Team Building in the Office
For events - even the most mundane, be sure to find a way to include photographs to commemorate it. Sometimes you can hire outside groups that will come in and bring costumes or silly hats and glasses, you can hire a photo booth, or just encourage people to use their cell phones. Have a central place where these pictures can be placed, so slide shows can be made for annual events.
Potluck - Don’t underestimate the value of everyone contributing their favorite dish to an event. Allow people to showcase their creativity and culinary talents - not to mention their ethnic pride through food. You can easily turn this into a game by having people guess who made which dishes and employees voting for their favorite dish. This can be done with departments hosting it on a quarterly basis with the company subsidizing for drinks or essentials like paper plates and plastic cutlery.
No Reason Party - Steal a page from the Mad Hatter and have a “very merry unbirthday” party or copy those sappy cards that say “I don’t need a reason to tell you I love you.” Everyone likes to blow off a little steam and have something to look forward to. You can even have a contest to pick themes for the party - such as the Oscar’s/Emmy’s/Grammy’s/Mardi Gras/Tailgating etc. so that food-choice and ambiance can naturally follow.
Halloween - Don’t we all wish we were still kids? Some of the best photos of the year come from the most buttoned-up person in the office coming in dressed in a gorilla costume. Don’t let Halloween pass you by without allowing your teammates to be silly. We suggest breaking departments up and having them choose a theme. Then have a contest for best costume and best department costume, etc. You don’t actually need to have a prize - you can buy a $3 plastic “prize cup” from a party-supply store and slap a label on it and use it year after year - you’ll be surprised how hard people will work for the honor.
Food drive - A favorite of the Preciate team as it is focuses on giving to others, this can be combined with Halloween or any other themed event. Take the bringing of dry goods to a whole new level by having teams create a sculpture out of their cans and dry goods and the team dressing up to match their sculpture. We’ve seen some incredible football stadiums built out of oatmeal and mac & cheese boxes with the participants dressed up like fans, players, coaches, concession sellers and sports photographers.
Ice cream social - Have a local cold-stone group bring in ice cream. One of the neat things is you can do this with multiple locations all at the same time. Let people create their own concoction.
Show and tell - There is a reason we loved this as kids. It was inherently fun to do and cool to learn about our pals. Set aside part of a meeting or a company retreat to allow a few employees to showcase things they have done - whether it be inside or outside of the company. The items can be brought in or with a smart phone and a PowerPoint it can be done virtually.
White elephant gift exchange - Another “oldie but goodie,” the white elephant gift exchange does NOT have to be reserved for year-end and can be one of the best ways to break the ice at a party. Why not break it out in April when everyone is doing “spring cleaning” anyway? Everyone brings a new item from home they do not want or spends no more than $20 on a generic gift and wraps it but does not label it. All gifts are placed in a pile. People draw numbers out of a hat and the person with #1 chooses a gift and unwraps it. The person with #2 can steal the #1’s gift or unwrap a new gift. The person with #3 can steal from #1 or #2 or unwrap a new gift. If your gift is stolen you must choose a new unwrapped gift or steal from another person. Each gift can only be “stolen” 3 times and then it stays.
Order-in-potluck - For the office that doesn’t like to cook, but rather prides itself on knowing the best places for take out, this can be a lot of fun. Allow people to bring in their favorite dish from their favorite restaurant. The same competition can happen as with a regular potluck.
Hawaiian shirt day - What better way to feel relaxed than to be part of the islands? If the company can afford to issue Hawaiian shirts, this is a lot of fun, if not, just allow people to wear what they have at home or their most outrageous shirt. Obviously, there may need to be a few provisos around it…
Flip flop creating contest - If it’s summer, or even better, if it’s the dead of winter and you want it to FEEL like summer, flip flops can put you in the mood. Allow employees to bring their creativity to the table. Create categories for prizes such as “most original,” “most patriotic,” “most corporate,” etc. At a whopping $5 for a basic pair of flip flops the company can spring for the base material and people can build from there. We once saw someone put dancing hula girls (like those you see on the dash of a car) on theirs. That was AWESOME!
