58 Christmas Party Themes for a Merry Celebration
Whether you're hosting the family get-together, a gathering with friends or the office holiday bash, we have plenty of festive Christmas party themes to keep the spirit bright
Every editorial product is independently selected, though we may be compensated or receive an affiliate commission if you buy something through our links. Ratings and prices are accurate and items are in stock as of time of publication.
Add a theme to spice up your holiday celebrations
Who doesn’t love a holiday party? Whether you invite only close family or all your acquaintances, a festive fête can be the best way to kick off Christmas. But when it comes to decorating, where do you start? Using a creative Christmas theme at your next holiday party can help you plan a get-together to remember.
With so many unique Christmas traditions, there are as many ways to celebrate as there are days in December! After all, what is Christmas without gathering your loved ones for holiday cheer, homemade holiday decorations and all the festive foods? Try combining these Christmas theme ideas with other beloved holiday traditions, like making DIY Christmas ornaments, singing the “12 days of Christmas,” curling up to watch Christmas movies or whatever unique traditions your family has created over the years. If you want to make your next party extra merry and bright, read on.
How can I make my Christmas party special?
Christmas party themes make it easier to plan your party and shop for supplies, since the holiday party games, food, activities, crafts, treats and decor all coordinate. Choosing a theme beyond simply “Christmas” can help you plan your best party yet and make it even more fun for your guests by providing memories that will be treasured long after the holidays are over. We’ve rounded up the most festive and fun Christmas party themes, including themes for parties with family, friends, kids or even school or office holiday parties.
Olga Rolenko/Getty Images
Plaid perfection party theme
Regardless of whether you have Scottish heritage, plaid has become a symbol of Christmas festivities. Encourage guests to wear their favorite plaid flannel shirt, slippers, scarf, mittens, socks or tree skirt (like a cape?) and cozy up together around a fire. Wrap favors in plaid wrapping paper and ribbons. For a fun activity, channel your inner lumberjack and try hatchet throwing. If that’s a bit too extreme for you, host a white elephant gift exchange where every gift is plaid!
DJ dance in your PJ pants holiday party theme
Nothing says party like good tunes and comfy pants! Hire a DJ (or ask a musically inclined friend) to create a Christmas theme playlist and tell guests to come dressed in their coziest Christmas jammies. Decorate eye masks with red and green fabric markers and Christmas stickers. While you work, snack on warm milk and cookies, using these secret ingredients for irresistible cookies!
Eat, drink and be merry Christmas party theme
You already have the perfect recipe for a Christmas party with the old adage “eat, drink and be merry,” so why mess with perfection? Set up three party stations—one to eat Christmas goodies, the second to mix Christmas cocktails (or festive holiday mocktails) and the third to be merry with singing, dancing and games. Be sure to include at least one round of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”!
Wrap and rap party theme
Got some music lovers in your circle? Make your Christmas party a different kind of wrap party! Start by providing all the supplies for guests to wrap Christmas gifts, and provide a rap playlist for them to sing along to. Decorate with pictures of famous rappers and rapper celebrity candles (yep, that’s a thing!). Then quiz one another on famous rappers from the Grammys.
Svitlana Romadina/Getty Images
Polar Express party theme
Send out invitations designed to look like train tickets, and tell guests to arrive promptly for departure to the North Pole. Eat “candy cane soup” (hot chocolate in a bowl, topped with candy canes and marshmallows) while watching The Polar Express, one of the best Christmas movies ever made. Don’t forget to set up the Polar Express model train under the tree!
Jasmin Merdan/Getty Images
Have a bear-y merry Christmas party theme
This party is perfect for younger guests—what’s cuter than a Christmas polar bear under the tree? Invite guests and their teddy or polar bears to dress up in their favorite Christmas attire, and set up a selfie station to get holiday photos together. Serve a holiday meal that humans will love, but don’t forget to include some bear-approved treats like berries and smoked salmon. Make Christmas teddy bear ornaments while sharing these polar bear facts you never knew.
