Happy, well-connected team members deliver more revenue, stick around at your company longer, and create better experiences for your customers.
The holidays are a time for seeing loved ones and focusing on what really matters in life.
So naturally, the holidays are a great opportunity for team building. Spread that good cheer around your company and you’ll see the results in better communication and improved collaboration.
Remote and hybrid team building activities can span from meaningful experiences to silly games. Only you know what’s right for your team.
Below, we’ve rounded up a variety of activities and party ideas.
Mix and match your favorites for a holistic team building approach this holiday season!
Remote holiday team building activities
These activities can be done independently of a holiday party, but some of them could also be worked into your party-planning.
All of these activities work perfectly for remote and hybrid teams. You might even offer a few activity options and let employees sign up for their favorites.
1. Create a dedicated virtual space for async team building
Have you heard of asynchronous team building? It’s similar to async communication in that people don’t have to be logged on simultaneously.
Teams that are spread across different time zones can benefit from async team building. Ketchup helps your hybrid team work and play better together by giving everyone a happy place to get to know, understand, and support each other.
It's async and inclusive so even the most introverted team members will feel safe sharing what's important to them. (And it's automated so you can stop searching for ice-breakers.)
This is more successful than a Slack channel, because Slack gets stressful and distracting—definitely not the right environment for making connections.
2. Organize a virtual Secret Santa
Secret Santa is one of the most fun holiday team building activities. And, it’s absolutely something you can adopt in a virtual setting. Just use a Secret Santa name generator to determine recipients and make sure everyone is covered.
Then, give employees a budget for the gift. You can have employees send you the link for the product they want to purchase and handle the purchase and shipping yourself. This way, you can follow up with people (and you’ll make sure no one gets forgotten).
3. Volunteer locally and share your experiences
The holidays are a time for giving back. Create a volunteer week during the holiday season and have each employee volunteer for a full day or a half day during that week. Then, share your experiences using Ketchup or during a team meeting.
4. Organize a food or toy drive
Choose organizations that are present in the cities where your team works. Then, give your team a budget to purchase food or toys and deliver them to the chosen non-profit(s). This is a great way to get your team involved in the giving season.
5. Host a holiday-themed cooking class
Have some fun with a cooking class. You could cook something elegant, like a nice roast, or something more crafty, like a cake that resembles like a Christmas tree.
You can use a platform like TeamClass or Rockoly to hire a chef instructor and get all of the materials delivered on time.
6. Play White Elephant virtually
White Elephant is that popular Christmas game where attendees can choose to steal a gift or open a new one. You can manage this virtually by having the game host show off all the gifts available. She can then open the presents for each attendee as they choose them and put sticky notes to track whose is whose. Then, once all the stealing and laughter is over, ship out the gifts to the right people.
You can use a platform like White Elephant Online to make it fully digital and easier to organize.
7. Create your own awards
Fun ideas for awards include Jolliest Employee, Best Listener, Funniest Employee, Most Organized, and Most Likely to Believe in Santa. Create your own awards council to come up with the categories and choose the winners, or let your entire staff vote.
8. Host a personal development workshop perfect for the holiday season
The world’s best employers take care of their teams holistically. They provide learning opportunities and resources that impact employees’ entire lives—not just the working environment.
Depending on what each individual is going through, the holidays can be a time of stress, sadness, reflection, or ambitious goal-setting.
You can provide workshops that hit at any or all of these needs. Personal development workshops can foster goodwill, boost mental health, and in turn improve team communication.
Make sure to enlist the help of a skilled workshop facilitator who knows how to build engagement and participation. For example, Emily Schickli offers workshops on stress and burnout relief, mindfulness, self-care, and intuition for companies like Google, Microsoft, and Uber. By going through these experiences together, your teammates will bond with themselves and each other.
9. Solve a problem or puzzle together
Problem-solving encourages communication and collaboration. You could work together during a virtual event to solve a problem or a puzzle. Mystery specializes in virtual escape rooms that will have your team members working together.
10. Create a cookie-decorating competition
Give your team all of the materials they need to bake and decorate cookies, or offer a small grocery budget to participants. Then, have your team submit photos of their cookies (with a selfie for no cheating!) or share the cookies live on a call. Then give away prizes for the winners, such as gift cards or company swag.
11. Host a gingerbread house competition
This idea is similar to the one above, but will appeal to the engineering-minded crowd. Construct gingerbread houses and have different categories for the winners, such as Largest Gingerbread House and Best-Decorated Gingerbread House. You could have everyone submit photos of their work or host a meeting for the big reveals.
