30 Clever Candy Cane Games To Sweeten the Season

There’s so much you can do with this minty, striped manipulative.

candy cane games toss a candy cane and fishing for candy canes

Candy canes, those J-shaped red-and-white striped candies that are everywhere from November through December, are more than a tree decoration. You can use them to play games—all fun, some educational. So break out a box of candy canes for a day of fun with these clever candy cane games.

Candy Cane Games for Reading

Let’s start with games that are fun and educational. These games can reinforce reading skills.

1. Candy Cane Writing

candy cane writing tray example for candy cane games
Nurture Store/Candy cane writing via nurturestore.co.uk

Crush candy canes to create a sand that students can write in (but have them write with a straw or chopstick so they don’t end up with candy cane all over their hands). To turn this activity into a game, group students into teams and have them take turns writing words in the candy canes in a relay format.

2. Candy Cane Letters

different letters formed using candy canes
Preschool Inspirations/Candy cane letters via preschoolinspirations.com

Give students candy canes and challenge them to break them and reform them into letters. See what they come up with!

Candy Cane Games for Math

Candy canes can be used for reinforcing patterns, geometry, and number sense.

3. Candy Cane Race to the Top

candy cane race to the top game
Kindergarten Crate/Race to the Top Game via kindergartencrate.com

Using a board like this one and candy cane pieces, have students roll a die and move that many pieces. Or students can work in pairs to roll two dice. The student with the higher number moves one space.  

4. Candy Cane Symmetry

Candy cane symmetry game for candy cane game ideas
Fantastic Fun and Learning/Candy cane symmetry via fantasticfunandlearning.com

Give students a set of candy canes and have them create symmetrical designs. Or have students work in pairs, with one student making one half of the design, and the other creating the second, symmetrical half.

5. Candy Cane Patterns

child creating a candy cane pattern
Happy Toddler Playtime/Candy cane patterns via happytoddlerplaytime.com

Candy canes have natural patterns on them, so after examining a few different candy canes to see how the pattern progresses, have students make their own. Use drawings of candy canes to create patterns using stripes or dots, or get creative. For older kids, have them race to see how quickly they can create different patterns.

6. Candy Cane Stripe Patterns

Child adding stripes on candy canes to match a number
Preschool Inspirations/Candy cane stripe counting via preschoolinspirations.com

Use candy canes and pipe cleaners to wrap stripes for each number. For younger children, work up to the number that you’ve taught. For older kids, have them see how many stripes they can get onto one candy cane.

7. Candy Cane Estimation

jar of candy canes
Personally Andrea/Jar of candy canes via personallyandrea.com

Fill a large clear jar with as many candy canes as you can. Everyone guesses how many candy canes there are, and the person who guesses closest without going over wins.

Group Candy Cane Games

These candy cane games are great for a Reindeer Games day, for minute-to-win-it breaks, or a game day prior to winter break.

8. Candy Cane Relay

family playing a candy cane relay for candy cane games
Play Party Plan/Candy cane relay via playpartyplan.com

In teams of three or four players, each team uses a candy cane as a relay baton. Have students line up behind a starting line in groups. The first person carries the candy cane and runs or walks around the “track.” When they are back at the start, they pass the baton to the next player who goes around the track, and so on. When everyone has had a turn (some people may need to go twice if there are uneven teams), you can declare a winner.

9. Candy Cane Wrap

Divide your group into teams of four or five kids. Give each team white and red streamers. Choose one person on each team to be the “Candy Cane” while the others are the “Wrappers.” The Candy Cane person must stand still while the Wrappers use their red and white crepe paper to wrap them up in stripes like a candy cane. The first team to finish wins!

10. Candy Cane Derby

man holding a marshmallow and candy cane for a candy cane game
Play Party Plan/Candy cane derby via playpartyplan.com

Give each player a candy cane and three large marshmallows. Toss the marshmallows one at a time to the batter. The batter hits the marshmallows as far as they can. After everyone has gone, the person whose marshmallow traveled the farthest distance is the winner.

11. Candy Cane Tree Toss

little christmas tree covered with candy canes for a candy cane game
Little Halo J/Candy cane tree toss via littlehaloj.com

Each team gets a small artificial Christmas tree and a pile of candy canes. Standing a distance away from the tree, each team must take turns throwing their candy canes at their tree, trying to get them to stick. The team with the most candy canes stuck in their tree at the end of the game wins!

12. Candy Cane String Race

people playing candy cane string game
Play Party Plan/Candy cane string game via playpartyplan.com

Give each team of two a string and a candy cane. Each pair walks until they are standing 6 feet or so apart (until the string is taut). Then, they have to move the candy cane from one side to the other and back without moving their arms.

13. Candy Cane Spoons

candy canes with cards for a candy cane game idea
Somewhat Simple/Candy cane game via somewhatsimple.com

It’s the card game Spoons, but instead of spoons, everyone grabs a candy cane when someone gets four of a kind. The person who doesn’t grab a candy cane is the loser!

14. Candy Cane Balance Relay

person holding two candy canes one balanced on the other for a candy cane game idea
Play Party Plan/Candy cane relay via playpartyplan.com

A twist on the relay, this time have each player carry two candy canes, one looped onto the other. Kids walk out and back without dropping the candy cane. Then, they pass the candy canes to the next player, who repeats this until everyone has had a turn. If the candy cane drops, you’re out!

