At the last session in ICAN Club in 2015 we had a party and played New Year and ChristmasGames from Around the World. Here is a photo reportage, which is also a culture study lesson plan. Feel free to use this collection of party games to make your parties and/or English lessons more effective and fun.
Step 1. Engage your students/participants in decorating the room.
This will (a) prevent them from being bored waiting for you to finish the preparations; (b) allow them to demonstrate their creativity; and (c) will significantly reduce preparation time.
Never mind if you do not have a Fir Tree in your classroom. You can use different objects to arrange an ecology-friendly “Christmas Tree” (find some ideas here
); buy one, as I did, or make a similar yourself. As a last resort, you can draw a tree on the board.
The tree you can see in our photos was bought ready to put up with colourful pieces of paper, some with printed creative wishes, others blank. All we needed to do was to write our wishes on the blank pieces, roll all the pieces up and put them into the little holes in the “tree” as ornaments.
We also put some shiny stars on the board and made some Christmas theme drawings.
This is what we achieved.
Step 2. An Ice-Breaking Activity from Egypt
The participants sit in a semi-circle, and everybody comes into the center one by one. Everybody says something nice about the person in the center, and all others support these statements by applause and cheers.
Step 3. A Power Point Quiz as a warmer
We all perform traditional rituals at Christmas, like decorating a fir tree, putting candles and cooking delicious food. But are we really aware of the meaning of all these? Challenge your participants to a colourful quiz and they will discover how much is hidden behind our habitual actions and how different traditions can be.
You can download the PowerPoint here.
Step 5. It’s time to have some fun – Tangerine Challenge and Shadow Portraits
Nothing can be easier than these!
is a modified version of an English Apple in a Bowl game, suggested by the brilliant EFL teacher Thomas Harvey
We replaced apples with tangerines, because in Belarus tangerines, not apples, are associated with New Year. And this was no less fun! All you need to do is to put tangerines in a bowl and ask participants to bite them out. It looks simple and easy, but it is not! We also had some wished on each fruit.
For the Shadow Portrait activity
, which was borrowed from some American party, you need:
- a board or a sheet of paper to draw on
- a board marker to draw with (you might wish to use multicolour ones)
- a torch (most mobile phones have them).
The procedure is illustrated by the picture.
Although the task looks extremely easy – to draw around a shadow – no one will be able to make a portrait look exactly like the person, because it is impossible to keep the shadow immobile. As a result, your participants will get funny pictures as a souvenir. Can you watch the girls and their shadow portraits? Write your answers in the comments.
Step 6. There is no party without a surprise.
This time we worked magic.
Since 2015 December has been unusually warm, I suggested calling winter by singing the popular song by Frank Sinatra Let It Snow! with the help of karaoke
And the miracle happened! While the participants were singing and were using their mental force to draw in the snowy clouds, it started snowing!!!
Step 7. Festive dinner activity: the Italian New Year tradition
You can serve dishes according to your circumstances, some candies, a cake, finger food or even a meal, but offering a new activity at the festive table will make your celebration more enjoyable. Here is what we did:
No, we are not playing hamsters – we are trying an Italian New Year ritual to make your resolution fulfilled.
- 12 grapes for each participant
- soundtrack of a clock striking 12 (you can get them here: Big Ben
or culture neutral clock
Give the participants time to make a New Year resolution. Once everyone is ready, play the soundtrack. The participants must eat one grape each at each strike of the clock. The task may seem easy, but in fact it is a challenge to munch on one grape in between the strikes.
Step 8: Fortune telling,
a traditional Christmas and New Year activity in many countries, including Belarus
Now it was time to use out fir-tree. Do you remember we wrote resolutions and wishes to decorate it with? Now it was time to see what was held in store for everyone. We took the scrolls one by one and read them. Some wishes were funny, some weird, but there were some quite realistic ones.
Step 9: Gift time!
There is a variety of ways to deliver gifts at Christmas and New Year: putting them in the stockings, under the fir tree, into the shoes, etc., but we used a game called Gift Rope, which is popular in many countries, including the U.S., where I found this description, and Belarus, where we arrange it for different occasions. The procedure is illustrated by these photos: blindfold a participant, make him/her turn around three times, put scissors into his/her hand and guide towards the rope with gifts hanging on it. Do not allow to use the second hand - it would be too easy!
The trick is in the gifts themselves: they should be fun and useful, or something good to eat, or to make people laugh.
Another trick is to disguise them by putting a little thing into a big box, or making an oval look square. And, of course, there should be a little gift wrapped up in multiple stripes of coloured paper with wishes in between. It will take long time to unwrap the gift, and it would be a good idea to put something unusual inside. In this case it was a five-pfennig coin from last century Germany, which has already acquired some numismatic value.I also often give discounts as a prize, which is considered to be good luck.
Step 10: A Photo All Together
And last but not least - not to forget to take a photo all together.
Can you read our lips?
Yes, we are saying "Happy New Year!"
Our wishes of love and peace go to you, your family and your country!
It was a homey, dynamic and fun party. It was more amusing than traditional parties with their routine entertainments, and obviously healthier. We will be happy to know if you like the ideas and share yours in the comments. If you are going to incorporate them into your celebrations, it would be nice to see your photos too. If you send them to me, I can add them to this page.
Happy Winter Holiday Season!
Love and hugs from Belarus!