You probably already have lots of ideas for Christmas activities for your young learners—but what about your older students? Never fear: ’tis not only the season for cotton ball Santa craft. Here are a few of our favorite Christmas activities—that your teens and adults won’t baulk at.
1. Write a Christmas letter
“Christmassy” classes will enjoy writing these traditional letters to friends and family, to tell them about the past year’s highlights, major turning points, challenges, and goals. Pre-teach necessary vocabulary (including seasonal greetings and sign offs, well-wishes, and messages to go within) and show examples of Christmas letters you may have received in the past. (Teens and some young adult learners may even need to be introduced to the idea of a Christmas letter—the internet has made them less common!) Your students may like to take photos to print and include in their letters. Increase the fun by reminding them that some families take amusing shots, wear matching jumpers, or do other quirky things to make their pictures interesting.
2. Christmas categories
Give a seasonal twist to the traditional game by including only Christmas-related categories within. Need some category inspiration? Try: food, stocking stuffer gift, Christmas carol, item of winter (or summer!) clothing, name of Santa’s reindeer, winter activity, a toy, gift for Mum, gift for Dad, Christmas decoration, Christmas symbol…
3. Get talking
Conduct a speaking class with questions that explore cultural differences and students’ real feelings about the silly season. Topics to create interest include:
- A typical Christmas at my house is like…
- How have your feelings about Christmas changed since you were a child?
- What would you change about Christmas?
- What are the differences between Christmas in your country and here?
- What do you dislike about Christmas?
- How do you feel about the “obligation to be happy at Christmas”?
- Has the internet changed how you give and receive Christmas greetings?
- What is your opinion about Christmas songs?
- Should Christmas only be for Christians?
- What do you think about the pressure to purchase and give gifts?
4. Teach a recipe
Begin by talking about traditional Christmas food in your country and the dishes you or your family prepare. Then, share a recipe, giving students a list of ingredients and steps to follow. You may like to ask your students to order the steps, recall the recipe from memory, or complete other activities to further understanding. Following this, give your students time to choose a Christmas recipe they would like to teach to a small group.
5. The Guilty Elf
In this activity, students ask questions to determine which elf committed a Christmas-related crime. Begin by brainstorming crimes, such as:
- Eating all of the pudding
- Not wrapping the presents
- Refusing to sing Christmas carols
- Not putting out milk and a cookie for Santa Claus
- Forgetting about Christmas all together
- Burning the turkey
Then, give three students a card each and ask them to check them to see whether they are the Guilty Elf (only one card will be the “guilty card”). These students then sit at the front of the class while the other students ask them questions about their whereabouts on the day of the crime. Set a time or question limit, then ask the interrogators to vote as to who was the Guilty Elf.
6. Christmas traditions
In this speaking activity, students talk about the Christmas traditions they remember from childhood, describing them, and talking about why they are memorable. Continue on to name other traditions they would like to incorporate into their future family lives—and which they would rather forget! To introduce the activity, talk about some of your family’s own traditions. These may be:
- Leaving out food for Santa
- Having an advent calendar
- Going to midnight mass
- Playing “Secret Santa” with family
- Decorating the entire house with lights
- Helping prepare the meal together
- Pick out a Christmas tree ornament for each child
- Going carolling
- Going to see the Christmas lights
- Having matching family Christmas pyjamas
- Giving to a charity, or choosing presents for a less-fortunate child
7. Remember the story
Write a Christmas-related story, complete with a few plot turns and extra details (the premise can be simple: waking up on Christmas morning; trying to follow a convoluted Mass; the shenanigans of decorating the tree; or mishaps in the kitchen). Tell the story twice. Then, ask questions about particular moments and give your students time to answer alone. Students check their answers with a partner. Then, distribute the story cut into strips and ask pairs to order it.
8. Have a no-bake Christmas cooke bake-off
At least in the U.S., Christmas cookies and cookie exchanges are a much-loved part of the holiday season. However, schools are not really known for their stellar kitchen facilities! Get around that little planning hiccup by preparing materials to make no-bake cookies (there are lots of simple recipes available online). This activity practices giving instructions, understanding a process, and making measurements. Choose a few recipes students can work on in small groups, then share the creations around the whole class.
9. White Elephant gift exchange
In this game, a group of people buy and exchange gifts randomly, by drawing numbers out of a bag to determine the order that presents are chosen in. The twist is that participants are allowed to swap gifts with others, until the very end when all have been assigned.
In a class situation, instead of using gifts, ask students to write down a gift idea on a piece of paper (giving a spending limit of, say, $50 or under). Seal the gift ideas in envelopes. To play, students pick numbers out of a bag to decide the order in which they will choose their “gifts”. The first student chooses an envelope, opens it, and tells their classmates they gift they received. The following student can then choose between selecting and opening another envelope, or “stealing” an already-assigned gift from their classmates. (Students whose gifts were stolen choose another envelope.) Play continues until each student is left with a gift.
10. Throw a party
Take a moment as Christmas approaches to throw a small party. Depending on your school’s rules and your class’s bond and level of friendship, students may make and bring simple Christmas dishes from their countries (cookies, sweets, drinks); do a simple gift exchange; read Christmas stories; sing Christmas carols; decorate a Christmas tree; and exchange crackers.