Updated: September 22, 2023

19 Best Hogmanay Games, Activities, & Ideas

You found our list of Hogmanay games, activities, and ideas.

Hogmanay activities are ways to celebrate Hogmanay, the Scottish term for New Year’s Eve. Examples include the Resolution Gift Exchange, the Taboo Game, and Fireworks in a Jar. The purpose of these activities is to bring joy and good luck for the coming year and unite celebrants.

These examples are similar to New Year’s team building activities, holiday team building ideas, and virtual New Year’s party ideas.

hogmanay-games

This list includes:

  • Hogmanay activities for adults
  • Hogmanay activities for kids
  • Hogmanay games
  • Hogmanay event ideas

Here we go!

List of Hogmanay games, activities, and ideas

As a significant holiday in Scotland, individuals celebrate Hogmanay with fun activities, customs, and traditions. From Two Resolutions and a Lie to Musical Chairs to The Sands of Time, here is a list of fun activities to celebrate Hogmanay and usher in the new year in style.

1. Ceilidh Dancing

As a traditional form of Scottish dancing, Ceilidh Dancing tops the list of Hogmanay event ideas. The event includes many lively dances passed down generations and suitable for all ages. Ceilidh dancing is a fantastic Hogmanay activity to bring individuals together and create a sense of community. Some popular Ceilidh dances are The Gay Gordons, Canadian Barn Dance, and The Dashing White Sergeant. The fun and energetic activity pairs well with Hogmanay music, food, and drinks.

Here’s a guide to team building dance.

2. Resolution Gift Exchange

Individuals often map out their resolutions at the end of the year. Rather than hosting the usual holiday gift exchange event, you can encourage players to observe their resolutions with a gift exchange activity. For this idea, you will ask participants to bring a resolution-themed gift.

Examples of these gifts include:

  • Decaf coffee for individuals who want to reduce their caffeine consumption
  • Body scrub for an attendee who wants to practice more self-care
  • A wall clock for an individual who wants to be time conscious
  • A vegan cookbook for players who want to eat less meat
  • Alcohol-free champagne for individuals who want to consume less alcohol

Individuals could then explain why the resolution is important to them as other players offer encouragement for the positive step.

Check out this list of office gift exchange ideas.

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3. Bonfires and Torches

The use of fire is a Scotland tradition to burn the old year out and ward off evil spirits. Individuals can experience the torchlight procession, which involves a huge bonfire. The bonfire procession also includes different Hogmanay snacks, drinks, and songs like “Auld Lang Syne” by Robert Burns. Some popular bonfires and torches that celebrants can join are the Stonehaven Fireballs and the Biggar Bonfire.

Check out the Stonehaven Fireballs and the Biggar Bonfire.

4. Highlights of the Year

The Highlights of the Year activity allows guests to relive their past year. The exercise also fosters a sense of community since individuals can open up to other players. For this activity, the host will prepare conversation starter questions for guests.

Examples of questions include:

  • What is the most impactful event of the year?
  • What lessons are you bringing into the new year?
  • What moment made you laugh most?
  • What was the most embarrassing moment?
  • What is your favorite holiday moment?
  • What is the best way a stranger helped you?
  • What are you letting go of this new year?

The Highlight of the Year activity is a fantastic avenue for individuals to celebrate wins and get encouragement for the past year’s misfortunes.

5. New Year’s Resolutions Guessing Game

The New Year’s Resolutions Guessing Game is one of the best Hogmanay activities for adults. The hilarious game allows celebrants to share their plans for the new year. For this game, you will provide each participant with a pen and paper.

Instructions for the game:

  1. Instruct players to write what they want to achieve in the new year or habits they are leaving behind.
  2. Place all the papers in one bowl.
  3. Each player will pick a paper and guess who the New Year’s resolution belongs to. If you have up to 15 players, then you could read one paper at a time.

The first individual to make the right guess wins. The game will also give participants an avenue to know each other better.

Here are more guessing games.

