We just launched Signals!

Now it’s easier than ever to gather, understand, and act on employee feedback.

10 Ideas to Help You Celebrate Thanksgiving in the Workplace

Written by
Connie Du
Connie Du

What do you think of when you think of Thanksgiving? Personally, I think of a giant spread of food. 🍽 😋

Along with that feast, of course, is the opportunity for discussion with your loved ones. What do you talk about at the dinner table? I typically hear variations of, “What are you most thankful for this year?” or “If you were a Thanksgiving side dish, what would you be?” and, of course, “Who do you want to give thanks to this year?”

I’m thinking that we should share that spirit of gratitude with the other group of people you spend the most time with—your coworkers!

Without further ado, here are 10 great (virtual-friendly!) ways to celebrate Thanksgiving in the workplace.


1. Host a recipe swap

Of course, our first idea has to involve food. It’s likely that your 2020 Thanksgiving plans are going to be more low-key than previous years’, making it a great time to experiment in the kitchen. Ask your colleagues to share their absolute favorite recipes, and make sure to report back!

To level up this recipe swap, you could even host a virtual “Worksgiving” to cook each other’s recipes together. Along with recipes, make sure to share your favorite Thanksgiving memories! Another twist on this idea would be to vote on one excellent recipe to cook and enjoy virtually.

2. Send thank you cards

Sending cards in the mail is a super low-effort but meaningful way to show someone you appreciate them. Have everyone randomly pick out a colleague to write a thank-you card as a heartwarming act of recognition. Plus, a cute card is a great way to brighten up your workspace.


3. Give back to the community

Volunteering and giving back to the community is one of the best Thanksgiving traditions. Whether you’re in the office or not, you can still organize a canned food drive, fundraise for an organization, or volunteer virtually as a team.

4. See who can draw the best hand turkey

Show off your arts and crafts skills by drawing your best hand turkey! Remember to write what you’re thankful for on each of your fingers, and why not vote on who has the funniest or most heartwarming drawing?

5. Match the plate to its owner

At Bonusly, we’ve had a lot of fun anonymously sending in baby pictures and trying to match them to their adult counterparts! 👼

Similarly, how someone loads up their Thanksgiving plate can tell a lot about a person. Is it beautifully plated, or piled on? Turkey or ham? What does a vegan plate look like? Or is green bean casserole the only vegetable on their plate? (Me. That’s my plate.)

Make it a fun game to encourage team bonding!

6. Tell your origin story

The story we learn about Thanksgiving in elementary school may be a little fictionalized, but the spirit of gratitude, community, and abundance still lives on. Take a walk down memory lane and have your founders and long-tenured employees tell the story of how your company was founded, and other great moments of your company’s past.

In a distant future, how would the founding of your company be celebrated? It’s time to get creative… 💭

7. Host a potluck like none other


You may be unable to eat together, but you’re still able to celebrate together! Since your employees can’t “bring” food in, host a Zoom party and ask your team members to bring something along to show off—like something that reminds them of your company or a colleague.

You may not be able to try each other’s dishes, but you can still tell stories, express your gratitude, and celebrate!

Similarly, you could try a Thanksgiving-themed scavenger hunt!

8. Join a Turkey Trot as a team

Turkey Trots are typically foot races that take place the morning of Thanksgiving. It’s super family-friendly and is a great way to get active before the traditional Thanksgiving feast. Many cities and towns host Turkey Trots, and the proceeds from these races typically go to a charitable organization.

Running and jogging is a great outdoor, socially-distant activity that you can enjoy with your team, and give back to the community in the meantime! Bonus points if you dress up as a turkey. 🦃

9. Watch something together

It’s a tradition for many families to hang out, watch TV or a movie, and generally veg out after a big meal. You can easily adapt this tradition to spend time with your coworkers, too! Use a tool like Teleparty or Squad to watch something together, and remember the popcorn! 🍿

Here are some great Thanksgiving-themed options:

🦃 A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving
🦃 Planes, Trains and Automobiles
🦃 The Oath

10. Recognize your employees

Giving thanks on Thanksgiving; it’s a given! 😉

Don’t save it for Employee Appreciation Day. Recognizing your employees should be a year-round practice, but the spirit of Thanksgiving makes it a particularly great time to show gratitude to your team members.

Whether written or verbal, remember these key characteristics of effective employee recognition:

  • Specific
  • Visible
  • Inclusive
  • Values-based

At your final Zoom happy hour before the long weekend, why not go around and say something thankful about your team? It’s a great way to send employees off feeling good about their work—promising a refreshed and energized outlook when they come back. 🎊

New call-to-action

Originally published on November 10, 2020 → Last updated November 10, 2020

Easily find the rewards you want

November 19, 2018 by Elisse Lockhart Elisse Lockhart

How to get the most out of Bonusly Profile pages

June 28, 2019 by Maja Orsic Maja Orsic

17 million ways to say thank you

November 25, 2020 by Helen Murphy Helen Murphy
Connie Du

Connie is on the marketing team at Bonusly and is dedicated to making workdays a little brighter for everyone. ☀️She loves writing, her cats, and a well-placed emoji.


Bonusly is a fun, personal employee recognition and rewards platform that helps people feel engaged and successful at work. ✨ Learn more about us.