Additional Team Building Resources

Oct 17, 2022

10 of the Best Thanksgiving Contest Ideas for the Office & How to Plan Them

Madeline Purches

Team Building Enthusiast

Celebrate Turkey Day at your office with food, gratitude, and fun Thanksgiving-themed contests! Contests are easy and fun ways to keep your employees engaged at work with some competition and anticipation. Check out some ideas of how you can run the perfect Thanksgiving office contest!

Why do contests at work?

If you’ve never tried running a contest at work, you’ll find that they’re a chance for you to flex a creative and fun muscle that maybe you haven’t worked in a while! Contests give your employees a chance to break from the normal, day-to-day routine of work. When you announce a contest, your coworkers have something to look forward to—granted it may be a prize or bragging rights, but you’ll build an anticipation of fun and a little bit of competition in them.

Some other benefits you’ll get when you do a contest at work are:

• Lower stress

• Reduced work fatigue

• Long-lasting memories for your team

• A chance to have fun at work!

team members celebrating office contest win

How to Make a Successful Thanksgiving Contest for the Office

If you want a successful Thanksgiving office contest, you’ve got to set the stage for Thanksgiving excitement! Decorate your office space (you can never have enough gourds!) and leave enough time to celebrate Thanksgiving together. Here are some tips for running a great contest:

• Have great prizes

• Encourage—but don’t force—everyone to participate

• Do multiple contests

• Ask someone to moderate or emcee the contests

• Remember your virtual employees and consider how they can participate

Some contests can be done over the course of a week, a month, or a party. Plan your Thanksgiving celebration accordingly (budget, planning, calendar invites, etc.), and for real, have great prizes. Not only are these contests a fun way for your office to enjoy the holiday, but they’re a moment for you to show your appreciation for your employees! 

10 Thanksgiving Office Contest Ideas

1. Turkey Raffle

The classic king of contests is the raffle. Each person gets a raffle ticket, and at some point in your event, you’ll take time to call out the winning numbers.

Materials Needed: raffle tickets, coveted prizes

Estimated Cost: $60–$300 (including prizes)

Tip: Have several small prizes and one grand prize. Make sure you include Thanksgiving-themed things like a turkey or ham, an apron and oven mitt set, a meat thermometer, etc.

raffle tickets

2. Pin the Feathers on the Turkey

Blindfolded, employees must pin (or tape) feathers to the back of a turkey cut out. Each person has their own turkey taped to a wall that they’re aiming for. The person with the most feathers in the right place at the end of a timer wins!

Materials Needed: turkey cut outs for everyone, pins (or tape), feathers, blindfolds

Estimated Cost: $10–30

Tip: Have a couple of people stand by as judges so that no one cheats! Keep commentary going to keep excitement up.

3. Pie Contest

Let your employees show off their pie-baking skills! At your event, allow people to enter into a pie contest (they can choose their favorite flavor or you can choose it for them) for a grand prize. Make sure you’ve got a good, hungry set of judges!

Materials Needed: scorecard for the judges 

Estimated Cost: N/A

Tip: Make the prize for this contest something that even non-bakers would want to compete for—a tablet, a fuzzy sherpa blanket, a restaurant voucher, or an Apple Watch would be great prizes.

pumpkin pie and slice

4. Trivia Contest

Put your Thanksgiving knowledge to the test! You can include Thanksgiving history trivia as well as run polls on some Thanksgiving favorites from around your office and insert those answers (don’t forget the turkey vs. ham debate!). Running low on trivia questions? Check out this list for some ideas. 

Materials Needed: trivia answer sheets

Estimated Cost: N/A

Tip: Break your office up into teams and give out prizes for teams, not just individuals.

5. Turkey Week Challenge

Create a bingo sheet that employees can fill out the week of your Thanksgiving party. Include challenging things, like “Bake a pie for the office pie contest,” “Write thank you cards to each of my team members,” and “Walk for 20 minutes 5 days this week.” The person with the most bingo squares marked off wins!

Materials Needed: bingo sheets

Estimated Cost: N/A

Tip: Prepare for multiple winners! You can also ask for photo evidence, although that might not be possible for all of them. 

office contest winners

6. Thanksgiving Taboo

Give everyone three small clothespins when they come to the Thanksgiving party and a list of taboo words that are Thanksgiving-related. If someone hears someone else say one of the words at the party, they get to take one of their clothespins. The person with the most clothespins at the end of the day, event, or party wins!

Materials Needed: three clothespins for every participant, index cards with the taboo list printed on them

Estimated Cost: $5–30 or more, depending on how many participants (you can buy bags of clothespins at different stores, like this deal of 18 for $3.50)

Tip: Don’t make your list of words too hard to avoid. Words like “cranberry,” “stuffing,” “football,” or “dinner” are acceptable.

7. Canned Food Drive

This is a great opportunity to get your team involved in community service! Partner with your local food bank to collect as many canned foods as you can. Let every can that an employee brings in equal one entry into a grand prize drawing.

Materials Needed: space or a tub to store the canned goods

Estimated Cost: N/A

Tip: Spread the word about your food drive with your office a month before you stop collecting. This can also be an annual drive that culminates in an opportunity to volunteer at the food bank in person.

employees volunteering

8. Gourd Bowling

Set up a bowling lane with plastic bowling pins and use gourds as the bowling “ball.” Run a mini bowling tournament, and whoever (or whoever’s team) has the highest score wins!

Materials Needed: plastic bowling pins, five to seven small gourds, a bowling scoresheet 

Estimated Cost: $25–30

Tip: Since gourds aren’t normally round, your team will have a hard time making them roll straight, so buy gourds of different shapes and sizes. Also, be sure to announce when the bowling tournament is happening and encourage people to come watch! 

9. Undercover Turkeys

Decorate your office with as many turkeys as possible, and let your team guess how many there are! 

Materials Needed: paper turkeys, plastic turkeys, pictures of turkeys—basically as many turkeys as you can get

Estimated Cost: $50 (for plastic or toy turkeys)

Tip: Don’t tell them about the contest until they have to make their guesses. Let them use their memories to count how many turkeys they’ve seen!

10. Candy Corn Guessing Game 

This game is a classic! Pour candy corn into a big glass jar, and let people guess how many pieces of candy corn there are. Make sure you count the pieces of candy as you put them in! The person with the closest guess wins.

Materials Needed: candy corn, glass jar, slips of paper, pens, a small basket to put guesses in

Estimated Cost: $10

Tip: Let your team place their guesses throughout the day, party, or week. Give them time to speculate their guesses and stir up anticipation for when you reveal the right answer!

candy corn in glass jar

Celebrate Thanksgiving with a little competition!

Thanksgiving contests are sure to be a hit with your office, and they’re great opportunities to remind your teammates that you value them and are thankful to have them on your team. Don’t let anyone leave empty-handed!

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