Holidays for business culture can be hit or miss. Some companies opt for the ugly Christmas sweater party, while others might skip the interaction all together for fear of potentially alienating employees from different backgrounds. Don't let the holidays intimidate you!
Developing a positive, personal work culture is as key to growing a business as the corporate mission. We work side by side with the same people for years and some of us barely know anything about each other. There is strong documented proof that social connections at work produce highly desirable results. People simply want to know they matter; personal connections help with this.
The holidays are a wonderful time to start building those connections with a little fun and flare. This year, instead of papering the office with snowflakes and candy canes, why not try some of these team building holiday activities that are sure to get your office in the holiday spirit and benefit your company's growth all at the same time?
1. THE HOLIDAY HUNT
How: Create a list of items that incorporates all of the holidays represented in your office and don't be afraid to make it difficult. Pick a start and end date, or a time limit, and whether items are only in the office or can also be found outside the office. The idea is to have teams collect the holiday inspired items and be the first to return with the most items on the list.
Why: A scavenger hunt is a great activity that forces people to work as a team and spurs creativity, especially if tricky clues or riddles are used.
2. HOLIDAY WASSAIL CARRY
How: Use your favorite holiday drink in this team challenge. The goal is for each team to retrieve 10 cups of a holiday beverage from around the room and place it on a tray without spilling any. The catch? Each person can only use one hand and one leg to complete the task.
Why: This is a great way for groups to problem solve and hone their strengths to overcome their weakness to get the job done.
3. WATCH YOUR STEP
How: Using masking tape, tape out a large, convoluted shape on the floor with the idea that people must make it from one end to the other. Your playing space should be no less than 12 feet long and 6 feet wide.
Place a few squeaky, holiday-inspired dog toys inside the space and twice as many sheets of paper with holiday themed objects drawn or written on them. The sheets of paper are landmines. Two at a time and blindfolded, each member of your team must make it from start to finish without stepping out of bounds or on a "holiday landmine".
If they do, they are frozen and can only be unfrozen when someone steps on a squeaky toy. Their only guidance comes solely from the unblindfolded team members outside of the shape.
Why: This game is about communication and trust. Players learn to be multi-focused and give clear and timely advice, as well as follow directions.
4. THE PUZZLE TRADE
How: Using several groups or teams of equal size, give each team different holiday inspired jigsaw puzzles of equal difficulty. Determine a set amount of time to finish the puzzle (minutes, hours or days) and explain to teams that some of their puzzle pieces belong to other puzzles in the room.
The goal is to be the first group to complete your puzzle and come up with your own method of convincing the other teams to relinquish the pieces you need through barter of time, exchange of team members, merger, etc. Whatever you do, you must do it as a group.
Why: While time consuming, this exercise fosters creative teamwork on several levels. Each time must not only solve the puzzle, but the problem of how to get their pieces back.
5. GUESS MY NAME
How: On nametags, write down the names of holiday figures like Rudolph, Frosty, Krampus, etc. Don't be afraid to use Google to find more obscure and cross cultural figures. Stick the nametags on team member's backs, so that the wearer cannot see.
For a set amount of time, have the group mingle and ask and answer questions. They should treat each other according to the stereotypical way that figure is treated or referred to during the holiday season. Once you have discovered who you are, you exit the game until everyone has identified their figure.
Why: By dealing with stereotypes, even silly ones, we can assess how we mistakenly see people and how it feels to be narrowly defined. This is also a great way to get to know each other.
6. HOLIDAY WHODUNNIT
How: Why not spice up this year's holiday party with a good old fashioned murder mystery. This one might take some planning but the idea is simple. First, stage a holiday crime scene ie: a chalk outline of a dead santa with a corn cob pipe in the center of a wet spot with an unplugged space heater close by.
Next, plant some clues and even enlist the help of other non-playing coworkers. As guests arrive, divide them into teams and them investigate to solve the crime. If you're not comfortable doing it yourself, some pre-scripted mysteries games can be found here. Feel free to swap out some characters and situations for more holiday themed ones.
Why: This is a great way to build sense of camaraderie and cooperation in your employees while working in a dynamic and fun atmosphere.
7. BLIND HOLIDAY RETRIEVER
How: With this fun and challenging blindfold activity, split into groups and have one person in each group be blindfolded. Then have other team members direct them around to collect certain holiday objects using simple commands before the other team can get to the objects.
Why: This is a great way to decide as a group the most efficient and effective communication necessary to get the job done. Build trust and other group dynamics with this game.
8. HOLIDAY GIFT TRUTHS AND A LIE
How: Give each team member four identical strips of paper. Have them write down three truths and one lie about gifts they have either received or given. The lie should be something believable. Have each team member read their slips in random order and allow the team to discuss which are the truths and the lies.
Why: This is a great way for employees to get to know each other. For those introverts in the office, it's an easy way to engage and everyone learns a little bit more about each other and themselves.
9. USE WHAT YOU GOT
How: Give each group a specific holiday themed object to create. Be specific about the restrictions, parameters and goal, ie: create an object that flicks candy canes. Then get creative. Either give each team the same supplies, a box of communal supplies, or relegate supplies to only what's on each team member's desk or workstation. Create a time frame for completion and watch the fun begin.
Why: Problem solving as a team, with creativity mixed in, is a big winner for office culture. Watch this exercise translate into the daily work culture practices almost immediately.
10. OFFICE HOLIDAY OLYMPICS
How: Have teams compete in some favorite, and made up, holiday pastimes like eating candy canes without biting, unwrapping chocolate Hanukkah Gelt without using your hands, or a three-legged man race using tinsel to tie legs together. The more creative the better.
Why: This is a great way to cut loose and have fun while fostering team building. Teams will learn each other's strengths and have a chance to offer assistance in helping fellow employees overcome some personal challenges.