12. Organize a holiday-themed virtual scavenger hunt
A virtual scavenger hunt can be a fun way to get your employees outside of their home offices, while still keeping everyone engaged.
You can use an app like Scavify to design a holiday-themed scavenger hunt. For example, employees might hunt for Christmas lights, certain Christmas decor, Christmas cookies, etc.
And of course, don’t forget about the prizes.
13. Hire a fun virtual fitness trainer for an Xmas music workout
Hire a personal trainer to host an equipment-free workout for your team. Ask the trainer to play Christmas pop songs to make the experience more festive. You can allow employees to turn their cameras on or off, depending on their comfort level.
For more ideas during the holidays, be sure to check out our list of great team building activities for Thanksgiving.
Remote holiday party ideas
Parties are one of the most common ways to forge deeper team connections during the holiday season. And for good reason! Parties bring everyone together and allow for non-word related conversations. Make sure to plan your party for the beginning of December or the beginning of January (so you avoid OOO season).
A great virtual party should have 3 to 5 different items on the itinerary, so be sure to pick a few options from the list below.
14. Play Christmas bingo
During your party, you could play Christmas bingo. Purchase holiday-themed bingo cards ahead of time from Etsy and ship them to everyone along with whatever other party materials you’ll be sending. Or, simply email unique bingo cards to each participant in PNG or JPG format.
For prizes, you could deliver gift cards virtually or ship out physical prizes after the party.
15. Try a software designed for virtual events
When you’re hosting a virtual party, Zoom might not cut it. You might need break-out rooms, different stages, schedules, comments, group chat, individual chat, and tons of other features designed to mimic real-life experiences.
For example, Airmeet comes with features that can work for conferences, awards ceremonies, networking events, and meetups.
There are tons of different virtual events platforms out there, so it should be easy to find one that meets your ongoing needs.
16. Prepare holiday-themed icebreakers to kickstart the conversations
Most likely, your party itinerary will have some breakout sessions for relationship-building. Try creating a slide with holiday-themed icebreakers for the welcome screen.
You might include icebreakers like:
Share your best (or worst) childhood Christmas memory
What’s the best Christmas present you ever got for someone else?
What will you be doing during your time off?
17. Host an ugly holiday sweater competition
This one is tons of fun! Have everyone wear an ugly sweater to your remote party and give out prizes for the craziest sweaters.
To make things even more interesting, have a pet category and allow employees to show off their dressed-up pets for a little bit.
18. Put a holiday spin on “Don’t Forget the Lyrics”
Have you ever seen the show “Don’t Forget the Lyrics?” Contestants sing along karaoke style, but then the lyrics stop and they have to guess the correct lyrics to fit in the blank slots.
You could easily do this virtually. Just share your screen and play a karaoke Christmas song video from YouTube. Then turn it off and tell your contestant how many words they need to supply. Not everyone will want to participate, but your karaoke diehards will entertain everyone else.
19. Deliver the makings for a hot chocolate bar ahead of time
It can be a little awkward to eat in front of people on camera. So, maybe instead of delivering food to everyone’s homes, you could deliver the materials they’ll need to make themselves gourmet hot chocolate. Include high-quality cocoa mix, marshmallows, and peppermint syrup or crushed peppermint candies. You might even gift everyone a new company mug.
20. Play holiday movie trivia
Want to add some trivia to your itinerary? Try to theme it around holiday movies. You can work in some classics, like The Santa Clause, along with some newer movies like Noelle. Check out this list of 130 Christmas movie trivia questions to help you out.
21. Opt for a slightly formal dress code
Remote work offers a ton of benefits: no commuting, no expensive lunches, no uncomfortable clothes. But the flip side is that people don’t have as many reasons to dress up.
Dressing up is actually known to make us happy—so long as we’re not forced to do it too often. On the remote holiday party invitation, make sure to clarify the dress code. If you want to make it dressy, write in “cocktail attire” or “slightly formal.”
You’ll add a more elegant twist to the whole affair, and create a bonding moment because everyone is doing something out of the ordinary. (No pajama bottoms.)
22. Hire an emcee / DJ
If you’re hosting a holiday party for a large remote team, you might consider hiring an experienced virtual emcee / DJ. They can welcome everyone, hype everyone up, play music between events, host games, and announce winners. It’s a unique talent that’s hard to replicate, so if no one on your team is a natural emcee, you might be better off hiring an expert. Their comfort level with public speaking will put everyone at ease and make sure everyone has a really good time.
The holiday season is an amazing time to focus on team building. There are so many ways to connect with each other, have fun, and bring more meaning to the job. Pick your favorite activities and get planning.
For async team building throughout the year, check out Ketchup.