16 Best Thanksgiving Team Building Activities for Work in 2021

Home » Resources » Thanksgiving Team BuildingUpdated: December 01, 2021

You found our list of fun Thanksgiving team building activities.

Thanksgiving team building activities are holiday themed games, exercises and challenges to do with groups in October and November. Example activities include, volunteering, flag football, gratitude tag, and Thanksgiving Bingo. The purpose of these exercises is to have festive fun, promote team bonding, and encourage gratitude in the office.

These ideas are a type of indoor team building activity and are similar to virtual Thanksgiving ideas. These ideas can serve as an employee morale booster.

This list includes:

  • Thanksgiving event ideas
  • Thanksgiving icebreaker games
  • office Thanksgiving ideas
  • Thanksgiving team building games

Here we go!

List of Thanksgiving team building activities

Here is a list of Thanksgiving-themed activities to do with teams in October and November.

1. Settler scavenger hunt

The settler scavenger hunt is a Thanksgiving version of the beloved team building game. To do this exercise, first split the group into teams. Next, give each team five to ten minutes to grab the items on the list. For the just-do-its, players can either take turns acting out and a judge can pick a winner, or participants can record themselves performing.

Teams get one point per item, although the leader can award extra points for creativity.

Here is a template we made for your game:

Thanksgiving scavenger hunt template

Here is a list of scavenger hunt apps and treasure hunt clues for game inspiration.

2. Volunteering

Volunteering is one of the most meaningful team building activities for Thanksgiving. Helping others gives teammates a shared mission and helps coworkers bond with each other. You can block off a day, half day, or a couple of hours for the group to get together and give back to the community.

Food pantries tend to be the first volunteering activity folks think of around Thanksgiving, however there are many more organizations that could use support. For example, you and your group could cook and deliver meals for seniors, build winter shelters for stray cats, or write letters to soldiers spending the holiday overseas. If possible, try to connect with a local organization and make an impact in your surrounding community.

For distributed teams, check out this list of virtual volunteer opportunities.

3. Charity donation

Charity donations are one of the more low-key Office Thanksgiving ideas. Because employees can pitch in and participate without having to get together at the same time, this option is a good way to spread camaraderie in a busy office. Simply choose a few possible organizations to donate to, and then have the staff vote. The group can raise funds, contribute personally, or a combination of both approaches. It is a good idea for the company to contribute a generous amount, either by matching donations or offering a sum.

Choosing a locally-based organization makes the gesture even more meaningful. For maximum impact, share updates about the work the charity does throughout the year so that teammates feel more connected to their coworkers and the cause.

Check out this list of online fundraising ideas for more inspiration.

4. Thanksgiving Bingo

Thanksgiving Bingo is a game that encourages folks to mingle and chat. Players fill in their Bingo cards by filling in the boxes with the name of a participant who fits the description. The first player to get five squares in a row wins.

You could also award a small prize to each player who gets Bingo. Or, make the game more of a challenge by asking players to make an X, diamond, or to fill every space on the card.

Here is a template we made for your game:

Learn more about online Bingo for teams.

5. Team meal

Team meals are one of the most obvious Thanksgiving event ideas. This holiday revolves around food, and encourages loved ones to gather around the dinner table. In the spirit of the season, it makes sense for coworkers to come together to share a communal meal. You can make reservations at a restaurant, cater in, or coordinate a potluck. If team members are comfortable doing so, then you can even gather at the boss’s house, or rent a space to have dinner in.

For a more eccentric option, you can book food trucks, participate in tastings, or go to a unique restaurant.

6. Employee Appreciation Day

Officially, Employee Appreciation Day is on the first Friday of March. However, many companies hold their own employee appreciation events at different times throughout the year. Thanksgiving is one of the best occasions to celebrate the staff for their hard work and dedication.

On the week leading up to Thanksgiving, you can deem one day a staff appreciation day and plan special events for employees to enjoy. For example, chair massages, complimentary meals and snacks, raffles and giveaways, and handwritten thank you notes.

Check out more employee appreciation day ideas.

7. Cooking classes

Thanksgiving involves a great deal of cooking, and is the perfect time for teammates to brush up on their culinary skills. Cooking classes make great team activities because team members can work on whipping up the same dish, and give each other pointers along the way. Not to mention, the group gets to eat the finished product!

Simply look for cooking classes in your area, hire a chef to come in and lead a class, or follow an online tutorial. If holding the event in person and DIY-ing the class, then be sure to book a kitchen space with enough room and appliances for all participants, and supply the needed ingredients. If holding a cooking class remotely, then reimburse participants for groceries.

Check out this list of online group cooking classes.

8. Gratitude tag

Gratitude tag is a game that revolves around giving thanks. To play this game, team members take turns thanking each other for kind deeds. Once an employee has been thanked, that teammate must find a new coworker to show gratitude. Participants can give thanks via email, outloud, or by leaving each other notes. The game continues until every team member has been thanked at least once. To ensure that everyone receives a sincere word of gratitude, keep track of mentions on an Excel spreadsheet or a Slack thread.

