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Candy Cane Game

 Get ready for a holiday twist on the good ol’ spoon game that’s sure to get some laughs and smiles. Introducing…the candy cane game! It’s just like the spoon-grabbing classic except with delicious candy canes instead. The race to make card matches and grab candy canes generates plenty of playful competition as everyone dives for those iconic striped candies.

silver ornaments on table with 2 candy canes and card that states joy

Rules and Instructions

The Candy Cane Game is simple, fast-paced, and best played with a group of 4-8 participants. Here’s how you you play:

What You’ll Need to Play the Candy Cane Game

  • A deck of playing cards (or a Christmas-themed deck for extra fun)
  • An equal number of candy canes to participants, minus one
  • A table for everyone to sit or stand around (can also be played on the floor)


Arrange the candy canes in a circle in the middle of the table, with the curved end facing outward.

candy canes in shape of hearts to show how to position them in candy cane game


Object of the game: Players take turns trying to collect a four-of-a-kind. Once someone does, everyone tries to grab a candy cane.

  1. Each player takes a seat around the table. One player starts as the dealer and shuffles the deck and deals out four cards to each player. The remaining cards are the draw pile kept next to the dealer.
  2. The dealer picks up one card from the pile and adds the card to her hand. She then discards one of her cards placing it face down to the left, where the next person picks it up. This person discards a card to player on the left. 
  3. Play continues with everyone picking up one card from the right and discarding one card to the left.
  4. Once a player collects a set of four matching cards, they grab a candy cane from the center of the table as discreetly as possible. When other players notice someone taking a candy cane, they can also reach for one.
  5. The player left without a candy cane is eliminated from the game.
  6. Place the remaining candy canes (minus one) in a circle in the middle of the table.  Continue playing subsequent rounds until there is only one player left. The last remaining player is the winner!
Silver ornaments with condy cane and card that states be bright

Tips for a Fun Game

Here are some helpful tips and hints for the candy cane game:

  • As dealer, discard and draw rapidly to jumpstart the gameplay.
  • Rotate dealer each round to keep it fair.
  • If dealer runs out of cards, he can grab discards from player on right.
  • Snatch a candy cane fast when you get 4 of a kind for excitement.
  • Or sneak a candy cane subtly and see who notices first.
  • False grabs end the round – use that to fake out other players.
  • Pretend to take a candy cane without 4 of a kind to trick others.
  • Grabbing without a match earns you a penalty.
  • Be sure to discard – no hoarding cards!
Candy canes hanging on edge of mug to relfect candy used in the Candy Cane Game

Variations of Candy Cane Game

  • Candy Cane Pass- Instead of eliminating players, continue playing rounds until everyone has at least one candy cane. In this version, the player with the most candy canes when the deck runs out wins.
  • Joker’s Wild- Include the jokers in the deck and have them act as wild cards to be used as any card.
  • Candy Cane Sprint– Place the candy canes all the way across the room instead of in the middle. Players must run to get a candy cane.
  • Double Deck- Use 2 decks of cards for larger groups.
  • Kid Friendly-  Make matches easier by only using Aces to 5s.
  • Rapid Fire- For a faster game, players grab a candy cane as soon as they get a pair rather than 4 of a kind.
Candy cane ornament hanging in lighted Christmas tree

The next time you find yourself in need of a fun, festive activity for your holiday party, look no further than the candy cane game! The candy cane game promises hours of upbeat entertainment and sweet holiday memories for family and friends. May your next Christmas gathering be abundantly merry and bright with this classic game at the center of the fun.


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