Remote team building is essential year-round, and takes on even more meaning during Thanksgiving and the winter holidays. Team building helps you forge lasting bonds between remote team members who otherwise wouldn’t get a lot of opportunities to get to connect outside of work-related tasks.
In the US, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of every November, while in Canada, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday of October. Some other countries celebrate it too, though not as widely.
As you well know, Thanksgiving is all about giving thanks and eating great food—two things that can certainly be effective in building culture with remote teams that don’t see each other often.
In this guide, we cover the best activities to try, plus we share some helpful resources to support your team building strategy.
The best Thanksgiving team building activities for remote teams
Whether you want to host a silly party, a meaningful event, or a little bit of both, we’ve got the perfect team building activities to try this Thanksgiving. You can mix and match many of these ideas.
1. Host a crazy sweater party
Get everyone together for a virtual event where you show off your crazy sweaters. Give your team members a budget to go purchase Thanksgiving-themed sweaters beforhand. To make it even more fun, award prizes for different categories of winners.
2. Forge new connections with Ketchup
With Ketchup, remote team members can create relationships with everyone on their team in an asynchronous way. Team members answer questions about their personal life and working style. Over time, people get to know one another better and can also review each other’s profiles to see all their responses in one place.
3. Take turns sharing what you’re thankful for
Host a gratitude session, where everyone on your team takes turns sharing what they’re thankful for. Allow people to share whatever they want. It doesn’t have to be work-related.
4. Volunteer for different local organizations
Remote teams tend to live in different places. You can harness the spirit of the season by giving back to your local communities. You might encourage everyone to volunteer on the business day preceding Thanksgiving (Wednesday in the US) instead of handling their typical work responsibilities. Then, after the long weekend, host a meeting to share your volunteer experiences.
5. Create a virtual volunteer day
Instead of volunteering for different organizations, you can find a way to volunteer for the same cause, even remotely. For example, everyone can make crafts for children in medical facilities with the non-profit organization Cailtlin’s Smiles. Kick things off with a team meeting and then get to crafting.
6. Encourage employees to go for a fall walk and snap a pic
Have your remote team members been cooped up inside and unable to experience the fall leaves and crisp weather? Give everyone time to take a walk and then post pics of fall foliage in Ketchup or Slack.
7. Host a cocktail party
Why not host an early evening cocktail party? You can ship out yummy drinks and appetizers to your attendees ahead of time. During the virtual event, people can chat about whatever comes to mind. Prepare some conversation starters ahead of time, and try Zoom’s breakout rooms to randomly spin up some smaller groups.
8. Put on a worksgiving event
You’ve heard of friendsgiving, but have you heard of worksgiving? Order and deliver Thanksgiving meals for all of your team members and chow down. Consider screening a short film together to people don’t have to eat and talk at the same time (or feel self-conscious about eating on screen).
9. Play a Thanksgiving-related game
Host a virtual game with your team and give out prizes. To make it easy to organize, you can purchase Thanksgiving bingo printables and Thanksgiving family-feud style game printables from Etsy. Purchase virtual gift cards and forward the codes to the winners.
10. Organize a white elephant exchange for thank-you gifts
White elephant gift-giving is typically reserved for Christmas, but it can work great for Thanksgiving too. Randomly select a recipient that each team member is supposed to give a gift too (making sure everyone is covered). Then foot the bill for thank-you gifts up to a certain amount and/or handwritten notes.
11. Cook pumpkin pie together
Host a remote live cooking class where everyone bakes their own pumpkin pie. Your team members can bite into it then and there, or bring it to an upcoming feast.
12. Make a fall wreath
Do you have some crafty team members? Organize a fall wreath making event, and deliver the supplies ahead of time, such as plastic leaves and flowers, glue guns, wreath forms, etc.
13. Organize a beer or apple cider tasting
Host a beer tasting event and deliver beer bottles and a flight of small glasses to your team members beforehand. This way, they’ll get to enjoy the bottles and keep the flight glasses as a lasting gift. For non-alcoholic participants, you could offer different flavors or brands of apple cider instead.
14. Host a wine and cheese pairing event
Wine and cheese are notoriously delicious when consumed together. You could do some research to come up with delicious pairings or hire a sommelier to help you choose the items you’ll need to deliver to your teammates before the virtual event.
Non-alcoholic wines are growing in options and popularity, so check to see if any of your team members would prefer an NA experience.
15. Create a virtual recipe exchange
Many of us guard delicious family Thanksgiving recipes. Wouldn’t it be nice to know what everyone else’s Nana is cooking? You could set up a Google Drive folder and encourage everyone to upload their best recipes. Then, have your team let each other know what they tried and loved.
16. Make pumpkin spice-scented candles
Candle making is a simple craft that can be easily done in a remote setting. Collect all of the materials ahead of time and ship them out. Then, work on the candles together at home. Plenty of laughs will ensue, but hopefully no major wax spills.
17. Create a virtual gratitude card (by the team, for the team)
You could make a Thanksgiving Kudoboard as a team. Have everyone write what they are thankful for relating to the company, organize it into a slideshow, and then play it during an upcoming meeting.
18. Do a virtual fitness activity
The office that sweats together stays together, right? Try hosting a 30-minute virtual workout session, such as a Zumba or HIIT workout. Schedule it for the afternoon before Thanksgiving to help everyone work up an appetite.
19. Make DIY pumpkin cocktails together
Instead of just putting on a virtual cocktail party where you deliver the drinks ahead of time, try shipping out the ingredients and mixology equipment. Then, whip up Thanksgiving-themed cocktails together using pumpkin and/or apple ingredients.
Resources for remote team building activities during Thanksgiving
To help your team forge new connections with team members every day, use Ketchup. Our asynch team building platform is perfect for keeping relationships strong between special events.