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14 Christmas Activities for High School Students (they’ll Actually Find Cool)

Need fun holiday things older students will actually participate in? Here’s a list of fun Christmas activities for high school students.

Finding Christmas activities high school students and older students won’t roll their eyes about can be a bit tricky, amiright?

class group of older students having fun, text overlay

Yet when you get your whole group of teens enjoying something together – it’s magical.

That’s the idea behind this list below. A chance for your group of older students to have some fun together and create a classroom memory.

Hint: We all know not every student celebrates Christmas. That’s why I’ve included several options for holiday-themed activities instead of just a list of Christmas ones. Tweak and adjust, as needed to fit your group – you know them best!

Christmas Activities for High School Students

Even better than getting some free inspiration for Christmas activities for high school students?

When most of those ideas are low-prep.

Score!

1. Host a Holiday Gif-Making Party

Can you think of a teen who wouldn’t be super interested in spending class time creating a GIF of themselves?

It’s actually pretty simple to do. And free, using Canva’s free gif-maker (you don’t even need an account) or giphy’s free maker.

  • You need several image files or a short video file. Each student can do this alone, with a friend, or in a group (you choose what dynamic is best) doing something silly.
  • Once the images or video file is uploaded, they get to edit it with stickers, fonts, backgrounds, and whatever they’d like.
  • Get teacher approval.
  • Download as a GIF file.

Look – I just made this super silly one in about 5 minutes using Canva and my laptop’s camera while working on this article at Starbucks!

author drinking iced grande soy chai at Starbucks and dancing, words ho, ho, ho on it

Here’s a 9-minute video tutorial from Canva’s design school on exactly how to do this using Canva.

Afterward, you can share your students’ gifs digitally using your Google Classroom, a school website/newsletter, or whatever means you can at your school. And, they can text them out to friends and family!

2. Play a Round of School Supply White Elephant

Every student has school supplies. Some they love. Some they hate.

And by Christmas time? They’ve figured out which is which.

What makes this game hilarious for older students is they get to off these supplies onto others (or, there’s another variation, in case you don’t feel comfortable with students giving up school supplies their parents probably bought…).

Either have students choose one of their own school supplies they’re dying to get rid of (with parent permission, of course…), OR, pick through random, unwanted school supplies in your own closet (maybe other teachers can donate their unloved items?) to use in a White Elephant game.

Play according to the regular White Elephant rules either as an entire classroom or as groups.

These are:

  • Everyone comes to the table with 1 unloved/unwanted school supply. Put them in one location for the whole classroom to choose from (hint: you can set this up a few days ahead of time to increase anticipation and get your teens buy into the silly process about to unfold).
  • Put a number for each student in a basket. Each student grabs a number from the basket – this is the order they will go in.
  • For each person’s turn, they can either a) choose an unwanted school supply from the table, or b) steal someone else’s school supply they chose on their turn.
  • The person whose school supply gets stolen gets to either a) choose another school supply from the table, or b) steal someone else’s school supply.
  • A school supply can only be stolen one time per turn, and picking a school supply ends the turn.
  • The game is over when each student has a school supply in hand, and after the first person has been given one more shot to either steal another school supply or keep the one they have (since they couldn’t steal one during their turn as the first person who went).

Don’t be surprised if students tote around their unloved school supplies like a badge of honor for a day or two after this event.

3. Christmas Trivia for a Free Homework Pass

Divide your students into teams, and have them play this Christmas Trivia game. Winning team? Give them a free homework pass.

That might pique their interest…

Psst: here are more small prize ideas for students.

4. Create an In-Class Volunteer Project

The holidays and this time of year present an excellent opportunity to teach students to be giving and charitable.

On top of these activities to teach giving to your teens, you can also do an in-class volunteer project together.

There are tons of at-home volunteer projects people can do that can work in a classroom setting, too.

Things like:

  • Talking to the elderly online for social comfort
  • Student-powered science research
  • Log walks outdoors for a walk-a-thon that’s digitally tracked and donations automatically go to a charity picked by your class vote
  • Etc.

5. Christmas Selfie Scavenger Hunt

These free teen Selfie Christmas scavenger hunts and challenges would probably work best as something you send your teens home with.

BUT, there are some that work well in school, too.

6. Do the 12 Days of Gratitude

For the first 12 days of December, have your students write about one thing that they are grateful for each day.

You could challenge them with different prompts, like:

  • One thing I’m grateful for that doesn’t cost any money…
  • One thing I’m grateful for now but that I didn’t like at the time…
  • One thing I’m grateful for that no one else knows about…
  • Etc.

OR, keep things open-ended.