Christmas picnic party theme
People celebrating the holidays in warmer climates will get a kick out of celebrating Christmas summer-style. Lay out a plaid picnic blanket, serve frozen hot chocolate with Christmas cookies and wear shorts and T-shirts in Christmas colors. Don’t forget to hang your Christmas flip-flops by the fire!
Vladimir Vladimirov/Getty Images
Christmas kindness party theme
Christlike love is the reason for the season, and helping others is the real spirit of Christmas! Bring all your besties together to do an act of holiday kindness, like donating books to schools, making sack lunches for the homeless, collecting winter clothing for shelters, making fleece baby blankets for hospitals, trying random acts of kindness or volunteering at a Christmas toy drive. Make it a party by providing the supplies and some yummy holiday goodies.
Wreathed in love party theme
Help your friends get their holiday decor on point this year by hosting a crafting party to make festive door wreaths. Get supplies in advance, like premade wreath forms, evergreen boughs, artificial holly berries, plaid ribbon, small Christmas ornaments and tinsel. Have a couple of pictures for ideas, and then let your guests channel their creativity. Add wine or sparkling cider for a festive touch.
Getty Images/Getty Images
Festivus holiday party theme
Festivus is “Christmas for the rest of us,” according to the famous Seinfeld episode. This holiday is for people who don’t identify with the Christian roots of Christmas but still want to celebrate some type of holiday. On the show, it’s celebrated with an aluminum pole instead of a tree and a mediocre family dinner, capped off with the annual “airing of grievances.” You can use your creativity though and create your own Festivus traditions. Here’s everything you need to know about Festivus.
Andrew Gregory/Getty Images
Down-home Christmas party theme
Home may be where the heart is, but for many people it’s not where they are anymore. Heading to wherever “home” is for you isn’t always feasible, so bring home to you! Host a party themed around where you’re from, whether that’s a Northeastern clambake, a Midwestern hot-dish potluck or a Southern barbecue. Be sure to include holiday decorations, dishes and other traditions that make you feel at home.
Sally Anscombe/Getty Images
Light the lights party theme
Hanging Christmas lights solo is a recipe for disaster (National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation was a cautionary tale, not an example!). Instead, invite friends over for a light-hanging party. They can help you string lights and other decorations outside your home. Celebrate with food and drinks when you flip the switch and the beautiful Christmas light display comes on. The party will be twice as nice if you then head over to their house to get their lights up.
Christmas caroling party theme
Singing is more fun with friends, especially when you take the show on the road. To get everyone in the spirit, hand out coordinating Christmas headbands. Pick your favorite Christmas carols everyone can sing, practice a few, then head out to sing to your neighbors. Finish up with hot cider and doughnuts at your place. For a little more holiday spirit, collect donations for the food bank as you go door-to-door.
Elf on the Shelf theme party
The mischievous Elf on the Shelf is a favorite Christmas game in many households, but how much more fun can you have if you host an elf reunion? Hide elves around your home, preferably set up in silly scenes, and challenge your guests to find each one. You can hand out a cheat sheet with hints and then snack on classic elf foods, like candy canes and syrup on spaghetti.
Christmas Eve PJ party theme
New matching jammies on Christmas Eve are a tradition for many families. Wearing them to a party just means one less thing to worry about—you’ll be comfy the whole evening! Light a crackling fire, bring out the snacks and have a fashion show with your friends and family.
Christmas cookie swap party theme
Cookie exchanges are a classic Christmas theme. They’re a great way to get everyone together and whip up elaborate treat plates without having to slave away in the kitchen for days. Have everyone bring six dozen of their signature holiday baked treat, packaged in bags of six, and everyone gets to sample and take home a bag of each kind.
Care packages for the homeless theme
Being without a home is tough any time of year, but the holidays can make it feel especially difficult. Reach out to those in need in your community by putting together kits to hand out. Make hygiene kits with sample-size soap, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrush and deodorant, or try buying toiletry kits in bulk. Or put together bags with warm socks, gloves and hats. Another idea during the pandemic is to make bags with reusable masks, hand sanitizer and wipes. Check with your local shelters to see what is most in need in your area.
