Your team’s been working hard for weeks – starting early and staying late, eating lunch at their desks, and doing whatever it takes to hit their targets. Grateful for their efforts and proud of what they’ve achieved, you’re keen to show your appreciation. But how exactly should you do it? How should you celebrate the team’s triumphs?
Read on for 28 memorable team celebration ideas that, done right (and regularly!), will help boost team morale, cultivate a positive company culture, and improve employee retention in the process.
Grand team celebration ideas: In-person
Big achievements call for big celebrations! In this first section, we’ll run through 10 ideas that are perfect for marking significant wins. Whether the team just landed a huge client or broke the company sales record, the coming celebrations would be ideal for marking the moment and incentivizing future accomplishments.
1. Go on a company retreat together
Call us biased, but team-building and company retreats are ideal arenas for team celebrations! After all, whether you’re in your hometown or on the other side of the planet, you’re out of the office, away from the usual routine, and spending quality time together in relaxed, informal environments.
Those attributes make retreats inherently memorable – perfect ways to mark significant milestones and reward teams for their hard work. Better still, a well-planned retreat also provides opportunities to learn new skills, get to know each other, and gain a better understanding of the company’s vision/goals. This all contributes to a positive and engaged workforce that’s more motivated to succeed.
2. Throw an office party
A quintessential team celebration, office parties have fun, inclusivity, and familiarity at their core. They also give employees a chance to let their hair down after working hard – to talk about something other than work and cross the bridge from mere colleagues to friends.
With music playing, drinks flowing, and party games on the go, everyone’s guaranteed a good time. Moreover, there’s nothing like a big office party to show employees you care! Whether you’ve hired a special venue for the event, paid for the drinks, or organized some entertainment, they’ll repay the favor via increases in loyalty and productivity down the line.
3. Organize a themed event
Want to take your office party to the next level? Consider hiring a high-end venue for some sort of themed event. Another fun, engaging, and accessible idea with team-building undertones, you could:
- Pretend you’re Hollywood movie stars at an Oscars-themed event
- Throw a Copacabana-style beach party
- Dress up as Alice in Wonderland characters for a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party
- Decorate the space with an opulent, art-deco theme for a roaring 20s bash
- Do your best Danny Zuko impression at a Grease-themed event
Whatever you choose, setting a theme for the event – in terms of the venue, costumes, decorations, music, and drinks – will turn it into a bigger deal. That’s good news in terms of encouraging engagement and ensuring everyone has a good time.
4. Host an awards night
One of the best ways to celebrate a team’s achievements is to organize an awards ceremony. A public acknowledgment of individual accomplishments, it’ll make your employees feel appreciated and help solidify their commitment to the team.
You could even let the team decide who wins what. Having chosen the awards (e.g. best customer service award, living by our values award, always growing award…), ask people to vote in anonymous surveys for who they think deserves each one.
As for the event itself, why not turn your awards night into a gala-style affair? You could hire a big venue, sort out catering and entertainment, and set a formal dress code for attendees. That way, it’s about more than just the prizes. Everyone can have a good time, regardless of whether or not they win something.
5. Go on a team shopping spree
How’s your business bank account looking? If it’s been a successful year and there’s money to burn, a team shopping spree would be a) a memorable alternative to traditional bonuses and b) a novel (and gratefully received!) way to celebrate your employee’s respective contributions.
Set a date, establish a budget, grab your credit card, and hit the town together for some group retail therapy! To give this idea a bigger team-building component, consider challenging everyone to do the shopping for another member of the team. Rather than spending their allotted money on themselves, they have to choose items and experiences they think their colleague will enjoy.
6. Issue bonuses or additional vacation time
Financial bonuses are a go-to way to celebrate work-related successes. And for good reason too! First off, there’s nothing like the promise of extra money in your pocket to incentivize conscientiousness. Secondly, it’s a very tangible way to thank someone for their contributions to the team.
If a bonus feels too impersonal, though, another option is to grant people extra paid vacation time instead. Let’s say the whole team worked like crazy over the last month and smashed their sales targets. You could celebrate this feat by giving each of them an additional paid day off to redeem at a time of their choosing.