Lunch and learns - People love a free lunch and learning something new is always good. We suggest doing these when the weather is known to be poor and people are less-likely to want to leave the building to go and get food anyway. The trick is to have good food and good content to get people excited. To ensure people come and listen, a prize could be awarded to those who correctly answer questions from the presentation.
On campus happy hours - Have difficulty getting people to come to offsite events? Bring the bubbly to the building and allow your employees to just kick off an hour early on a Friday and start the weekend early. Be sure you have food and that everyone knows to know their limits. But a single beer or soda sitting around in the cafeteria, can bring people together surprisingly well.
Massage therapy - Bring in a group of massage therapists who have massage chairs and allow employees to take turns getting 10 minutes of relaxation. Do this once a quarter and watch what happens to attendance on the days when the therapists are there! It’s easier than you think and can be very inexpensive. Google the massage therapy schools in the area or look for newer places that might need the marketing. If you are still having difficulty, look for new physical therapy clinics - they often have massage therapists who need additional gigs.
Yoga - One of the neatest perks and definitely a team-building experience was bringing in a yoga instructor and turning the lunch room into a yoga studio once a week. The company can spring for mats or people can bring their own but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. Sometimes you’ll have a “yogi” in your midst who can lead the class or Google your local area to see if there is a new studio that’s looking for publicity. Namaste.
Personal trainer - Once again, there is nothing like sweating together as a group. Many office buildings have work out facilities that rarely get used. See if you can get your group to spring for a trainer to come each week and get your team to do circuit training together. This can be done before or after work or even during lunch. You’ll be surprised how much of a bonding experience it can be to see people improve at various activities on the circuit like lifting weights or doing reps. This can also be done in a parking lot with trained Gladiator trainers. Think outside the box but be sure you get someone who is good with people at various levels.
Pie throwing contests - If it was good enough for the Three Stooges, it’s good enough for us. Definitely the most fun if your executives are game, but you can combine this with a fund raiser for the company’s favorite charity. To avoid destroying the surroundings we suggest lots of tarps, to avoid destroying the executives’ clothes, we suggest ponchos and shower caps!
Desk chair races - The #1 favorite of our President and COO, desk chair races are not only fun, but they teach an invaluable lesson. Divide up into teams and put half the team on one side of the room and half the team on the other side of the room. First run the race with people having to go forward and then have them run the race when they are facing backward. What do you learn? It’s a lot easier to push back than it is to go forward - quite the analogy for life and business. The bonus is the fastest way is when you get a group to push the person in the chair. So ultimately, the fastest way to go forward is to work together as a team.
Pointillism with Post-It notes- Have your team use a wall to create a picture using post-it-notes.
Fitness challenge - If the company has the budget, issue step-counters to everyone (or just to those who may not have a sport watch). Divide into teams and see who can hit the 10,000 steps per day mark as a group for a period of 6 weeks. It’s amazing what will happen to even your most sedentary people - they may start walking at lunch as a group - and then just keep going.
Bake-off - What was your favorite desert/treat growing up? Something of this nature works well if you spread it out over several weeks. For instance, every Friday, two people can bring “treats” and the company gets to vote on their favorite. Items don’t necessarily have to be homemade. How fabulous would it be to have Twinkies or HoHos in the office!
Chili cook-off - A variation on the potluck - a true cook-off can be a lot of fun. Not everyone must cook but usually there are at least a few foodies in the crowd. Let them battle it out and everyone else enjoy the good eats!
Fortnight challenge - Leverage what kids across the entire planet already know - video games can bring people together and Fortnight is FREE. This can work well with a totally dispersed workforce as well and you’d be surprised how much the senior executives can get into it and how valuable it is to have your youngest crowd teaching strategy to your oldest crowd.
Ping pong - Or “table tennis” as it is more properly called (but let’s face it, at the level you’re going to play it’s probably more correctly referred to as ping pong.) Not everyone has the space in their work place for a ping pong table, but don’t forget, most of them can be folded away. Tournaments can go on for weeks and can be pretty hilarious.
