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Seasonal Games

This section contains seasonal team-building games, activities and ideas.

Alternative Christmas/ Office Party

These ideas are for an alternative Christmas office party, or other workplace social event.

Commonly staff social events, especially at Christmas time, involve eating and drinking in a pub or restaurant somewhere. The format tends to be: drink, eat, more drink, maybe dance a bit, maybe fall over in the car-park, and for many, have a hangover the next day. The organization, and more likely these days the staff too, spend a lot of money and have little to show for it, let alone a sense of fulfilment or spiritual uplift.

Many organizations now seek more wholesome and responsible ways for team members to socialize, celebrate and bond at Christmas parties and other social events.

Here are some ideas for alternative workplace social events which can be very enjoyable, very uplifting, very good for teambuilding, and very cost-effective too.

Self-catering - DIY food and drink

Instead of spending (or asking people to spend) a big amount per head on a meal out - instead do it yourselves 'in-house'.

Organize your own buffet, or another type of catering.

Perhaps ask every staff member of staff to bring in some interesting food. This can be especially rewarding for groups of varying ethnicity. Food reflects culture, and so offers a helpful basis for improving mutual awareness.

And/or - you can keep things very simple if you give the event a theme , and make the food fit the theme.

If you have a kitchen (most workplaces do), then you can handle a certain amount of hot food. If you don't have a kitchen, then be creative with some camping stoves or an outside barbecue. That's assuming you want to serve hot food. Otherwise keep it to a cold buffet, which depending on the weather and time of year, can be perfectly acceptable.

Here's a quick organizer's checklist:

  • Room/venue
  • Tables (to put food on, not necessarily to sit at)
  • Chairs
  • Tablecloths
  • Napkins
  • Paper plates and dishes
  • Serving plates and utensils
  • Disposable cutlery
  • Disposable cups and glasses
  • Jugs (for water and juices, etc)
  • Bowls (for salads, punch, etc)
  • Condiments (salt, pepper, etc)
  • Rubbish bags, wipes, cloths - cleaning-up materials as required
  • Some sort of food list/guidelines so people know what to make/bring - quantities and varieties - savoury, sweet, and vegetarian, or starters, main and puddings.
  • Is there a staff-member with very good catering experience/skills who can help you plan and manage the event? Enlist his or her help.

If you really don't want to do it yourselves, then bring in some outside caterers - something interesting like a hog-roast, or Indian or Chinese, whatever - be imaginative and talk to local restaurants/providers - they will want your business and will usually be very helpful.

N.B. When you feed people in-house, on a biggish scale, it is very cost-effective and can produce excellent quality and quantities of food, for a fraction of eating-out costs.


Many groups will expect an alcoholic drink of some sort. Often alcohol is appropriate. Again be creative and imaginative.

It is very cost-effective to provide drinks of all sorts in-house - alcoholic and non-alcoholic.

Again seek help and involvement from staff members with experience and skills in making and providing drinks for large groups.

Punch, sangria and Pimms are easy and inexpensive to make in large quantities - especially when compared to bar/restaurant prices. Recipes are available on the web.

Consider the strength of drinks that you provide and consider implications of people's health, proper behaviour, transport, driving, etc.

Ensure there are adequate soft drinks for staff members who do not want to drink alcohol.

It's always good to provide jugs of water anyway.

As with the food, you can keep things very simple if you give the event a theme , and make the drinks fit the theme.

Perhaps delegate the bar/drinks responsibility to a department.

Venue - find a room

Most offices have a big space somewhere which can be quickly reorganized to produce a good-sized area for setting up a buffet and eating.

Maybe offer starters, mains, and deserts in different departmental rooms, so people circulate and get to know each other better.

Maybe ask each department to create its own 'restaurant' or buffet theme.

Maybe organize it so the executives/bosses serve the staff, and wait on their every need..

If you don't have a room or rooms then go out and find the space you need. Again be imaginative and creative. There are interesting spaces everywhere. Find some space and make it work.

Ideas for venue hire:

  • Function rooms (obviously)
  • Social clubs
  • Theatres and music venues
  • Pubs, bars and restaurants (many have rooms for hire, even if they don't supply serve the food/drink)
  • Community halls
  • Sports clubs
  • Meeting rooms and rooms (of local institutes, groups, etc)
  • Boats and barges
  • Warehouses, barns, sheds
  • Schools, colleges, universities
  • Customers' and suppliers' premises

Decorate the venue. Appoint a team to do this - and to dismantle and tidy up too. The executives/bosses can perhaps be nominated for these duties..