9. Flag football

Flag football is one of the most fun Thanksgiving team building games. This version of the game is more hands-off and less physical than tackle football, which is ideal for avoiding workplace injuries. To start the game, first divide the group into two teams. Then, give each player a flag to tie around their waists. When an opposing team member pulls the flag off, it is the same as a tackle.

Note that if you have a large group, then you may want to play on multiple fields. Or, have a series of shorter mini-games so that the most employees possible employes have the chance to participate.

Here are the official NFL rules for flag football.

10. Thank you letters

Writing thank you letters is one of the most meaningful Thanksgiving-themed team building activities. To do this exercise, set up a station with fancy cards, pens, envelopes, and stickers or seals. Be sure to block off thirty minutes to an hour where teammates can sit down together and jot out notes to folks who have made a difference in their lives this year. Examples might include bosses and mentors, family members, colleagues, vendors, clients, or staff at a nearby restaurant. Team members can even sign group cards and deliver them together.

Here are the best employee appreciation quotes to include.

11. Guess the gratitude

Guess the gratitude is one of the easiest Thanksgiving icebreaker games. To do this exercise, each employee writes down one thing they are thankful for. Answers do not have to be office-related, and more personal answers can help team members get to know each other better. Then, the leader chooses responses at random to read out loud, and the rest of the group must guess which team member the answer belongs to.

Pro-tip: To vary the responses and make the game more interesting, ask players to avoid more common answers such as family, shelter, freedom, and having a job.

Check out more get to know you games and icebreaker games for work.

12. Lunch and learn

Thanksgiving can be a time of learning as well as gratitude. Lunch and learns are activities where team members grab a bite to eat and listen to lectures.

Here are some on-theme topics:

  • Native American History
  • Budgeting for the holiday season
  • Stress management
  • Communication and conflict resolution skills
  • Nutrition and healthy eating
  • Practicing gratitude
  • Presentation on a philanthropy

Here is a guide to doing lunch and learns online.

13. Turkey Trot

Turkey Trots are one of the more popular Thanksgiving event ideas. These races started as ways to burn calories before consuming a large meal on Thanksgiving. Many times entrants dress up in gobbler costumes, or simply bundle up against the cold. Running a race together can inspire friendly rivalry and encourage exercise. Plus, teammates can cheer each other across the finish line. You could either host your own company trot, or join a local race as a group.

Check out more team workout ideas.

14. Kindness Quest

Kindness Quest banner

Kindness Quest is a fully-facilitated online team building event that is perfect for virtual Thanksgiving team building. The host leads teams through a series of activities intended to spread goodwill and give back to the wider community. For example, writing thank you cards, and racing to grab canned goods to donate. Participants grow closer as a group while giving back to others, and take a moment to express gratitude and goodwill.

Learn more about Kindness Quest.

15. Thanksgiving This or That

This or That is one of the easiest Thanksgiving icebreaker games. To play the game, the leader reads out a series of prompts, and players must respond with their preference. If playing in person, then players can move to one side of the room or the other to broadcast their choice.

Here are a few starter prompts:

  • White meat or dark meat?
  • Mains or sides?
  • Spend with friends or spend with family?
  • Mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes?
  • Sit down dinner or mingling dinner?
  • Football or parade?
  • Black Friday or Cyber Monday?
  • Dress up or wear sweats?

Check out more This or That questions.

16. Meditation

Thanksgiving can be a stressful time, between preparing the feast, facing family, and gearing up for the holidays. To help employees unwind and practice self-care, schedule a meditation session. Simply find a guide to lead the exercise live or find a guided meditation online. Then, gather, get comfortable, and find a few minutes of mindfulness together. In the spirit of the season, take time to practice gratitude and acknowledge reasons to be thankful.

Check out more employee wellness ideas.

Final Thoughts

Many companies plan events at Halloween and Christmas, yet neglect November. Thanksgiving presents a perfect opportunity for team building because the holiday promotes gratitude and togetherness, two factors that contribute to a positive work environment. Team activities help employees to get into the spirit of the season while getting to know coworkers better, and also give the staff a chance to decompress during an otherwise hectic season.

For more seasonal inspiration, check out holiday team building activities, ideas for Indigenous Peoples Day, and  Indigenous Heritage Month quotes.

FAQ: Thanksgiving team building activities

Here are answers to common questions about Thanksgiving team building activities. 

What are Thanksgiving team building activities?

Thanksgiving team building activities are Thanksgiving-themed exercises, games, and events that teams participate in during the month of November.

What are some good Thanksgiving team activities for work?

Some good Thanksgiving team activities for work include writing thank you letters, team meals, and volunteering.

Why should you celebrate Thanksgiving in the office?

Celebrating Thanksgiving in the office encourages employees to practice gratitude and show appreciation to teammates, which improves morale and office culture. The holiday is also an opportunity for employers to show thankfulness for their staff, as well as a way to come together for a bit of fun and calm before the hectic holiday season.

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Author: Angela Robinson

Team building content expert. Angela has a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and worked as a community manager with Yelp to plan events for businesses.

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