Foosball - Or "table soccer” has a much smaller footprint and requires less true skill to even participate and you aren’t quite as concerned that when you play doubles, there will be a trip to the urgent care. The tables are pretty inexpensive and games can even be played in high heels. These are great to get everyone involved.
Minute-to-win-it challenges - This game show from the United Kingdom is an import almost as good as Padington Bear. Google it and you’ll find all sorts of fun challenges to be completed within 60 seconds along with the clock that runs for, you guessed it, 1 minute.
2 truths and 1 lie - A favorite of morning talk shows, each person tells 2 truths and 1 lie about themselves and the group must guess which is which. This deceptively simple game allows people to reveal subtle things about themselves - often extraordinary ones that are locked away and fun to know.
Blind retriever - Break up into teams and one person from each team is blindfolded. Then the other members of the team must tell the blindfolded member what to do and where to go to retrieve a hidden item.
Charades - The great thing about this activity is that it can be done in the office or at a retreat and you can make up the words that require acting out based on the theme of the day’s event. Sometimes the simplest work the best. Have teams compete by taking those who have not yet participated out of the room.
Group juggle - Have everyone stand in a circle and have a person throw a ball to another person - calling the receiver’s name out. The receiver then announces another person as they throw to them. Add a second ball and a third to the mix. See how many balls your group “keep in the air”.
Group jigsaw puzzle - Give each team several pieces of a jigsaw puzzle and have them assemble the puzzle - then make them go around and work with the other teams to put the entire puzzle together.
Group groupings - Divide a larger group into two smaller groups and people sort themselves based on various metrics such as height, tenure, date graduated high school, eye color, etc. The first group to complete all the groupings wins. This definitely builds teamwork to find ways to keep people focused and get the task done.
Jeopardy - You can buy the board game and use your own “Alex Trebek” or you can try to make it up with company trivia, but there is a reason this has been on the air for so long!
Family Feud - Again, Richard Dawson may be long gone but this game show endures for a reason - and it’s a lot easier than Jeopardy and is conducive to teams playing against each other. For a whopping 15 bucks you can get a deluxe set of cards and have the group in stitches.
No smiling - How do you get a toddler to smile? Tell them not to. Well, we “grown-ups” aren’t that much further progressed. Start a meeting and tell everyone in the meeting that the first person who smiles loses. As people “lose” their job is to get others to “lose.”
Office Trivial Pursuit - You can include dull questions like “In what year was the company founded” but this game can be elevated to relive funny memories or better yet, highlight the work of the unsung heroes in the company. It may take a little while to put together but it can be incredibly educational about the company and the effort needed to hit the milestones it has hit. Our suggestion would be to have each department come up with a series of questions.
Office Pictionary - This is the same idea as above. To ensure that the game feels fair, be sure that you have several people from various departments and levels who contribute to the questions.
Movember contest - Have the gentlemen in your office grow their facial hair for the month of November. On the last day compare beards or mustaches - or better yet, allow them to shave their beards into hysterical mustaches and have the whole company vote on the winner. We suggest making each vote cost $2 and then the company matches what is collected. The winner of the contest gets to choose the charity to which the money goes. While this usually leaves out the women, we’ve learned that most women don’t mind not contributing…
Ugly sweater contest - It’s cliche, but it’s pretty darn funny. Extra credit goes to the homemade versions - and we’d recommend letting people know that up front. You’ll be amazed by the creativity that comes out of it.
Guess the pet owner - Have people submit a photo of their pet and then create a test. Those who do not have pets can always come up with a clever replacement - such as a picture of a cartoon character or what they would like to have as a pet.
Guess the baby - Not everyone may have a pet, but everyone has a baby picture. Have everyone submit a baby photo and post them in the kitchen or on the company internet page and see how well people do matching them to their grown up counterpart.
Third grader or professional artist? - This may take a little time to Google and put together but your entire team will be in stitches trying to figure out which are the modern artists and which are the miniature artists (grammar school kids). If nothing else, you may be humbled by how great some of the kids really are! Break into teams and see who can guess best.