Rudolph’s favorite reindeer games theme
Ever wonder what “reindeer games” Rudolph was being excluded from? Make up your own this year. You can start by playing ring toss with inflatable reindeer antlers. One person wears the antlers on their head while others throw red and green rings, and whoever lands the most wins. Next, play reindeer races, pin-the-tail on the reindeer or reindeer trivia. Snack on “reindeer poop” and reindeer brownies.
Christmas cocktails theme
Host a holiday happy hour and toast the season with a warm mug of eggnog, a glass of spiced wine, some hot cider or a festive specialty cocktail. Invite loved ones to bring their favorite fancy cup, and you provide the drinks. Or, use festive disposable cups to minimize the dishes and let your guests take a drink to go! If you’re looking for the best gifts, get some inspiration with these gifts for women and gifts for men.
These are a few of my favorite things theme
Oprah may have popularized the holiday “favorite things” list, but you and your friends can add your own spin to it. Invite everyone to choose one favorite thing—something unique or fun or useful they’ve discovered over the past year—and wrap it up. Swap the gifts and take turns opening them, having the giver explain why it’s their favorite. Not only will you end up with something fun, but if you do it early in the season you’ll get some great gift ideas for everyone on your Christmas list. You can also use one of these unique gift ideas for people who are impossible to shop for.
Zen Rial/Getty Images
Christmas luau party theme
Elvis had the right idea about Christmas: celebrate in Hawaii! Bring the island vibe to wherever you are by hosting a party with luau-style food—think roast pork, pineapple, rice and poi—and Hawaiian decorations. Invite guests to wear a Hawaiian shirt, and don’t forget to play the classic Bing Crosby Hawaiian Christmas song, “Mele Kalikimaka.”
Natalia Klenova/Getty Images
Christmas spa day party theme
The holidays can be exhausting and take a real toll on your body. Invite some harried friends over for a few hours of pampering. Warm foot soaks, mani-pedis, face masks, cucumber-mint water and lots of venting about the in-laws’ Christmas plans are on the schedule. Start with these essentials for a spa day at home. Send guests on their merry way with Christmas bath bombs to continue the relaxation.
Steve Hilchey/Getty Images
Nutcracker Christmas party theme
You don’t have to be a ballerina to enjoy a holiday party based on the classic Christmas ballet. Serve whole nuts (with a real nutcracker) and mouse cheese on crackers. Kids can battle the mouse king with foam swords or display their dancing talents. Then everyone can watch the Nutcracker together—it’s one of the top holiday movies on Disney+.
Advent party theme
Advent calendars—displays numbered 1 to 24 (or 25) with a toy, treat, Bible verse or message on each day—are a favorite Christmas tradition for young and old. It helps little ones count down the days and older folks focus on the reason for the season. Host a party (before Dec. 1!) where you and your guests create a DIY advent calendar.
Holiday lights road trip theme
Take your Christmas party on the road to check out all the holiday light displays in your town. Invite a few other families, make a map and send it out with a time to meet and directions. Drive in a caravan (don’t forget to crank up the carols!) and end the evening with hot cocoa.
Elf watch party theme
Host a Christmas movie watch party, either in person or online. Elf, starring Will Ferrell’s hilarious Buddy the Elf, will delight young and old viewers and has become a tradition for many families. Feeling more old-school traditional? You can’t go wrong with one of the many adaptations of the Dickens classic A Christmas Carol or any of these other best Christmas movies of all time. Put on the show, encourage people to dress up as their favorite character and break out the popcorn in a Christmas tin.
Gingerbread house competition theme
Decorating gingerbread houses is fun for people of all ages and easy to throw together if you need a last-minute idea. You can make your own gingerbread, or you can buy pre-made gingerbread house kits. The easiest solution, though, is to use graham crackers. (Pro tip: Use hot glue to glue the gingerbread or crackers together before decorating. It will hold together so much better, and no one eats those parts anyway!) Be sure to have plenty of frosting and an assortment of candies. Award prizes for things like “most creative,” “most Christmas-y” and “most edible.”
