Family Christmas Gathering Games to Keep Toddlers Entertained

The holiday season is a magical time for children, especially toddlers who are experiencing the wonder and excitement of Christmas for the first time. If you are a parent of a toddler like I am, you know one of the tough aspects of this time of year is keeping them entertained during family gatherings or other Christmas events. 

To help you keep things merry and bright here are 16 Christmas-themed game ideas perfect for little ones. These games are simple, fun, and sure to help you avoid a yuletide tantrum.

Celebrate the Festive Season with Toddler-Friendly Christmas Games!

1. Santa Says

This is a Christmas twist on the classic game “Simon Says.” You really just need to replace “Simon” with “Santa,” and have an adult or older child play Santa. They can give commands like “Santa says, touch your nose” or “Santa says, jump like a reindeer.”

2. Jingle Bell Toss

Kids love to make noise, so if you can stand it, let them have a simple competition with some festive jingle bells!

Set up several small buckets or containers and let your toddlers toss jingle bells into them. Use similar rules to ski-ball with bigger and closer buckets worth fewer points, smaller or farther away buckets can be worth more. 

3. Reindeer Ring Toss

Normal ring toss with a Christmas upgrade. Reindeer ring toss is a simple game but you will need to get a bit more creative with the targets for the rings to be thrown at. 

Create antler shapes using cardboard or actual antlers if you have some around (deer hunters often have a collection). This doesn’t have to be too complicated or “artsy”. Trace a reindeer on cardboard and then cut it out. You can even have kids help color or decorate the reindeer. Your group of toddlers can then take their shot trying to land their rings on the antlers.

4. Elf Hide & Seek

This game is a delightful twist on the classic hide-and-seek, tailored to ignite the excitement of Christmas in your toddler. To start, choose a small elf doll or toy that is easily recognizable by the children. Before the game begins, explain to the toddlers that the elf is Santa’s little helper, he’s lost and needs their help to get him back to the North Pole.

An adult or older child can hide the elf somewhere not too difficult for the ages and abilities of the participating children. Then the little ones are sent to find it. You can hide multiple elves so that each child gets a chance to find one. Having tried this with my 2-year-old, I can tell you that it works!

5. Christmas Memory Game

Like a traditional memory game but using cards with Christmas images. The children turn over two cards at a time, trying to find a match.

You will need to create or purchase a set of memory cards with Christmas-themed images. These could include Santa Claus, reindeer, Christmas trees, snowflakes, stockings, presents, and more. Ensure there are two of each image to create pairs. 

The cards should be large enough for small hands to easily manipulate and with clear, colorful images to capture the toddlers’ attention.

6. Candy Cane Fishing

This game presents a challenge to your little elves that will have them working intently to claim the prize. In this game, children get to “fish” for candy canes on a small Christmas tree. 

Decorate a small ornamental Christmas tree with candy canes. Then equip children with a small fishing pole. You will have to modify a kids’ fishing pole or create a makeshift one using a small dowel and some string. 

Whatever you choose, you need to equip the end of the string with a hook that you fashion. The hook needs to be large enough and strong enough to hoist a candy cane.

Children take turns with the fishing pole to snag candy canes off of the tree. You can also make multiple poles so they can do it together, after all, toddlers can be impatient!  

7. Christmas Puzzle Race

A puzzle race can provide a bit of a challenge and excitement for your kiddos. Choose puzzles with large pieces that are easy for toddlers to handle. Opt for Christmas-themed puzzles featuring Santa, reindeer, snowmen, Christmas trees, or winter scenes. 

If you have multiple toddlers, you can have them work in a pair with an older child or parent as a helper. Spread out individual mats or designated areas for each child to work on their puzzle. This gives them enough space and avoids mixing up puzzle pieces.

The goal of the game is to see who can complete their puzzle the fastest. However, the focus should be more on participation and less on competition. Start the race with a festive signal, like ringing a jingle bell or playing a Christmas song.