Office Exercises and Activities
Preciate someone - At the beginning of your staff meeting or company retreat, have each person think of someone who performed well in the last week and have them send them a recognition on the Preciate app. Encourage them to add validators so as to highlight the performance to others. Watch what happens to the tenor of the meeting from there.
What was your key win last week, what is your key challenge this week? - At team meetings allow people to go around the room and remember what they did well during the week before by letting them mention it to the team. This reminds everyone the value of each member. Then allow them to share what their key challenge is coming up - this gets others focused on what they can do to help.
Guess the employee - Gather some general and some specific data on your employees - you might need to get the information from their teammates. Then start describing the individual first with the most generic of terms then becoming more and more specific, “This employee lives in the United States, this employee likes the local sports team, this employee has brown hair, this employee is the first person in their family to graduate from college, this employee always waters the plants and thinks people don’t know, this person beat cancer five years ago, this employee has a dog named Mavis…” It’s a great way to highlight people’s quiet accomplishments to elevate them to their peers.
Scavenger hunt - This does take some time to set up but everyone likes a good scavenger hunt and you’ll be surprised how clever the “quiet ones” are when you solicit ideas from various teams and departments. One option is to have one department create a scavenger hunt for another one or for the rest of the company. Remember, the items no longer need to be physical - they can be digital too!
Puzzle solving - There are all sorts of great sites online that have brain teasers and puzzles like the one you see to the right (or below if you’re on your phone). Putting them into a PowerPoint is very easy to do and a great way to test your team’s ability to work together.
Nice string - Sit in a circle and hold on to the end of a ball of string or yarn. Throw the ball across the room to another individual and say something nice about that person. That person will then hold on to the string as well and throw the ball to yet another person. Keep going until the string is all used and everyone has been told something kind. Then check out the “web” that holds you all together.
Active listener - Have a routine meeting and drop in some totally random facts, buzz words and pieces of information. Have a little quiz at the end to see who may have been listening.
Underage - Have employees share their greatest accomplishment before the age of 18 or 21.
Who am I - Choose famous people and put their names on pieces of paper. Then safety-pin a page to the back of each employee without letting them know who it is. The employee must go around the room and talk to someone whom they do not know to figure out who is pinned to the back of them. Bonus if you choose “dynamic duos” - such as Thelma and Louise, Batman and Robin, the President and Vice President, CEO and COO, etc. and people have to find their dynamic duo once they have figured out who they are.
Do you know your teammates? bingo - Create bingo cards by creating a grid on a piece of paper and then entering random facts in each square such as “Plays an instrument,” “Went to college out of state,” “Played collegiate level sports.” Have people go around and get someone to sign in a square that is applicable to them. Only one signature per person per sheet.
Who would you most like to meet (dead or alive, real or fictional) and why? - Go around the room and allow each person to answer. There are lots of great questions like this - including “What is your favorite place you have ever visited?" Or “If you could live anywhere, where would you live and why?”
What are you most proud of and why? - Another good ice breaker in a meeting or at an event.
Memory cartoons - Hand out paper and have people try to draw their favorite memory at the company. Display the pages for a few weeks and allow everyone to get a good laugh.
What was the sliver lining? - Break people into pairs. Have each person tell the other person of a challenge they have experienced at the company. Then have them restate that challenge but entirely from the good that came of it.
Hire a public speaking coach - Being able to present in front of others is an invaluable skill used in almost every single profession on the planet. Bring in someone who is reputable to help individuals and the group learn how to leverage their individual talents in front of a group of people.
Annual slide show - Why do you see these so often? Because they bring people together like few things. Take advantage of the fact that we all have cell phones and tend to take silly photos throughout the year. You can have a “viewing party” and pop popcorn or simply distribute the link to a central spot on the network, but everyone likes to relive fun.
