Important Holidays in 2021 for Team Building… and Ideas for Celebrating Them Virtually
The diverse array of upcoming holidays in 2021 provide great opportunities to host virtual team building classes, workshops, talks, and other activities to bring coworkers together and lift everyone’s spirits, share an experience and recapture some of that ‘watercooler’ moment while remote working.
We wanted to share some of the history of these important holidays along with a fun virtual event ideas for each. We hope that thinking about what makes each one unique and special will set you up with the knowledge and tools needed to make the most of the virtual team building opportunities they present in 2021!
February: Black History Month
The United States has celebrated Black History Month, also known as African American History Month, every February since 1976, when Gerald Ford became the first president to officially recognize its observance on a national scale. Black History Month celebrates the achievements of African Americans and recognizes their important role in U.S. history. The observance of Black History Month isn’t unique to the United States; Canada also observes Black History Month in February and the U.K., Ireland, and the Netherlands dedicate October as their month of observance.
The origins of Black History Month trace back to the author and historian Carter G. Woodson, known as the “Father of Black History.” Woodson first proposed the idea of a national “Negro History Week” in 1926 as a chance to showcase what students had learned in school about Black history throughout the year. Woodson decided on the second week of February as the time of celebration because it coincided with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.
Each year a different central theme is chosen for the celebration of Black History Month to focus people’s attention on particular developments throughout history or on certain features of the Black experience. The theme for 2021 was “The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity” and in 2022 will be “Black Health and Wellness.”
Here are some ideas for celebrating virtually with your team:
- Abstract acrylic painting with custom colors
- Modular Origami, creating a beautiful model using many different pieces
- Invite a historian for an open discussion
- Art appreciation of black artists
MONDAY, MARCH 8: INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY
Every year since 1911, International Women’s Day (IWD) has celebrated the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women around the world. The day is just as much a call to action as it is a celebration and offers a unique chance for international comradery and activism.
In 1910, the German activist and women’s rights advocate Clara Zetkin proposed the idea of an International Women’s Day at the International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen. Her idea was met with unanimous support by the over 100 women attending the conference and led to the implementation of the holiday in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland the following year. The holiday is now officially recognized in over 25 countries.
From women-led summits to group bicycle rides, IWD provides a great opportunity to get educated, celebrate women, and contribute to the cause. This year’s theme is #ChooseToChallenge. Make sure you’re wearing something purple, green, and/or white on the day to show your support!
Here are a few ways we recommend celebrating this important holiday together:
- Create a succulent terrarium with custom purple and green moss
- Paint an abstract design using purple, green, and white watercolors
- Try printmaking with purple and green items from nature on white paper
There are endless creative options that we’re sure your team will love!
MARCH: WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH
Celebrating the achievements of women continues all month long. Women’s History Month has been celebrated in The United States every March since 2011. In preparation for the tenth anniversary of this tradition, take the time to learn more about the many notable contributions made by women to the fields of horticulture and botany!
You can celebrate by scheduling virtual events with coworkers throughout the month. Some fun options that combine engaging activities with the bonus of coming away with a gift for the important women in your life include:
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 17: ST. PATRICK’S DAY
Usually St. Patrick’s Day is a time for in-person socializing and a chance to hit the bars on a weekday. Every year since 1848, millions of people line the streets of New York City on St. Patrick’s Day to participate in the world’s oldest, and the nation’s largest, civilian parade. And in smaller cities like Boston, Philadelphia, and Savannah, many thousands turn out to celebrate with their own hugely popular parades. Chicago celebrates by dyeing the Chicago River green with vegetable dye—a sight to be seen!
In the past few years, landmarks around the world such as the Sydney Opera House, Madison Square Garden, the National Museum of Qatar, and even the World’s Largest Hockey Stick and Puck on Vancouver Island have been lit green on the day as part of Tourism Ireland’s newfound “Global Greening” tradition.
This year’s celebrations won’t involve the parades and gatherings we’re all used to. But unlike last year, we know what to expect this time around and can make the most of the virtual opportunities at our fingertips. With a little planning and plenty of plants (which we always recommend) and food coloring, St. Patrick’s Day can be just as green and fun-filled as always.
