10 Ways to Celebrate Thanksgiving at Work

Learn what are the best ways to celebrate this Thanksgiving at work and how to make it inclusive for your remote workforce.

November 23, 2020 By Sara Ana Cemazar Share on Twitter! Share on Facebook! Share on LinkedIn!

Thanksgiving is just around the corner. With pandemic going on, this year we have all learned to appreciate our families, colleagues and others more. So, how can you bring the festive, appreciative spirit into your workplace and make this Thanksgiving party count? 

🦃 Read on to find best Thanksgiving office celebration ideas and advice as well as some messages that you can use to inspire thankfulness in the office. Before you start, get these Secrets for Maximizing ROI of Employee Recognition in 2021 and Beyond. 

10 Thanksgiving Office Celebration Ideas 

Holidays present great opportunities to showcase employee recognition to your whole workforce. Thanksgiving is one of such holidays when you can enjoy the festive spirit in the office. Moreover, we are reminded to be thankful and appreciative of what we have on Thanksgiving. Therefore, it presents a perfect opportunity to encourage your employees to appreciate one another

Here are some of the ways to celebrate Thanksgiving in the office. 

thanksgiving ideas

1. Send Thank you notes 

One of the easiest ways to celebrate Thanksgiving in the workplace is to write a heartfelt, sincere message to your colleague. Therefore, encourage your peers to appreciate each other for their help, calm nature, bringing expertise to the team or for other reasons. Also, sending Thank you notes is a simple, yet effective way to appreciate employees that work remotely. 

🦃 You can use these employee appreciation quotes for inspiration, and you can also download our appreciation cards to print out and give to your coworkers in person. 


2. Launch a “Thank you” themed employee recognition program 

What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving? Ask your employees to participate in an employee recognition program that celebrates kind colleagues and human side of workplaces. It will fill up your social wall with messages of gratitude and make for an awesome social recognition moment! 

3. Have a cooking competition 

Thanksgiving cooking competition or choosing the best meal made by your employees is traditional, but fun way of celebrating Thanksgiving. In general, events involving food are great for socializing, and in the office, it is a great way to promote employee health and include some competitiveness in the mix! 

🦃 Fun fact: more and more companies are offering food at work to encourage mingling among employees. In 2014, 20% of companies offered some refreshments at work, while in 2018, 32% did so according to Indeed. 

4. Give employees time off 

Getting extra vacation time is one of the most popular employee benefits at the moment. As Thanksgiving is a holiday that is spent around family, give your employees a day or a few days off. After all, your employees will come back to the office rested and refreshed! 

employee benefits

5. Invite employees to volunteer 

Cooking, cleaning or serving food in public kitchens is a great way to give back to your community. Why not organize volunteering for employees? You can also organize your own event – have a tent in front of your office building and invite employees to bring food to share to less fortunate. 

6. Donate  

On this Thanksgiving, you can pick a charity of your choice and invite employees to donate some means to it. Donations do not always have to be financial – you can also find some local charities to give canned goods, clothes or other supplies to. 

7. Host the best Thanksgiving family photo contest 

Here is another way your remote workforce can join in on Thanksgiving fun. Host the best Thanksgiving family photo contest! Create several categories, like the cutest dog, the funniest family picture, best out-of-the-box celebration and more. By doing this, you will stir up conversation and get your employees to know one another better. 

8. Offer a healthy Thanksgiving lunch 

With rising healthcare costs, employee wellbeing is one of employers’ biggest priorities right now. Why not make Thanksgiving an opportunity to teach your employees to take care of themselves better? You can either offer a healthy version of Thanksgiving lunch to your employees, or invite a nutritionist to give a healthy cooking class to your employees. 

employee wellbeing

9. Organize a Thanksgiving art workshop  

Organizing art workshops for your employees can be therapeutical and help your employees relax in the office a bit. Moreover, you can organize a Thanksgiving art workshop for your employees’ kids. It will be a great way for your employees’ kids to meet and their families to get closer! 

