28 Winter team building activities for Christmas and beyond

For all the talk of festive cheer, the winter months can take a toll on employee morale. After all, the days are short, the weather’s bleak, and all you can think about is eating mince pies, opening presents, and spending lazy days around the fireplace with family! It’s natural for people’s moods and motivation levels to dip a little.

But don’t despair. Hosting some good winter team building activities in the lead-up to Christmas and/or in the weeks thereafter can turn the situation around. With the right activities up your sleeve, you can counteract any lethargy that’s crept into the office and restore levels of focus and enthusiasm. With those goals in mind, here are 28 awesome holiday team-building activities to try this winter.

Snowy winter activities for teams

Let’s begin with some activities that are designed for the cold and snowy winter months! Here are the best team building activities for winter:

1. Go ice skating together

Few things feel more Christmassy than donning a pair of skates and whizzing around an ice rink. But it’s even better when you’re doing it in a group, chatting merrily away, and laughing and joking as you go. The fact you end up encouraging and helping each other around the rink is the cherry on top! 

For the ultimate Christmas skating experience, try to find an outdoor ice rink – and call a few days/weeks ahead of time to see if you need to book tickets. This activity’s super popular at this time of year, which means the venues can fill up fast.

2. Have a snowball fight

Some parts of the country are lucky enough to enjoy white Christmases each year. If you live in or near one of them, then you have a perfect winter team-building activity right on your doorstep! It’s time to take the afternoon off work, put on your cold-weather clothes, step outside, and have a big office snowball fight!

Fun and physical, this would be a brilliant way to unwind, celebrate the festive season, break up the usual routine, and do something totally different as a team. As for logistics, you could pit everyone against each other or divide into 2 groups in a dodgeball-style setup. Laughter and squeals of delight are sure to follow.

3. Hit the slopes

Unfortunately, this winter team building activity is location-dependent. But if your business happens to be based anywhere mountainous, then hitting the slopes to take advantage of the snow would be a fun and memorable activity to do together.

There are a number of winter sports to consider, but skiing, snowboarding, and tobogganing always go down a treat.

It isn’t the end of the world if you don’t have any actual mountains or snowfall where you live either. There could be an indoor or artificial slope somewhere nearby.

A quick Google search for “indoor skiing near me” will tell you everything you need to know. Once again, though, be sure to book this activity well in advance to guarantee a spot for everyone on the team.

4. Make a festive difference

One of the best winter team building activities is also one of the most virtuous: giving back through some sort of volunteering. Trust us, working as a team to do a good deed is a recipe for bringing everyone closer together.

Not only does it set minor office qualms in perspective, but it also hones your listening skills, builds empathy, and unites colleagues around a common goal.

As for specific ways to make a difference, why not help out in the local community? Do a charity fundraiser, organize a “community clean up” event, or help out at a soup kitchen that needs support this Christmas.

Alternatively, you could see if there are any specific causes/charities that your employees feel passionate about and then look for ways to get involved.

5. Host an office Winter Olympics

With teamwork at its core, organizing your very own Winter Olympics is another effective way to boost camaraderie and goodwill at work. The list of actual games you can play is endless, but the basic idea is to arrange a series of races and physical challenges that involve working together! Here are a few examples:

  1. Office igloo building

Split the group into teams and set about creating the best “igloo” possible in the office using old cardboard boxes, bed sheets, office chairs, and any other easily accessible items. After a certain timeframe, judges then score the igloos on things like structural integrity and creativity.

  1. Ice fishing

Bring buckets into the office, fill them with water/ice, and put prizes/items at the bottom that people must “fish for” using their hands. Play in teams. The winning team is the one with the most items on “dry land” at the end of the time limit.

  1. Santa’s little helpers sack race

Split into pairs/teams, give everyone a black garbage bag to step into, and then race each other around the office. Feel free to make things more interesting by setting obstacles up too. Oh, and bonus points if you all dress up as elves…

6. Visit a local Christmas market

Holiday markets have a special festive atmosphere that’s ideal for team building. With classic songs playing, colored lights twinkling, a crisp chill in the air, and sumptuous smells coming from the various food stalls, it’s a great way to enter into the Christmas spirit.

Wander around the market, drink hot cups of cocoa, and enjoy some relaxed time outside the office – getting to know each other as friends rather than just colleagues. Want to take it a step further? Why not combine this activity with a Christmas meal at a nice restaurant in town and/or head to a local bar for a few celebratory drinks? It’ll add to the good vibes and turn your team into a tighter unit.

