Winter Team Building Retreat Ideas

The weeks leading up to the holidays are usually a cheery time, with lots of bonding to be had over eggnog and secret Santas. However, come January, when the festivities are over and things start settling back into a routine, the winter doldrums can start nipping at your nose – and chipping away at your team’s morale.

This makes it the perfect time to organize a group team building activity. These activities have the double benefit of reinforcing bonds between coworkers or students (after all, you should get along with people you spend so much time with), and letting your team know that you care and are invested in them.

If you’re stumped by where to hold your student or corporate events this season, read on. There are heaps of winter activities that will satisfy both the outdoorsy groups and the sit-by-the-fire-with-cocoa types, and everyone in between!

The Great Outdoors

A big part of the winter blues is the cabin fever — i.e. being couped up indoors for so long. That doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t get your team back outdoors. Indeed, it’s all the more reason you should. Consider any of these outdoor activities to get your team’s blood flowing and their bonds forming.

Downhill Skiing/Snowboarding

Chances are there’s a good number of people on your team who are itching to hit the slopes. This is an activity they will likely remember for a long time to come — though the apres-ski could leave everyone feeling a little fuzzy! Make it a seamless experience by providing comfortable transportation to-and-from the hill so people can continue to bond well after the last run.

Snowball Fight

This is the easiest to get off the ground, especially if there’s a park near campus or the office. Who wouldn’t love the opportunity to bean their boss with a snowball on company time? Build forts and defend them, or play dodge-snowball: the rules are up to you. All you need to provide is hot coffee and cocoa.

Cross-Country Skiing

This activity is easy to pick up for beginners, and is a good way to get the blood flowing and take in some scenery. Keep in mind that you may have to rent equipment for those who don’t have access. Keep it simple by chartering a school bus or a coach bus, and have either drop you off and pick you up at different locations. An added bonus: your group will appreciate having a toasty bus to collapse in at the end of the day rather than freezing cold cars!


A simpler version of hockey, broomball doesn’t require skates and, while you can go the pro route and rent an arena and equipment for your more competitive groups, it’s also pretty easy to improvise. All you need is an ice rink, goal posts and, well, brooms. If your group is more on the laid-back side, you can have different types of brooms, and even a mop, on rotation for extra hilarity.


Tubing is another activity you can tailor to your level of seriousness. It can range from taking your own tubes to a nearby toboggan hill to traveling to a park dedicated to tubing and snow rafting — which has you whipping down hills at incredible speeds. 

This, however, may require out-of-town travel. But you can get your group there safely (and warmly) by chartering a coach or minicoach bus! It’s the easiest thing — next to sliding down a hill in a tube, of course.

Sugar Shack

Nothing signals the imminent end of a gruelling winter like a trip to the sugar shack. Listen to the tap-tap-tap of sap dripping into shining silver buckets, watch maple syrup turn to taffy on a bed of snow, or (more importantly) share a table with your group, family-style, and bond over maple-drizzled bacon and eggs!

Indoor Fun

Of course, for many folks, beating the winter blues means staying out of the elements. Fortunately, there is no shortage of indoor team building activities that you and your coworkers or classmates can avail themselves of, all while keeping warm and sheltered.


This is one sport where you can yell at your coworkers or classmates and it’s a good thing — in fact, it’s part of the game! Easy to learn and fun to play, curling is the perfect way to stay indoors and still enjoy that winter vibe. Plus, it’s tradition for the winning team to buy a round of drinks after the game. Surprise your group by picking up the tab!

Trivia Night

Whether you attend quiz night at a local pub or host your own, your group will love the opportunity to share the breadth of their knowledge. This can help your team get to know one another as well as discover how they each have something to bring to the table.

Make it a regular activity with teams (or departments) vying for a coveted trophy. And don’t forget to vote for best team name!

Wine-Tasting Night

For those groups who are more interested in the apres-ski than anything outdoors, take them on a sensory journey instead! You can tailor it to your students or employees: if they’re serious venophiles, you can arrange a professional wine tasting with a sommelier.

Or if your colleagues are looking for something more engaging and interactive, consider organizing a blind tasting, in which participants try to guess the country, grape, and price point of each wine. Just make sure snacks are provided — and transportation as well!


Forget about winter altogether, and set out on a race around an indoor track — the breeze in your hair, stress and responsibilities temporarily out the window (go-karts don’t have windows, but you get the idea). Leave the driving at the track and book a charter bus to and from the event, without breaking the budget!

Board Games Night

This is an easy, cost-effective team-building activity. Many cities have board game bars with hundreds or even thousands of games to choose from. You can also keep it simple by hosting your own games night with a few crowd-pleasers like Taboo, Pictionary, Bananagrams, Cranium, and everyone’s favorite classic, Jenga.

Cottage Weekend

If you really want to pull out all the stops and give your group an unforgettable experience, a weekend away from it all at a cabin or cottage is the way to do it. If you’re a large enough group, you may be able to get a group discount.

You’ll probably want to book far in advance, however, both for the cottage rental and for transportation. Luckily, with you can book anytime and not pay a dime until a few days before your trip! This is especially helpful if you need to collect money from your group.
Remember, down the road, your students or employees may not remember what they learned or what they worked on (humans are funny that way), but they will remember the friendships they made, the bonds they formed, and the time they had together at the ski hill.

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