A consistent problem affecting traditional workplace parties and social events is that people tend to drink a lot when nothing else entertains them. People engage relatively little, with the event, and with each other. Organized activities instead get people involved and mixing and having fun together, which develops mutual understanding, builds relationships and teams, and diffuses tensions.

So think of some activities on which to build your event - to give people some entertainment apart from eating and drinking.

Here are some ideas:

  • Organize and 'X-Factor-type Talent Show' or a 'Your Company's Got Talent' show - and/or an 'Open Mic' session - you will be surprised how many instrumentalists and singers you have among your staff members
  • Karaoke
  • Active computer team games on a big screen
  • Bring in some participative musical entertainment - there are perhaps some entertainers among your staff, or certainly your staff will know entertainers
  • Quizzes - there are lots of quizzes on this website
  • (Externally provided) Casino or horse-racing activities (not real money, and just for fun, although prizes are usually offered)
  • And think of your own ideas - invite suggestions from your staff - be imaginative and creative in involving and engaging people.

Think about activities which will be different and participative, so that people will be active and entertained, rather than sat down drinking and chatting about work and office politics, etc.

As already suggested, a really useful tone-setting idea is to have the bosses and executives take a leading role in serving and waiting on the staff.

The tone of the event is important. Staff will be positive if the tone is right. If the bosses stand aloof and refuse to help and get involved, then the tone will be unfair and wrong, and staff will not put effort and commitment into the event. If the tone is right and good and fair, then staff will respond positively.

Consider that in very many organizations throughout the year, staff see senior managers and bosses enjoy longer lunch-breaks, expenses-paid-for trips and meals, big company cars, reserved car-park spaces, better salaries, bonuses and perks, and all sorts of other privileges. So wouldn't it make a refreshing change for once if the bosses served the staff? You bet it would.

A workplace social event is an opportunity for the organization to say thank you to its people. A sit down meal with drinks in a restaurant will achieve this to a degree, and of course in many cases is entirely appropriate, but for many other situations, a social event can achieve a lot more.

Quick Plan Exercise

New year planning, aims, planning, change

A quick icebreaker and kick-start activity with a helpful underlying purpose. For groups of any size.

Introduction/scene-setting: The beginning of a new year prompts many of us to consider new aims and plans, or to renew a commitment towards a change or improvement of some sort. Commitments tend to succeed where there is a plan, especially for aims which contain steps leading towards the final result. Without a plan, little can change.

This process can help:

  1. Think of a commitment or change you want to make.
  2. Write it down - describe it as a clear, realistic and measurable outcome.
  3. Work backwards, identifying the steps necessary for achieving it, back to the starting point: i.e., now.
  4. Attach timescales and resources as necessary.

You now have a simple plan. Take it away and refine it as necessary.

Useful reference materials:

Agree review/feedback expectations with the group before t he activity, as appropriate for your situation. Note that review/feedback are not always necessary, especially if the activity seeks to help people to think about personal priorities and plans which they may prefer to keep private. In this situation it is particularly helpful to clarify that people do not need to reveal or discuss their aims with the group unless they want to, since for some people this enables more relaxed and creative thinking.

Snowman Building

The obvious team building game for snowy weather (teambuilding, exercise, fun)

Obviously, given snowy weather, take everyone outside and build a snowman. Or several of them. Or snowperson/snowpeople if you work in a particularly politically correct organisation.

Have the team brainstorm the rules and aims of the exercise, mindful of group size, teams, and proximity of the activity to the managing director's office window. N.B. Throwing snowballs can be harmful to your team-mates' health and to the managing director's office windows. You have been warned.

If the MD or other senior executive sees what is happening and asks you to explain the purpose of the activity, here are some suggested answers (delete as appropriate):

  1. Given all the training budget cut-backs it would have been daft not to make use of so much free material.
  2. It was a positive thinking exercise and motivational analogy to illustrate how even in seemingly negative circumstances (credit crunch, recession, snow, etc) it's perfectly possible to innovate new things and to be constructive in some way.
  3. Having fun and building things is very good for the soul, and great for team morale. We are all now thoroughly energised and will never again see the snow as a problem, only an opportunity to be special and different compared to everyone else who sits on their backsides complaining.
  4. Being out in the cold for so long meant that we could turn down the heating when we all came back in to save further costs.
  5. It was an experiment in stress management, and it worked for us. Go try it yourself.
  6. It was cultural conditioning exercise in preparation for a forthcoming sales visit to Moscow.
  7. When we find out who built the ten foot snow-willy the culprit will be given a serious ticking off (that's not a sexual pun in case you are wondering).


Businessballs accepts no liability for damages arising from inappropriate use of this activity. If in doubt, make some newspaper towers instead. Indoors.

