When there’s so much going on in our lives it’s easy to forget how grateful we are for what we have. We’re busy building our careers, nurturing relationships, bringing up children, and pursuing our hobbies.
That’s what makes Thanksgiving such a great occasion. We all reflect on how thankful we are for everything we have. Even if just for one day (Thursday, November 24 this year).
But our jobs are a big part of our lives too. There’s no reason not to get into the Thanksgiving spirit at work as well - whether you're in the office or working from home. So this year, try celebrating with these Thanksgiving team-building activities!
1. Spread the Message
With so much to be thankful for, why keep it to ourselves? Capture the sentiment of the things you’re most thankful for and share it with colleagues.
There are any number of ways to do this but consider a gratitude wall where employees can write what they’re most thankful for on post-it notes and display them on the wall. When complete, you have a wonderful wall of words to lift everyone’s spirits.
Or since so many of us are working from home, ask employees to record a video message saying what they’re thankful for. Edit all the videos together to create a heart-warming montage that can be shared in a Video Alert to all employees.
For remote teams, try setting up a Zoom Thanksgiving session where employees can share what they’re most thankful for with each other – plus get some much-needed human interaction too.
2. Test Your Knowledge
So your colleagues love Thanksgiving? And they have a competitive streak? Then Thanksgiving activities like a special themed online employee quiz is just the way to celebrate the occasion and foster a bit of light-hearted rivalry.
Collect a series of trivia questions on the history of Thanksgiving to challenge employees either on their own or in groups. Here's a couple to get you started:
What year was the first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade?
What was the “Rebecca” gifted to President Calvin Coolidge as a Thanksgiving gift in 1926?
A live raccoon.
3. A Feast for the Senses
In the home, family is the core of Thanksgiving, so naturally, teams are the core of Thanksgiving at work. Strengthen your teams and encourage interaction with special team-building activities themed around the occasion.
Food is the obvious choice since it’s such a major part of any Thanksgiving celebration (more food is eaten in America on this day than any other in the year!). Make sure to assign a different type of food for each team to prepare, just to ensure you don’t end up with 50 pumpkin pies!
This year, not all of us will have the pleasure of celebrating Thanksgiving together in the same office. Try taking the festivities to the online world with a virtual Thanksgiving dinner via Zoom and have each team member prepare their favorite Thanksgiving dish and share it with the team.
4. Transform the Office
For a Thanksgiving office idea that's a little less calorie-intensive, unfurl those flags, dust off those ornaments, and try a workspace decoration contest. Challenge your teams to create a Thanksgiving masterpiece that truly captures the spirit of the season.
Each team could take a different theme so that each decoration is truly unique. If the budget permits, allow each team a certain budget to spend at the local party goods store.
5. Praise for Employee Superstars
Hopefully, we’re all surrounded by fantastic, helpful, and inspiring co-workers every day. Well, at least some of them, right? Chances are, we don’t thank these amazing people as often as we ought to.
Thanking co-workers in a more formal manner makes sure that your office heroes are recognized for their achievements and receive the credit they’re due.
An online praise system linked to your corporate intranet is a simple way to encourage employees to submit praise for colleagues and express gratitude. Collate them all at the end of the week or month and share them with employees in a beautifully-designed digital newsletter.
6. Create a Thanksgiving Recipe Book
Everyone has their favorite Thanksgiving meal or dish. One that's been in the family for generations and without which no Thanksgiving dinner would be complete. Share them with your teams by collating them together in a special company recipe book.
Invite employees to submit their recipes and photos through a dedicated Slack channel or part of your intranet. Perhaps set up categories for different types of dish, such as mains, desserts, snacks, drinks and so on.
Then get a small team together to collate all these recipes into a single document for publishing. You'll likely need a designer for laying up the pages, a wordsmith for checking grammar and spelling, and a project manager to oversee production. When you're finished you'll have a unique Thanksgiving recipe book to share with the whole organization, either as a downloadable eBook or a printed book.
7. Give Something Back
As well as being thankful for everything we have, it’s worth also thinking of those who aren't as fortunate. An offsite charity day is a great way to help people in need and to selflessly give something back.
Ask your Human Resources team if there are any preferred charities the organization supports. If there aren’t, try looking online for suggestions of worthy causes in your area. There are also opportunities to participate in a volunteer activity online.
For example, on one charity day, our whole team worked with a local special children’s school on their Olympics sports day. The happiness and joy of the children made us all truly thankful for the opportunity to help enrich the lives of others.
8. Show Some Kindness
It’s never been more important to show others a little kindness. In trying times, small acts of kindness can do a lot to brighten a person’s day. In the workplace, it's proven to boost engagement, productivity, and mental wellbeing.
As well as being a good Thanksgiving team-building activity, kindness to-do lists are a great way to encourage employees to perform acts of kindness towards each other. Try launching it with a Survey inviting team members to give suggestions, then use these to create a list of tasks for employees to complete.
It could be as simple as asking someone about their day, offering some Netflix suggestions, or just telling someone about a way they’ve made you smile. Set a timeframe for employees to complete the tasks and inspire them to check every item off their list by offering a kindness-infused reward for the first person to finish all their acts.
Thanksgiving is a fantastic opportunity to be thankful for everything we have – both at home and at work. But why stop there? Perhaps the best legacy of Thanksgiving could be making it more than just one day and living the lessons every day.
Plan your office Thanksgiving celebrations, and every other special day during the year, in our annual planning calendar. Add your own events and dates to the more than 70 already included. It's fully editable and it's free. Download your 2023 HR planning calendar now.