Take this holiday as an excuse to host a Zoom happy hour or, for a non-alcoholic option, try one of these engaging workshops that incorporate greenery from nature:
- Make a wine bottle planter
- Paint a clover using watercolors
- Make a lucky clover in our Moss Art Workshop
Saturday, March 20: First Day of Spring
The March equinox, Spring equinox, or Vernal equinox—depending on your personal preference—marks the start of spring in the northern hemisphere and can be tangibly observed in the almost equal split between the hours of light and dark.
This shift to longer, sunnier days is the perfect time to host fun virtual workshops involving plants and an emphasis on new beginnings. You can try fun virtual event ideas such as:
- Planting the seedlings for your garden
- Learning to care for your own succulent
- Creating an edible garden
- Hosting a plant talk
- And if you’d rather focus on the beauty of the visual arts, participating in a spring watercolor workshop or a cherry blossom watercolor workshop is a great option!
FRIDAY, APRIL 2: AUTISM AWARENESS DAY
In 2008, The United Nations General Assembly declared April 2 World Autism Awareness Day to “highlight the need to help improve the quality of life of those with autism so they can lead full and meaningful lives as an integral part of society,” according to un.org. They assert that “The stigmatization and discrimination associated with neurological differences remain substantial obstacles to diagnosis and therapies.”
This holiday is a time to promote team building through the values of education, inclusivity, and the importance of neurodiversity in our world. Whether it’s by hosting a talk or taking a more hands on approach to getting involved with the movement, there are a number of ways to participate and engage your team.
This year, Autism Speaks is asking everyone to wear something blue as a part of the #LightitupBlue movement. If you’re looking to participate with your team, you can incorporate the color blue and bring people together through one of these virtual workshop ideas:
- Modular origami
- Abstract acrylic painting
- Making an herb garden
- Rock wrapping
- Printmaking using leaves
Incorporating the finished products from any one of these activities into a collage or mural would be a great way to promote the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace and society more broadly.
SUNDAY, APRIL 4: EASTER
The date Easter is celebrated on can vary greatly because it officially falls on the first Sunday following the first full moon on or after March 21—so it can be celebrated in either March or April.
Although many of us associate this holiday with indulging in candy and chocolate, celebrations around the world incorporate a wide range of traditions that don’t involve sweets. Bermuda holds an annual Good Friday KiteFest. In Poland, it’s tradition to dump buckets of water on one another as part of Wet Monday. And In Bessières, France, the local celebrations include the public cooking of an omelette made with more than 15,000 eggs!
Even if everyone on your team doesn’t celebrate Easter, you can still take the opportunity to celebrate the simple joys found in flowers, chocolate, painted eggs, and the arrival of spring. Some fun virtual ideas include:
- Egg dyeing
- A virtual scavenger hunt
- Chocolate tasting
- Making an herb garden
- Make a beautiful Spring wreath
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 21: ADMINISTRATIVE PROFESSIONALS DAY
Also known as Secretaries Day or Admin Day, this lesser-known holiday honors the important work of secretaries, assistants, receptionists and other administrative support professionals—and the best virtual events for this holiday do the same.
A number of countries around the world observe this holiday—although on different dates. For example, in Australia it’s celebrated on the first Friday of May, and in South Africa and Brazil it’s celebrated in September.
This holiday lends itself well to team building and taking time to appreciate the different roles everyone plays within the team to make the whole mission succeed. It’s also a chance to participate in events such as:
- Making floral arrangements with your coworkers to show your appreciation for the administrative professionals in your lives
- Making wine bottle planters that become perfect springtime gifts
- Starting a corporate plant gifting program to express gratitude and promote wellness amongst team members
Each of these ideas gives team members a shared experience and has the added bonus that everyone gets to walk away with a gift!
THURSDAY, APRIL 22: EARTH DAY
The first Earth Day was recognized in 1970, marking the birth of the modern environmental movement. In the years since, Earth Day has grown to be recognized by over 190 countries and celebrated by 1 billion people around the world, according to earthday.org.
As the largest secular observance in the world, Earth Day is the most concentrated and resounding reminder of the importance of looking after our planet. The types of virtual events you host in observance of this day can center around sustainability and the value of the natural world.
You could host a workshop on sustainable growing and consuming practices such as:
- Making a kitchen herb garden
- Making a succulent terrarium
- Growing your own bonsai tree
- Honey tasting and learning about the importance of bees to our planet
- Native gardens—using plants indigenous to your area
Or, for a less hands-on approach that still has educational value, you could schedule a talk on the importance of sustainability and provide lessons on composting best practices.