Telephone on the back - Divide up into groups of five or more. Show one person on the team a very simple drawing of something like a boat in the water or a flower with a sun. Then have that person “draw” that picture with their finger on the back of the person in front of them. Then have each member draw on the back of the person in front of them until the last member must draw the pictures on a piece of paper.
Tinfoil Trophies - Take your group and pair people up. Then give each person a large piece of tinfoil and tell them that they must design an award for their partner and then must present the award to the group and explain why the person is receiving the reward and why the reward is specific to their partner. We were dubious about it too, but by adding the fact that someone has to present the award to their partner to the group, people will strive to be clever and find the best in people.
Decorate Gingerbread Houses - Don’t be put off if it’s not December, you can order these cheaply online year round. See what people come up with in July. Serve some adult beverages or keep it G rated if you prefer, just buy a boat load of candy, pull up Pintrest and let people go to town with their creativity. This can be done at someone’s home, an offsite or just in the kitchen area at work - which is fun because then others get to see the work.
Team Building Offsite
Happy hour - We list it only because it’s possibly the most popular. Happy hours can also be held in the office, it’s just really nice to get “off campus” an hour or so early and play a little “hooky” with your team mates. Remember that at any event where alcohol might be served, you want to ensure that people know they must consume responsibly and the company expects them to use Lyft, Uber or some alternative transportation if they have had too much.
Winter party - The “Christmas Party” of old has given way to something more inclusive. At times it might even have been cancelled because it formerly became a little too ‘over the top.’ It’s amazing how little one really needs to do to create a winter or year-end event - and it doesn’t even need to be before the holidays but after works well too. The neat thing is that the traditional party held at a hotel or a restaurant has also given way to more informal gatherings at bowling alleys, arcades and even the local aquarium.
Clam bake or craw fish boil - The winter holidays should definitely not be the only time of year for a party and we have so many great traditions around our country and in other countries from which we can borrow. Don’t stand on ceremony!
Pool party - Think they are just for kids? Think again! You don’t have to be in a bathing suit to enjoy the pool. Get some lawn games going like crochet or a bean bag toss and see the group bond in the most hysterical of ways.
Bar-b-que - Even the stodgy CEO like to grill steaks. There are parks everywhere and they are easily reserved in most communities. You can play traditional games such as 3 legged-races and egg-on-a-spoon race. Spending time with your team in totally different circumstances helps everyone get to know each other better.
Volunteer at the local soup kitchen - Want to get the whole team to have an attitude adjustment and quickly? Find a local soup kitchen and take a few hours and get the group to focus on helping others. Sometimes all it takes is being reminded of how much we have. Be sure management participates, however, these things work best when the top brass are present.
Volunteer anywhere - Allow your team to nominate and vote on their favorite charities and have the entire team participate in whatever the event might be - from building houses, to cleaning up playgrounds. Spending some quality time focused on benefiting others does wonders for a group. Promise to take photos and post them on social media and see if you can get marketing to throw in some dollars to make it happen!
Take a spin class together - Many thanks to Kelsey Landrum and our friends at WeWork for sharing this one. Spinning - or being in a class on a stationary bike - is a great way to spend some quality time together and get healthy and pretty much everyone can participate - the total fitness junkies will love it as much as the couch potatoes. Plan on hanging out and having a smoothie or something healthy afterwards. It’s easy enough to rent out a studio for a single class.
Movies - One of the best holiday parties we’ve heard of was a local tech company that rented out a movie theater for the afternoon so that everyone could be part of the first crowd to see the latest Star Wars release. They had a happy hour ahead of time and then free popcorn and candy. It was a hoot and even employees with teenage kids had a blast! Not only that, they also invited some of their top clients - who actually showed up! May the force be with you!
Amazing race - We saw this done once with a credit union that got one of the local hotels to help them facilitate a whole series of tasks from reciting the pledge of allegiance to knocking over a group of little green army men by shooting rubber bands at them from 4+ feet away. It takes a while to set up, but the creation of the game can be a team builder in and of itself.
