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10 Creative Ideas for Your Office Thanksgiving Celebration

November 1, 2023
10 Creative Ideas for Your Office Thanksgiving Celebration

Here's what you need to know:

  • Show your employees your gratitude through ideas like a wall of thanks or holiday grams
  • Spread good-natured Thanksgiving fun through activities like recipe contests and pumpkin bowling
  • Spend time with your staff giving back to the community through volunteering or sharing expertise

As Thanksgiving looms, it seems that we become laser-focused on those tantalizing aromas that we anticipate:

  • Turkey
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Stuffings of many varieties
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Pumpkin pie

Really. Would the day be complete without a feast we can be thankful for, parades, turkey trots and football?

But what about celebrating in the office? You don’t need to give your employees a full-blown feast to show how thankful you are for them and all they do. In fact, there’s no shortage of additional Thanksgiving ideas for employees in and outside the workplace. Below, you’ll find 10 Thanksgiving employee engagement ideas to successfully kick off the holiday season whether your employees work in-house or remotely. If you’re looking for Thanksgiving office ideas, we have your solutions.

Kick Things off With Thanks

Thanksgiving is — as the name notes — a holiday of thanks. Therefore, as Iñigo Montoya said in “The Princess Bride,” we need to “go back to the beginning.” So why not start at the “beginning” of the month? This is the perfect time to take the lead to show your employees your gratitude and encourage them to show their appreciation for one another.

Let’s look at some November office activities and Thanksgiving themes that’ll extend the spirit surrounding the day.

A wall of thanks

Even people who don’t like to be the center of attention want to be acknowledged and appreciated. One way to do this is to dedicate a portion of one of your office walls to honor one another.

There are several ways you can do this. That said, the best way to ensure it doesn’t turn into some adolescent-like popularity contest is to give each team member one 3×5 card for every member of the team.

If there are 15 individuals on your team (including you), each person will receive 14 cards — they don’t need one for themselves. Next, they will write the other team members’ names at the top of each card, then they will write something they appreciate about each person.

The cards are then mixed up and attached to the space on the wall. The process becomes an uplifting treasure hunt as each person searches for the cards with their names on them.

Raise funds for charity while turning team members into TV stars

Thanksgiving activities for work can get creative. Do you have a closed-circuit television system or ticker board in your area? Consider selling “holiday grams.”

Encourage each employee to submit three names of coworkers they’re thankful for, along with a message. Then display these holiday grams on the TVs throughout the office. Even better, people can donate $1 for each submission they make, and those funds then get donated to a local nonprofit. This adds an extra level of purpose to your Thanksgiving work activities.

Tell your company story

Remember that play in elementary school in which everyone got on stage in silly costumes and told the story of the first Thanksgiving? Maybe it’s time for a reenactment of sorts. Roll this little sweet potato into your list of Thanksgiving office party ideas: Instead of telling the story of the original Thanksgiving, share the story of your company’s journey.

To do this, recruit a few team members to help you write and act out the company history. Incorporate some:

  • Costumes.
  • Company jokes.
  • Audience participation.

Make it a fun and fresh way to celebrate your company’s history. After all, nothing is more fun for a team than being able to laugh at — oh. Umm… with — the boss. It makes you more human, especially if you are willing to laugh at yourself.

Consider These Thanksgiving Contest Ideas for Work

Who doesn’t like to win a first-place prize? Competition doesn’t have to be cut-throat. It can be done in good taste and good fun. With that in mind, consider brainstorming Thanksgiving office contest ideas to implement in keeping with a variety of Thanksgiving themes. Here we’ve compiled a few of our own.

Recipe contest

Among the top common Thanksgiving work party ideas is a potluck get-together by which everyone has a chance to contribute to a shared celebratory meal. Why not expand the scope of that feast and invite everyone to contribute a homemade version of a favorite dish, accompanied by the recipe, for playful “judging”?

Have prizes available in several categories, such as the:

  • First dish emptied.
  • Dish most eaten.
  • Dish we were afraid to try but were so glad we did!

Get creative with the categories. You could also ask staff members to do a blind vote for their favorite dish.

