15 celebration ideas for virtual & hybrid teams

Written by 
Bryan Kitch
July 27, 2022
A team celebrating

Celebrate wins, birthdays, and anniversaries with your team using these celebration ideas.

When you’re running a distributed team, it’s important to be intentional about building informal activities like ice breakers, warm ups, and celebrations into your culture. In fact, even things like playing video games together have been shown to have tangible benefits for team productivity. By providing a virtual space to come together, you’re fostering better connection, which leads to stronger collaboration, and ultimately faster innovation — all while you’re having fun.

To keep things organized, we’ve put our suggestions into the following categories:

  • Celebration ideas for welcoming new team members
  • Celebrations for work anniversaries
  • Celebration ideas for life milestones
  • Celebration ideas for leaving team members
  • Team building celebrations

Here are 15 team celebration ideas for building empathy and community. 

Celebration ideas for welcoming new team members

When people are just beginning their journey at a new company, there’s nothing more important than establishing relationships, and showcasing team culture. 

1. Virtual road trip

Tools needed: Visual collaboration, online whiteboard

Adding a road trip theme to an onboarding session can be a playful way to show the journey and the important milestones along the way. A shared visual space offers a fun way to build your map, incorporating a real world feel into any hybrid or virtual experience.

Related: Onboarding Road Trip Template

2. Virtual amusement park

Tools needed: Visual collaboration, online whiteboard

While the road trip can take you from A to B, sometimes it’s more about the wild rides. Getting people up to speed can be a challenge, but framing it in terms of amusement park attractions can make daunting tasks more approachable. This can also work in an asynchronous way, allowing new hires to check off achievements as they go.

Amusement park template by MURAL
Related: Onboarding Amusement Park Template

3. Obstacle course

Tools needed: Visual collaboration, online whiteboard

Create a virtual obstacle course that tasks everyone with adding images, text, sticky notes, or hand drawn elements to a shared digital whiteboard, and see who can complete all the tasks the fastest (a little incentive, like a t-shirt or gift card, never slowed anyone down).

Related: Obstacle Run Template

4. Draw a self-portrait (or sketch your neighbor)

Tools needed: Video conferencing, online whiteboard (or just a pen and paper)

Encourage your teammates to get outside their comfort zones (as cliché as that might sound) with a drawing exercise — you may discover that you’ve got a (virtual) room full of artists! Or… not. Either way, it’s a great way to encourage creativity and learn more about each other. 

Also, if you’d rather skip the drawing, you can ask for a ‘self-portrait without the self,’ and have your teammates assemble a collage that represents them or their interests.

Related: Sketch Your Neighbor Template

Celebrations for work anniversaries

Work anniversaries are a great time to celebrate all that your team members have contributed to the company over their tenure, and highlight how much they are valued by the wider community.

5. Share a meal

Tools needed: Video conferencing

One tradition that some teams enjoy is sharing a meal together, virtually — just establish when you’ll be eating together, and, if you want to take it to the next level, offer a voucher or a gift card for a meal to everyone on the team. It’s the next best thing to taking everyone out to a restaurant or to-go lunch in person, and those small gestures count.

6. Company trivia game

Tools needed: Video conferencing, visual collaboration, online whiteboard

Company trivia (ideally with a little swag on the line) is a great way to celebrate a work anniversary, shine a light on the accomplishments of the individual and the team, and remind everyone why it is that you spend all this time together in the first place. (Also, did we mention swag?)

Trivia game template from MURAL
Related: Trivia Game Template

Celebration ideas for life milestones

Birthday celebrations, weddings, or even the birth of a child are all great reasons to celebrate (depending on the comfort level of everyone involved, of course). Here are some ways to show your appreciation.

7. Wedding celebration

Tools needed: Video conferencing

Celebrate your teammates as they enter the next phase of their lives — whether that means putting together a gift box, or building a celebratory mural, sharing in the joy of your colleagues helps bring everyone closer together.

8. Celebrate a birthday

Tools needed: Video conferencing

In many companies, a birthday celebration means cake and candles in the office (or sometimes even a day off!). But when you’re a distributed team, well, icing doesn’t travel that well. It doesn’t take much to make people feel special on their birthday, so whether you’re bringing the team together to sing, or creating a virtual card, it’s the thought that counts.

Related: Celebratory Templates

9. Welcoming a new child

Tools needed: Video conferencing

Come on now, this one seems obvious! Welcome brand new parents back from leave with a celebration of their growing family, as well as by expressing how much value your colleagues add to the team.

Celebration ideas for leaving team members

It’s always tough when team members move on, but that’s no reason not to celebrate all that you’ve accomplished together. Here are some ways to send off valued teammates in style. 

10. Congratulations on a new adventure

Tools needed: Video conferencing

When valued team members leave, it can be a great opportunity to celebrate all they’ve accomplished, as well as to wish them well in their next endeavors. Offering your teammates the chance to directly address their peers, and giving them the opportunity to share updates or even contact information, strengthens bonds and culture by showing that connections go beyond company lines.  

11. Happy retirement

Tools needed: Video conferencing

Heading into retirement is a huge life transition — make sure your colleagues feel honored for all they have accomplished, and regret ever leaving your team (kidding!). 

Team-building celebrations

Sometimes, you just need to take a step back and appreciate the people around you. Here are some fun activities you can do with your team, for no reason at all.

12. Video game challenge

Tools needed: Video conferencing, multiplayer video game

As noted above, video games can be a great way to bring people together, whether you’re in the same room, or fully remote. Choosing something that isn’t going to require a lot of background knowledge or experience makes it more accessible, although if your team can agree on a game to play in advance, it can be as complex as you and your team would like! (Just beware of challenging the folks who bring out the headsets when you issue the challenge.) 

13. Watch party

Tools needed: Video conferencing

Whether it’s a live event, or something you can all stream together, a watch party can be a fun and engaging way to joke around with your team and share some easy, informal time together. Again, it’s best to make sure everyone’s on the same page about the content beforehand — so use your discretion.

14. Holiday celebrations

Tools needed: Video conferencing

If you’re not getting together for a holiday party in person, it can still be fun to mark the passage of the year with trivia, streaming a live event, or watching a favorite film together. Ugly sweaters welcome.

15. Guess whose pet I am?

Tools needed: Video conferencing, visual collaboration, online whiteboard

Have your teammates add photos of themselves and their pets to two different sections of a digital canvas, and then challenge each other to pair the pets with their owners. (We’ll use any excuse to get some cats and dogs involved.)

More to celebrate

It's important to be intentional about fostering connection in a team. Celebrating events, team wins, and milestones are just one team-building method, but it's one you shouldn't overlook.

These are some of our suggestions, but we know there’s no shortage of great ideas out there. The MURAL Template Library is always expanding (and improving), so you can take your inspiration from there — or even reach out to the MURAL Community for more. 

Sign up for a Free Forever account to hold virtual team celebrations in MURAL and get started with our ice breaker templates.

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About the author

About the authors

Bryan Kitch

Bryan Kitch

Content Marketing Manager
Bryan is a Content Marketing Manager @ MURAL. When he's not writing or working on content strategy, you can usually find him outdoors.