8. Christmas Mural (AKA Tabletop Scribbling)

Most toddlers enjoy coloring books and activity pages, but they aren’t always great at staying on the page. If you are a guest at someone’s house you will want to do your best to keep the markers from grandma’s dining room table or holiday table cloth she only brings out at Christmas.

To avoid this, you can tape a large roll of paper on the tabletop, completely covering it. Then you can turn kids loose with the crayons, markers, and colored pencils without worrying about them going off the page. 

You can either purchase a tablecloth coloring banner like this or just get a large roll of paper like this

9. Snowman Freeze Dance

My kids love to do the freeze dance song. If you have a rowdy group of toddlers, you can organize a freeze dance game pretty easily. Play Christmas music and have the toddlers dance. When the music stops, they freeze like snowmen.

10. Frosty Bowling

Focus some of the destructive energy of an excited group of little ones with a rewarding game and Frosy Bowling. Kids get to knock down the pins dressed up as snowmen!

Use lightweight plastic bowling pins, or create your own from empty plastic bottles. Decorate them to look like snowmen using markers, paint, or adhesive felt pieces. Add features like eyes, noses (carrot shapes), mouths, and buttons. Scarves or hats can be crafted from fabric scraps for an extra touch of whimsy.

Designate a small area in your home or outside where the game will take place. You can lay down mats or other items to define the area and prevent the ball from straying.

11. Snowflake Catch

Snowflake Catch is a simple game to entertain and delight your tiny Tims. Using balloons to act as small snowflakes, toddlers can dash around trying to catch as many as they can. 

Decorate a couple dozen small balloons as snowflakes and place them on a bed sheet. Get some help to hoist the sheet up to the ceiling, still containing all the balloons. When the kids are ready quickly remove the sheet to let all the “snowflakes” fall from the sky. 

This game can be done with snowflakes made from coffee filters that can be tossed in the area for kids to catch. Winners can be decided based on who catches the most, or mark each balloon/paper snowflake with a specific prize so everyone gets a reward.

12. Santa’s Sack Relay Race

A bit of a more complex idea, Santa’s Sack Relay is a dynamic game where toddlers participate in a relay race to deliver toys to Santa’s workshop. To add an extra layer of fun and excitement, we introduce a ‘magical twist’ – each leg of the relay includes a different Christmas-themed challenge.


  • Santa’s Sack: Fill several sacks with lightweight, soft toys. Each sack represents a bag of gifts that needs to be delivered.
  • Relay Course: Set up a simple, safe relay course in your home. You can use pillows, cones, or other safe markers to delineate the path.
  • Santa’s Workshop: Designate an area as Santa’s Workshop, where the sacks need to be delivered. Decorate it with Christmas lights, a mini Santa’s chair, or other festive decorations.

The Magical Twist – Stages of the Relay:

  • Jingle Bell Hop: In this leg, toddlers have to hop while holding the sack, with jingle bells attached to their wrists or ankles. The goal is to make as much jingle sound as possible while hopping towards the next point.
  • Penguin Waddle: Here, toddlers waddle like penguins, as they carry the sack. This is both challenging and hilarious, encouraging lots of giggles.
  • Rudolph’s Dash: Toddlers get to put on some antlers and red noses to act as Rudolph for this leg of the relay.
  • Finale: Once the sack reaches Santa’s Workshop, the toys are ‘delivered’. You can have someone dressed as Santa or an elf to receive the gifts, adding to the excitement.

13. Pin the Nose on Rudolph

A Christmas version of “Pin the Tail on the Donkey”. You just need a picture or drawing of a reindeer and some red circle stickers or a red foam ball with tape. As with the traditional game, kids will make a blindfolded attempt to put the nose on Rudolph. 

Have a Merry Christmas with Your Family!

These games should provide simple yet entertaining activities for young children. Hopefully, they help to make sure that your Christmas gathering is fun for everyone even when waiting to open presents!

Remember, the key to a successful Christmas game time with toddlers is flexibility and lots of festive cheer. Enjoy the holiday season with these fun, engaging activities that are sure to make this Christmas memorable for your little ones!

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