SATURDAY, MAY 8: WORLD BONSAI DAY
Every year, the second Saturday in May is dedicated to the art of Bonsai. This holiday has a special place in our hearts—we host a hands-on bonsai workshop where you can learn about the art, science, and history of Bonsai trees.
World Bonsai Day is designated by the World Bonsai Friendship Federation (WBFF) to honor the legacy of the federation’s founder, Bonsai master Saburo Kato. This day of appreciation is a great opportunity to get your team members hooked on growing and caring for their own Bonsai trees. We encourage you to take the time to learn about the fascinating art form of Bonsai that incorporates many different sizes and types of plants and traces back to the sixth century.
SUNDAY, MAY 9: MOTHER’S DAY
The tradition of an annual Mother’s Day was started by the peace activist Anna Jarvis. She was initially known for her selfless work helping wounded soldiers on both sides of the Civil War. In 1908, she became inspired when she held a memorial for her own mother and subsequently went on to campaign for the recognition of Mother’s Day as a national holiday.
On this day, moms everywhere are given flowers as gifts and people get ready to plant their outdoor gardens using the traditional rule of thumb that gardens shouldn’t be started until after Mother’s Day. Given the association with flowers and Mother Nature, Mother’s Day is an opportunity to connect with the natural world just as much as it is a time to show love to one’s mother.
It’s also a great opportunity to get your team members inspired to start their own gardens or to give their moms’ a personal or hand-made gift beyond the usual cut flower bouquet. If you want to do something with your team to celebrate, try one of these great ideas:
- Gifting plants to coworkers
- Dry flower bouquet—these are really popular right now and are a great option since they’re forever lasting
- Make flowers and hearts out of origami and give them to the moms in your life
MONDAY, MAY 31: MEMORIAL DAY
The last Monday of every May is dedicated to the men and women who have died serving in the United States Armed Forces. People in towns and cities across the nation celebrate by going to parades, visiting cemeteries, holding moments of silence, and sometimes wearing red poppies—a symbol of remembrance. The history of the red poppy tradition dates back to the first World War and the poem, ‘In Flanders Field,’ written by Allied Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae. The poem was inspired by the site of poppies breaking through the ground in the spring of 1915, following months of battles that ravaged the landscape.
It’s a day for reflection, charity, and celebration and the best virtual events for this holiday will combine elements from all three. You can take this day to virtually come together and set your charitable and community service goals for the summer with your team as well as appreciate the freedoms we all enjoy thanks to the sacrifices of many.
If you’re looking for a hands-on virtual option, we suggest trying:
- Origami workshop—make flowers or poppies out of red paper
- Everlasting floral arrangement—you can incorporate poppies and even sell the arrangements to raise money for charity
- Calligraphy—Make signs with the names and ranks of fallen soldiers or expressing gratitude more generally for those who’ve given their lives for our country
JUNE: PRIDE MONTH
Each June, Pride Month in the U.S. honors the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan and promotes diversity and inclusion in our society through celebration of the LGBTQ community. Along with the highly attended pride parades, celebrations have grown to include picnics, workshops, and symposia—which all make for perfect virtual events.
Other fun virtual event ideas include:
- Painting the rainbow with watercolors
- Trying your hand at abstract acrylic painting. Alongside the rainbow flag, the Greek letter lambda, the pink triangle, and the black triangle have become symbols of pride and make for great paintings.
- Themed moss art
- Modular origami
SUNDAY, JUNE 20: FATHER’S DAY
The celebration of Father’s Day in the U.S. can be credited to Sonora Smart Dodd, daughter of Civil War Veteran William Jackson Smart, who suggested the idea to the Spokane, Washington Ministerial Alliance after hearing a sermon on the topic of Mother’s Day. Smart idolized her father and felt that fatherhood deserved some recognition too! Despite the holiday’s more recent history in the U.S., Catholic countries throughout Europe have been celebrating their own version of Father’s Day, known as Saint Joseph’s Day, since the Middle Ages.
Father’s Day traditions around the world vary greatly: In Germany, men go out for a day of activities including hiking, biking, and drinking. In South Africa, children spend time fishing or picnicking with their fathers. And in Thailand, fathers receive yellow canna flowers thought to represent masculinity and bring protection to those who possess them.