7. Arrange post-work drinks at an ice bar

Speaking of celebratory drinks, ice bars provide a novel venue for a festive night out with colleagues. Made entirely out of ice blocks, it’ll feel like you’re hanging out with Santa at the North Pole itself! Everything from the chairs and tables to the walls and glasses you drink from is quite literally ice cold.

Arranging post-work drinks at an ice bar would be a memorable way to mark the festive period. It’d also provide some unique photo opportunities to display in the office! Be sure to book tickets beforehand though. Search on Google to find any permanent or pop-up venues in the area and give them a call to book a table.

Christmas-themed activities for teams

We’ve already been through a few winter team-building activities with a Christmassy slant. Here are some more though – just in case nothing has taken your fancy so far!

8. Host a team holiday meal

Organizing a Christmas dinner is a go-to winter team-building activity for many businesses. And for good reason! It offers a change of scenery, a relaxed environment for teams to meet up and mingle, and a fun festive atmosphere that’s perfect for bringing people together. Oh, and if you have any awards to hand out for individual/team achievements, then this is a fantastic time to do it!

Want to make the evening extra special? Why not host the meal at your house instead of going out to a restaurant? You could all chip in with the cooking, each bring a dish to share, or – to make life easy – order takeout. Either way, you’ll enjoy a more personal and intimate holiday meal that’s sure to go down well with the team. 

9. Throw an office Christmas party

Office Christmas parties are another super popular thing to do as a team at this time of year. They give teammates an opportunity to let their hair down, unwind, and learn more about each other without those extensive to-do lists looming over them.

A bit of effort goes a long way here though. If you want to go the extra mile, we recommend hiring a venue, organizing entertainment (e.g. a DJ, band, or magician), and buying some food and drinks for everyone to enjoy. That way, they can have an awesome time without having to worry about spending money!

There’s also nothing stopping you from combining this party with the holiday meal we talked about above. Whether you book a table at a restaurant or host it at someone’s home, the 2 activities go hand-in-hand. Have some drinks at dinner, hit the town when you’re done, and let the good times roll into the early hours.

10. Organize an Advent calendar of mini-activities

This winter team-building activity takes inspiration from the advent calendars many people open in the lead-up to Christmas.

Rather than open mini cardboard doors with chocolates behind them, though, the idea is to come up with 24 easy team activities to do together on each day of the month. Examples include going out for lunch, playing a card game after work, going to a bar after work one day, and having a “my favorite snack” day, where everybody brings into the office some chocolates and candy to share.

By the time Christmas rolls around, you should have forged some fond team memories and become a much closer group in the process. 

11. Make and decorate gingerbread houses

If you’re looking for more Christmas traditions to do as a team, then look no further than this one! Decorating (pre-baked, store-bought) gingerbread houses is fun, laidback, creative – and delicious.

Better still, it’s something you can guarantee most people will want to do. After all, who doesn’t want to spend an afternoon piping icing onto tasty gingerbread, pouring sprinkles over the top, and then eating the end result!?

To get the team’s full buy-in, though, we suggest providing all the ingredients and necessary equipment. Actual gingerbread house kits will have everything you need and make your life a lot easier to boot.

12. Play Secret Santa

Secret Santa is a classic Christmas game that ticks all the right boxes for a successful team-building activity. It’s simple to organize, fun to play, budget-friendly, and a definite crowd-pleaser that helps people get to know one another!

Here’s how it works:

  1. Put the names of each team member into a hat and take turns drawing someone’s name from it. You become “Secret Santa” for whoever you pick
  2. After assigning a spending limit (e.g. $20), each “Santa” then buys a gift for the person they pulled from the hat
  3. Choose a day to hold an office/team Christmas, ensuring the gifts go in a central pile and that the recipients don’t know who bought them their gift
  4. Everyone then takes turns opening the gift with their name on it and guessing who their Secret Santa is/was

Want to make it extra fun? Set rules around the type of presents you’re allowed to buy. You could create a competition for who can buy the silliest gift within the spending limit, for example, or create categories the gifts must fall into, such as “edible” and “sport-related”.

13. See some Christmas lights

Going to see some Christmas lights in the local area is an ideal team-building activity for those dark and dreary winter nights. A party for your retinas, they create a magical and festive scene that’ll help the group enter into the holiday spirit.

We love the sense of community that’s inherent to this activity as well. You come together to enjoy the display, sharing in the experience and sipping hot cups of cocoa as you go! Joyful and uplifting, Christmas lights will boost team morale – a shift that’ll create a much brighter work environment upon your return to the office.

14. Put up office stockings

Christmas stockings are a beloved holiday tradition in many households. But it can be just as fun to do in the office as a winter team-building activity!