6. Hogmanay-Themed Charades

If you are hosting Hogmanay, then you could enchant guests with charades. This icebreaker will get guests talking and activate the party mood. You will need pieces of paper, pens, a large bowl, and a timer.

Instructions for the game:

  1. Write down a variety of words or phrases individuals will act out, and place them in a bowl. Feel free to have a mix of popular foods, movies, celebrities, or Hogmanay essential items.
  2. Set the timer, and let players pick one paper from the bowl.
  3. Individuals have up to one minute to act out the prompts without using words as other players guess.

Individuals get one point each time they get words or phrases right.

Ideas for charades clues:

  • Tatties
  • Cock-a-leekie soup
  • Countdown
  • Fireworks
  • Confetti
  • Dancing
  • Midnight
  • Calendar
  • Resolution
  • Memories
  • Celebrating

Charades is a hilarious Hogmanay activity, especially when a huge crowd is guessing the words. If you are hosting families, then be sure to include kids’ charades. Also, encourage the players to be creative with their acting and give all willing participants a chance to act out the prompts.

Here is a charades generator.

7. Taboo Game

The Taboo Game is a fanatic choice of Hogmanay activities for adults. The activity will get players in a party mood as you prepare to usher in the new year.

Instructions for the game:

  1. Give each player a card with a guess word. The card will also include words players are not allowed to say, the taboo words.
  2. Players will describe the guess word with other terms, excluding the taboo words.
  3. Other participants will guess the word using the prompts.

For instance, if the guess word is “karaoke,” then you could list taboo words such as “performance, music, celebration, and songs.” The player might give a hint with a statement like, “A fun activity for amateur entertainment lovers.” The first participant to guess the correct word wins.

8. Left Right Game

With gifts being a major part of the Hogmanay celebration, you cannot go wrong with the Left Right Game.

Instructions for the game:

  1. Gather participants in a circle.
  2. Hand one gift item to a volunteer.
  3. Read a story that has the words left and right throughout the narrative.
  4. Once the storyteller reads out “left,” then the player holding the gift will pass the item to the individual on their left side. Similarly, anytime the leader mentions “right,” players must hand the gift to individuals on their right side.
  5. Players who fail to adhere to the prompt exit the circle.
  6. ​The last individual holding the gift wins.

Some common items you can use for this game are authentic Scottish bread, black bun, coal, and whisky. Individuals looking for Hogmanay event ideas will love the Left Right activity.

9. Two Resolutions and a Lie

Similar to the two truths one lie game, the Two Resolutions and a Lie is a great Hogmanay icebreaker. For this game, participants will state or write down three New Year’s resolutions. Other players must then guess the two true resolutions and the lie. To make the game more challenging, be sure to instruct players to craft believable resolutions. The Two Resolutions and a Lie game is a perfect icebreaker for individuals who know each other well, family members, or strangers alike.

10. Musical Chairs

Perfect for kids and adults, the Musical Chairs game will activate a celebratory mood among guests. For this game, start by crafting a playlist with popular Hogmanay tunes.

Instructions for the game:

  1. Arrange a set of chairs in a circle with one less chair than the number of participants. For instance, if you have ten players, then you will arrange nine seats.
  2. Start playing the music, and instruct guests to dance, skip, hop on one foot, or walk on their tippy toes around the chairs.
  3. Randomly pause the music, and let every player sit.
  4. ​Individuals who miss a seat exit the game.
  5. When a player exits the game, remove one chair and start the next round.
  6. Play the game until you have one player left, who is the winner.

You can make the Musical Chairs game challenging and fun by instructing players to find chairs with their name tags once you pause the music. Ensure there is enough room for players to move around. For safety, set up the chairs with the seats facing outwards.

11. The Name Game

The Name Game is a great activity for adults to usher in the new year. To start, let all players sit in a circle and instruct them to be attentive.

Instructions for the game:

  1. Set a 30-second timer.
  2. The first participant will say the name of a renowned celebrity. Think of personalities like Alex Ferguson, Andy Murray, or Sean Connery.
  3. The next player must mention a celebrity whose first name starts with the first alphabetical letter from the previous personality’s last name.
  4. Individuals who fail to mention a celebrities’ name within 30 seconds exit the game.