Prizes could be anything from a printed certificate to a wooden spoon or can opener to a supermarket gift card.

Compete in games with a festive theme

Look no further if you’re looking for fun office Thanksgiving activities. Thanksgiving-related games can be a great way to bring the holiday spirit into your office’s Thanksgiving celebration. Hold a tournament in a wide area and get team members involved in:

  • Pumpkin bowling. Use pumpkins that are as round as you can find (or pick up some plastic options), and set up rolls of paper towels or water bottles as your pins.
  • Thanksgiving bingo! Print cards for all participants, plus some extra you can cut up, so you have items to draw. You can play the traditional line, BINGO, or get creative and have players build a “T” for Thanksgiving.
  • Online scavenger hunt. Create a scavenger hunt for team members to work on. These may be items that are on your intranet site that are specific to your company, historical facts about Thanksgiving, or things traditionally associated with Thanksgiving.

The point of interactive Thanksgiving work ideas is for everyone to relax, de-stress and have fun together in the holiday spirit. Ask employees for their thoughts on office Thanksgiving ideas and activities they’d most enjoy.

Challenge one (or more) of the other teams

Healthy competition can be revitalizing. Give it more momentum with a contest within a contest to find out which team can:

  • Win the most rounds of the games.
  • Bring in the most canned goods to give to a nonprofit organization.
  • Collect the most cards to give to people in long-term care and hospitals.

Your options are limitless. Decide what works best for your company culture. At the end of the competition, the company makes a donation to the cause or organization of the winning team’s choice and on their behalf.

Give Back

Few things can make someone more grateful for what they have than spending time giving to the community. In that spirit, November office activities abound to include in your Thanksgiving ideas for employees.

Incorporate time for staff to volunteer

Thanksgiving isn’t the same without the “giving” aspect. Offer your staff paid time to serve as volunteers and have them share photos of their time spent. This can inspire conversation and help build a sense of team while functioning as a means for company representatives to be involved in the community.

Volunteer as a group

Nothing builds team camaraderie like giving back for a common cause can. Set an afternoon or morning aside to meet at a specific location to volunteer together. Perhaps you want to:

  • Help at a local soup kitchen.
  • Box meals as part of an effort to help those who are food insecure.
  • Clean trash from local sidewalks.
  • Deliver blankets, socks, sweatshirts, coats and boots to shelters.
  • Pack gift boxes as part of Toys for Tots™, Operation Christmas Child™ or another charitable organization.

As you prepare to schedule this outing, be sure to check with your chosen organization regarding viable dates and times and any restrictions they may have.

Sponsor an event

If you’d prefer to head up a charitable fundraising event rather than participate in one sponsored by a different organization, do it. Put a committee together and organize your own method to give to the community. There are several options you could consider to represent Thanksgiving at work, such as:

  • Hosting a dinner.
  • Organizing a carnival.
  • Arranging a silent auction.

Advertise that all proceeds will go to ___________ (name a specific, local organization).

Give your expertise

What better way to give than to offer what you do best? LinkedIn, for example, provides a free premium career subscription for veterans. Kraft Foods provides food and nutrition expertise to help fight hunger in North America. Your company can make a mark in your community, too.

Are you a:

  • Financial planner who can offer an afternoon of free financial advice? These conversations tend to range from essential money management to curiosity about what investing is and how to do it.
  • Computer guru who can talk someone off the ledge as they stare at their blue screen of death? Maybe you could offer an introductory class on word-processing shortcuts.
  • Hairstylist who can be part of helping someone prepare for their first job interview in a long time? Your skills and advice would be invaluable to someone working hard to get back on their feet.

Giving Thanks Matters

As Thanksgiving rolls around again this year, and you’re planning your November office activities, remember the value of saying thank you to your employees. Heartfelt gratitude and recognition go a long way in nurturing strong team relationships and loyalty.

Also realize that for those unable to spend the holiday with loved ones, Thanksgiving at work might be their only celebration. Wouldn’t it be nice if it were “extra” special?

Also, see also our guide to happiness at work.

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