Casino night - Another “oldie-but-goodie,” casino nights tend to get people involved - especially if you have games that are particularly easy to do - like roulette and if you take the time ahead of time to do lunch and learns for the more interactive games like craps. You can use education about the various games as a way to market the event and get unlikely friendships forged.
Arcade - Why have your holiday party at a hotel when you can have it at an arcade, or one of the new places that have arcade games and bowling for “grown-ups.” Even if you don’t have one of those places in your area, you will find people discover the kid in them when they can play miniature golf, ride go-carts or duel each other in a video game. Cocktail parties don’t all have to be about business attire and little black dresses.
Ball game/Sporting event - Most professional and semi-pro teams have facilities to have an event for your company or team and they become quite reasonable based on the numbers you bring to the table. Some people may not be into baseball, but they are into being outside and eating great ball-park food! A souvenir is always fun so try to choose the date based on a promotional giveaway the ball park is already having.
Race track - Have one of these in your area? Make good use of it. Almost all of them have a party room and they provide an activity for the young and old alike. People can go and visit the horses (or dogs or cars) if they don’t want to actually gamble. If you are concerned that some will still not have enough to do? See about bringing in some old-time video games like Asteroids and Ms. Packman and see how the crowd reacts!
Aquarium - Believe it or not, one of the most elegant parties we heard of was at an aquarium. The glow of the tanks creates quite the ambiance. Before you dismiss it, give your local aquarium a call and see what they have to offer. There’s a reason kids love the place.
Murder Mystery Party - A big thanks to our friend Charlotte Barnett of WeWork for reminding us of this gem. The cool thing about these is that they can be found online, (so the prep can be done by someone else) you can use them with groups from about 8 people to 100 and people get to dress up! While the classic is the film-noir and flapper dresses and fedoras, you can easily update them to be “Big Hair 80’s” “Grunge Rock” or “Steam Punk.”
Escape rooms - These have become veritably cliche but there’s a reason for it. A group of people have to find a way to work together to get out of the room and get to lunch! If you haven’t done it with your team just yet, give it a whirl. They are available in most major cities.
Car rally - Another one that does take some time to put together but when you couple good clues to get you from place to place with great trivia questions along the way and then mileage that needs to be exact (you didn’t drive around the block 50 times or cheat and go straight to the end) you’ll be impressed by the amount of fun you and the whole team have. Car rallies work well at offsite events where there are golf carts for transportation on the property. It’s a hoot!
Ultimate Air-band challenge - Going to happy hour? Ask the venue to allow you and your team to use the stage. Allow employees to create groups, get dressed up and do their best air-band imitation.
Egg drop - The traditional 3rd grade science project - how do you drop an egg from the top of a ladder or a building and make sure it doesn’t break? Provide the same materials too all the teams and see how they do!
Lower the pole together - Get PVC pipes or light dowels cut into 6 feet lengths at your local hardware store. Put three people on either side of the pipe or dowel and allow each person to only put the finger tip of their index finger flat underneath the pipe. It will now be held up by only 6 fingers. The group must now lower the pipe to the ground at the same time without letting it droop to one end or the other. If you don’t cheat, this is REALLY hard to do.
Toss the ping pong ball into the cup - Get a stack of solo cups (remember those from college?) and a slew of ping pong balls. Break up into teams and have each team choose 1 thrower and the rest must be “catchers”. Give the team 45 seconds to 1 minute to get as many balls into as many cups as possible. Once your cup is full, you can’t help your team any further. Count which team has the most number of balls caught in their cups. Talk about the strategy used and what made the difference. Did people look at each other? Did they communicate?
Minefield - Set an obstacle course up either outside or in a large room - use cones or other items to create the course and add basic activities for people to do - like hopscotch, pour water into a glass, etc. Split into teams and then blindfold one person on the team. The rest of the team has to find a way to guide the bind-folded person through the obstacle course and the various activities.
Water balloon toss - There is a reason this was done at so many birthday parties growing up - it’s really fun and pretty funny to boot. Have people create their own water balloons, and pair people up with partners. They must toss the balloon back and forth and each time move back 6” to a foot. The team that can throw it the farthest without having it break wins. If you have groups that tie, try using two balloons at once - so each person has a balloon and must throw it to their partner while their partner must do the same.