Here in the United States, Father’s Day celebrations tend to incorporate food and outdoor activities such as grilling and gardening with the dads in our lives. This makes it the perfect time to host a fun virtual workshop that gives people ideas for gifts and activities to incorporate into their own Father’s Day celebrations. Some virtual events for teams include:
- Pizzamaking—there’s no better gift for a father than homemade food.
- Learn about organic gardening
- Make your own honey
- Dollar bill origami
It’s also a great opportunity to host a virtual cookout and ask everyone to share their favorite BBQ sauce recipe!
If you’re looking for an excuse to get outdoors, luckily this year Father’s Day is also the first day of summer, calling for quality time spent outdoors and in nature.
Part of adhering to virtual event best practices is understanding the appropriate venue for each activity. And on the summer solstice, it’s essential to promote the wellness benefits of getting outdoors and making the most of the longest days of the year.
There is a centuries old tradition of visiting Stonehenge on the solstice, but, like so many other traditions, that will be replaced by a livestream from the site this year—allowing for anyone to partake in the tradition. So if the weather doesn’t hold, you can always hop on the livestream!
SUNDAY, JULY 4: INDEPENDENCE DAY
In the United States, Independence Day marks a time for some of the biggest celebrations of the year and traditionally consists of parades, parties, and fireworks.
Since we don’t know what exactly will be in store for this year’s celebration, it’s a good idea to hedge your bets by preparing virtual options for activities with your team that focus on celebration and appreciation.
Before your team breaks for the long weekend, you might want to take the opportunity to bring everyone together by hosting a fun and engaging virtual event such as a workshop or a class where your coworkers can relax and enjoy this time of celebration. Some options include:
- Virtual lawn games
- Virtual escape the room
- Balloon making workshop
And if you want to to partake in a more historical celebration, you can try one of these fun virtual event ideas:
- Calligraphy—use the Declaration of Independence as inspiration and see what it’s like to write like our founders did
- Period costume contest
- Make a three-cornered hat out of origami
- Send out a wax sealing kit to your team
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 6: LABOR DAY
Labor Day Weekend marks the unofficial end of summer when kids return to school and white clothing gets packed away until next year. The holiday is a reminder to get to the beach for the weekend before the weather starts to change or to take one last trip with your family before everyone’s schedules fill up.
More importantly, Labor Day itself honors the American labor movement and the contributions of laborers to the achievements of the United States. The best virtual events around this holiday can show appreciation for both the important work of laborers throughout our nation’s history as well as the importance of holding on to the last bits of summer.
Some virtual events for companies that incorporate plants and make a great addition to this holiday include:
SATURDAY, SEP 18 – SUNDAY, OCT 3: OKTOBERFEST
Oktoberfest has been held in Munich every year since 1810 and is the world’s largest beer festival, with over six million people attending in recent years. The festivities carry on for more than two weeks consisting of games, traditional foods, amusement rides, and plenty of drinking.
Since your whole team probably can’t travel to Munich this year, take the opportunity to learn more about beer from home! Some ideas include:
- Host a home brewing workshop or virtual beer tasting event
- Send out a gift basket with an assortment of your coworkers’ favorite Märzens and other international beers
- Have your team dress up in a Dirndl or lederhosen
- Host a talk on microbrewing techniques
- Host a talk on beer culture around the world and learn about the role of plants in the world of beverages
OCTOBER: BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH
The transition to fall and the associated fall-themed team building opportunities coincides with the observance of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and marks a time to celebrate the changing leaves while participating in charitable actions. Hosting a virtual walk, run, or bike ride to raise awareness and show solidarity with your team is a great way to participate in this year’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
The pink ribbon is the universal symbol of breast cancer and can be incorporated into your virtual team building in many ways such as:
- Wearing pins
- Painting the symbol on a canvas in water color
- Making baked goods in the shape of the ribbon
- Pink origami
- Pink dry floral arrangement
October is the best of the fall season. We suggest making the most of fall-themed team building opportunities even if they don’t correspond to a particular holiday.
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 31: HALLOWEEN
The spirit of Halloween is celebrated in many countries throughout the world. But the specific traditions are often unique to the particular culture and history of where they take place. For example, in Mexico, Dia de los Muertos is celebrated on the first two days of November; in the UK, Guy Fawkes Night is celebrated on November 5; and in Hong Kong, The Hungry Ghost Festival takes place on August 22.
