The benefits of building a strong team are many: increased productivity, higher morale and bigger profits. Unfortunately, many companies have yet to realize that team-building need not be a stodgy event. You can combine team-building activities with your next holiday celebration to create a fun event that will make you look like a party-planning genius.
Divide the party attendees into teams of two. Have the team members sit back to back. Give one team member a picture of something simple, like a face, a ball of yarn or a tree. The team member with the picture must describe the picture without naming the object to her partner, who draws the object based on the description. The goal is to see how closely the finished drawing matches the original picture -- the stronger the resemblance, the better the team members communicate.
Encourage coworkers to get to know one another beyond typical office small talk. Before the party, ask each employee to submit three facts about themselves. The three things can be as simple as how many children they have or where they went to college, but encourage offbeat or fun facts, too. Make a list of some of the most interesting facts and pass out the list and pens at the party. Challenge the partygoers to chat with one another to discover which employee submitted which fact. At the end of the party, provide the correct answers and reward the employee who got the most right. Employees will have no choice but to network to win the game.
Increase employee awareness of how we perceive stereotypes by creating a list of job titles. Cut the list into slips of paper and put the slips into a hat. Have an employee draw a slip. Partygoers should ask the employee questions about the job. The employee can answer only "yes" or "no" to each question. Based on the answers, have the partygoers guess the occupation. This activity can also be used to raise cultural awareness by replacing the job titles with different ethnicities or religions.
Sometimes planning what not to do is just as important as planning the actual activities. Avoid activities that might invade employees' personal space or privacy. While the activities should be fun -- after all, you're having a party -- do not sacrifice personal dignity in the process. Make sure the activities are diverse and simple enough that anyone can do them. Keep in mind that while you may be an athlete and a scholar, others may balk at working up a sweat in their holiday attire or have flashbacks to dark days of pop quizzes in high school.