Celebrating the holidays this time of year can be tricky, as not everyone celebrates the same holidays and small businesses and their owners are expected to remain neutral in many cases. However, it doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate and be joyful with your team…’tis the season, after all! There are many activities that aren’t necessarily holiday-specific, and that can promote team-building and engagement with your employees. Check out some of our ideas below.
Host a Holiday Bake-Off
It wouldn’t be the holiday season without baked goods! Do you know who the best bakers are on your team? Everyone loves a friendly competition, and we don’t think you’ll have to search very far for judging volunteers—who wouldn’t want to taste Great Aunt Judy’s famous pecan pie? Don’t forget to buy a trophy for the winner to proudly display at his/her desk for bragging rights the rest of the year!
Volunteer As a Team
Contrary to popular belief, the holidays are about more than just the gifts. Places like the Salvation Army and food banks are always in need of volunteers to help sort and package canned goods and other donations for those less fortunate. It can be a very humbling experience and reinforce what’s really important this time of year. You could also host a Toys-for-Tots collection in the office, make cards for local kids in the hospital, or see if you have an “Adopt-a-Family” program nearby, which helps bring gifts and other necessary items to low-income families that might not be able to provide them otherwise.
It’s not surprising that even though the holidays tend to bring extra cheer, they can also induce extra pounds as well. Create a “Healthy Habits Challenge” or similar contest that encourages your employees to stay on track with their health…and waistline. You could even offer a super awesome prize like a Fitbit for the winner to entice more participants. There are lots of holiday fun runs that you could sign up for together or use as inspiration for others to get up and get moving. Or, host a “Salad Potluck Day” where everyone brings in different toppings and ingredients to create their own salad. Plus, you’ll need something to counteract that holiday bake-off, right?
Have an Ugly Sweater Contest
Along with her pecan pie, Great Aunt Judy is famous for her cringeworthy holiday sweaters and turtlenecks. Don’t lie: we all have one of those relatives. Why not embrace the cheesiness and see which of your employees can come up with the funniest contribution? Don’t celebrate Christmas? Not a problem—Google has tons of other festive options, ranging from cats to Star Wars, and even a “Get Lit” Hanukkah sweater. Additionally, your local thrift store is bound to have a vintage gem, or even better, DIY-it. Trust us, tinsel can definitely be hot-glued to a sweatshirt.
Have a White Elephant Gift Exchange
If you’ve never had a White Elephant Gift Exchange before, here’s how it works: each person brings a wrapped gift to contribute, then everyone will draw a number to determine which order they get to participate. Then, going in order, each person will select a gift and open it for everyone to see. However, after the first person goes, each person has the opportunity to select a wrapped gift, or steal an open gift that they desire. Any person who has had their gift stolen can do the same: either select a new, wrapped gift, or steal someone else’s. Each gift can only be stolen once per turn though, therefore if your gift is stolen, you can’t immediately steal it back. Additionally, after everyone goes, the first person has the chance to keep their gift if they like it, or steal someone else’s. Check out more details about the rules here. Gifts can be serious, or goofy and fun. Feel free to take bets on who will be that person to bring the whoopy cushion.
Start a Gratitude Wall/Chain in a Shared Common Space
Whatever your religion or holiday beliefs are, there’s always lots to be grateful for in this life. Studies show that gratitude is one of the #1 indicators of happiness, and those who practice it regularly are happier overall. Therefore, why not share what you’re all grateful for and spread the attitude? Try focusing on what you already have this holiday season, instead of what you’re hoping your Elf on the Shelf or Mensch on the Bench will drop off.
Offer Floating Holidays
It’s hard to accommodate everyone, but it’s also hard to set firm company days off, especially if that means some people have to work on their own religious holidays. By offering floating holidays, you can continue business functions but also appease those that celebrate differently. It’s a small gesture that can have a big impact and meaning for your employees.
Have any other ways to celebrate that have worked for your office in the past? We’d love to hear them!