Halloween is a time for indulgence and youthful celebration—so make the most of it! We don’t yet know what this fall is going to look like, so you might want to have some virtual event options ready just in case:
- Make apple cider donuts
- Engage your coworkers’ competitive spirits with a costume contest
- Pumpkin carving contest
- Pumpkin succulent workshop
- Leaf printing
- Fall watercolor painting
The shift to the holiday and winter season happens quickly so use Halloween related events as a transition from the time of harvest to a time of preservation with events such as:
- Printmaking using leaves
- How to make your own dried fruit snacks
- Shopping for gourds
- Putting your garden to bed
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 11: VETERAN’S DAY
Originally celebrated as Armistice Day following the Armistice in Germany during the first World War, Veterans Day honors those who have served in the United States Armed Forces. This holiday gives you the opportunity to host team building events that acknowledge the veterans in our lives and find creative ways we can give back to them and to our communities more broadly. This is a great time for:
- Training on inclusion and diversity in the workplace
- Learning about the importance of hiring and supporting veterans
- Team members sharing stories of the veterans in their lives
Veteran’s Day is right at the beginning of the holiday season and towards the end of the fall season. So if you’re looking for virtual events to do with coworkers that make the most of this time of year, we suggest trying one of these workshops:
- Leaf printing
- Pumpkin succulent workshop
- Everlasting floral arrangement
- Halloween-themed Gingerbread house decorating
Aside from supporting good causes and benefiting the wellbeing of your team members, virtual events are so important because they give us the chance to catch up outside of work topics and recover some of that ‘watercooler’ moment. With the holiday season kicking into full gear around this time, you won’t regret taking the time to schedule the rest of your holiday calendar for the year before your coworkers’ calendars fill up.
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 20: WORLD CHILDREN’S DAY
Every year since 1954, World Children’s Day has been celebrated to promote international togetherness and improve the welfare of children worldwide. November 20 is significant because it marks the day in 1959 when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child as well as the date in 1989 when the UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
This year, the UN is asking anyone between the ages of 13-24 to join the #voicesofyouth illustration challenge in order to reimagine a greener and more sustainable future for every child. Participating in this challenge with your team would be another great reminder of how virtual events can be both fun as well as impactful. Other family friendly event ideas might include:
- Making a succulent terrarium
- Watercolor painting
- Printmaking using leaves!
THANKSGIVING AND THE HOLIDAY SEASON!
We’ve written extensively on ideas for virtual events with teams during the holiday season. We don’t know what to expect for the holiday season in 2021 so it’s a good idea to plan plenty of virtual events—and remember to account for potential shipping delays and make the proper arrangements well in advance. Here are some ideas:
- Wreath decorating workshop
- Making mulled wine or apple cider
- Making a Centerpiece
- Plant gifting (both a shared experience and checks some gifts off your list)
- Gingerbread house decorating workshop
Whether your coworkers celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or none of the above, everyone can get involved in engaging workshops and fun online events. It’s the perfect time to host a practical event such as a workshop on Calligraphy which doubles as both a team building experience as well as a chance for everyone to make hand-made holiday cards for their loved ones.
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 31: NEW YEAR’S EVE
New Year’s is a time to look forward and embrace new beginnings. The chance to reflect and show appreciation for one another is one of the biggest reasons why virtual events are important. We don’t know if we’ll still be remote at the end of this year, so having virtual ideas ready is the smart choice. We recommend:
- Make a Wine bottle planter—try a champagne bottle for a table-top decoration
- Try Calligraphy—make decorations and write “2022” on a poster
- Make a celebratory floral arrangement—work in some gold if you can!
Looking ahead into 2022, Lunar New Year will fall on Tuesday, February 1. Also known as Chinese New Year, this day is the perfect time, removed from the rush of the holiday season, to appreciate an international holiday and give your team something to look forward to in the middle of winter. Hosting a virtual event for your team will be easier with the extra time on everyone’s calendars that comes with the dark winter months.
It’s crucial that your virtual events be engaging or it’s likely that people may opt out last minute. The most engaging events often have a physical element to them, such as when a box is shipped to the client. With such a tangible reminder, people are much more likely to participate and engage. It becomes more about the participants looking forward to what they will do and less about the obligation to just show up. There’s also the notion that ‘if I don’t go, the box will go to waste’.
If you still need inspiration for what types of classes, workshops, and other activities to organize for each of these holidays, we go into detail on 34 engaging virtual event ideas for your team that can be applied to a number of the big holidays coming up in 2021.