I’m dreaming of a white Christmas theme
No matter where you live, you can make your own vision of a white Christmas a reality by decorating your home in a sparkling-white snow theme, asking guests to dress in all white and serving a buffet of white foods. White chocolate peppermint mousse with salted popcorn hits both sweet and salty cravings. You can watch White Christmas if you love classic films. To lift your spirits, check out these warm-and-fuzzy holiday quotes.
Virtual Christmas movie bingo theme
If you have family spread all over, take advantage of technology to watch your favorite holiday shows “together.” Have each person contribute their favorite Christmas movie or TV episode and put one per square on a bingo card. Email everyone the bingo card to print out, then watch the movies throughout the month, marking them off as you go. First one to get a bingo gets a prize.
Christmas ornament keepsake swap theme
Each person or family buys or makes ornaments that symbolize something about the previous year and then brings enough to share one with each guest. You go home with a whole new batch of ornaments to decorate with. This party is a great idea for family or friends who have a tradition of getting together every year, so you can watch your collection (and your happy memories) grow over time.
Christmas stocking stuffers party theme
Adults often don’t get stockings filled with goodies, but you can change that. Your mission: Find a festive, ultra-comfy pair of holiday socks and fill them with treats and small presents. Have your friends or family do the same, and then host a sock party where you can exchange them by drawing names or playing a game. Finish by taking a picture of everyone in their new socks. Everyone leaves with a little more Christmas cheer—and warm toes.
White elephant exchange theme
Have a strange gift left over from last Christmas? Did you pick up a silly souvenir over the summer? White elephant parties are a great way to have a laugh, share a gift and make good memories over the holidays. Part of the fun is hearing all the stories behind the gifts. To make it more than a re-gift, ask everyone to add a $10 gift card of their choice to their funny, strange or interesting gift item.
Victorian high-tea party theme
There’s just something so charming about a Victorian Christmas, a rosy memory of more innocent times. Host a traditional holiday tea party by bringing out the best china and cloth napkins. Serve Christmas petit fours and cookies with mint tea or hot chocolate in fancy cups with saucers. You can provide festive hats or ask guests to bring (or make!) their own. Give everyone their own Victorian-style teacup as a party favor.
Merry Pet-mas party theme
Pets deserve some Christmas love too! Round up your pup’s best furry friends (and their owners), and invite them over for snacks and an outdoor romp. Encourage guests to wear their favorite holiday sweater. Send each guest home with red and green tennis balls and an advent calendar for dogs, or one of these other top gifts for dog lovers.
Craft your own ornament theme
Making Christmas ornaments is a creative and fun way to spend time together. Even non-crafty folks can get a kick out of a glue gun and some glitter, especially if eggnog is involved. Look up several different ideas and have supplies and directions ready for guests. Let them sip, chat and create a few fun ornaments to take home and hang on their tree.
Sneaky Christmas heart “attack” theme
Take the party to your loved ones this year by doing a holiday-themed “heart attack.” Cut out hearts and snowflakes from wrapping paper and write a cheery or loving Christmas message on them. Then grab a bag of adhesive bows, and head to their home. Tape the decorations to their door, add a bag of Christmas candy or a plate of cookies, ring the doorbell and run! Or stick around to chat from the porch. This is a great party option to cheer up relatives who may be homebound during the holidays.
Virtual Christmas toast theme
Looking for a simple, stress-free idea? Set up a Zoom party and ask guests to bring their beverage of choice and a holiday toast to share with the group. It can be funny or serious or sweet. Catch up with loved ones all over the globe while toasting one another and the holidays. To make it a little fancier, you can send out a bottle of your favorite wine or a care package with disposable champagne flutes and chocolate.
Christmas trivia night theme
Did you know that Christmas dinner used to be illegal in the United States? Or that wreaths have a secret meaning? Take everyone’s favorite pub game and turn it into a fun holiday party by hosting a Christmas trivia night, either in your home or online.
