. Betsy has a B.A. in Communications and a deep-rooted passion for seeing women restored to truth. When she’s not composing her next book or trying to prove unicorns are real, Betsy can be found somewhere in the vicinity of an iced coffee. She is a regular contributor to iBelieve.com and offers author coaching and editorial services via Storyside LLC.