Updated: October 17, 2023

16 Christmas Contest Ideas for the Holidays

You’ve found our list of fun Christmas contest ideas.

Christmas contest ideas are fun, festive competitions for employees to enjoy during the holiday season. These challenges encourage interaction and friendly rivalry while maintaining a Christmas theme. Examples include candy cane fishing, blindfolded cookie decorating, and jingle bell pong.

These ideas are subsets of workplace competitions. These contests are great additions for office Christmas get-togethers and virtual holiday parties. You can include Christmas trivia questions.


This list includes:

  • Christmas competition ideas for work
  • online Christmas competition ideas
  • holiday contest ideas
  • Christmas photo competition ideas
  • office Christmas contest ideas

Away we go!

List of Christmas contest ideas

From hunting for hidden gingerbread men to creating the best Elf on the Shelf scene, here are Christmas contest ideas to make your office holidays a merry affair.

1. Tree Trimming

A tree trimming contest can put your team members to the test and help get the office in holiday shape simultaneously! You can turn a simple decorating task into a humorous team-based challenge with a twist or two.

Here’s how:

  1. Divide an undecorated tree into sections using ribbon, string, or tape, positioned from the top to the base of the tree. Assign each section a number.
  2. Each contestant randomly draws a number to determine which team they belong to.
  3. Each team receives an identical set of ornaments to use for their section.
  4. Set a five-minute timer.
  5. Team members take turns adding an ornament to the tree, with only one contestant from each team holding an ornament at any given time. If the next team member picks up their ornament before the last team member has finished hanging theirs on the tree, the first team member must remove their ornament, put it back in the box, and retake their turn.
  6. Whichever team completes the challenge first wins.

By the end of this simple competition, your workspace will have a fully decorated tree and a blast of Christmas spirit!

2. Candy Cane Fishing

The handy hook-shape of candy canes provides an ideal game piece for a fishing competition. In this contest, office anglers aim to catch as much peppermint candy as possible.

Here are the rules:

  1. Prepare a fishing rod by taping a length of string to the end of a dowel and tying a candy cane to the end of the string to serve as a hook.
  2. Place several candy canes in a jar, standing hook-end up. Be sure to leave the canes loose enough to lift out of the cluster.
  3. Designate a “pier,” a spot for competitors to stand, and position the jar about a foot away. You can use the length of the fishing rod to determine the ideal distance.
  4. Set a one-minute timer.
  5. Each player takes a turn trying to hook as many candy canes as possible before the timer buzzes.

For an added challenge, lay the candy canes in a haphazard pile rather than standing them in a jar.

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3. Office Decorating

By letting your workers transform their cubicles into winter wonderlands, you have a competition that encourages teams to deck the halls as creatively as possible. With a few supplies and a generous helping of imagination, your elves can turn their desks into a gingerbread village, a countdown of the 12 days of Christmas, or a holiday bakery laden with treats. You can determine the criteria for judging which decorations take top prizes using categories such as Fastest Decorated and Most Sparkle. Team members will have the chance to put their creativity on display while earning their place on the holiday leaderboard.

Learn more about office Christmas decorating contests.

4. Christmas Carol-oke

For a twist on an old-fashioned sing-along, add a few rounds of Christmas Carol-oke to your holiday contest ideas and get the workplace ringing with merry music!

Here is how you do it:

  1. Queue up a station or CD with instrumental versions of well-known Christmas tunes.
  2. Draw your team members’ names and carol titles randomly to determine contestant and song order.
  3. Each member gives their best rendition of the song until they reach an unfamiliar lyric.
  4. Whoever gets the furthest in their song wins the title of Christmas Carol-oke royalty.

This Christmas contest will test your team’s knowledge of seemingly familiar songs that even confident carolers may not know all the way through.

5. Wrapping Races

Gift wrapping becomes more than a tedious holiday task with some head-to-head competition!

Here is how you do it:

  1. Set up two wrapping stations side by side, with rolls of wrapping paper, scissors, tape, and two boxes of equal size, one at each station.
  2. Set a one-minute timer.
  3. Two contestants do their best to fully wrap their box before the timer buzzes.
  4. Whichever contestant gets further with their wrapping wins. If a contestant completes their wrapping, they continue as the champion and take on another contestant.

To make the wrapping race more environmentally friendly, you can use butcher or packing paper, which you can recycle when the contest ends.

6. Blindfolded Cookie Decorating

Decorating Christmas cookies with your eyes open is an easy feat. However, only truly talented team members can decorate Christmas cookies while blindfolded!

Here is how:

  1. Set up two decorating stations side by side, with a single cookie, a frosting-filled piping bag, and three dishes of sprinkles and toppings with spoons included.
  2. Print a list of simple Christmas-themed shapes and designs such as “bell with blue sprinkles,” “star with silver dragees,” and “tree with green sugar.” Cut the list into strips and place them in a cup for teams to draw during the competition.
  3. Have team members draw numbers at random to divide into teams of two.
  4. Each team chooses a designated decorator to wear the blindfold for the first round. The other team member is the decorator’s guide.
  5. Set a two-minute timer.
  6. When the timer starts, the guide chooses a shape from the cup and verbally instructs the decorator by telling them where to locate the cookie and which shape to pipe. Then, the guide tells the decorator where to find the decorations to complete the design.
  7. Decorators and guides trade places for the second round.

