It’s that time of the year again. The time to decorate the Christmas tree, do Christmas quizzes, make Christmas dishes, browse through the history and traditions of Christmas, or do lots of other activities related to the ‘jingle bells’ time of the year has finally come, just as the time to share my favourite tried and tested activities to get students into the festive spirit.


This year the party will start with a highly engaging oldie but goldie

Draw your Wish or Chinese Whispers on paper.

Materials needed: an A4 sheet of paper per player

Special skills: Drawing skills; the worse, the better

Have everyone write their initials at the bottom of the page and think of a New Year wish they’d wish to themselves or their fellow students.

Language focus: Ways of expressing good wishes (in formal (may, let) and informal contexts), e.g. see different lists of New Year wishes here .

Everyone starts by writing a wish to someone in the room at the top of their paper. Once the players have a sentence at the top of their paper, ask them to pass their paper to the player to their left (or right). Then get the players to draw the wish given to them with a small picture under the sentence. After everyone has finished drawing their wishes, get the players to fold the top part of the paper over so it covers the first sentence. Then again, have the players pass the papers to their left (or right). When the players receive a paper, ask them to write the wish that is illustrated by the drawing.


Then get the players to fold over their paper so just the last sentence is visible and pass the paper to the player to the left (or right). Continue the game until the players run out of space or until the players get their papers back.

Ask the players to unfold the papers and read the wishes. Much laughter is guaranteed.

Chocolate Confessions

You’ll need an assortment of small chocolate bars, or candies (of different types). Have each student choose a chocolate bar (or a candy) from a variety of chocolates/candies that are displayed on the table. Once they have chosen their favorite, put up the chart for what they should do for each chocolate bar/candy.

Chocolate Confession Chart

Chocolate [1…e.g. Milky Way= tell about an embarrassing experience this year

Chocolate [2] = share any funny or embarrassing experience that you had  this year

Chocolate [3] = tell about a fun experience this year

Chocolate [4] = tell about a wicked person you met this year

Chocolate [5] = tell about something new you learnt this year

Chocolate [6] = tell about a prank you watched or played on somebody

Chocolate [7] = tell about your wish that came true this year

Chocolate [8] = share any funny or embarrassing experience that you had  this year

Chocolate [9] = tell about your achievement this year

Chocolate [10] = share any funny or interesting experience that you had  this year

Give your students some time to eat their chocolates and think about their stories. When students are ready, say that now they will play the Whisper Challenge.

Whisper Challenge

To explain the rules, show the following video with Andrew and Ashley playing the Whisper Challenge.

Pair up or split your students into small teams of 3 persons in each and ask them to wear headphones and listen to some music while the other student (or a story teller in the group) tells a story (ideally, we need sound proof headphones, but if your students listen to some music on their phone, the effect will be the same). The person/persons wearing headphones should try to understand what the other person is saying. Then when they think they understand, they take off the headphones and say what they think the story was about. Much laughter is guaranteed. This activity is a fun way to eat, share and bond.

A White Elephant Gift Exchange or Dirty Santa

A White Elephant Gift Exchange is a popular Christmas event where people vie to walk away with the best present. It also goes by Yankee Swap, Dirty Santa, and a plethora of other names. The White Elephant game is played by a lot of different rules – some dead simple and others confusingly elaborate. You can see the basic rules here.

We shall play a slightly different version of the game.

We need gifts.

Option 1: You may use small things that students have brought to give to their fellow students. Each gift is opened after chosen and before traded so everyone can see what they’re getting – or giving up!

Option 2: Fill in Christmas stockings. Get them to think of a present they would like to get for this Christmas and fill in their Christmas stocking (see the Christmas Stocking templates designed by Tekhnologic).

2. Now put all the stockings together, show the gifts you have (or get them to tell which gifts they’d like to get and why), shuffle the stockings and get the students to pick one stocking.

3.  Party time. Say they have to follow the instructions and exchange gifts. No. 1 might ask for his/her own stocking or ask for any other stocking from anyone.

* Students can keep using the numbers from the Chocolate Confessions game.

1.  Lucky you, you’re # 1 You get to start all the fun.

So grab a gift and grab it quick.

Cause you’re the one who gets first pick.

2. Number 2 you’re on the way. It’s time for you to have your say. It’s time for you to have your say.

Get your gift and when you’re done,

Swap it off with number 1.

3. Number 3 it’s plain to see. It’s your turn to pick which gift `twill be.

And when your choosing job is through,

Swap with 1 and then with 2.

4. Number 4 must use your head. So grab a gift that has some red.

If it doesn’t suit you to a `T’,

You may swap with 2 or 3.

5. Jump to 5, don’t drag your feet. Take your gift back to your seat.

Wonder of wonders, it’s yours for a spell.

But what comes next, you can never tell.

6. Number 6 it’s your time to go. Grab a gift and don’t be slow.

Now put on a smile so they won’t be sore,

Cause you must swap with #4.

7. Is a lucky number it seems, You choose a gift that has some green.

Poke it, and shake it until you get back.

Now trade with someone wearing black.

8. Number 8 it’s up to you. To get a gift that has some blue.

Now go quietly to your place.

Or trade with someone with a smiling face.

9. Nine, we haven’t forgotten you. So choose your gift and don’t be blue.

Consider well and when all is said.

Trade with someone wearing red.

10. Number 10 come to the front. For yours you shouldn’t have to hunt.

Now hurry back and look alive.

For you get to swap with #5.

If you would like to continue the exchange, or you have more students in your class, just make slight changes to this fun White Elephant poem.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

* * *

Looking for more ideas?

Check wonderful Christmas resources from Tekhnologic: 2017 Calendar: A Class Calendar in PowerPoint or the Christmas Quiz

A fabulous lesson plan on Christmas from the BBC and British Council

Fun Christmas resources from Larry Ferlazzo

And a set of daily posted Christmas ideas from Theodora Papapanagiotou


  1. […] I’ve made both of these freely available for anyone to download, so if you have any teacher friends who you think might find them useful, be sure to send them the link to this page! And after all the touring, TED and special offer chaos I’ve now got a couple of light weeks before Christmas so if you have any more requests of things you’d like me to make for you, do put them up in the comments! Be genki, Richard P.S. 1. 2. 3. Genki English » Monster list of Christmas Ideas! GETTING INTO THE FESTIVE SPIRIT | ELT-CATION. […]

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