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Top 15 team celebration ideas to bring everyone together
Image by Jimmy Foulds

8 min read

Top 15 team celebration ideas to bring everyone together

Looking for ideas for your next team celebration? We've got you covered! Whether you're celebrating in-person or virtually, make the most out of your work anniversaries and project milestones—or just celebrate your people for who they are.

There’s a strong business case to make team celebrations a priority at organizations. Workplace recognition and celebrations help people feel valued and increase their sense of meaning in doing their jobs. But more often than not, recognition takes a backseat simply because everyone already has a lot on their plate. 

Fear no more—whether your team works together in person, remotely, or in a hybrid model, this article will guide you through various celebration ideas, small and large. 

Table of contents

In-person team celebration ideas

Hybrid workplace recognition events

Virtual celebrations for remote teams

When is a good time to celebrate?

Why celebrate successes as a team?

Take note of these team celebration best practices

Conclusion

 

Celebrate your employees with these 15 clever initiatives 

Solid workplace relationships strongly influence productivity, morale, and wellbeing. Here are some ideas for acknowledging accomplishments and celebrating with your team—however your organization chooses to work. 

 

In-person team celebration ideas

Throughout the pandemic, we’ve been reminded that face-to-face time is simply irreplaceable. Use your office space (or leave it) wisely to bond with your teammates! 

1. Annual recognition awards ceremony 

Remember the Dundies Awards from The Office? Make it official (or the funniest ever) with an office event dedicated to recognizing star employees. Throw in trophies, thank you speeches, and it’ll be the talk of the year. You can get creative and print out awards for categories like Employee of the Year, Years of Service, Employee leadership, Performance, and Growth. 

2. Grab lunch or happy hour together

Try out a new restaurant in your workplace neighborhood! Group celebrations don’t need to be arranged for any specific occasion— quality time can be as simple as grabbing lunch outside, chatting about life, or unwinding after a hectic day. 

3. Ask coworkers to share their cultural celebrations

Celebrated holidays differ from culture to culture. Next year, you can encourage individuals or employee groups to organize festivities like Diwali, Chinese New Year, or Cinco de Mayo to immerse in unique customs and traditions. Not only can employees bring their whole selves to work, but it’s also an excellent experience for all participants. 

4. Go on a company retreat 

I can’t imagine anyone saying no to changing up the work routine for some R&R. It could be intimate and simple with leadership workshops and team-building board games. This sort of team bonding with your coworkers outside of the office can renew inspiration, boost morale, and bring people closer together. 

5. Have a retrospective every quarter 

Lengthy initiatives are often not celebrated enough; instead, post-project evaluations often focus on just the negatives: unresolved problems, strained relationships, and burnout. Next time you wrap up a company initiative or try out a new process, remember to reflect on the positives as well. Talk about how far you’ve come and celebrate every small win, looking back on the progress you’ve made as a team.   

 

Hybrid workplace recognition events

Working across time zones or meeting up with your colleagues every now and then? These initiatives work well to increase morale either way. 

6. Throw a party for your organization’s anniversary 

Bring out the champagne! Milestones don’t come as big as your classic anniversary celebration. It’s the perfect day to blend in recognition, fun, and unity! 

For virtual parties, create extra special memories with a whimsical theme and costumes. Even if you’ve got a lot on your plate, don't let this special day slip away. 

7. Employee of the month

Who’s the MVP who’s proved to be a helpful team player? From the Oscars to sports recognition, awards are universal symbols of accomplishment. You can stick posters in the office to spotlight these star employees or pin up a notice on your employee intranet. 

8. Bonus days off or mental wellness weeks

Surprisingly, non-monetary incentives work wonders for boosting employee engagement. Give your hardworking employees a well-earned break with a simple bonus day off to relax, spend time with family, or just take a break from the pressures of work. 

9. Surprise your team with a gift card or event ticket 

Let people choose how to treat themselves with an empowering gift card so they can shop from the stores of their choice! Alternatively, bulk buy prepaid vouchers to support struggling local businesses who are recovering from the pandemic. Want to go above and beyond? Buy them tickets to the newest movies, concerts or sporting events in town. 

10. Give back to the community

Our environment and communities need our help. Instead of spending money on an extravagant event, why not do a beach clean-up or volunteer as a united team? Days like this can help communicate your company’s purpose and care for the wider society. You don’t even have to physically come together to do this; making a donation or matching your employee’s contributions to a local charity that’s close to their hearts will do the trick. 

 

Virtual celebrations for remote teams

Many remote employees miss the culture and camaraderie that comes along with socializing and celebrating in the office with coworkers. Even though it might be a different experience, you’ll still hear the laughs and see the same smiles. Remember to turn your webcam on!  