15. Candy Cane Fishing

candy cane fishing line for a candy cane game
Simply Crafty Life/Fishing game via simplycraftylife.com

Attach a candy cane to a dowel or chopstick with ribbon and “fish” for anything that kids can hook. For a fun-only game, have kids fish for ribbons or candy. For an educational spin, have them fish for word problems to solve, words to read, or questions to ask one another.

16. Candy Cane Hook Relay

candy cane fishing game
Simply Crafty Life/Candy cane fishing via simplycraftylife.com

Divide players into teams. Put an empty basket or bowl at the finish line. At the start, each team has a basket filled with candy canes, and each player has their own candy cane. The first person in each line places their candy cane in their mouth, hook-end down, and uses the hook to grab a cane out of the basket or bowl. Then, they run and deposit the cane into the basket at the end. If their cane drops, they have to go back and start over. When all the candy canes have been transferred, that team wins.

17. Candy-board

person playing candy cane and marshmallow shuffle board for a candy cane game
Play Party Plan/Candy cane game via playpartyplan.com

Shuffleboard, but with candy canes. On a table, tape three sections. Each one is a different scoring section. Then, give participants a marshmallow and candy cane. Participants use the candy cane to push the marshmallow into a scoring section. The person with the highest score wins.

18. Candy Cane Fencing

Each participant gets a wrapped candy cane. One person from each team fences the other using the candy cane. The first person with a broken cane loses the battle and the winner goes on to fence the next player.

19. Candy Cane Golf

man playing golf with a marshmallow and candy cane
Play Party Plan/Candy cane golf via playpartyplan.com

Set up a mini golf course with plastic cups as holes, then use candy canes as golf clubs and sphere candies as balls to play a round of golf.

20. Candy Cane Pond

man playing candy cane pond for candy cane games
Play Party Plan/Candy cane pond via playpartyplan.com

Place a plate on a mason jar (add a weighted item in the middle of the plate to hold it steady) and hang candy canes over the edge. Each person gets their own candy cane and tries to pull a candy cane off the plate using their candy cane. The trick: They have to keep their candy cane in their mouth.

21. Candy Cane Hide-and-Seek

candy cane hide and seek tag for a candy cane game
The Resourceful Mama/Candy cane hide-and-seek via theresourcefulmama.com

Hide candy canes around your house, backyard, or classroom and have kids find the candy canes. Give hints to help kids find their way. To make it more challenging for older kids, use riddles or a series of clues to find the candy canes.

Get this printable from The Resourceful Mama.

22. Candy Cane Hop

Draw a hopscotch board or a start and finish line. Then, each participant holds out their hands while another person hooks candy canes onto their fingers. The person then hops through the hopscotch board or to the finish line. If they stop hopping or drop a candy cane, they have to go back and start again.

23. Candy Cane Scavenger Hunt

candy cane scavenger hunt clues for a candy cane game
Little Halo J/Candy cane treasure hunt via littlehaloj.com

Divide kids into teams and give them clues for a candy cane scavenger hunt. See how many they can find in the time you give them.

Buy it: Scavenger hunt printable at Little Halo J

24. Candy Cane Horseshoes

people playing a game of horsehoe with candy cane decorations
Oriental Trading

Set up a pole (an empty wrapping tube would be a good makeshift pole). Give each player a few candy canes and have students form a line. Each person takes turns tossing their candy cane toward the pole. The person who hooks their candy cane around the pole the most times or gets their candy cane closest wins.

You can also get a cute candy cane horseshoe set like this one from Oriental Trading and use candy canes instead of rope.

Buy it: Candy cane horseshoe game at Oriental Trading

25. Candy Cane Pickup

kid picking up candy canes with his mouth for a candy cane game
A Girl and a Glue Gun/Candy cane game via agirlandagluegun.com

Players put a candy cane in their mouth and see how many candy canes they can move from the table pile to a bowl in one minute using the candy cane in their mouth as the hook. The player who moves the most candy canes in one minute is the winner.

26. Who Stole the Candy Cane?

Instead of “Who Stole the Cookie?” this is Who Stole the Candy Cane? Sit in a circle and put a candy cane in a jar. Have children close their eyes, then choose one child to take the candy cane and keep it hidden. Then, the other children guess who has the candy cane.

Learn more: Who Stole the Candy Cane? game at Teach Preschool

27. Bobbing for Candy Canes

two people bobbing for candy canes for a candy cane game
Blogghetti/Bobbing for candy canes via blogghetti.com

Put a bunch of candy canes on a table and have kids (and adults!) “bob” for them, using only their mouths, to get as many candy canes as they can.  

28. Candy Cane Taste

boy holding different colored candy canes
Nifty Mom/Candy canes via niftymom.com

Think beyond mint. Pick up a package of different-flavored candy canes and have people taste each without looking. The person who identifies the most flavors correctly wins.

29. Candy Cane Hockey

hockey player candy cane holders
Stacey N. Lee-Anne Smith/Hockey player candy cane holders via Pinterest

Mark goals on either side of a table with tape. Use a peppermint as the puck and candy canes as sticks for a game of candy cane hockey.

30. Candy Cane Cup

people playing candy cane cup game
Play Party Plan/Candy cane cup game via playpartyplan.com

Place one cup for each player on the ground next to a table. Tie a string to a candy cane for each person. Have each player go to the other side of the table so they can’t see the cup. Then, they have to drape their candy cane onto the other side of the table to get it into the cup without looking.

What’s your favorite holiday game? Come share in the We Are Teachers HELPLINE group on Facebook!

Also check out our favorite Staff Holiday Party Games.

These candy cane games are a great way to practice reading or math, or just have fun with a classic holiday candy.