For example, players could go from William Smith to Steven Brown to Brian Cox to Craig Ferguson.

12. Balloon Wish

Balloon Wish is a fantastic pick of Hogmanay activities for kids. You will need small pieces of paper and balloons equivalent to the number of children you are hosting.

Instructions for the game:

  1. Offer each kid paper and a pen, and instruct them to write their Hogmanay wishes.
  2. Fold the papers, and place them inside the balloon.
  3. Each kid can inflate their balloons and tie them with a ribbon. Alternatively, you can help the children inflate their balloons with helium.
  4. Take the players to an outdoor space, and instruct them to release the balloons on a count of ten.

Ideal for children of any age, the Balloon Wish activity is a source of countless giggles and entertainment.

13. Karaoke Sing Off

You could usher in the new year with a karaoke session and encourage participants to sing their hearts out. You can either surprise guests with the event or ask attendees to submit tunes they want to play.

Examples of great Hogmanay songs include:

  • “Auld Lang Syne” by Robert Burns
  • “New Year’s Day” by U2
  • “The Millennium Prayer” by Cliff Richard
  • “Happy New Year” by ABBA
  • “New Year’s Day” by Taylor Swift
  • “The Happy Haggis” by Bert Shorthouse and His Glenlomond Band

You could consider setting up a stage with a large TV screen, a microphone, and New Year’s decor. You can host the Karaoke Sing Off at the start of the party or just before the New Year’s countdown.

14. Balloon Countdown

Featuring a variety of fun activities, Balloon Countdown is a top choice of Hogmanay activities for kids. You will need several balloons, pieces of paper, a pin, and a marker.

Instructions for the game:

  1. Write fun kids’ activities on the pieces of paper. Think of a board game, solving puzzles, making cupcakes, or scavenger hunts.
  2. Put a piece of paper in each balloon, and let the kids help blow up the balloons.
  3. Mark the balloons at varying times, one hour apart, leading up to midnight. For instance, you can mark the balloons from 7 p.m. to 12 a.m.
  4. The kids will burst the balloons every hour and commence the activity on the paper.

If you are hosting younger kids, then be sure to draw the time on every balloon. The activity will help kids improve their clock reading skills.

15. Pass the Hat

Pass the Hat is a hilarious game your guests will enjoy. We advise that you start by shopping for fashionable Hogmanay hats.

Instructions for the game:

  1. Let your guests sit in a circle, ensuring there is not much space in between.
  2. Select one individual, and let them wear the hat.
  3. Without using their hands, the player will pass the hat to the participant on the right.
  4. Players who drop the hat exit the game.

Participants will have the time of their lives as players tilt their heads in an attempt to pass the hat.

16. The Sands of Time

If you are looking for an engaging Hogmanay activity suitable for kids and adults, then the Sands of Time is a great bet.

Instructions for the game:

  1. Write or print letters on small pieces of paper.
  2. Place the letters in a large bucket with sand.
  3. Players will retrieve letters and spell out Hogmanay words.

Some good prompts include Auld Lang Syne, shortbread, haud Hogmanay, and Ne’erday.

17. Fireworks in a Jar

Featuring bright colors, Fireworks in a Jar tops the list of memorable Hogmanay activities for children. For this fun activity, you will need clear glass jars, food coloring, water, and oil.

Instructions for the activity:

  1. Give each kid a jar, and instruct them to fill the jars with water.
  2. Let each kid place a few tablespoons of oil into the jars.
  3. Players will add a few drops of food coloring and stir with a wooden utensil.
  4. Each kid will pour the mixture into a different glass jar and marvel as the water fireworks explode.

The Fireworks in a Jar activity is ideal for younger children below seven.

