15 Awesome Activities for an Epic Work Event on a Budget
If you are an assistant or administrative professional that works in an office environment, chances are it might be useful to have some activity ideas handy for events. Great activities provide a wonderful opportunity for the team to learn more about each other, have a good laugh together, and even to foster deeper connections.
Here’s a budget-friendly compilation of fun ideas for you to pick and choose from for your next on-site office event:
Minute to Win It
Do you remember the show "Minute to Win It?” At one of the best events I ever took part in organizing we used some of their games, which were such a riot! This is definitely one option where you will want a video camera handy. There are several websites that list many different games, but below are some great ones I recommend checking out:
An extension of this could be turning several games into a relay. You could give it a theme such as “Amazing Race” or “Olympics” and even have the teams run around to game stations at various locations in the office. First to cross the finish line wins!
This is a great option if your office has a large open area. You could go basic and just purchase Nerf guns, or if you have a larger budget you could throw in strobe lights, blacklights, a fog machine or themed gear for the teams to wear. Here’s a great guide that lists different ways you can play Nerf War as well as the rules: wikiHow.
This is a great go-to game! Prepare several questions about your office and give prizes to teams that get the most correct answers. You could get really detailed with the questions or even make them educational! Some example questions are:
What color is the floor in the break room?
How many people have birthdays in December?
What are all five of our company core values?
How many people are in the Accounting department?
How many employees in the office wear glasses?
Where are the printers located? (Name as many locations as you can)
When was our company founded?
Organize several stations with different casino games, such as blackjack and Texas hold 'em. There are smaller inexpensive versions of games that require props, such as roulette, which will help keep the game table options varied. Chips can be cashed in for small prizes so everyone feels like a winner. Some organizations do not allow any semblance of gambling, even if real money is not involved, so be sure to check your company policy.
Scavenger hunts are generally crowd pleasers. Basically, prepare a list of interesting things that groups need to collect or do. The first group to complete their list is the winner. Here are some examples of items on a list:
A group photo with someone that has a tattoo
A packet of ketchup
A piece of junk mail
Here are a few interesting variations that you can try:
QR code scavenger hunt:
I came across a game on Classtools.net that was created for use in an educational setting but could be used for an office scavenger hunt. It basically is a scavenger hunt quiz using QR codes.
I also came across a free QR code creator here as an alternative to the link above: QRStuff
Geocache scavenger hunt:
This version is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. It works best outdoors or in larger spaces, but you could tailor your version to be indoors and even mix these in with other types of scavenger hunt clues.
Photo scavenger hunt:
Have teams take photos with their smartphones of them completing each item on the list. This is a great option if the items are not feasible to carry around or if it’s a longer scavenger hunt.
Extra employee interaction:
You could have the list include employees collecting items that reflect facts about each other. Some examples could be “collect something in a teammate’s favorite color” or “create a 10-second music video singing one of your teammate’s favorite songs.”
Have teams follow clues that lead them to a "buried" treasure. For onsite events, actually burying an item most likely is not an option, so you could put the treasure in a box with an “X marks the spot” on the outside. A fun addition is that teams could be required to do certain things along the way, so it becomes a combo scavenger hunt/treasure hunt activity.
Escape rooms are popular and I came across a low budget option on Wrike that could be done in the office. Here are the instructions from that site:
Gather the team into a conference room or other empty space and “lock” the door.
Beforehand, select one team member to play the zombie — dead eyes, arms outstretched, muttering “braaaaiiiinnnnssss” and all. The volunteer zombie will be tied to the rope in the corner of the room, with 1 foot of leeway.
Once the team exercise starts, every five minutes the rope restraining the hungry zombie is let out another foot. Soon, the zombie will be able to reach the living team members, who will need to solve a series of puzzles or clues to find the hidden key that will unlock the door and allow them to escape before it’s too late.
You can create all sorts of variations of this game to tailor it towards your office’s interests, such as swapping out the zombie for another character or removing it altogether and focusing solely on solving puzzles in the fastest time.
Traveling Petting Zoo
There are so many companies all over the country that can bring smaller animals to your office so you can have your own small private petting zoo (here’s a great one in Austin, TX as an example: Happy Tails To You). If you have a few hundred in the budget that can be allocated, this is a fun option. Who wouldn’t love to hold a tiny hedgehog or bunny? Make sure you advise your team of how long the animals will be there if they will not be present for the entire event. Check with your office policy to ensure animals are welcome first, though.
Beer Stein Holding Contest
This game is harder than it appears to be! Purchase heavy beer steins (I have found that thick glass ones work best) and have the participants fill them with beer or water, depending on what is okay with your office guidelines. Have everyone hold their filled beer stein and extend their beer stein holding arm straight in front of him or her as long as they can. This is a great activity for an Oktoberfest themed party!
Geeks Who Drink
Geeks Who Drink is an entertaining company that is available in many cities all over the country that puts together fun trivia quizzes for teams to compete in. They typically have several themes to choose from and can work in custom trivia items of your own. If you want to keep costs down, you could make your own version; the last company I worked at did this and it turned out great!
Giving teams basic supplies and a set time period to create or decorate something to present or use at the office event for a prize is a great activity that’s a bit more leisurely. Some ideas are:
At one company I worked each team decorated an office chair as a float. The theme was Mardi Gras so we had a Mardi Gras parade the day of the event. Everyone in the office awarded his or her favorite float with beads, which were counted up and used to determine the winning team.