Whether you use handmade Christmas stockings complete with festive decorations or simple pillowcases with “stocking” written on the front, you can hang them at each employee’s desk and ask the team to start filling them with candy, small gifts, and/or thoughtful notes. Simple, creative, and cost-effective, this is an amazing way to spread some holiday cheer and brighten your workmate’s days.

Don’t want to do individual stockings? Consider placing one large stocking in a central location, such as the office kitchenette. Work together to fill it with treats and then share them at the office Christmas party.

15. Arrange a Christmas scavenger hunt

Scavenger hunts are classic team-building activities. Entertaining, engaging, and highly accessible, they’re suitable for all occasions – especially Christmas!

To play, divide colleagues into teams and give each one a list of clues they must follow to find pre-hidden objects. The items themselves can be anything you like, but given the time of year, why not set a festive theme? Candy canes, Christmas tree ornaments, and hand-written notes from Santa are a few ideas to get you started.

Of course, you’ll need a good space to host the event as well! The office is one option, but it can also be fun to wrap up warm and go outside to a local park (assuming the weather’s okay). Either way, it’s sure to be a festive and memorable team experience.

16. Play Santa’s little helper

Santa’s Little Helper is a simple game that involves working together to hand-make toys for each other. A fun and rewarding winter team-building activity for groups of all sizes, it allows workmates to be creative, exercise their problem-solving skills, and produce something tangible that can be enjoyed by their colleagues.

Start by gathering a variety of materials, such as fabric, yarn, buttons, cardboard, and other supplies you think might be useful. Items like scissors, needles and even sewing machines might be handy too – depending on how much effort you want to put into the toy-making process! Then divide everyone into smaller groups and ask them to design and make a Christmas toy for another team in the room.

Quick and easy team-building activities for winter

Don’t want to spend too long or go to too much trouble organizing your team-building activities this year? We’ve got you covered. In this section, we’ll be highlighting the quickest yet most effective winter team building activities we’ve come across:

17. Decorate the office together

Decking out the office in full Christmas regalia is a fantastic way to foster teamwork and strengthen relationships. Better still, you create a more festive and pleasant work environment in the process! Expect productivity, team morale, and employee happiness to receive a boost as a result.

You can approach this activity in a few ways. Some teams bring in tinsel, baubles, fairy lights, banners, and so on from home and set aside an afternoon at the start of December to decorate the space. But you could also do it throughout the month, slowly adding more and more decorations in the lead up to the holidays. However you do it, this activity will unite the team and bolster the sense of community at work.

18. Take regular hot cocoa breaks

There are several reasons why bosses might want to encourage cocoa breaks during the holiday season. For instance, taking regular breaks to enjoy a warm, comforting drink can improve morale, reduce people’s stress levels, and boost employee well-being at this busy time of year.

It’ll help everyone recharge and refocus too, leading to increased productivity. And, as for team building, hot cocoa breaks provide an opportunity for employees to socialize and connect with one another, which can help improve team dynamics and cohesion. Finally, offering a special treat like this can show employees that you value their well-being and are willing to invest in their work experience. Expect increased engagement and workplace satisfaction to follow!

19. Host a festive movie night

Hosting a Christmas-themed movie night – complete with holiday snacks and beverages, of course – is another awesome way to bring everyone together in a relaxed environment, strengthen team bonding, and enable colleagues to unwind.

Morale lifts, a sense of camaraderie ensues, and team members become more closely connected. Furthermore, movie nights promote a positive work-life balance, providing a fun and enjoyable way for team members to recharge their batteries.

Home Alone, Elf, and Miracle on 34th Street are a few classic Christmas movies you could watch together. But it’s worth asking the team if they have any preferences beforehand. It’ll get their buy-in for the event and ensure everyone has a good time.

20. Bring festive treats into the office

Similar to taking hot cocoa breaks, bringing tasty festive treats into work is a simple but effective way to improve team spirit and foster a positive work environment. Whether they’re Christmas cookies, cakes, or candy canes, you’ll see an instant boost in both mood and morale!

Interestingly, this can also be a great conversation starter and a way to get to know each other. For example, if a team member brings in a variety of international treats, it can spark conversations about different cultures and ways of doing things. It shows your appreciation of co-workers as well, acknowledging their contributions to the team and thanking them for their hard work.

21. Arrange a winter wellness session

As we’ve mentioned a few times in this article, winter can be a challenging time for employees. Busy schedules, bad weather, and family commitments combine to create unhelpful levels of stress! To tackle the issue and help protect the team’s well-being, why not organize some special “winter wellness” sessions to do together?

