adventure-teamThere’s little disagreement that most people feel higher stress levels during the end-of-year holidays. The many additional responsibilities people take on, including gift shopping, attending social events, hosting family and friends, and dealing with the particular stresses of personal travel can fray nerves and shorten tempers. Unfortunately, some of this stress may spill over into the workplace – and not just for retailers gearing up for a whirlwind shopping season.

Whatever industry you are in, employees coping with the holidays may come in to work a little more frazzled, and scheduling time off for various employee obligations can lead to resentments building up. Though it doesn’t sound like a great time for team building activities, it actually can be a terrific time for it. And timing team building activities toward the end of the year helps set everyone up for a positive new year. Here are some ways the holidays can boost team building.

Outdoor Team Building Is Still an Option for Many

Not everyone has snowy, wet, or freezing holiday seasons, and businesses in mild climates can still enjoy outdoor team building activities like hiking excursions or rock climbing. In fact, the outdoor team building adventure can be the perfect antidote to all the to-do lists and social obligations your team members face. Sometimes getting away from stores, shipping facilities and general errand-running to scale a mountain can be the perfect change in routine to look forward to. And not only can your team members clear their heads of many holiday stresses, they can develop more cohesiveness with other team members.

Team-Building to Benefit Others

But if your team is unable to participate in an outdoor team building adventure, you have numerous other options, many of which build team connectedness while giving back to the community. Teams that select a charity and find innovative ways to raise money for it can grow closer and learn new things about their teammates. You can even include prizes for various accomplishments, like raising the most money, or signing up the most participants. Doing good things for others, even things as simple as having your team “adopt” a foster child to provide Christmas gifts for, makes everyone feel good and strengthens team connections.

Matt’s message and spirit for adventure left a truly lasting impression with our group.  It was flat out impactful, and I don’t know that I’ve ever been a part of such an engaging Q&A session to boot.   His delivery is honest and sincere, his experiences are harrowing, and he has magnificent imagery that ties it all together.  


Dave Bacon,

Learning Director, US West, EO

Fun Team Building to Lift Spirits

Team building activities can also be light-hearted, easy, and fun. A potluck dessert buffet in the break room makes the workplace a bit merrier, and you could even have everyone email their recipes to a point person to put together a team cookbook. Secret Santas have been an office tradition forever because the process is enjoyable and helps team members get to know people they may not otherwise. Other possibilities include decorating a team Christmas tree or holiday parade float, declaring a team “tacky holiday sweater” day, hosting a cookie swap, or holding an informal cubicle decorating contest.

Amplify Holiday Goodwill and Set the Stage for Next Year

Sure, the end of the calendar year brings its own unique stressors due to people’s many obligations to friends, families, and traditions. But it’s also a time when people are more apt to demonstrate good will toward others, and because of that, it can be a terrific time of year for team building activities. In many industries, things wind down a bit toward the end of the year anyway, so scheduling team building events during work hours may be easier.

By intertwining team building activities with holiday themes, you can make your team more integrated, raise spirits, discover gifts and talents of your colleagues, and generally make a stressful time of year more enjoyable. If you’re interested in unique, innovative team building activities or outdoor adventures, I encourage you to contact me at any time. This past year we ran team development programs for groups of 120 to 4 in locations from boardrooms to the backcountry, in Seattle, Los Angeles, Sedona, AZ, Napa, CA, Denver, and all the way in Tanzania, East Africa…Let’s work together to get your team ready for an outstanding new year.