Holiday recipe exchange theme
Do you have the best cinnamon swirl bread? Is your great uncle’s cheeseball so good it’s considered a main dish? Does your best friend have a holiday leftover casserole that makes you drool just thinking of it? Host a Christmas recipe exchange party by asking each guest to bring one of their signature dishes, along with printouts of the recipe to share. Guests can taste each dish and leave with a whole new menu of tried-and-true favorites.
Firelight fun theme
Bonfires aren’t just for fall. If weather permits, light up a yule log and have friends and family over to drink hot cocoa and sing carols around the fire. Add a s’mores bar, pop popcorn over the fire or try a magic color-changing fire pack, and you have the perfect recipe for a cozy, intimate Christmas gathering.
Christmas Eve book party theme
Get all those little heads snug in their beds by reading a favorite holiday story. Invite friends and family to share their favorite Christmas book by bringing a wrapped copy and trading. Make it an event by serving foods from popular holiday books, like sugar plums, “roast beast” and chestnuts.
Twelve Clues of Christmas scavenger hunt theme
If you like getting creative with your Christmas party themes, transform the popular Christmas carol “The 12 Days of Christmas” into a fun family scavenger hunt. Hide holiday knickknacks inspired by the song (like golden rings or a bird toy as a stand-in for the turtle doves) throughout your house and backyard with a clue to the next surprise. The first person who solves the clue gets the gift! Just make sure you leave the clue behind for the other players so they can proceed to the next stop of the hunt for an opportunity to get a gift. Count your presents at the end of the hunt, and whoever has the most wins!
A Christmas Story party theme
If you’re a superfan of A Christmas Story and know every line by Ralphie and Scut Farkus, then this party inspired by the iconic classic is for you! Make it an old-fashioned 1940s Christmas by serving candies like black licorice, candy buttons and Bazooka bubble gum alongside a refreshing, antique glass bottle of Coca-Cola. Incorporate accents from the movie in your party decorations, like a life-size leg lamp or tinsel on your Christmas tree. Play a game, inspired by Ralphie’s little brother Randy, to see who can eat a plate of mashed potatoes without any hands. Don’t forget to oink like a pig when you’re done!
Christmas “Carol-oke” theme
Grab your karaoke machine or hit up a karaoke bar and belt your lungs out to your favorite Christmas songs. Try to see which friend can croon like Bing Crosby or hit the high octaves like Mariah Carey. If you have a portable karaoke machine, walk door-to-door in your neighborhood to, in the words of Buddy the Elf, “spread Christmas cheer for all to hear.” No matter how tone-deaf you are, you can still practice your “carol-oke”!
Christmas around the world potluck theme
Nothing helps you embrace another culture more than eating their food! This party’s concept is simple: Each guest claims a country, researches the Christmas cuisine and cooks it for everyone to taste. Try risalamande, a traditional Danish rice dessert made with cream and almonds, or a linguine dish with mussels to kick off an Italian Christmas Eve tradition called the Feast of Seven Fishes. As you gorge on all the different flavors, share a few international holiday traditions from your adopted nation.
Decorate your own ugly Christmas sweater theme
Put a new twist on one of these popular Christmas party themes and design your own ugly Christmas sweaters. Ask your guests to find an old sweatshirt to bring to the party. Then head to a craft store for fuzzy pom-poms, sparkles, fabric paint, felt, buttons, scissors, hot glue and some mothballs for that rich “grandma” scent. Spread all the craft supplies out on the dining room table or living room floor, and you’re all set! Remember, the tackier the sweater, the uglier … and the better! Try adding some friendly competition to the mix with a contest for “Prettiest Ugly Sweater.” If that all sounds like too much work, buy an ugly sweater pre-made.
Merry Grinch-mas party theme
Take a trip down memory lane with a Dr. Seuss–themed “Grinch Dinner and a Movie” night. Cook a Sunday rib roast for a special rendition of the Whos’ favorite roast-beast, put your hair up in a wacky Whoville style and watch both the classic Grinch cartoon and live-action movie starring Jim Carrey. Bonus points if someone dresses up as the Grinch, especially if you score one of these funny Christmas photos.
