best holiday party ideas and activities besides cookie baking
All featured products are curated independently by our editors. When you buy something through our retail links, we may receive a commission.

Christmas cookie making parties are a dime a dozen every December. Your mom hosts one, that friend from work who does the bake sale hosts one, your neighbor you run into sometimes when you’re taking out the trash hosts one, etc., etc. Although there’s something great about that tradition and we wouldn’t want a year without it, after pressing your hundredth pizzelle, cookies don’t seem that fun.

Why not host a festive gathering where guests can celebrate the holidays in a different way? Going to a party to learn something new is always exciting, especially when you get to take a favor or giftable home with you.

Related Reading: Themed Holiday Party Ideas That Haven’t Been Done to Death

Listen to carols, eat and be merry, but leave the spritz press in your cupboard. These cute, edible holiday party ideas will start a new tradition for your friends and family, we promise. No frosting required.

Homemade Marshmallow Making 

An excess of hot chocolate is never a bad thing at this time of year and cocoa with homemade marshmallows? Don’t mind if we do. Instead of gifting coworkers the same dehydrated marshmallow and cocoa mix in a plastic baggy, your guests will walk away with adorably decorated homemade mallows to give away.

Follow this Classic Vanilla Marshmallow recipe for how to make the marshmallows, and find creative ways for your guests to package like this or this. Michaels has endless options for packaging, as well as endless coupons.

Christmas Cellophane Treat Bags, 150 for $16.95 on Amazon

You get 6 designs and twist ties are included.
Buy Now

Lay out holiday cookie cutters to shape marshmallows before packaging, or we love this idea for marshmallow-topped hot chocolate on a stick.

While you prep all the goodies to make and wrap your marshmallows, throw some hot chocolate into a Crock-Pot on low so your guests have something warm to sip on while they’re decorating. We like this Hot Chocolate From Scratch recipe. Maybe even offer guests the option to add a little Bailey’s or Rumchata if they’re feeling it, or set up a hot cocoa bar. Christmas in a cup!

Hot Chocolate Bar Supplies, $16.99 on Amazon

Cups, straws, labels, and more!
Buy Now

Dine-In Movie Marathon

spaghetti and meatballs

Chowhound’s Spaghetti and Meatballs

Remember when Will Ferrell poured chocolate sauce all over his noodles in “Elf”? Did you ever think that would be a reason to celebrate? Probably not, but we promise it totally is. OK, you don’t have to put SnoCaps on your pasta, but hosting a themed movie night where you all make foods to represent your favorite holiday films will make you a hit. Host an Italian movie night with a take on Buddy the Elf’s favorite meal, Spaghetti and Meatballs (syrup optional), followed by “Home Alone” mischief maker Kevin McAllister’s cuisine du jour, cheese pizza! Top it off by serving a “Home Alone 2” sized room service sundae. Two scoops—make it three. You’re not driving!

The fun thing about this idea is that the film and fare combo options are endless and coming up with the menu is half the fun. Savor your Peking duck while you watch the family in “A Christmas Story” end up at the local Chinese food place after the neighborhood dog steals their roast turkey. Fry up some classic latkes for Adam Sandler’s Hanukkah favorite, “Eight Crazy Nights.” Hosting a brunch? Make a take on The Grinch’s Who Hash, served with eggnog in Clark Griswold’s moose cups.

National Lampoon Moose Mug, $19.99 at Target

Make your Vacation fantasy a reality. Eggnog not included.
Buy Now

An Occasion for Infused Cooking Oils

homemade infused oil

hmproudlove / Getty Images

Infusing their own oils is one of those things people always say they’ll do, but never get around to. Host a party teaching them how so they finally can! We love this lemon infused olive oil to pair with a light pasta dish, or this garlic and herb infused oil for dipping bread, but you can honestly choose anything to infuse. Simply follow the instructions on your recipe for how long to let your oil sit for best flavor. Make sure to have funnels on hand to pour your oils into their keepsake bottles guests will take home. We recommend ordering glasses in bulk.

SUPERLELE Glass Bottles, $14.49 on Amazon

Don't worry about buying corks, eye screws, and funnels. They're included in this package.
Buy Now

If you pick out a few recipes for each oil beforehand, you can offer guests label stickers and recipe cards to hand write their favorite recipes while their oil finishes steeping. These are adorable. Once the oils are complete, stamp the bottles with a label and attach the recipe card with some festive string and each guest has some edible gifts to take home!

Related Reading: The Best Homemade Food Gifts to Give


Hot Sauce Hootenanny

Chowhound’s Smoked Cherry Hot Sauce

Hot sauce fanatics are a thing, no lie. There’s even a Hot Sauce Expo in NYC to satisfy their need for heat. That means, somebody in your life is probably into hot sauce and nothing says my love is piping hot like some homemade spice.  You can offer guests a variety of recipes to help make, like this Take No Prisoners recipe or a more nuanced Smoked Cherry Hot Sauce. Or make hot sauces based on ingredients you know your friends and family love, like this Lotsa Serranos Blazing Sauce for a touch of green.

Related Reading: The Ultimate Guide to Peppers

Host guests in groups of two or three to make each sauce near the stove, and once all of the sauces are made, gather together to bottle. We like these five ounce hot sauce bottles with decorative toppers from Amazon. If you have a larger group, you can have one crew writing the labels and gift tags while the others cook. Definitely keep some queso, chips, lemon water, and margs on hand, because everyone’s mouths are going to be burning up from taste testing. Frosty the Snowman doesn’t get an invite!

Hot Sauce Labels, $22.00 on Amazon

These labels will help spice up your homemade hot sauce bottles.
Buy Now

Caramel Celebration

how to make caramel

Burcu Atalay Tankut / Moment / Getty Images

Salted caramel isn’t just the world’s favorite flavor, it’s a holiday season way of life.  Although it’s a frequent flyer at all coffee shops, nothing is worse than a salted caramel sauce that tastes overprocessed and fake. That’s why making it yourself is the best way to do it! And hosting a DIY caramel sauce making party for your guests to craft some for themselves will make you a friend favorite. Simply track down some mason jars in bulk for preserving, and follow this Salted Caramel Sauce recipe. You can honestly even use old jars you’ve cleaned out if you want to be a spendthrift and keep the packaging kitschy.

Mason Jars (set of 12), $7.19 at Target

Mason jars are fitting for some good old-fashioned caramel sauce.
Buy Now

Just a note, this isn’t a party activity recommended for smaller kitchen spaces, because everyone will need access to a burner at some point. As for how to implore your guests to utilize their newfound sweet, sandwich some caramel sauce between two cookies or drizzle it over some waffles; there’s really no sweet dish this sauce cannot make better. We didn’t even get into sundaes (which happen to be another great edible activity for a party)!

For more festive ideas, visit our Holiday Headquarters.

Header image courtesy of MEDITERRANEAN / E+ / Getty Images

See more articles