You can snap photos and take videos of the competition to show the decorators their attempts at following the guide’s instructions. Your happy elves can enjoy their creations after the contest!

7. Gingerbread Man Hunt

In this Christmas version of an Easter egg hunt, competitors search for gingerbread men hidden around the office.

Here is how the hunt happens:

  1. Choose critical locations that make challenging hiding places for gingerbread men. Some possibilities are in filing cabinets, under keyboards and mouse mats, and behind photo frames. You can even hide some in breakrooms and outdoor locations if weather permits.
  2. Hide as many gingerbread men as you like. Be sure to leave an arm or leg peeking out to clue in the hunters.
  3. Set a five-minute timer.
  4. Contestants search for as many gingerbread men as they can find before the timer buzzes.
  5. Whoever finds the most gingerbread men is the Gingerbread hunt champion.

The gingerbread men used for the hunt can be simple cut-outs made from felt or construction paper. You can also give your competitors stockings as a festive sack to collect their captured gingerbread men.

8. Random Item Snowman Building

If there is snow in your area during the holidays, then you can challenge your team to an old-fashioned snowman-building contest! To keep the challenge budget-friendly, you can designate sets of household utensils and office items for contestants to use as decorations.

Here is how you do it:

  1. Assemble sets of random items such as forks, chopsticks, wrapped candies, and coffee filters ahead of the contest. Each set can be slightly different to add to the fun.
  2. Have your team members draw numbers at random to split into smaller teams. If your team is small, then each member can compete separately.
  3. Each team or contestant chooses their set of snowman decorations at random.
  4. Set a two-minute timer and let contestants design their snowmen on paper.
  5. Head to the snow and let the contestants build and decorate their best take on a snowman.

You can determine the criteria for judging the snowmen sculptures. Categories such as Best Use of Spoons, Most Elegant Stacking, and Largest Snowman Belly can provide a level playing field!

9. Best Elf on the Shelf

Santa’s little helpers pop up in the strangest places, and this contest tests the phenomenon. This challenge wraps up holiday craft days and Christmas photo competition ideas into one festive package.

Here is how:

  1. Gather construction paper, markers, glitter, glue, and scissors.
  2. Designate an hour in the workplace for competitors to create their paper versions of an Elf on the Shelf.
  3. Competitors take their completed elves home and photograph them in creative situations. You can offer ideas such as monitoring Christmas cookies or guarding presents, or let your workers imagine scenarios.
  4. Competitors set up their elves, snap photos, and email them or upload them to a dedicated site.
  5. A panel of judges reviews the photos and chooses their favorite scenario as the winner. Some possible categories are Most Humorous Elf, Most Wicked Elf, and Most Helpful Elf.

You can designate a few days or a week to give the contest a deadline. After the contest, have the contestants bring their elves back to the office to display on their desks for a dash of holiday cheer.

10. Stocking Stuff

Guessing what Santa has left in the stocking makes a fun competition for small teams In this contest, competitors depend on their teammate’s powers of description to guide them.

Here is how the contest works:

  1. Collect or purchase several inexpensive items such as yo-yos, Rubik’s Cubes, and fidget spinners, plus a stocking to store them in. Be sure you have as many items as competitors.
  2. Team members draw numbers at random to separate into teams of two.
  3. Teammates take turns playing Describer and Guesser.
  4. Set a one-minute timer.
  5. In the first round, the Guesser turns their back while the Describer reaches into the stocking and pulls out an item. The Describer then uses simple single-word descriptions to get the Guesser to name the item correctly. For example, “Square, three-dimensional, colorful,” describes a Rubik’s Cube.
  6. In the second round, the Describer and Guesser switch places for another turn.
  7. Each competitor who guesses correctly within the time limit earns a point for the team. The team with the most points when the stocking is empty wins.

For an interesting twist, try choosing quirky objects to stuff the stocking. Items like kitchen gadgets, strange foods in jars or cans, and assorted tools will make guessing even more challenging.

11. Christmas Angels

For a thoughtful version of a Christmas contest, take your office Christmas contest ideas to the mall and use your team’s competitive spark to collect holiday treats for families in need.

Here is how:

  1. Provide each competitor or team with a budget. If company funds are available, then decide on an approved amount. If the competitors provide the funds, then consider an amount that works best.
  2. Plan an afternoon when your team can go to the mall for some shopping.
  3. Each team or competitor chooses a tag from the Christmas Angel tree.
  4. Set a one-hour timer.
  5. Competitors shop for their child or family, working to make their budget go as far as possible.
  6. When the timer buzzes, teams return to a designated spot to enjoy Christmas treats and compare their purchases.

In this generosity-based Christmas contest, everyone who participates is a winner!

12. Advent Calendar Recall

In this Christmas countdown contest, You can test the memory of your team members in a holiday challenge that gets more difficult the longer it lasts.

