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Creative Ways to Motivate Your Team This Holiday Season

November 20, 2023
By: Patrick Bosworth in the Motivation category.

As the holiday season approaches, the atmosphere in your office begins to shimmer with a unique blend of excitement and nostalgia. It’s a time when the air is filled with more than just the chill of winter – there’s a palpable sense of anticipation, a readiness for celebration. But as a team leader, you recognize a subtle challenge nestled within these festive times: keeping your team engaged, motivated, and connected. You’re aware that this period can be a juggling act between work commitments and holiday cheer.

So, how do you ensure that your team not only remains productive but also feels genuinely appreciated and involved?

This is where your role morphs from a manager to a maestro of morale, orchestrating an experience that celebrates achievements. Let’s explore a range of creative strategies designed to infuse your team’s end-of-year experience with energy and enthusiasm. From the virtual halls of digital holiday parties to the heartwarming avenues of team volunteering, each suggestion is a step towards a more connected and vibrant team culture.


The holiday season is more than a period of winding down; it’s a golden opportunity to uplift, inspire, and unite your team.

Here’s a list of creative ways to motivate your team during the holidays:


1. Team Volunteering Opportunities – Strengthening Bonds While Giving Back

As the holiday season rolls in, it brings with it a spirit of giving and kindness. Embracing this spirit, consider steering your team towards volunteering opportunities. This not only fosters a sense of community and empathy but also strengthens team bonds in a setting away from the usual work environment.

The Benefits of Team Volunteering

Building a Sense of Purpose: Volunteering as a team extends beyond the boundaries of day-to-day work. It instills a deeper sense of purpose and belonging. By engaging in activities that positively impact the community, your team members feel part of something larger than themselves. This shared sense of purpose can translate back into the workplace, enhancing collaboration and empathy among team members.

Enhancing Team Dynamics: Volunteering offers a unique setting for your team to interact and collaborate differently. In these scenarios, team members often discover new facets of each other’s personalities and skills. Such experiences can break down formal work hierarchies and foster a more cohesive and understanding team dynamic.

A List of Volunteering Ideas for Your Work Team:

    1. Food Bank Assistance: Help sort, pack, and distribute food at local food banks.
    2. Community Clean-Up: Organize a day to clean up a local park, beach, or neighborhood.
    3. Charity Run/Walk Participation: Enroll as a team in charity runs or walks to raise funds for a cause.
    4. Humane Society Volunteering: Holiday times unfortunately mean shelters are put to the test.
    5. Elderly Care Visits: Spend time at a senior citizens’ home, engaging in activities or providing companionship.
    6. Environmental Conservation Projects: Participate in tree planting, wildlife conservation, or community gardening projects.
    7. Youth Mentoring: Engage with youth organizations for tutoring, mentoring, or leading workshops.
    8. Blood Donation Drives: Organize or participate in blood donation campaigns.


By integrating volunteering into your team’s holiday activities, you open up avenues for growth, empathy, and connection.



2. Recognizing Team and Individual Accomplishments

In the hustle of meeting end-of-year goals, it’s crucial not to overlook the victories and strides your team has made.Recognizing Team and Individual Accomplishments

The Importance of Recognition

    • Boosting Morale and Motivation: Acknowledging the hard work and achievements of your team members acts as a powerful motivator. It serves as a reminder that their efforts are valued and have a tangible impact. This recognition can elevate morale, fostering a more engaged and committed team.
    • Reinforcing Team Values: Celebrating successes, whether big or small, helps in reinforcing the values and goals of your team. It’s an opportunity to highlight the behaviors and outcomes that your team values most, thereby shaping the culture and ethos of your workspace.

We also touched more on the importance and power of recognition in our holiday leadership guide.

Creative Recognition Ideas

    • Personalized Acknowledgments: Go beyond generic praise. Tailor your recognition to the individual, highlighting specific contributions and the unique value they bring to the team. This could be done through personalized notes, shout-outs in team meetings, or even a feature in your company newsletter.
    • Celebratory Events: Organize an event or a small gathering to celebrate the year’s accomplishments. This could be a team dinner, an awards ceremony, or a casual get-together. Such events provide a space for everyone to relax, reflect, and revel in the year’s achievements together.
    • Recognition Awards: Introduce annual recognition awards that celebrate various categories of achievement and contribution. These can range from ‘Innovator of the Year’ to ‘Team Player Award’. Such awards not only recognize excellence but also add an element of fun and anticipation to the end-of-year celebrations.
    • Project Showcases: Provide a platform for team members to showcase their work. This could be in the form of a presentation, a gallery of completed projects, or a demo day. It’s a way for everyone to appreciate the range and depth of work done throughout the year.

Incorporating these recognition strategies into your end-of-year routine can transform the way your team views their work and each other.