Yoga, meditation, massages, journaling, workouts, and other such activities can all help reduce stress, alleviate anxiety, and improve happiness – and often provide opportunities to connect in the process. Naturally, the office environment becomes a more positive place thereafter. The team will also be grateful for the effort/resources you’ve put in to protect their well-being.

22. Make festive decorations

Fun, creative, and engaging, making festive decorations can unite colleagues and help them enter the holiday spirit. It also encourages them to work toward a common goal and hones their communication skills at the same time.

Start this winter team-building activity by gathering the materials. You'll need some colorful paper, scissors, glue, and any other decorative items you'd like to use (such as glitter, ribbon, or markers). Next, decide on the type of decorations you'd like to make (paper lanterns, garlands, stars, or snowflakes are a few options) and then assign tasks to individual teammates.

For example, one person might be responsible for cutting out the shapes, while another person handles the glueing. When you're finished, you can display the decorations around the office to add some holiday cheer to the space!

Virtual winter team-building activities

What if you can’t get together in person this winter? Does that mean your team has to resign themselves to solo festive fun? Not at all! Here’s a selection of remote team-building activities that are ideal for the winter months:

23. Host a holiday trivia night

Entertaining, engaging, fun for all ages, and suitable for groups of all sizes, trivia nights have become go-to activities for virtual teams. To host one of your own this winter, the first step is to choose a platform, such as Zoom, Google Meet, or Skype, set up an account, and familiarize yourself with its features before the event.

Next, select a theme (a festive theme makes sense, but you could also include specific subjects, such as history or pop culture, or a particular era or style!) and prepare a range of questions to ask on the night. Top tip: feel free to create your own, but pre-made trivia quizzes can be just as good! From there, all that’s left to do is invite the team and host the event itself.

Want to make things more interesting? You could ask everyone to wear something Christmassy – such as an elf outfit or Santa hat!

24. Create and send holiday e-cards

Sending hand-written holiday cards to friends and family is a longstanding tradition that fosters goodwill and helps people stay connected from afar. With those benefits in mind, why not take the initiative and ask your virtual team to design and send digital cards to each other this winter?

You could treat this activity like Secret Santa, drawing names from a hat to figure out the senders and recipients. No matter how you organize it, though, this simple winter team-building activity should build a sense of camaraderie among remote co-workers, while also promoting communication and team spirit.

25. Host a virtual Christmas party

Thanks to the internet, Christmas parties don’t have to happen in person anymore! They can be just as fun online. Here are a few ideas for a memorable virtual party this winter:

26. Play a murder mystery game online

Online murder mysteries are party games that involve working together to figure out who committed a “murder”. There are different ways to play, but the simplest is searching “online murder mystery” online and choosing from the slew of options that are available nowadays. Having picked one, you then work as a team to follow clues and use your detective skills to deduce the perpetrator.

These games aren’t necessarily festive in their own right. But with a bit of imagination, you can definitely make them so – even if it’s just turning up to the virtual game wearing your best Christmas sweater or Santa hat!

27. White elephant e-gift exchange

A white elephant gift exchange is a party game where everyone puts a wrapped gift on a central pile and then takes turns choosing (and opening) one.

But there’s a twist! The next person to pick a present can either select something new from the pile or “steal” whatever the last one was. Fun, engaging, and perfect for promoting friendly competition, it’s a great alternative to Secret Santa.

Even better, there’s nothing stopping you from playing a virtual version, where you choose and select digital gifts (e.g. gift cards and vouchers) via video call.

28. Organize virtual wine tasting

Virtual wine tastings offer your team some good old-fashioned fun over a tipple or two. Here’s how they work: host a big group video call, with each attendee turning up with the same few bottles of wine that you then open and taste throughout the evening! You can also mix in games, quizzes, and casual conversation to keep everyone engaged. Want some “great boss” bonus points though?

Rather than asking everyone to buy their own wine, you could ship them to each team member or send them the money instead. And if you’d like to make things even more Christmassy, try some mulled wine tasting. Challenge team members to pick a mulled wine recipe online, make it at home, and then rate it as part of the activity.

Trust Surf Office to organize your winter team building

Winter team building activities are ideal for counteracting the winter blues, lifting the mood in the office, and helping employees feel more festive. Want to know what’s even better though?

Doing them together on a team-building retreat!

With both winter retreats in the mountains and winter escapes in warmer countries available, Surf Office can work with you to arrange the ideal getaway for your team. Whatever your preferences, we’ll help you break out of the usual routine and take the logistical difficulty out of the organization process. You tell us what you want and we’ll get it sorted, saving you time and money as a result.

Sounds good? Contact us today to get the ball rolling.

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