10. Swap recipes 

This Thanksgiving, you can organize recipe swapping for your remote and in-office teams. Encourage employees to share their family recipes for Thanksgiving dinner and ask for pictures of recipes being made into reality! 

How to Make Thanksgiving Celebration in the Office Successful 

If you have been to an in-office party, you are probably aware of how it can feel forced. Sometimes, office parties are held pro forma and can be genuinely uncomfortable. So how can you create a festive office atmosphere and make your employees feel excited about your company’s Thanksgiving celebration? 

Here are some of our tips. 

Prepare early 

Ad hoc preparations will steal away your time to carefully plan and communicate the details of your Thanksgiving celebrations and actions. However, if you start preparing early, more of your employees will participate in your celebrations. Moreover, you can even use an employee survey to figure out what kind of Thanksgiving celebration would your employees prefer! 

thanksgiving employee survey

Start with senior leadership 

Here’s an interesting statistic: managers account for 70% of variance in employee engagement. On the other hand, only 2.6% of management are highly engaged. In other words, you have much better chances to engage your employees and inspire them to appreciate one another if they have an example to follow coming from your leadership. 

Therefore, explain to your leaders and managers to support you and publicly thank their teams and coworkers this Thanksgiving! 

leadership involvement

Practice recognition all year around 

One of the best employee recognition practices is continuity. In other words, do not let employees recognize and be recognized only on Thanksgiving, Employee Appreciation Day or their work anniversaries. Employee appreciation should not be siloed around certain dates.  

🦃 Instead, you should encourage your employees to practice appreciation all year around! This will make your celebration more sincere and less like just another office party to get over with. 

Create festive atmosphere 

Thanksgiving calls for cozy atmosphere, autumn colors and comfort food. Make your employees feel like home by decorating your office with pumpkins or offering pumpkin spice latte. Play lively music in the background and provide plenty space for employees to cozy up and talk to one another! 

Build on the firm foundation 

HR Professionals know that all the employee appreciation efforts and shiny office parties fall flat if company does not approach employee satisfaction from ground up. In other words, you should ensure that your Total Rewards strategy is adequate before investing too much in your Thanksgiving celebration. 

Thanksgiving Messages to Employees 

If you are struggling to come up with appreciation messages to send to your coworkers this Thanksgiving, here are some of our ideas. You can also check out our employee appreciation emails for more inspiration! 

  • This Thanksgiving, I am reflecting on the things I am most grateful for. Among them are you, my fellow employees! Your commitment, creativity and professionalism inspire me to work harder every day. Thank you for making this office such a great place to work at. I wish you and your families a happy Thanksgiving! 
  • Thank you so much for your hard work in resolving our customers’ issues every day. I really appreciate your sincere wish to help them, and I know this attitude of yours will help you achieve great things in your future career! I am grateful to have you on my team. Happy Thanksgiving! 
  • This time of year helps me realize how people like you make my life better. Your assistance throughout our joint projects and your support for my ideas mean the world to me. I am truly grateful to have you as a colleague! I wish you a happy and abundant Thanksgiving. 
  • I am sending you my warmest wishes this Thanksgiving! You were working so hard last quarter and really gave your best. I believe our company is happy to have you, and I know I am grateful to have you as a team mate. All the best and I hope your turkey is amazing this year! 
  • This Thanksgiving season gave me an opportunity to spend more time thinking of what I am thankful for. Well, I realized that my time at the office would not be the same without you. Your bright personality really makes my days. Thank you for being an amazing office buddy and happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. 
  • Happy Thanksgiving! This year, you are on my list of things to be grateful for. Such a great addition to our team! You are truly amazing and your hard work inspires me so much. I hope you spend a nice couple of days off with your family. 

🦃 We wish you a successful and joyful Thanksgiving celebration both in office and at home! At the end, check out on which dates you can organize more employee appreciation events to make your recognition efforts continuous. Get our employee recognition holidays calendar and start planning all-year-round appreciation in your company.