Here is how :

  1. Create an advent calendar by setting 24 plastic or paper cups on a table in a triangle shape.
  2. Place a different Christmas item in each cup. For example, holiday candies, small ornaments, gift tags, and rolls of ribbon. Make sure each cup has a different item.
  3. Designate an emcee to oversee gameplay.
  4. The emcee draws a competitor’s name at random.
  5. On the first competitor’s turn, the emcee shows the item in the first cup. Then, the competitor says the item aloud.
  6. The emcee draws another competitor’s name and shows the items in only the second cup. The competitor must say the first and second items aloud, using their memory to recall the first item.
  7. The third player must recall aloud the first two items before the emcee shows the third item, and so on.
  8. If a player cannot remember all the items that came before their new item, their turn ends, and a new player takes a turn.
  9. Play continues until a player recalls all the items in order or all players have had a turn, whichever comes first.

The rules are simple, but the cumulative recall needed to play the game is where the real challenge lies!

13. Write Your Own Christmas Carol

Online Christmas competition ideas like writing your own Christmas carols can turn your virtual holiday party into a songwriting contest!

Here is how it works:

  1. Collect five-word lists of terms related to Christmas, winter, and holiday activities.
  2. Email the lists to your team members at random.
  3. Set a ten-minute timer.
  4. Each competitor must use the words on the list in a simple Christmas carol. To make each tune a surprise, instruct competitors to turn off their cameras and microphones as they work.
  5. When the buzzer sounds, competitors return to the party and take turns singing their new carols for the rest of the team.

There is no need for musical accompaniment in these songs, though competitive players may try their hand using Garage Band or other software. After the performances, the team can vote with their applause for the Best New Carol.

14. Jingle Bell Pong

One of the simpler Christmas competition ideas for work is this drink-free version of party pong!

Here is how it works:

  1. Set up two sets of ten red plastic cups in pyramid shapes at opposite ends of a designated game table.
  2. Provide a set of ten jingle bells for each side to use in place of ping pong balls.
  3. Divide the competitors into smaller teams by drawing names at random.
  4. Each competitor takes a turn tossing the bells at the cups on the opposite side of the table. Every bell that makes it into a cup counts as a point.
  5. The team that has the highest score after every competitor gets a turn is the winning team.

To add a tasty twist, have a tray of holiday candies or small treats for competitors to indulge in every time they score a point.

15. The Christmas Price is Right

You can gauge how well your workers stick to a budget with this Christmas shopping contest. Despite the name, this competition is absolutely free!

  1. Create a shopping list of 10 to 20 items, with prices found on online sites. Choose a variety of items from a broad range of price points.
  2. On a whiteboard for in-person play or a shared spreadsheet for virtual competition, list the items without showing the prices.
  3. Each competitor copies the list to their own sheet and takes their best guess at the prices.
  4. Competitors share their guesses one item at a time before learning the real price.
  5. The competitor who comes closest to the correct price without going over scores a point.

This challenge works great as an online Christmas contest for your best shoppers to show off their skills at virtual meetings and holiday parties.

Here is a list of virtual gameshow ideas.

16. Gingerbread Games (hosted virtually, in-person, or hybrid)

Gingerbread Games is a 90-minute, facilitated gingerbread decorating contest for teams. A festive host leads teams in mini-games and challenges, culminating in a decorating battle. Kits that contain cookies, frosting, and sprinkles are provided, and participants may even have an opportunity to compete for “bonus ingredients” or add their own special touches. This contest is hands-on and tasty and is sure to result in fantastic team photos and lasting memories!

Learn more about Gingerbread Games in-person or Virtual Gingerbread Games.


A bit of lighthearted Christmas-themed competition is an easy way to get your crew in the holiday spirit. You can also choose many inexpensive and free ideas that work for teams with limited budgets. With creative Christmas contest ideas on your holiday to-do list, you can plan fun activities to keep your crew stocking-deep in cheer!

You can include  some  of  these  contests  in your winter teambuilding activities with fun virtual holiday games to super-size your Christmas party themes.

FAQ: Christmas contest ideas

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about Christmas contest ideas.

What are some good Christmas contest ideas?

Some good Christmas contest ideas are advent calendar recall, timed tree trimming, and present wrapping competitions. In addition, generosity-based contests such as Christmas angel shopping on a budget are thoughtful challenges that can spread the holiday spirit beyond the competing teams.

How do you do a Christmas contest at work?

To do a Christmas contest at work, decide what contest works best for your workspace and your team. If you have funds available, then determine a budget for supplies and prizes. You can prepare printed materials, purchase gameplay items, and set them up before the contest. Organizing a few contests together can provide an Olympic-style Christmas challenge.

What are some good virtual Christmas contest ideas?

Some good virtual Christmas ideas are Christmas Carol-oke, Christmas songwriting contests, and The Christmas Price is Right.

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People & Culture Director at teambuilding.com.
Grace is the Director of People & Culture at TeamBuilding. She studied Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University, Information Science at East China Normal University and earned an MBA at Washington State University.

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