40 Fun Holiday Party Themes

ugly-sweatrIf you’re planning a holiday party and hoping for ho-ho-ho instead of ho-hum, then plan a theme party! The more focused you are the better. Get started with one of these 40 holiday themes to spark your party planning. 

‘Tis The Season For Giving: Parties With a Purpose 

  1. A Storybook Christmas. Invite guests to bring a children’s book to donate to the local library, school or literacy center. For extra fun, have everyone dress as a favorite character!
  2. Fill Santa’s Sleigh. Ask each guest to bring a gift to fill Santa’s sleigh. Donate the gifts to Toys for Tots or to a local family in need. As a bonus, ask one of your guests to dress as Santa’s helper and make a big show out of collecting the donated gifts.
  3. Trim My Tree. Do you have a friend in their first apartment or home? Perhaps there is someone you know who lost a home to a flood or fire this past year? Host a Trim My Tree party and invite each party guest to bring an ornament to help provide Christmas for a family in need.
  4. Christmas in Vegas. Invite friends to come over for a night of cards, dice and Vegas-style fun! Then, donate a percentage of the proceeds to a local charity. Encourage participation with some signature Vegas cocktails.
  5. Friends of Rudolph. Invite fellow animal lovers to a party at the local dog-friendly park. Provide snacks for the pooches and their people and a prize for best-dressed pet! Encourage each pet owner to bring a toy, food or cash donation for the local shelter.
  6. Building Christmas. Organize a group of friends for an afternoon of volunteering with Habitat for Humanity. You can invite the crew over after a day of meaningful labor for tool-themed Christmas cookies and cocoa.
  7. A Christmas Auction. Invite each guest to bring an unwrapped toy to donate, and then auction off the toys to the highest bidder. Donate the money to a charity or a family in need. Genius tip: If you host a Christmas Auction, use SignUpGenius to let guests share what they plan to donate, so that bidding excitement can start even before the party! SAMPLE

Girls Night: Make Time For A Ladies-Only Party  

  1. Better Together Party. Is there a Christmas chore that gets you down?  Maybe addressing the Christmas cards? Invite the girls over to work on cards over some easy appetizers and holiday tunes, and turn a chore into a party.
  2. Wrap & Wrum. Don’t wrap alone — host a wrap and (w)rum! Invite the girls to bring their gifts and wrapping supplies, and serve delicious hot rum toddies to make this holiday endeavor something to look forward to.
  3. Pajama Party. Formal events are fun, but sometimes you need a break from the dress, heels, hose, makeup, and those look-your-best party Spanx! This also gives people an excuse to try out those adult-size holiday onesies.
  4. Scrooge Party. The Scrooge party is an escape from holiday hustle and bustle and cheer. Offer non holiday-themed food such as Chinese takeout or margaritas and watch a chick flick. No talk of sales, wrapping or recipes allowed! 
  5. Cookie Exchange. It’s a classic party theme! Bring over several dozen of your best homemade goodies, and go home with a delicious variety to share with holiday guests and your family. SAMPLE

Organize a winter party with an online sign up! SAMPLE.

Puttin’ on the Ritz: Dress for the Occasion 

  1. Black Tie. Glam up your party by turning it into a black tie affair. Keep your holiday decor simple for this theme party, like a white canvas for your fabulously dressed and colorfully bejeweled guests!
  2. The Ugly Christmas Sweater Party. If there is an opposite of the Black Tie Event, this is it! Make sure to offer a prize such as a gift card to either a classy or tacky clothing store for the most ho-ho-horrifically dressed guest.
  3. Christmas Character Party. Invite friends to come dressed as their favorite Christmas characters. Anything goes — from the nutcracker or the three wise men to Yukon Cornelius or Scrooge.
  4. A Gatsby Christmas. Your friends will love dressing up in their gold and glitter for a 1920‘s Gatsby-style Christmas ball.
  5. A Groovy Christmas. Host a ‘70s Christmas party! Guests can dress in the decade’s best, and you can include vintage toys in your party décor and spin music from the era.
Christmas holiday gift exchange party volunteer sign up