Santa’s workshop theme
Do Santa proud and dress up as him and his elves for the day. Ask people to bring a toy over to donate to their local toy drive and get out the wrapping paper, bows, bags and tags to decorate the gifts. Play the famous song “We Are Santa’s Elves” from the movie Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer in the background to get you and your busy elf friends inspired to give back to the community. Don’t miss these vintage photos that show what Christmas looked like 100 years ago.
Twelve courses of Christmas dinner theme
A 12-course feast fit for a belly as big as Santa’s may be one of the best Christmas party themes. Make a list and designate appetizers, entrées and desserts for your guests to bring. Some festive dishes include spinach-stuffed tomatoes, pizza shaped like a Christmas tree or a candy cane, cranberry walnut salad, roasted turkey, maple-glazed ham and Christmas cookies, of course.
Christmas in July theme
Throw a beach bash in the middle of winter! Grab some beach balls, blow up palm trees, display tiki torchlights and blast the Beach Boys. Enforce a dress code that includes tropical button-ups, hula skirts, sunglasses and flip-flops. For those of you who already live by the beach, throw a cozy Christmas party. Make a fire pit in the sand for a batch of s’mores and invite everyone to wear their favorite earmuffs and mittens.
Christmas craft and sip theme
‘Tis the season for a good ol’ homemade crafting session! Christmas is the best time to hone your inner crafter and make wreaths, wrapping paper and ornaments. Peruse Pinterest for clever, easy DIY craft-spiration and have guests bring their favorite holiday beverage to sip on while they work away.
Anastasiia Krivenok/Getty Images
Winter Wonderland party theme
This one is easy! All you need is snow, a pair of snow pants and a mug of hot cocoa with mini marshmallows. Host a snowy day of fun outside for your kids and their friends, filled with sledding, snowman building and snow forts. Don’t forget to read up on the history of the snowman!
Betsie Van der Meer/Getty Images
Christmas costume party theme
Halloween isn’t the only time of year you’re allowed to dress up like a kooky character. Christmas can be a legitimate excuse too! Tell everyone to come as their favorite Christmas character, like Buddy the Elf, Santa Claus, Rudolph, Frosty or Ebenezer Scrooge. Throw a costume contest where guests get to vote on “Cutest Christmas Couple” or “Best-Dressed Santa.”
10'000 Hours/Getty Images
Christmas chef party theme
Take the idea from the cooking competition Master Chef and give it a holiday twist. Get seasonal ingredients—the stranger, the better—and hide them under two boxes. Divide guests into two teams, set a timer and challenge them to create a Christmas culinary masterpiece out of what’s in front of them. Then everyone gets to taste-test. For more holiday cheer, hand out these elf aprons for guests to wear during the game. You can even try to make these Christmas appetizers!
Alexander Spatari/Getty Images
Christmas brunch party theme
Evenings during the holiday season fill up fast, so a quick Christmas brunch may be exactly the break your friends need in their social calendar. Make reservations at a restaurant, or set up a mimosa bar at home!
Charcuterie and appetizers party theme
People mainly come to holiday parties to talk, hang out, catch up with loved ones and have fun. So keep the food simple by putting out a charcuterie spread and some Christmas appetizers. Mix and mingle with your loved ones without having to worry about serving a meal.
Christmas slime party theme
This theme is perfect for tiny guests. Kids love making their own slime, but adults will also get a kick out of the “it’s cold but not wet” craft. Provide the basic DIY slime ingredients (white school glue, saline contact solution and baking powder) plus some festive extras like red and green food coloring, snowflake glitter, shiny beads and plastic stars. Provide a small plastic Christmas tub so everyone can take their creation home. Take it to the next level with a metallic DIY slime kit.
Paint a wonderland scene party theme
For a quieter holiday evening, host a painting party. You can hire a local artist (find one through Gallery on the Go) and choose a Christmas scene, and they will provide all the supplies. You provide the guests, drinks and perhaps some mood music. Everyone gets to go home with a new DIY Christmas decoration!