7. Invite Kids in for Activities

Put your teen students in a leadership role by inviting an elementary or middle school class of kids into your classroom for Christmas activities.

You can even give your students the task of coming up with ideas, and voting on the best ones.

Your students could:

  • Set up a cookie decorating station
  • Read Christmas or holiday stories to the kids
  • Help the kids make a Santa list, or create a holiday card for someone in their lives
  • Etc.

8. Decode Christmas Ads and Offers

Hear me out on this one.

Teens understanding how to read an ad and see what kind of deal they’re actually getting? Is a pretty critical life skill.

And we’re in the season of hot cocoa, Santa hats, and, well, ads!

You can gather a bunch of Christmas ads, both paper and digital ones, and share them in presentation mode. Ask your students to bring in ads, too.

Talk about what the fine print means. Compare the price of the same product between two stores (online is fine), and see which offer is better (after comparing shipping costs, the packaging, features, and other things).

Discuss online shopping hacks.

9. Play “Celebrities Caught Red-Handed”…Being Generous

Teens love celebrities and often put them on a pedestal. Why not celebrate these people for a really good reason – their charitable acts this time of year?

Research a list of celebrities who specifically give around Christmas time.

Create a quick trivia game around it, with each index card having what a celebrity did at Christmastime, and students needing to pair the gesture with the correct celebrity (from a different list).

Then, reveal who did what.

This can be eye-opening to students who look up to these guys usually for other reasons, like their fame, their fortune, and their coolness.

Finally, ask your students to write an essay on what giving they would do if they ever were to become a celebrity and “be rich”.

10. Set Up a Christmas Product Taste Testing

There are so many name-brand products that come out with Christmas flavors near the holidays. Like Oreo Peppermint Bark Sandwich Cookies, Eggnog Pancake mix, and Toasty Vanilla M&Ms.

Grab a bunch of these products, and divvy them up – one for each table station.

Break your class up into groups, and have each group rotate through the taste-testing stations.

Have them write down answers to a few questions at each table, such as if they think the product was a good idea. On a scale of 1-10, how good does it taste compared to the original? Do they think it will increase sales? Why do they think the company came out with this product?

The class can then vote on the winning product(s).

11. Do a Christmas Seasonal Jobs Hunt

Teens typically think about how to get their hands on more money, and one of those ways is to get seasonal or summer jobs.

It would be an interesting activity for teens to hunt for what types of jobs typically pop up around Christmas time.

You could explain to them what a seasonal job is. Why are they short-term only?

Have them calculate how much they would earn if they took a seasonal job (here’s a paycheck calculator), and how many hours they would have to work for that money.

Debate the pros and cons of taking a job around Christmas time.  

Hint: My Teen Job Lab can help a lot with the teen job hunt.

12. Complete an “Evolution of Christmas Celebrations” Project

Some things about Christmas have remained the same over the decades and centuries.

And other things? Well, they’ve changed.

Have your students complete a project highlighting the changes in how Christmas is celebrated over the years.

They can do things like:

  • Interview their grandparents, parents, and elderly family members about things they did for Christmas as a child vs. now
  • Research at average spending per year during the holiday season over the years. How does today’s spending compare? How does it compare after accounting for inflation (input total average spending and the year, then see how that equates to today’s dollars)?
  • What dishes were served in, say, the 1950s, versus now? Are they the same, or different?

13. Play the Jelly Bean Game with Christmas Flavors

Have you ever heard of the Financial Literacy Jelly Bean Game?

It’s where you give students a bunch of jelly beans that count for “money”, and they need to decide how to distribute them across their spending categories.

Well, let your students play that game, with holiday-tasting jelly beans they get to eat afterward.

14. Gather Guinness World Records for Christmas

Learning about Guinness World Records can be interesting and fun. Make it into an activity by having your students come to class with at least one Christmas or winter-themed Guinness record they researched.

During class, share each of them. Have everyone vote on the weirdest or coolest one.

If nothing else, everyone will leave for the holidays with an interesting piece of trivia to share at family gatherings.

I hope you’ve found some cool Christmas activities for your high school students to do this year, OR, at least gotten inspired to come up with your own idea. Either way, be sure to share in the comments below how things turn out!

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Amanda L. Grossman is a writer and Certified Financial Education Instructor, a 2017 Plutus Foundation Grant Recipient, and founder of Money Prodigy. Her money work has been featured on Experian, GoBankingRates, PT Money, CA.gov, Rockstar Finance, the Houston Chronicle, and Colonial Life. Amanda is the founder and CEO of Frugal Confessions, LLC. Read more here or on LinkedIn.