For the Children: Kid-Friendly Party Themes 

  1. Santa’s Cookie Crew. Bake a couple of batches of simple sugar cookies in holiday shapes. Let the children decorate their cookies with colored frosting and sprinkles — who doesn’t love frosting and sprinkles? Organize materials with a party sign up!
  2. A Caroling We Go. Organize a group of children for an evening of caroling. You can travel door to door to entertain the neighbors or go to a local retirement home.
  3. Reindeer Games. Plan an afternoon of reindeer games, such as a reindeer relay, a backyard dash(er) and a prancing/dancing contest.
  4. A Gingerbread House Construction Contest. Provide the basic supplies, and have children work individually or in teams to build gingerbread houses. Give prizes in multiple categories, such as sturdiest, tastiest and most colorful.
  5. A Candy Cane Christmas. Hang them on the tree, set them in vases on the mantle and use them as drink stirrers in cocoa.
  6. Deck The Hall Party. Organize an afternoon of holiday ornament making. This is a great party to host with several other parents so each parent can provide materials and instructions for a different ornament. Genius tip: Children’s parties can require lots of stuff! Send out an online sign up so each parent can contribute supplies.

Adults Only: Hire a Sitter for These Grown-Up Party Themes 

  1. Tinsel and ‘Tinis. A glam adult party with holiday-themed martinis. Try eggnog martinis, candy cane martinis or anything that calls for an olive. The little red pimento makes green olives the perfect Christmas garnish!
  2. Adult Skate. It’s time for the adults to play like children, so reserve the local ice rink and turn it into your own Rockefeller Center for your holiday party.
  3. Christmas Carol-oke. Host a karaoke party with holiday-themed tunes. Let loose with some holiday harmonies.
  4. The 12 Tastes of Christmas. Serve 12 courses of hors d’oeuvres and some drinks to your guests.

Competitions: Test Your Skills  

  1. Christmas Minute-To-Win-It. Take classic minute-to-win-it games and add a holiday spin. “Cookie Face” becomes “Gingerbread Face” or holiday décor can be used for “Stack It Up” game. Divide your guests into teams of eight, and enjoy some grown-up competition.
  2. The White Elephant. Each host seems to modify the rules for this classic party game, but it all starts with each guest bringing a tasteless gift. Make sure your rules are clear from the start to all participants.
  3. Who Am I? Holiday Edition. This party game is a great way to promote mingling! When guests arrive, put a nametag with a Christmas character’s name on their backs. Each guest asks questions to find out if they are Prancer, Ellen Griswold or the Grinch.
  4. Christmas Pursuit. Have each guest bring three index cards with holiday trivia questions, and make this the central activity of your party.
Christmas holiday class party volunteers sign up

Merry Christmas To All: Party Themes That Work For Everyone 

  1. Comfort and Joys. Each guest brings a comfort food to share at this potluck-style dinner party. Genius tip: Use SignUpGenius to create an online sign up so guests don’t overlap on their dishes. SAMPLE
  2. Christmas Around the World. Feature decorations, foods and drinks from different countries. Post fun facts about how other cultures celebrate.
  3. Open House. This drop-in style of party allows guests to come and go as they please. A very casual and relaxed way to see friends over the holidays.
  4. Movie Theme Party. There are many holiday movies that can create a party theme, from The Polar Express to A Christmas Story. Decorate your house to match and award a prize for best impression.
  5. Fireside Roasting and Toasting. Gather your guests around a cozy fire, roast marshmallows and toast to your favorite events and memories from the year.
  6. Christmas Luau. Take a break from holly and ivy, and bring out the grass skirts, coconuts, pineapples and rum for this unexpected holiday theme. 
  7. A White Christmas. Decorations for this theme party can include anything from live lilies to paper origami birds to anything dusted with spray-snow. Invite guests to dress in white as well.
  8. A Wonka Christmas. Build a theme around chocolate, complete with a chocolate fountain as your centerpiece! Genius tip: Ask guests to bring items to dip in the chocolate fountain, organizing a SignUpGenius online sign up to prevent duplicates.
  9. Santa’s Ho-ho-hoedown. Picture Christmas on the farm, with bales of hay and natural, country-style decor. Consider hiring a line-dancing caller and get your guests out on the dance floor.
Whichever theme you choose, go ALL IN. The more theme-based decorations, activities and menu items you have, the more memorable your party will be. 

Stacey Whitney is the mother of two teenagers and owner of WordsFound, a content company.