11. Relax with a digital game or two 

Pictionary, charades, trivia, the options are endless for virtual team celebrations. Guided escape room experiences can be easily set up through video calls and are a great way to relax for those working from home. 

12. Do a Shout-out publicly on Linkedin

On top of internal communication, external validation on social media can surface milestones that employees are proud of. Not only will they experience a rush of excitement, but this gesture also elevates their personal brand.

13. Send company swag or a care package for the holidays

Rolled into a single gift, you can ship out tokens of appreciation packed with festive treats, stationery, and other goodies. Customized swag like branded hats help employees feel a powerful sense of group identity and make them proud of the company. Even when you can’t be together, this token of appreciation can help share meaningful moments and establish a sense of community when they arrive at their doorsteps. 

14. Share your employee stories on an org-wide platform 

Spotlight individuals for their achievements by granting them celebrity status on your communication channels! You can create a simple Q&A or a full-blown video to post on your intranet or your internal newsletter. Not only do people get to find out what they do, but they also learn about their background and unique stories. 

15. Organize a class or workshop that people can take from home

Virtual events with a wellness or crafts focus are increasingly popular for a reason. Through the pandemic, everyone’s been exploring new hobbies like online cooking, yoga, baking, and calligraphy. To take things up a notch, invite a sommelier to conduct a group wine tasting! 

 

When is a good time to celebrate? 

Anytime! Whether it’s gratitude offered privately or a coordinated party, make sure to celebrate both big and small wins. An abundance of events and special days can stimulate the inner joy of many achievements or milestones, including: 

  • Project completion 
  • Work and company anniversaries 
  • A new or departing teammate
  • Completing probation 
  • Meeting targets and quotas
  • A great customer review 
  • A breakthrough quarter 
  • Promotions or role changes 

Why celebrate successes as a team?

There are many positive outcomes of team celebration. If you don’t already regularly celebrate at work, here’s what might convince you to start now. 

Improve productivity with recognition 

Did you know that celebrating achievements is an integral part of the productivity cycle? Leaders who take a moment to recognize victories can reinforce what their teams are working towards collectively. It’s a chance to pause and reflect on success and accomplishments during these challenging times. 

Employees are often grateful when leaders take the time to offer a simple “thank you”. Whether it’s in the form of an anniversary party or a Zoom lunch, a culture of gratitude fills the air with unity and camaraderie. 

We spend a lot of time at work; let’s enjoy it 

Teams who learn and celebrate together take pride in the work they produce and have more fun! This helps foster loyalty and a sense of purpose within the organization. Celebrations are an opportunity for teams to get to know each other outside of work and a great way to bring everyone together from different departments, boosting company morale. 

People perform best when they feel confident and comfortable

Feeling appreciated and valued can do tons for self-esteem, uplifting moods, and ultimately affects employee performance. And this kind of recognition helps employees feel more connected to their work. We all know how when we’re personally invested in a cause, we’re more likely to focus and show up at our very best. Knowing that others value you can grant new perspectives on your contributions and encourage you to improve even more. 

Take a break to renew motivation

Employee appreciation is fundamental to retaining your top talent. We all understand that sometimes all it takes to rejuvenate is stepping away for a bit. When a big, exhausting project finally ends, it’s always a sweet touch to offer employees a quick break from the daily grind to revitalize that fire for the next one. The last thing we want is burnout after a successful project! 

Now that you know why you shouldn’t pause on celebrations this year, now’s the time to implement some positivity! 

 

Take note of these team celebration best practices

Celebrations don’t need to be extravagant and expensive 

Notice the little things and choose to reward helpfulness and curiosity. Do you have a teammate who just goes above and beyond to help others? This might be a time to offer a shout-out email or a quick mention during a department meeting. Not everything has to be celebrated on the company cruise! 

Thank you for...being specific

Employees regularly want to know that their skills and actions are valued. While small actions may not seem influential to the company’s overall performance, still take the time to praise a team member for the smallest of things—like offering up an idea,  proof-reading your article, or locating a file quickly. 

Sweet surprise! 

What’s better than some unexpected quality time? Carve out some time to cater lunch for the office or offer some extra paid time off as part of a recognition program. Or give them a dedicated career coaching session when they’ve hit their first anniversary. When sending off employees for the holidays, try personalized, handwritten cards with why they’re fantastic.

 

Conclusion 

Even though team celebrations might look slightly different nowadays, they’re arguably more crucial than ever to uphold your culture. You can reap many overlooked benefits like higher engagement, retention, and wellbeing by celebrating your people. 

Even though in-person events might be restricted, hopefully you’ll use some of these innovative ways to show your employees why you’re thankful for them. Gratitude is always sweet, especially after a long day.  

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