7. Rent a luxury box/suite at a sporting event
Do you manage a group of sports enthusiasts? Are there particular sporting teams everyone’s passionate about? Well, one way to celebrate their recent wins would be to buy everyone tickets to the game. Better yet, you could hire a box or suite at the stadium to watch it in luxury!
This type of celebration’s sure to go down a treat. A generous gesture, it’ll show your appreciation and deliver a special day out that unites the team. Not only that, but you’ll have the best seats in the house! Whether you watch baseball, basketball, or NFL, it’ll be all anyone can talk about when you’re next in the office.
8. Host a team-building event at a luxury resort
Team celebrations always contain an element of team-building. It just goes with the territory of doing something notable as a group! Yet the opposite can also be true: certain team-building events make for amazing celebrations.
From escape rooms to movie nights, there are plenty of budget-friendly options here. But if you want to host a more memorable event, you’ll have to think bigger.
Renting a room or two (or the entire place, depending on the size of the organization) in a luxury resort will ensure the whole team is well looked after, feels appreciated by their employer, and has a memorable base from which to enjoy the games/activities. Of course, the same is also true of a team-building retreat…
9. Attend a conference together
For ambitious employees, few things are more gratifying than working for someone who invests in their career development. They want to learn, hone their craft, and expand their professional network – which, incidentally, is exactly what happens at industry conferences.
In this way, paying for your team to attend an upcoming industry event could be another fantastic team celebration to consider. Want to make it extra special? Find a conference that’s taking place overseas. It’ll be an exciting prospect that demonstrates your commitment to the team and makes each employee feel valued.
10. Charter a yacht for an extravagant day out
Nothing screams “let’s celebrate” more than sipping flutes of champagne on the deck of a luxury yacht. Chartering one of these magnificent boats offers an unforgettable evening of shameless extravagance. And, of course, that’s one reason the team will love it! They can get dolled up, let their hair down, and enjoy a taste of how the other half lives – all while appreciating the effort you’ve gone to on their behalf.
As an aside, this would also be an awesome venue for the awards ceremony we mentioned earlier. Why not combine these 2 team celebration ideas into 1?
Smaller celebration ideas for teams: In-person
Organizing a big team celebration is awesome every once in a while. But what if you want to celebrate the small wins that happen on a daily or weekly basis?
It’s important to have some smaller-scale ideas up your sleeve too. Here are 10 such activities that a) you can organize quickly, b) won’t break the bank, and c) help you celebrate team achievements in a sustainable way.
11. Send weekly newsletters detailing team achievements
One of the simplest ways to celebrate team achievements is to tell everyone about them in a weekly newsletter. At the end of each week, think of all the things – big and small – that went well at work, then collate them into a short and entertaining email. Highlight the achievements, name the people behind them, and hit send!
Again, for employees, this type of public recognition is really powerful. It’s gratifying to have your efforts seen, acknowledged, and celebrated. It boosts morale and motivation as a result, fosters a sense of unity among co-workers, and creates a sense of pride around working hard.
12. Host regular workshops and/or speakers
It’s common practice for businesses to arrange workshops for their employees and invite interesting speakers into the office these days. These events serve a few purposes – such as providing a break from typical routines and educating the group on key topics – but they’re also novel ways to celebrate team achievements.
We like this idea because it kills multiple birds with one stone. Employees enjoy time away from their desks. They feel valued by their employer, who’s invested in their well-being or career (depending on the workshop or guest speaker you invite). And they’re getting paid to learn about interesting topics or hear from inspiring people! Ultimately, it’s a worthwhile reward for their efforts.
13. Have a meeting-free day
A day without meetings? Imagine that! You’d have exponentially more time to focus on your work and tick things off your to-do list.
We know what you’re thinking though: is that really an adequate way to celebrate? In itself, perhaps not. But it definitely could be if it enables employees to finish their day’s work early and thus leave the office earlier too. Throw in some fancy coffee, tasty snacks, and other refreshments and it’s basically a party…
14. Take the afternoon off
Want to take that meeting-free-day-idea to another level? Give people an entire afternoon off work – paid, of course.
That way, there are no meetings to attend and they can do whatever they want. The team will love you for it, which has various happy knock-on effects, from morale boosts to higher workplace satisfaction when they return to the office.