Themed Team Projects

Exercises and activities linked to christmas and other celebrations

These activities ideas are not only for Christmas. They'll adapt for other seasons and celebrations. Use these activities sensitively. If there's a risk of causing offence then adapt them or avoid them. The ideas are meant to be fun, underpinned by some useful questions and learning. Split the group however suits you (teams, pairs, or threes probably best). Arrange presentation, discussion, review, etc., to fit your situation. The Roman/Greek god theme below has absolutely nothing to do with the activities, but if it helps add an additional creative perspective by all means go with it.

  1. Christmas Community Party - You are a think-tank appointed by Bacchus, god of wine, merriment and debauchery. Bacchus has tasked you to devise a plan for staging a free local community Christmas party or event, to include ideas for the type of event, target audience and guests, funding, staffing, venue, marketing, publicity and ideally on-going benefit for the community, and reasons for the funders and event managers to stay involved and supportive. (Specify a community as appropriate, or leave the teams to decide this themselves.)

  2. Brussel Sprout Relaunch - You are marketing advisor to Saturn, not only Roman god of the sky, but also with a secondary portfolio responsibility for agriculture (never knew that did you..) Anyway Saturn is very concerned that one of the greatest vegetables ever - the brussel sprout - has struggled to achieve the popularity it deserves, especially among children, most of whom would apparently prefer to eat a bogie or a big mac instead of a good helping of brussels. Your task, should you decide to accept it, is to devise a product relaunch plan for the brussel sprout, including whatever you think would elevate the vegetable to its rightful place as king/queen of all vegetables. Consider the marketing staples: Product, Price, Promotion, Place, and anything else you can bring into play, e.g., endorsement by Ramsos and Olivos, the two-headed god of culinary evangualisation. The world is no longer your oyster, it's your sprout. (Incidentally sprouts smell bad when they are cooked for too long, so education is worth including in your ideas.)

  3. 2020 Retail Visioning - You sit on the advisory panel in the service of Argos, Asdos, Morros, Sainsbos, Tescos, and Waitros, the six musketeer gods of retailing, who have been assembled by Zeus and tasked to redefine the developed world's retail distribution model for the year 2020. Consider how, where, what, when and why consumers will be buying, and from whom. Your 2020 vision for retailing does not necessarily have to include the six musketeers, and in some ways it might be more fun if it does not. For instance, Co-opos, god of mutuality has some interesting ideas, as do Amazos, Ebos and Googlos, the gods of change and basically ripping up the rule book.

  4. Seasonal Rebrands - You are marketing assistant to Richus Bransos, the emperor of branding, and he's hungry for a sleeping giant of a product to rebrand and relaunch. Your task is to identify a product or service or a proposition of some sort - anything from a chocolate bar to a whole country - which can be rebranded and relaunched for the Christmas season (or any other season as appropriate) to generate bucketloads of wonga for the Bransos Empire and its shareholders. Consider product/service, price, promotion, place, uniqueness and differentiation, distribution, plenty of photo-opportunities for Richus Bransos to dress up as a banana or a silly girl. (Forget brussel sprouts because Saturn is already working on it, and forget ITV because that other lesser god of the sky Rupertos Murderos has already bollocksed that one up right good and proper).

  5. Christmas Diversity Project - You are doing a spot of work-experience for Gallupos, god of questioning. Zeus has raised the matter of the Christmas tree in the foyer and the 'Secret Santa' planned for next Friday lunchtime. Gallupos wants you to go forth into the local high street and canvass the populace (or look on the internet) to discover all the different ways that people celebrate Christmas around the world, and for those who don't celebrate Christmas find out what they do instead and when and how and why. Then (optionally) if you've time, try to roll them all together to conceptualise some sort of celebratory extravaganza for all of humanity that will please everyone, and that we might be able to fit into the foyer.

  6. Monetary Exchange project - You are special advisor to Soros, god of money, who has been tasked to devise an improved design of coinage and banknotes, which better reflects people's preferences and practical needs. Your responsibility is to suggest design, size, shape, material, monetary values, and any other innovative ideas for a new system of coins and banknotes.