Pool tournament - Not everyone can play pool, but people can support their players. There are always clever ways to get everyone involved.
Twister - Technically this can be done in the office, but business attire may not be conducive for the odd body positions.
When it comes to off-site activities, don’t limit yourself. Check out the website of your local visitor’s bureau and be a tourist in your own town or community - it’s amazing what you’ll find. We all remember building strong relationships on field trips and at summer camp. This is the same idea.
Segue tour - Most cities have them now and this is a great way to get out of the office and get some fresh air together. They take minimal getting used to, but you might just learn something about your area - or the area where you are staying.
Zip lining - Not just relegated for the forested areas anymore, this activity can be done by people from 8 to 80+ and it’s a thrill for everyone. Creating a safe environment where people can overcome their fears is definitely a bonding experience.
Sky diving - No, you don’t have to drop out of the blooming sky, they now have places where you can go indoor sky-diving. Though we hear from our president that it actually takes skill to do the former, where as jumping from a plane is relatively easy - who knew?
Shoot the company’s next commercial - With the advent of digital photography and each of us having a movie camera in our phones, this can actually be done - and it HAS been done - very successfully by the way. Challenge each department or team to come up with a story-board and then shoot a commercial highlighting what they feel should be highlighted about the company. The good ones can even be posted on social media and see them take off. Best of all, you’ll really learn what people like about your organization.
Bowling - There is a bowling alley in almost every town across the country still and with the advent of bumpers, even the least athletic of us can participate and have a good time. Besides, most places serve food and beverages and it provides an organic opportunity to hang out and just gab in between doing something. If you’re lucky enough to live in an area that combines bowling with other activities (Louisiana boasts Rock and Bowl for instance) by all means take advantage!
County fair - Remember when it was the coolest thing to go to the county fair? Well it’s not stopped being cool, you’ve just gotten too jaded for your own good. Take an afternoon off and take your team to the county fair and make a point of doing something for everyone on the team - from good eats, to checking out the livestock, to riding the crazy rides or riding the Ferris Wheel.
Amusement park - Are you fortunate enough to live near a year-round place? Well, when was the last time you went? You probably haven’t even thought about it unless you have kids. Leave the kids (and the headache) behind and go with your co-workers and be kids again yourselves. Double check on line for Group-on or through your payroll companies for discounts.
Water park - Really want to be kids? Why not go to the local water park - or have your company retreat at one of the dozens of hotels that now include water parks as part of the package. There really is something for just about everyone from the lazy river to the wildest of inner tube rides.
Put together packs for schools - There are dozens of charitable organizations in your community that could use some manual labor and not all of it has to be difficult to do. Sometimes they just need a group to stuff envelopes or put together gift packs for kids. A quick phone call to one of the local charities and you could have something that the group could go and do and then you provide the beverages and snacks.
Walk dogs for the local animal shelter - Have a bunch of animal lovers? Why not take your volunteering spirit and bring it to the four legged friends in the community. Combine it with lunch or happy hour afterwards and you’ll see people in a far more relaxed state.
Miniature golf - A fabulous way to spend an afternoon or evening where minimal skill is required but you get to cheer each other on and are grouped together so invariably interact. It’s not terribly expensive and pretty ubiquitous around the country.
Driving range - For the group that definitely wants to be able to add alcohol and some skill to their their golfing outing but don’t have the skill to actually GOLF, a driving range - and especially the ones that now cater to parties - are a total blast. They keep score much like bowling, but the benefit is you don’t have to be inside and you don’t have to wear weird shoes!
Go cart racing - Well just about everyone can drive and even if they can’t go carts are for anyone who is 48” and taller. Everyone seems to start the event rolling their eyes but ends the race flushed and thrilled - so you do the math.
Ax throwing - Never heard of it? Neither had we until we heard about a team that said it was a total blast. Apparently the guy on the team who usually wins everything, came in dead last and the women in the group found it entirely empowering!