Our only problem with this idea is its lack of a team-building component. To rectify this, consider taking time off work together. Do something fun! You could end work and go to team lunch, before heading your separate ways. Or watch a movie, or have some celebratory drinks (assuming it isn’t too early in the day…).
15. Organize post work drinks
Speaking of celebratory drinks, another popular team celebration idea is to go for a tipple or two after work one day. For obvious reasons, most teams tend to choose Fridays, but there are no set rules! Whenever you go, the goal is simply to hang out, have fun, and get to know each other on a more personal level.
Now, post-work drinks can be as casual as walking to the nearest bar when business hours are over. For a more memorable celebration, though, try putting some extra effort in. For example, why not book a table at a swanky wine bar in town?
Order some finger food and bottles beforehand so they’re ready when you arrive, hop in a cab so you get there together, and then take advantage of the company credit card so your team doesn’t have to spend anything! You could even make this a weekly event – picking a new venue every time.
16. Create a “wall of fame” in the office
Looking for another way to publicly acknowledge people’s accomplishments? Pick a space in the office (it should be unrestricted and visible) to create a “Wall of Fame”. A visual display of the achievements of individual employees and/or entire teams, it’s a fantastic means of celebrating hard work.
Likewise, the fact it’s so visual and public helps turn it into a focal point of the office. People will look at it each day and want to see themselves up there! In other words, it’s a motivating force as much as a celebratory one.
17. Take time in meetings to note people’s wins
Every week, at the start or end of a morning meeting, you could ask everyone in attendance to say something that one of their colleagues a) helped them with or b) achieved over the past 7 days. It doesn’t even have to be a major event! Just 5 minutes of highlighting these wins is enough to lift the mood, improve the team dynamic, and help everyone feel appreciated.
Oh, and remember our earlier suggestion to send a weekly newsletter that celebrates team achievements? This one goes hand in hand with it. You could take note of what people say in the meeting and use it as the basis of the newsletter.
18. Have office trophies
This team celebration idea bears resemblance to the classic “employee of the month” award that businesses have issued since time immemorial. However, we prefer this approach because it doesn’t limit the prize to a single person…
Instead, you can have multiple trophies (the bigger and more ostentatious, the better!) that you hand out each week to acknowledge specific achievements. Examples might include, “Most Sales in 7 Days”, “Best Customer Service”, and “Champion of Team Morale”.
And feel free to create joke awards too! As long as it’s done in good faith and there’s no risk of ill-feeling, awards for “Office Clown”, “Biggest Gossiper”, and “Most Awkward Customer Conversation” can have equally positive effects.
19. Go for dinner together
Team meals should be a go-to way to celebrate. They’re prime opportunities to connect and relax as a group; to talk, joke, and laugh – with delicious food and maybe even a few bottles of wine to help everyone have a good time.
The venue doesn’t have to be fancy either. Heck, you could go to the local Taco Bell or Applebee’s and still enjoy a memorable evening! No, these dinners are all about the company, atmosphere, and general intention. There to celebrate, the mood’s always light and jovial, which makes it ideal for team bonding.
20. Let the team decide
Struggling to pick an event or activity to celebrate? Can’t think of a fitting way to reward the team’s efforts, acknowledge what they’ve achieved, and show your gratitude? Ask yourself this:
What does the team want to do to celebrate?
Don’t just guess the answer either. Ask them! Listen to their suggestions. Give them a budget and the power to decide, and then make it happen. Take this tack and you’ll both empower your employees and end up doing something they actually want – a natural boon for engagement.
Ideas for virtual team celebrations
These celebrations aren’t just for traditional teams! With an internet connection and a touch of creativity, there are masses of effective ways to celebrate remote team successes as well. From bringing everyone together on a company retreat to hosting virtual happy hours, here are 8 great ideas of this nature.
21. Organize a virtual campfire
How on earth do you host a campfire online? Easy! Set a date for the event and then ship s’mores kits to everyone before the big day.
These little packets of goodness include a candle, cookies, marshmallows, and chocolate – everything you need for a delicious “campfire” snack! You can then host a video call, make the s’mores together on webcam, and play a few virtual camping games. Throw in some hot cocoa and ghost stories and you have yourself a party.
Unique, simple to organize, and fun to do, this virtual team celebration idea is a great way to bring people together remotely. It’ll spark nostalgia, get people talking, and provide a relaxing couple of hours away from the stress of work.