Christmas Quizzes

We have a selection of annual and Christmas-themed quizzes on our site for you to try out, for either personal use or to use at an event. Here are some sample questions from the Christmas quizzes:

  • Dickensian metaphor, mean with money?
  • Originally Old English 'haligdaeg', meaning 'holy day'?
  • Name given to Christ when prophesied by Isaiah?
  • By what name is St. Stephen's Day general known in the UK and other Commonwealth nations?
  • Which country traditionally donates a Christmas tree to stand in London's Trafalgar Square?
  • The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl sang a "fairytale" about which American city?
  • The wild turkey Meleagris gallopavo is native to which continent of the Earth? (Fun fact: domesticated turkeys were originally imported into the UK via the Levant, and were therefore associated with the nation of Turkey, hence the name).
  • Rather than fawns like other deer species, what name is given to baby reindeers (caribou)?
  • Driving Home For Christmas was a 1988 hit single for which singer?
  • The early pagan religious winter festival celebrated by archaic Scandinavian and Germanic people, later absorbed into Christmas celebrations, is still referred to in what alternative word for the Christmas season?

The answers to these questions and many more can be found in our quizzes section .

'Christmas is Brilliant' vs 'Christmas is a Pain in the Arse' Debate

Team debate activity, warm-up, ice-breaker, group presentations preparation and delivery

A simple warm up after the festive season or the holidays (whenever), for grown-ups or young people, for two teams, (or at a stretch three teams).

One team must prepare and present the motion: "Christmas is Brilliant" (or "Holidays are Brilliant" - whatever is appropriate).

The opposing team prepares and presents the case against the motion, which is logically: "Christmas is a Pain in the Arse" (or Holidays are a Pain in the Arse").

Begin the exercise by asking the group to organise itself into two separate teams according to their individual views: ie., "Christmas is Brilliant" or "Christmas is a Pain in the Arse" (or "Holidays") . Alternatively split the group into two teams and allot the motions by flipping a coin or similar random method.

Teams of five or six are fine provided full participation is stipulated. Teams of more than six will be fine provided team leaders are appointed and instructed to organise their teams into smaller work-groups to focus on different aspects of the presentation, which can be brought together at the end of the preparation time. For groups of more than about twenty you can introduce a third motion, "Christmas is both Brilliant and a Pain in the Arse, depending on your standpoint", and structure the activity for three teams.

Timings are flexible to suit the situation, as are use of materials, presentation devices, and number of speakers required from each team, etc.

For preparation, as a guide, allow 5 minutes minimum, or up to 15 minutes maximum if more sophisticated presentations are appropriate. Allow 5 minutes minimum for each presentation although you can extend this if warranted and worthwhile.

Optionally you can allow each team to ask a stipulated number of questions of the other team(s) at the end of the presentations.

The winning team can be decided at the end by a secret ballot, which will tend to produce a more satisfying conclusion (even if there's no outright winner) than a decision by the facilitator, who can vote or not, or have casting vote in the event of a tie - it's up to you.

The facilitator should advise the teams before commencing their preparation that the winning team will most likely be the one which prepares and presents the clearest and fullest and most appealing case, and if applicable asks the best questions and gives the best answers.

Obviously deciding the winner will not be a perfect science and if using the exercise as a development activity it's important to review structure, logical presentation, and other relevant aspects of learning as might be appropriate. In reviewing the presentations the facilitator can award a point for each logically presented item within the presentation, with a bonus point for any item that is supported by credible evidence or facts or statistics. Award bonus points for good questions and answers if applicable, and award bonus points for particularly innovative and striking aspects or ideas within the presentation. If using the activity as a learning and development exercise it's helpful to explain the review criteria to the teams at the start.

Encourage participants, particularly young people in large teams, to use their imagination to create interesting and memorable methods of making their points, for example play-acting scenarios, and injecting movement and lots of activity within their presentations.

For more sensitive groups or situations you can of course substitute the word 'nuisance' for 'pain in the arse'.

Obviously the activity can be used for any debate exercise - work-related or otherwise - and serves to get people working and cooperating in teams, developing skills in preparing and presenting arguments and propositions, and can also provide much revealing and helpful mutual awareness among team members, and useful insights for the facilitator/group manager.

Examples of other motions, which for group selection recruitment exercises can be extended far beyond normal work issues, examples of which appear later in the list below:

  • "The Smoking Policy is..."
  • Team Briefing is..."
  • "The Car-Parking Policy is..."
  • "The (XYZ) Initiative is..."
  • "The Monthly Meeting is..."
  • "The CEO is..."
  • "The Weather in our Country is..."
  • "The Sport of Football (Soccer) as a sustainable business model is..."
  • "Reality TV is..."
  • "The Monarchy is..."
  • "Supermarket Domination of the Retail Industry is..."
  • "Mobile Phones are..."
  • "The Internet is..."
  • "This Recruitment Process is.."
  • Etc

The exercise can also be used or adapted for a group selection recruitment activity, to provide useful indications of candidates' skills and capabilities in a variety of areas.