3. Creating an Inclusive Holiday Atmosphere: Celebrating Diversity in Your Team

The holiday season is an amalgamation of cultural traditions and celebrations. Creating an inclusive holiday atmosphere is about making every team member feel valued and respected for their unique backgrounds.

Understanding Cultural Differences

  • Educating and Sharing: Encourage team members to share their holiday traditions and the significance behind them. This could be through a team meeting dedicated to cultural exchange or a shared digital space where team members can post stories and photos. Such initiatives not only educate but also build a deeper understanding and respect among team members.
  • Respecting Varied Perspectives: Be mindful that not everyone may want to participate in holiday celebrations. Respect these individual choices and ensure that participation in any holiday-related activity is always voluntary. This sensitivity goes a long way in creating a comfortable and inclusive workplace.

Practical Tips for Inclusivity

  • Inclusive Decorations and Celebrations: When decorating the office or planning celebrations, choose themes and elements that are inclusive and non-specific to any one holiday. This approach ensures that no one feels alienated or left out due to their cultural or religious beliefs.
  • Flexible Holiday Policies: Recognize that different cultures may have different significant holidays. Offer flexible holiday policies that allow team members to take time off for their important cultural celebrations. This not only shows respect for their traditions but also promotes a healthy work-life balance.
  • Inclusive Communication: When sending out holiday greetings or newsletters, use inclusive language that encompasses all celebrations. Avoid assumptions about how everyone celebrates the season. Phrases like “Season’s Greetings” or “Happy Holidays” are generally safe and inclusive.


You’re not just celebrating the holiday season, you’re also celebrating the rich cultural diversity of your team. This approach strengthens the bonds within your team, fostering a sense of unity and mutual respect that transcends beyond the holiday season into everyday work life.



4. Managing Holiday Season Workloads While Balancing Work and Celebration

Managing Workload During HolidaysWhile festive, the holidays can bring a unique set of challenges in balancing work commitments with celebratory activities. Discover ways to manage workloads effectively and ensure your team can enjoy the holiday season without the stress of overwhelming work demands.

Managing Workload During Holidays

  • Setting Realistic Goals and Deadlines: As the year winds down, it’s important to set realistic goals and deadlines. Assess the workload and prioritize tasks that are critical. This might mean deferring less urgent projects until the new year. By doing this, you ensure that your team is not overburdened and can focus on quality rather than quantity.
  • Encouraging Efficient Work Practices: Promote time management techniques and efficient work practices among your team. Encourage them to focus on high-priority tasks and minimize distractions. This might involve structured planning sessions or providing tools for better task management.

Encourage Team Members take PTO (Paid-Time-Off)

  • Importance of Taking Breaks: Emphasize to your team the importance of taking time off during the holidays. Encourage them to disconnect completely during their break to recharge. This not only benefits their mental health but also leads to more productivity in the long run.
  • Respecting and Planning for Time Off: Plan in advance for team members’ holidays to ensure that work is evenly distributed and no one is left with an unfair burden. Respect their time off by not contacting them for work-related matters unless it’s absolutely necessary. This demonstrates that you value their personal time and well-being.


The goal is to create an environment where the holidays are a time of joy and relaxation, rather than stress and overcommitment. This approach not only benefits your team’s morale but also sets a positive tone for the upcoming year.



5. Holiday Parties: Yes, We Can Do These Again

As the festive season unfolds, the idea of an in-person holiday office party emerges as a beacon of joy and relaxation. It’s more than just a celebration; it’s a chance for you and your colleagues to unwind, interact, and forge stronger bonds in a cheerful setting.

Fostering Connections and Team Unity: An in-person holiday office party can work wonders for team morale. In this jovial ambiance, you get to see a different side of your colleagues, often leading to laughter and shared stories. Such interactions are invaluable in building a sense of unity and camaraderie. This is not just about enjoying good food and festive decorations; it’s about creating moments where team members connect on a human level, stepping out of their professional roles. These shared experiences and memories can significantly enhance team dynamics, making the return to work more harmonious and collaborative.



Wrapping Up with Festive Fervor

As the holiday season wraps up, it’s clear that the key to a motivated and cohesive team lies in the balance of work, celebration, and recognition. By implementing these creative strategies, you’ve set the stage for a holiday season that’s not only joyous but also inclusive and meaningful. Whether it’s through the shared laughter of a virtual party, the united efforts in volunteer work, the genuine appreciation shown in recognitions, the respect for cultural diversity, or the mindful balance of workloads, each action you take weaves a stronger bond within your team. As you move forward, carry the spirit of these initiatives into the new year, fostering an environment of continuous appreciation, understanding, and team unity.

Happy Holidays and here’s to a successful and harmonious year ahead!

Download our Leadership Guide to Emotional Intelligence