18. Countdown Knockdown Game

The Countdown Knockdown Game is a top choice for party planners searching for active games. You will need party cups, tennis balls, and pairs of pantyhose. Start by placing 12 cups in a circle to resemble a clock. Then, put a tennis ball in one of the pantyhose legs. Players will wear the pantyhose on their heads and attempt to knock over as many cups as possible. You can also challenge players to knock over the cups backward, starting at 11 and ending at 12.

19. Midnight Kiss

While the Midnight Kiss game does not involve actual kisses, individuals will have fun as they hunt for chocolate kisses. For this game, you will need chocolate kisses and stickers with the number 12.

Instructions for the game:

  1. Tape the stickers with the number 12 on the bottom of eight chocolate kisses.
  2. Lay out 30 to 40 chocolate kisses, and add the five with the number 12 with the bottom facing down.
  3. Players will select one chocolate kiss at a time to find one with the 12.
  4. Players who pick the wrong chocolate kiss lose the game and must eat the chocolate.
  5. Individuals get points based on the number of 12s they get.

The game also signifies the Hogmanay tradition of kissing partygoers in the room after midnight on New Year’s Eve.

Conclusion

Hogmanay celebrations are an important part of Scottish culture and tradition for folks of all ages. Generations use these activities to unite, celebrate, and connect with their heritage. Hogmanay activities also allow celebrants to have fun, build social connections, and welcome the new year with hope and optimism. Individuals also get a relaxed and fun setting to reflect on the past and make plans for the future. To host your own Hogmanay party, browse our list of ideas, and check out varieties of unforgettable ancient and modern ways to celebrate Hogmanay.

Next, check out our list of New Year’s icebreaker questions, virtual end of year celebration ideas, holiday party themes, and Christmas spirit week ideas.

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FAQ: Hogmanay games, activities, and ideas

Here are answers to common questions about Hogmanay games, activities, and ideas.

What are Hogmanay games?

Hogmanay games refer to traditional Scottish games and activities individuals enjoy during the New Year’s Eve celebrations. Dating to the 17th century, the celebration observes the end of the year and the beginning of a new chapter. Hogmanay activities often involve group participation and carry the belief of luck and fortune for the coming year.

What are the best ways to celebrate Hogmanay?

With its vibrant festivities and rich traditions, Hogmanay holds a special place in the hearts of Scots. The occasion carries meaningful and culturally significant events that foster a sense of community, camaraderie, and renewal. Some of the best ways to celebrate Hogmanay include Ceilidh Dancing, Hogmanay-Themed Charades, and the Name Game.

What is the importance of Hogmanay activities in Scotland?

The significance of Hogmanay goes far beyond the ticking of the clock at midnight. The event allows celebrants to reflect on the past year, express gratitude, and make resolutions for the future.

Here is a list of the significance of Hogmanay activities in Scotland:

  • Tradition: Dating back to the 17th century, Hogmanay activities are a part of the Scottish New Year’s with significant traditions. Scots take pride in preserving and continuing these customs as a way to honor their heritage and keep their cultural identity alive.
  • Community Bonding: Hogmanay activities allow communities to come together and bond over shared activities. Since individuals play these games in groups, Hogmanay activities encourage social interaction and foster a sense of unity among participants. The activities also create a sense of togetherness and promote a sense of community spirit, especially in small towns and villages.
  • Joy and Celebration: Hogmanay events are a source of joy and celebration during New Year’s Eve. The events add an element of excitement to New Year’s, with participants engaging in friendly competitions and celebrations. These games create a festive atmosphere and contribute to the overall sense of joy and cheer that characterize Hogmanay celebrations.
  • Folklore and Superstition: Some Hogmanay activities focus on superstition, adding a sense of mystery and intrigue to the festivities. Scots believe that some games bring good luck for the coming year. Such superstitions are an important part of welcoming the new year with good fortune.
  • Family Traditions: Hogmanay activities often become family traditions. Families gather to participate in these games, creating precious memories and strengthening bonds. These games become a way for families to connect, have fun, and create lasting traditions.

Hogmanay is also a significant event for tourism, showcasing Scottish hospitality, music, dance, and cuisine.

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Author:

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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