Seasonal Acronyms

BLACPU - Back Later After Christmas P***-up. Seasonal acronym for when work and customers must necessarily fit in around the festivities and holidays.

DUTCHIE - Defer Until The Christmas Holiday Is Ended. Seasonal acronym explaining why most business comes to a grinding stop for two whole weeks at the end of the year.

LUCID - Leave Until Christmas Is Done. Yuletide acronym, when procrastinators everywhere are joined by most of the western world in deferring anything other than a life-threatening emergency until the Christmas blow-out is properly organized and maximum enjoyment extracted.

SHOT IT - Should Have Ordered This In Time. Customer services and despatch expression, especially appropriate approaching department close-down for weekends, holidays, Christmas, etc., and a personal reminder not to leave things until the last moment.

NACTAC - Not A Chance Til After Christmas. Understandable response from overworked despatch departments and customer services staff when attempting to explain quite reasonably that it's not possible to process urgent last-minute orders received at lunchtime on the day before holiday shut-down. Variations include NACTAE (Easter), NACTAT (Thanksgiving), etc.

Conkers and Acorns

Various themes for discussions and exploration

Whilst not christmas activities, these certainly are seasonal activities if ever there were some. These ideas are more for young people than for grown-up work environments, although for some there will be connections with work issues. Usefulness and effectiveness will partly depend on openness to intuitive learning and exploration. Various exercises and opportunities arise from these fascinating fruits, for example:

  • Take the group outside to the local park and have them collect conkers and/or acorns. Fresh air and a nostalgic revisiting of simple childhood fun is good for the soul. Be careful if the (big) boys want to throw big sticks up into the trees.
  • Trees are very spiritual and symbolic of many modern issues and challenges, and can be used to prompt all sorts of discussions and ideas. Time, maturity, age, seasons, growth and rest, converting energy and fuel (sun, rain, soil minerals) into life and beauty, design, balance, quality, etc.
  • Ask people to close their eyes, think and then explain their associations and feelings triggered by (physically holding, handling) conkers or acorns. The real thing is far more sensory and emotive than a picture. This illustrates the power of the subconcious and unconcious mind, which is very relevant to our behaviour, as featured in personality , NLP , and Transactional Analysis , for example. For many grown-ups it demonstrates the deep-rooted feelings anchored in our childhood.
  • A good old-fashioned conkers competition. You need a drill and string. Goggles and health safety disclaimer as appropriate. Have the group design the structure of the competition so that all stay involved from start to end.
  • Explore/develop the selection and preparation of the most competitive conkers. Old conkers are the best. Drilling produces a stronger hole than forcing through a nail or an awl, which creates weaknesses liable to split. Does vinegar really work? Apparently softening with moisturiser works better..
  • Write the rules of playing conkers so that an eight-year-old would understand them.
  • The pros and cons of regulations in proper competitions which forbid the use of personal conkers. How do rules affect the nature of the competition and the appeal to potential contestants and audiences, in turn affecting the 'market' development?
  • Cultural/diversity discussion - Conkers and acorns have strong British associations. What are the equivalents in other regions/cultures?
  • Acorns symbolise growth and potential: "Parvis e glandibus quercus" - Tall oaks from little acorns grow, is the old anonymous Latin saying. What other imagery and analogies are associated with trees?
  • What are the origins of the words? - chestnut (from Greek 'kastanon' - not the modern English words chest or nut), conker (probably from conch, meaning shell, because apparently early versions of the game were played using snail shells, and/or associated with the word conquer) and acorn (Old English different spelling 'aecern' evolving into modern form by combination of 'ac' meaning oak and 'corn' meaning kernel as in nut - sources Chambers and Cassells).
  • The design of the conker and its prickly casing are a marvel of evolution. Why is it like it is? Why is the acorn like it is? How did that funny little cup arrangement evolve? When we think about the function of fruits we can imagine how they evolved their amazing designs. What can we learn from nature's evolution and design that might be transferable to organizations and society? To what extent should we encourage and enable design and evolution of organizations and policies and systems via external influences (customers especially) rather than internal arrogance and guesswork?
  • Conkers (horse chestnuts) are not to be eaten by people, yet they are safe for certain animals, including horses. The North American Indians used a lot of acorns in their diet, yet acorns are poisonous to horses. How did that happen?
  • Extend the exploration to sweet chestnuts, which of course are very tasty roasted or toasted under a grill and rather easier to prepare than acorns.
  • Or find the best propellors from the sycamore/maple trees. You'll discover a lot more in the park. Maybe combine with a visit to the swings. Or just go feed the ducks and the squirrels. Beats spending your lunch-break at your desk any day.