There's no denying that a big part of the holiday season revolves around food. From advent calendars and cookie swaps to the big Christmas dinner, "festive" and "merry" seem to go hand in hand with food and drinks.
With so many people dealing with food allergies and intolerances, it's equally important to focus on non-food related Christmas festivities, so that everyone feels included. That's why I've rounded up some excellent ways to add non-food related merriment to your Christmas season.
1. Create A Non-Food Advent Calendar
Counting down to Christmas doesn't have to involve candy. With a little bit of creativity and time you can create (or purchase) an empty advent calendar and fill it with fun things like notes, small toys, school supplies or puzzles. An advent calendar can be as simple as gluing a cotton ball on Santa's beard every day, hanging up a new ornament daily or creating a Christmas art gallery with daily crafts. You can even incorporate philanthropy and put aside canned goods every day to donate to the local food bank. Find more non-food advent calendar ideas on the HypeFoodie Pinterest page.
Buddy the Elf says, "The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear." Whether you want to call it caroling, a sing-along or Christmas karaoke, getting family and friends together to sing is an excellent way to get into the Christmas spirit.
3. Game night
There's nothing more festive than a little friendly competition. Every Christmas I organize "Reindeer Games" for my family to play before Christmas dinner. The person with the most points wins the title of Rudolph for the night. Here are some examples of the types of games we play:
- Pin the nose on the snowman or reindeer
- O Christmas Tree: Each player has one minute to stack cups in a pyramid shape (a Christmas tree), and put them back into a single stack using only one hand. The size of the Christmas tree can be adjusted based on the players' age.
- Santa Limbo Rock: Play the limbo game with Christmas music, but everyone gets a Santa belly (balloon with tape)
4. Christmas Lights Safari / Scavenger Hunt
Take a winter walk around your neighbourhood and hunt for specific decorations, such as Santa, snowmen, reindeer, Christmas trees and angels. You can make this activity competitive by assigning points to each decoration found, with bonus points for spotting rare items like the Grinch or Olaf. It's a great way to get some fresh air, exercise and to appreciate the efforts that neighbours have put into creating some Christmas cheer.
5. Homemade Christmas Ornament Making Party
Making Christmas ornaments is a fun and crafty way to spend time with friends. You can easily take common household objects, such as pasta, buttons, beans, Popsicle sticks and pine cones, and turn them into beautiful and unique ornaments that make great gifts. With a little bit of effort and creativity, the possibilities are endless!
6. Christmas-Themed Charades
Take some time to feel silly and laugh with some non-verbal expression amongst friends. In the game of charades you have to "act out" a phrase without speaking, while the other members of your team try to guess what the phrase is as quickly as possible. Make the phrases Christmas themed and enjoy watching your friends act out "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town," "Nutcracker" or "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus."
7. Christmas-Themed Pictionary
Challenge your friends to a Christmas-themed game of Pictionary. All you need is some paper, a marker and a set of Christmas-themed words written on individual note cards. Each person takes turns picking a note card and drawing the word for everyone else to guess. This can be played competitively in teams or as a group activity for some artistic fun.
8. Group Storytelling
Write a group Christmas story, where everyone contributes to the story without knowing what others have added. The end result is often a silly and entertaining tale. To write the story, distribute 10 strips of paper featuring assignments for individual story contributions:
1. One or more adjectives
2. A male character's name
3. One or more adjectives
4. A female character's name
5. A place (where they met)
6. An object (what he gave her)
7. What he said to her
8. What she said to him
9. A consequence
10. What the world said about it
Assign a storyteller to assemble the contributions and read the story out loud. Don't forget to start the story with "T'was the Night before Christmas …"
9. Create A Christmas Time Capsule
Ask everyone to bring one significant item like an ornament, picture, toy or note to put into a time capsule that will be sealed. Set a date to open and reveal all of the items in the time capsule during a Christmas gathering in five or 10 years. This is a fun and thoughtful activity, and a great way to make sure that everyone keeps in touch in the long-term.
10. Watch A Christmas Movie
Feel some Christmas magic with inspiration from Hollywood. Organize a Christmas movie night with your family and friends. Christmas classics like "It's A Wonderful Life" or "Miracle On 34th Street" will tug at your heart strings, while "Elf," "Home Alone" or "Scrooged" will provide some comic relief. For those looking for an action packed Christmas, the "Die Hard" trilogy or "Lethal Weapon" are great options.
Pauline Osena is a food allergy advocate and founder of HypeFoodie.com, an online resource for allergy-friendly living. This former dairy junkie became an expert in allergy-friendly cuisine while figuring out how to feed her child with multiple food allergies. Pauline aims to inspire culinary adventures and experimentation with her series, "An Allergy-Friendly Makeover," and shares the valuable knowledge she has gained from her trials, errors and adventures in living with food allergies with "The Allergy-Friendly Top 10." Pauline's short-term goals include getting a full night's sleep and drinking her entire cup of coffee while hot.
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