Paintball or Nerf gun wars - We aren’t into violence, but we are into fun and playing cops and robbers is as fun now as it was when we were kids using sticks for “guns.”
Archery - Want to add a little skill to the event? Look up your local archery range and see if you can get an instructor to teach you and your team on the correct form and have a health competition.
Cooking classes - Let the “quiet ones” in the group shine by taking a cooking class together and find out about people’s hidden talents. You can create your own version of a cooking channel and have competitions or just make something as a group and bring some good wine to share at the end of the day.
Paint ceramics - Not just for your grandmother and her Bridge friends, studios where you can paint ceramics to be put into a kiln now often serve adult beverages and can create a very relaxed environment for people to do something while getting to know one another. Many thanks to our friend Charlotte Barnett for giving it a great name - “Paint & Sip.”
Create signs and other crafts - For those places where the ceramics places have gone out of business, look on line for the places that will allow you to do other crafts - such as creating signs or holiday wreaths or even learning how to decorate cakes. There are a whole host of classes your group can take.
Spa day - Let’s face it ladies, if the guys in your group have never had a good pedicure they probably need it and why not take a few hours and go as a group and educate those who may have not been indoctrinated? Not every team building activity has to include a competition.
Museum tour - Every community has a totally random museum that people have either never been to, or haven’t been to since their were 11 years old. Look online to find yours and see if you can book it out in advance or if they have guided tours. Go to happy hour afterwards and see what you learned.
Live Music - Sometimes it’s tricky to find the right genre of music, but being somewhere with live music is usually a pretty lively event and most people can relax and just hang out.
See “A Show” - Many Broadway shows go on the road and come through both big and small towns alike. Support your local theater or a traveling theater by taking your team for a bit of culture. You may have a few who roll their eyes at first but they are usually the ones to be thrilled to have said they’ve done it.
Wine tasting - Be sensitive to those who don’t drink, but if you have a group that is curious, there are often places that do classes to learn more about wines. Don’t have that at your disposal? Have each person bring a bottle of vino and create your own event - just don’t forget to include food and a way for everyone to get home safely.
Zoo - There is a reason the zoo was on everyone’s list as a field trip - because it’s basically fun. Only now, you’ll be able to actually read all the placards about the animals and might appreciate it more. Zoos like aquariums and other venues have all learned to cater to an adult audience so call the one near you to see what they offer.
Canoeing - Even in the most metropolitan of areas, there are often outfits that cater to groups and tourists. Canoeing doesn’t require a great deal of skill for the participants as long as you have some good leaders who know a boat. It will be outside the comfort zone for some, but nothing dangerous.
Behind the scenes tour - Most communities have a stadium or some large outfit that offers tours and we rarely take the tours that are in our backyard. Well, be a tourist in your hometown and go see how they make the inner workings of you local ballpark work!
Laser tag - This takes zippo skill or athletic ability but yields lots of fun. If you can, go with another department and have a competition between the two of you.
White water river rafting - This may be out of the comfort zone for some but it’s also a good “on the edge” for others. There are few places where you can do it where the scenery isn’t spectacular.
Skiing - Whether water or snow, if you have an athletic group, don’t miss an opportunity to turn a local favorite sport into an event that you can all share. Those who know how to will be able to teach those who don’t and everyone can encourage each other.
Drive heavy equipment - For every little boy who every had a Tonka truck, (and every little girl who secretly played with their brothers’ Tonka trucks) this is for you. There are only two in the country that we know about - one in Oklahoma and one in Las Vegas, but we highly recommend it.
Ride of a lifetime - In various places around the country where there are race tracks you can ride along with a professional driver. There is nothing quite like going 160 miles an hour around a race track and being able to reach out and touch the car your co-worker is in - adrenaline rush for sure and something your team will talk about for years to come!
Horseback riding - If we all did it at summer camp as kids, we have to be able to do it as adults right? Then again, maybe we just weren’t smart enough to be scared when we were little. No matter. Most communities have places where a small group can go and ride.