The holiday season—it’s merry, exciting, and a valuable time of opportunity for your company. Everyone takes time off, makes travel plans, and rekindles bonds with loved ones. Make the best use of the cheerfulness and enthusiasm in the air at your workplace with holiday team building activities.
Building camaraderie in your office or with remote employees fosters better productivity and helps everyone get to know each other, resulting in a stronger team overall. Here are five team-building activities to try this year.
1. Give gifts and open them together
You’ve probably played Secret Santa or done a pink elephant gift exchange at a holiday party before, so consider this tried-and-true activity with the team. It can be easily translated to the virtual team space, and it’s well worth it. With more than 41% of people working remotely today, virtual holiday team building activities can build bonds across time zones, cities, and even countries.
Pick a date to hold your office or virtual unboxing event together.
Whether you are sending out gifts or encouraging employees to participate, ensure employees receive their gifts a week or two in advance so that everyone has something to open on the day of the event. Planning early gives you time to track the shipment and re-send gifts if there are any setbacks or delays.
Consider gifts that have universal use and appeal, such as:
- Coffee mugs for coffee and tea
- Colorful, branded t-shirts with your company logo
- Custom drawstring backpacks with extra pockets
If you’re going the virtual route, recruit volunteers to host and moderate the unboxing event so that everyone gets on-screen recognition and time to speak.
2. Hold an Olympics-style office games
Remember the anticipation in the air on the morning of grade-school field trips? Employees need something like that, too. Nothing builds camaraderie like having a “fun day” at work while enjoying a little friendly competition. Play psychologically engages each employee and adds meaning (and exhilaration) to your company’s work experience.
Choose a Friday in December for employees to finish work early (or block out the day) and spend the time hosting an assortment of games. Track the leaderboard and give out gold, silver, bronze medals and prizes. To take it to the next level, consider giving crystal tower awards for first place or exceptional performance.
Clear space in the office to set up games in different sections. Use themes, decorations, and music, and appoint official scorekeepers.
Some great ideas for games to play include:
If you live in a place where nice weather continues year-round, you can even consider:
These game ideas can be used in any season, but depending on the theme you’ve chosen, specific holiday-themed games would also be a great bet. Cater food and drinks for the games so that everyone can stay well-fed, well-hydrated, and focus on building camaraderie. Carve out time for an awards ceremony to end the day where co-workers can celebrate each other over drinks and music.
Pro Tip for Remote Teams: Even if you aren’t together in an office, you can still host a virtual company game day or activity by appointing a host to lead the team through a series of fun games. Have the host share their screen on the virtual call and put together a list of games such as holiday icebreakers, charades, or online games like Wordle and Jeopardy that you can play together. Coordinate with employees beforehand to take care of their lunches remotely!
3. Let your employees choose a bonding outing
Give your employees a say in the holiday team building activities. Put out a survey for options before the event and hold a vote in your office.
This removes all the guess work and makes your employees feel included in the process. Budget for your holiday team building early in the year so that you can fund any reasonable option.
If you work from the same place, popular outing choices might include:
- A group escape room outing
- Booking a yacht for a formal dinner cruise
- Dinner together in the area at a popular restaurant
- An axe throwing night
When your employees get a say in the activity, they will look forward to it even more. Send out invitations and RSVPs beforehand to get a headcount and feed the excitement.
4. Hold a potluck
This option is simple but almost always effective. A gathering with thoughtful homemade meals can build camaraderie like nothing else. Hold a potluck and invite everyone on the team to bring an item.
Create a food and beverage document or spreadsheet that everyone can fill out so you know what items to expect. If the weather where you are is agreeable, consider holding a cookout. Rent heated lamps if you live in a cold climate so that guests can comfortably enjoy the outdoor air well into the night.
A potluck or shared meal is the most straightforward way to encourage everyone to let their hair down and enjoy each other’s company.
5. Leave town for a weekend retreat
If youʼre able to make it work with team schedules, traveling just out of town for a team-building retreat can provide your employees with a much-appreciated break from the routine and demands of the office. Keep the retreat light on actual work. Instead, explore personality assessments and team discussions that teach everyone about each other.
At the close of the day, gather the team by the fireplace to warm up from the winter weather. Make some smores or hot cocoa and play some icebreakers or talk about your holiday plans and goals for the new year. A weekend retreat allows you to celebrate the successes of the year as you take some downtime and pivot to the next one.
Use the holiday season to build camaraderie
Camaraderie is an important initiative, building the team chemistry that keeps your company high-performing and productive. Well-planned holiday team building activities can bring employees closer together while providing a well-deserved reward for everyone at the end of a year of hard work. For virtual teams and in-person teams alike, holiday activities can bridge gaps between team members in a meaningful way.
Now that the ideas are fresh, commit some time to planning your team building activities for the end of the year. Your company will become more cohesive as a result and your team members will appreciate the thoughtful opportunity.
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