22. Send personal thank you notes
Writing thank you notes to each employee is a prime example of how team celebration ideas don’t have to be big or expensive. A simple yet thoughtful way to show appreciation, it’s guaranteed to put a smile on everyone’s face.
Now, you could send these messages via email. But we recommend you write them by hand and send them the old-fashioned way. Not only will it be a lovely surprise to get something through the letterbox, but the time and effort involved won’t go unnoticed. It makes the act more meaningful, which is sure to elicit greater feelings of gratitude and commitment in the team.
Of course, this idea works well for both remote and traditional work teams! There’s nothing stopping you from writing thank you notes to your office employees as well.
23. Send gift baskets/care packages
Want to make those thank you notes extra special? Send a gift basket full of things your team will love alongside them. With a combination of tasty treats, beauty products, useful gizmos, and company swag arriving on their doorstep, your remote employees are sure to feel valued (and motivated to keep up the good work).
You could put these baskets together yourself. But, to make life easier, consider using the various gift basket services that exist online these days. With a few quick clicks, companies like Gift Tree and Man Crates let you send a wide variety of quality items to lucky recipients around the country.
24. Host a virtual happy hour
Remember our earlier suggestion to organize post-work drinks for your team celebration? Well, there’s nothing stopping you from doing something similar with your remote employees! The only difference is that you’d each do it at home, enjoying a few drinks together via video call instead.
Particularly helpful activity for new teams, these virtual happy hours are great for socializing, engaging in friendly conversation, and playing online games. To make it more of a celebration, though, think about shipping a mini bottle of bubbly to each team member before the session.
25. Send e-gifts cards
Sending gifts to remote employees is a generous way to mark their achievements and say thank you for their input. The downside is that it can be tricky to find items you know they’ll like and expensive to ship them.
That’s why we love e-gift cards. They offer all the benefits of sending physical presents while simultaneously solving both aforementioned problems. From amazon gift cards to gift cards from popular fashion brands, you can deliver them via email and grant recipients full control over what they buy.
26. Pay for online courses of their choice
Working through an online course might not sound very celebratory! But this idea’s a bit like paying for conference tickets or workshops. As their employer, you show that you care about their professional development and give them an opportunity to grow.
Furthermore, the courses they choose don’t have to be work-related. They could be on completely different topics – a hobby they want to pick up, for instance, or a skill they wish to hone. Here are some leading websites that offer killer online courses:
- Alison – technology, languages, science, finance, and more
- Udemy – everything under the sun!
- Coursera – college-quality online classes in a range of fields
- Udacity – software development and tech
- Skillshare – thousands of bite-sized classes on a huge number of topics
27. Create a Slack channel
If you’re searching for additional ways to publicly acknowledge remote team achievements, why not set up a Slack channel (or an equivalent on whatever cross-organizational communication tool you use) devoted to the topic?
Whenever someone does something of note or the whole team excels, you could share it with the whole group there – creating a forum for encouragement and words of affirmation. This is particularly important in remote/distributed teams, where people may have no idea what their colleagues are up to otherwise.
28. Do shout-outs on LinkedIn
Here’s a quick one to finish. Showcasing the contributions of team members on LinkedIn is a powerful form of celebration that a) offers more of that all-important external validation and b) boosts morale as a result. Not only are you praising them publicly, but you’re doing it on a forum full of their industry peers.
As you’d imagine, this also elevates the individual’s personal brand. Other businesses may take note, which could open unforeseen doors if/when they decide to move on. The result is a grateful team member who can’t help but feel more loyal to the company.
Time to try these team celebration ideas
Among many other benefits, team celebrations are effective ways to reward hard work, show appreciation, boost camaraderie, and cultivate a positive company culture. In other words, there’s no shortage of reasons to implement these memorable team celebration ideas!
Whether you try one or all of the options above, it shouldn’t be long before you and your employees reap the rewards. Furthermore, if you like the sound of going on a company retreat together, then don’t hesitate to contact Surf Office.
We’ve been organizing these incredible team-building events for businesses since 2013 and handle 100% of the legwork. Calling on our network of local providers in dozens of countries around the world, we can help you celebrate your team’s achievements in the best possible way – saving you time and money in the process.