Aimee Custis Photography, Flickr
Although it’s nice to occasionally kick back a few brewskis with your work wife, having a team happy hour be the only time that you bond with your coworkers outside of the office isn’t great for your health or your wallet. A recent study published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research found that even light drinking — defined as just having a drink or two per sitting — more than three times in a week could increase your mortality rate (your risk of dying sooner) by 20 percent.
What’s more, always choosing to bond with your team over happy hour can get a little boring and monotonous. So here are six alternative group activities that don’t revolve around alcohol. Your work friend who recently swore off booze will thank you when you pitch these at your next team meeting.
1. Take a cooking class
Cooking classes are a great bonding activity because the worse your team is at cooking, the more laughs you’ll have together and the closer you’ll become. Plenty of organizations like NYC-based Rustico Cooking offer team-building cooking classes that are perfect for corporations looking to socialize outside the office. For $135 a person, Rustico Cooking will host a private cooking class for you and up to 149 of your colleagues. You and your team can choose to make pizza from scratch, make your own fresh pasta or attempt a five-course meal of your choosing. Those who do want to drink can take advantage of the organization’s deal that includes a half bottle of house wine per person.
Depending on what city you live in, these classes tend to get a little pricey, so you might want to save this event for a special occasion like a colleague’s birthday or for your organization’s next milestone celebration.
2. Take an improv comedy class
Like Micheal Scott from “The Office,” we could all benefit from some improv training (and if you’ve never watched “The Office,” we highly recommend that you do that right now). Successful organizations like Google and PepsiCo are known for taking their employees through improv training, both to improve communication among team members and to help teams bond.
If you and your team are looking to boost creativity and have a lot of laughs in the process, taking an improv class together is a great way to do just that. If you live in a city like New York or Los Angeles, you’ll have your pick of improv studios to choose from. But if you live in a smaller town or one that isn’t an acting hub, chances are that your local theater offers improv classes as well. Do a little digging and you can find improv classes that’ll cost $20 or less per person — even in a big city.
3. Go go-karting
If you’re looking for some friendly competition with your team that doesn’t revolve around work-related performance, then a trip to a go-karting track might be just what the doctor ordered. You’ll get an adrenaline high that classic team outings like miniature golf and bowling don’t provide. Depending on where you live and which go-karting location you choose, this activity typically costs around $60 per person. And most locations provide a trophy to the winner of the race, so one of your coworkers can proudly flaunt his or her victory at the office.
4. Bond over board games
One of the cheapest and most fun ways to bond with your colleagues outside of work is to set up a board game marathon. The combination of childhood nostalgia and a little friendly competition will get even the quietest of coworkers to open up in no time. Set the board games up in a conference room or designate someone’s apartment for the bonding activity. Make things interesting by including prizes for winners — just use a bunch of knick-knacks from The Dollar Store. Make sure to include classics like Candy Land, Jenga, Guess Who? and, of course, Monopoly in your board game selection.
5. Form a sports league (that doesn’t require a ton of athleticism)
Joining an adult intramural sports league and forming a team with your colleagues is a great way to both bond outside of work and to motivate each other to exercise. Most intramural sports leagues meet once a week for 45 minutes to an hour, but if one of your team members can’t make it, they can always have another one of your colleagues take their place. Consider picking a sport like kickball or even cornhole to make the activity accessible to even the least athletic of your colleagues. Depending on where you live and what sport you pick, joining an adult intramural sports league typically costs between $30 and $70 per player.
6. Get your karaoke on
Instead of grabbing drinks at a boring ol’ bar, consider kicking your post-work social hour up a notch by going to a karaoke bar instead. Since the event is less centered around drinks and more centered around you belting your heart out, even those who abstain from alcohol will have a good time. Depending on where you live and how many people you bring, you can typically rent out your own private karaoke room at most bars for $25 an hour.