10 classic Christmas games to play with your class
For many of us, Christmas is an exciting time of year that promises an extra burst of food, friends, and time with family. To keep with the spirit of the season, here are 10 entertaining (slightly silly!) Christmas activities to do with your class.
1. Pin the nose on Rudolph
A play on the classic kids’ birthday party game, for this activity you’ll need to print out a large picture of a reindeer and stick a piece of rolled up tape over its nose. Then, cut a red, circular nose out of cardboard, and attach rolled up tape on the back. To play, divide your class into teams and explain that one member from each team will be blindfolded. Teams will have to use English (to the left/right; up/down a bit; keep going; stop) to help their teammate correctly stick their nose on Rudolph.
Tip: Alternatively, have the whole class involved by creating noses for each student. In this version, students are spun around three times, then must attempt to pin on Rudolph’s nose while dizzy.
2. Make Christmas cards
Tape into your young learners’ written and artistic skills with this activity. To start, pre-teach Christmas symbols frequently seen on greeting cards (plum pudding, stars, Christmas trees, the Nativity, snowflakes, bells) as well as vocabulary for writing Christmas cards (seasonal greetings, sign offs, and typical phrases that go within). Students choose who their card is for, then write and decorate it with Christmas symbols that they may choose to draw, cut out of cardboard, or clip from magazines.
3. Santa Says
A play on Simon Says, this activity targets verbs and action words: jump, run on the spot, touch your nose, hop, do a twirl, crouch down, etc. Up the Christmas spirit by having Santa ask the class to repeat holiday activities with him (decorate the tree, make Christmas cookies, go to church, eat pudding, unwrap presents, eat too much…).
4. Find someone who
Create a grid with a number of Christmas-related statements. Tell your class that they must mingle as a group to ask each other questions to identify who matches each statement. For example:
Would prefer a white Christmas this year
Can make a traditional Christmas meal
Hasn’t bought any Christmas presents yet
Has never spent Christmas away from their family
Loves Christmas carols
Has an unusual family Christmas tradition
Is not very “Christmassy”
Only eats vegetarian Christmas food
Preteach any vocabulary that might cause problems and make sure students know how to form questions from the given statements (i.e., Would prefer a white Christmas this year -> “Would you prefer a white Christmas this year?”). Afterwards, students can provide feedback on what they learned.
5. Word find
Students work in teams to find as many words as they can, hidden within Christmas words. Try:
Christmas: air, has, ham, its, mat, miss, it, is, rim, cat, car, hats, cash, star
Roast turkey: you, yes, use, rye, out, our, your, tusk, user, tyre, task, sure, soya, sour, take, trek
Candy cane: dye, any, end, can, den, and, acne, dance, canned
Use an online word unscrambler tool to create a list of possible words, and set a time limit for students to work within.
6. Christmas carols
Try applying exercises from song-based EFL activities to Christmas carols.
Listen to the carol without lyrics, and give students an introductory task (write any words or phrases they hear or words they don’t know). Next, distribute the lyrics and teach new vocabulary.
Prepare a cloze exercise; choosing to remove all nouns, prepositions, adjectives or other part of speech.
If the carol has a video clip or forms part of a famous movie scene, play those on YouTube and talk about where they were made, who the characters are, etc.
Summarize the song: Ask the class to pull out the carol’s principal message. Compare their ideas and findings.
Once students are warmed up, have a singalong.
Lyric memory: After working with the carol for a few activities, ask students to form a circle. Going around clockwise, each student must remember an additional lyric, until the song is finished. (Tip: Students who can’t remember a lyric must sit down, therefore making it slightly more challenging for the remaining students. The last student standing is the winner.)
7. Jump to the front
Students start in a line at the back of the class. The teacher reads out a series of statements about Christmas and students take a step forward if their answer is yes. Example statements could be:
I am a Christmassy person
My family and I don’t exchange Christmas presents
I enjoy cooking Christmas food
In my culture, we don’t celebrate Christmas
Tip: ensure that statements are relevant to students who love Christmas as well as those who don’t, or don’t celebrate it culturally.
8. Christmas tongue twisters
Tongue twisters always get a laugh! Start with:
Running reindeer romp ’round red wreaths
Chilly chipper children chant cheerfully
Eleven elves licked eleven little licorice lollipops
There’s chimney soot on Santa’s suit
Frosty froze frequently, furthermore fell on frozen frost freezing his fiddly thumbs
Prancer presents pumpkin pies and presents
Pretty packages perfectly packed in paper
Tiny Timmy trims the tall tree with tinsel
9. Christmas Pictionary / Charades
Review Christmas vocabulary from a previous lesson by incorporating it into these classic drawing and acting games.
Tip: For an extra fun twist, take inspiration from the board game Cranium. In this version, before being randomly assigned a vocabulary term, students roll a die to find out how they will communicate it to their team. If they roll a 1 or 4, they’ll have to draw the word (Pictionary); 2 and 5 means acting it out (Charades); and 3 and 6 means they must create it out of play dough.
10. Celebrity heads
Give a holiday twist to this classic game by placing Christmas characters front and center. To play, ask three students to sit at the front of the class with their backs to the whiteboard. On the board, write the name of a Christmas character or symbol behind each student (think Santa Claus, Christmas Tree, Jesus, Stocking, Turkey, an Elf, a Shepherd, Holly, an Angel, Rudolph…).
Students must ask yes or no questions to discover who they are (such as: “Am I a person?” “Am I a type of Christmas food?” “Do I have a long white beard?”). For each “yes” they get, the student may ask an additional question. Set a maximum number of questions per student (say, 10) and play until one student is left, or until students have used up all their questions. Repeat with new students and characters.
Tip: Remember that not everyone’s Christmas is white. Mix in Southern Hemisphere Christmas vocabulary as well. Try: Cherries, Prawns, the Beach, Cricket, Sun, Eucalyptus, Pool Toys, Backyard Cricket, Pavlova, Barbeque.