At one company holiday party I went to, teams decorated gingerbread houses. At the party, all guests voted for their favorite and the winning team got a prize. It was a big hit as some of them ended up being pretty elaborate!
You could give each team a basic cake that is already frosted but not decorated. The team has a set time to decorate their cake according to a specific theme. You could use an impartial judge or use voting to determine the winner. The great part about this is the cakes can also be part of the dessert table for everyone to enjoy once the activity is complete.
Purchase a basic derby car kit for each team to assemble and enhance to use in a race. You will need to clearly mark the start and finish lines as well as ensure there are impartial judges at the finish in case of a close race.
An add-on for this activity could be a small “tailgate.” Each team's specific area could be playing music, add decorations if they like as well as have a different tailgate type of food (which could be provided by a food delivery service that they are not responsible for ordering, so there aren’t too many obligations assigned to each team).
Some other options are paper airplanes, hats, cubicle rows- the possibilities are endless!
Utilize your office board games, corn hole set, ping-pong table; basically whatever is already on site and create a tournament out of it. This is a great option to keep handy for times when the budget is super tight or if you are tasked with organizing an event at the last minute.
Free Trial of a Service
At one company I worked for I was able to snag a free yoga day from a local yogi. It was great because our office could see if it was an activity that we might enjoy for no cost and the yogi was potentially getting a new regular client. Keep your eyes peeled for local services that might be a hit in your office and reach out to them to see if they would be willing to give your office a free trial. Also, be sure to check in with HR to make sure there aren't any forms the outsider would need to sign before coming on site.
There are actually quite a few community service options you can do in the office to enhance or be the main focus of your event. Here are a few options:
Cardz for Kidz is an organization dedicated to uplifting the spirits of hospitalized and/or traumatized children across the globe by delivering inspiring homemade cards. Simply create cards and mail them to the address provided on their website. Your company logo and link can even get recognized and be added to their participant’s page for great exposure after participating.
There are several organizations that will send cards to soldiers or their families. Operation We Are Here has an extensive list broken down into categories.
Invite children from an organization such as the Boys and Girls Club to visit your office, participate in games and learn about what your company does. You could do this around a holiday and include activities that go with that event, such as trick-or-treating on Halloween, and work in educational aspects, such as requiring the children to ask a question to learn something about an employee's role before getting a piece of candy.
Donations can be incorporated into events by dividing the office into teams and creating a competition for the most items (or weight) collected. The winning team could be announced the day of the event. Here are some donation ideas:
Soles4Soals is an organization that acts as second wave responders providing footwear and clothing to those in need during times of disaster. The donations can be dropped off or shipped, depending on the quantity.
Local food banks typically have regularly-scheduled food drives throughout the year. Your local food bank can provide details on options that would make the most sense with the timing of your event.
Operation Paperback is a group that helps volunteers collect and ship books to troops, both abroad and in the U.S.
This is an online mentoring initiative that allows employees to share their skill set online on their own schedule. The program can be customized to include your company’s logo, design elements and more.
Although this is more of an ongoing activity, there are reporting tools that can track employee participation and impact. These milestones can be presented during events and prizes could be given when goals are reached.
Photos and Videos
Photos and videos are important to capture! Not only is it fun for employees to look back on positive memories but they are great for your company to use to promote your company's culture online. To keep costs down, recruit a volunteer or two to be the photographers (you can promise them early access to drinks or snacks as an incentive).
I highly recommend using a photo nooks whenever possible. I’m a big fan of them as they add another engaging activity to the event. They also ensure that those who want to be photographed have that chance. They can be simple; you can throw up a backdrop and lay out props that go with the event’s theme. There are lots of inexpensive options for these materials online, such as through Oriental Trading Company.
You also could consider branding the photos from the event. There’s a great site I came across called SelfieSpott that puts a custom graphic overlay on photos. Another option could be uploading photos to a free design site such as Canva and adding your own graphics, or printing a graphic to put on your backdrop.
One thing to keep in the back of your mind is that not everyone looks forward to or has the desire to participate in office activities. Being in an administrative or assistant role, most likely you have regular interaction with a huge chunk of the office population, so use that to your advantage. If there are a few ideas you are contemplating, run them by a few of your coworkers. This not only allows you to gauge which one would be the biggest crowd pleaser but also will help to ensure more excitement and participation. In addition, your coworkers might have some ideas or have heard others hoping for something specific that you could include.
You could also put together a committee to help you, especially if it’s a larger event. When I’ve done this I’ve been blown away by the creative ideas that resulted from brainstorming meetings; ideas grow, meld and take shape in ways that I would have never guessed! Also, it’s an opportunity for you and other employees from different departments to work together on a project and get to know each other better.
Know there’s a possibility that something might not go as planned. With this in mind, do your best to ponder all areas where your bases could use some additional coverage to prevent any hiccups. An example would be that a prop for one of the activities might fail; you could test all props and order backups just in case. Do your best to think about worse case scenarios and prepare for them.
Lastly, you could send out surveys for your coworkers to complete after the event is a wrap. This will give you insider viewpoints so you can learn what everyone enjoyed, didn’t enjoy and gather ideas for future events.
Life is all about making connections and creating positive memories. I hope this list provides you and your office with some great ones. Cheers to fun times and team bonding!
What are your favorite activities for a fun work event? Please share your experiences in the comments below!