Social & Interpersonal Skills

22 Cheap Team Building Ideas to Improve Communication, Boost Morale, and More!

Whoever said “Teamwork makes the dream work” was right. In fact, a survey by Zippia revealed that more than half (52%) of US employees say teamwork is very important. 

Now, one of the best ways to improve teamwork and collaboration is through team building activities. The great news is that it doesn’t have to break the bank. 

Today, I’ll give you 22 cheap team building ideas. These low-cost activities will focus on communication, problem-solving, creativity, and morale. So let’s get straight to it!

Read More: 28 Creative Team Building Over Zoom Ideas

22 Low-Cost Team Building Ideas

Anna Roberts and Phil Kendall of RotaCloud give this advice:

“One thing first: you need to decide what you want to achieve with the activities you choose.”

If you’re in charge of organizing team bonding activities, always start with an end goal. Do you want the team members to improve communication or problem-solving skills? Maybe you just want to boost morale so that the work week won’t be so burdensome. Obviously, you’ll want it to be cheap or even free. 

To make planning easier for you, I’ll divide the 22 cheap team building ideas into categories…

Category 1. Activities to improve communication:

  • Reverse Pictionary
  • Minefield
  • Icebreaker Games 
  • Potluck Dinner
  • Spectrum Mapping
  • Charades
  • Presentation showdown 

Category 2. Activities to improve problem-solving skills:

  • Scavenger Hunt
  • Mystery Box Challenge
  • Board Games
  • Escape Room
  • Seemingly Nothing in Common

Category 3. Activities to enhance creativity:

  • Scattergories
  • Host a Class 
  • Themed Days
  • Marshmallow Challenge
  • Designing Contest
  • DIY Team Newspaper

Category 4. Activities to boost morale: 

  • Happy Hour  
  • Beach Day 
  • Sports Day
  • Movie Night

1. Reverse Pictionary

If the aim is to improve communication skills, reverse Pictionary is one of the best team-building activities. Plus, it’s FREE. 

Now, you probably already know how to play Pictionary – a person draws an object and someone tries to guess what it is. But in reverse Pictionary, the person will have to try the explain the object instead of drawing it. 

You can split the whole team into two groups. One person in the group will be the speaker, while the rest of the team will be guessers. For each round, switch up the speaker. This way, everyone will have a chance to improve their communication and listening skills. 

In the end, the group that guesses the most words correctly and quickly is the winning team. 

2. Minefield

Minefield builds trust and communication. So you’re hitting two birds with one stone. Again, this is a free activity that everyone can take part in. 

In this game, you team together 2 to 4 coworkers. You then scatter objects on the floor – like mines in a minefield. The objects can be anything from office supplies to office chairs. 

The goal is to get someone from one end to the other without hitting any of the objects. The catch is that the person walking is blindfolded. It’s the other team members’ job to direct them by giving left and right instructions. 

If someone runs into an object, they have to go back to start. The fastest team to get someone across and avoid the mines will win. 

This fun and low-cost team building activity promotes and encourages team members to communicate precisely and trust each other. 

3. Icebreaker Games 

Say you want to organize a chill, low budget team building activity that builds camaraderie and communication. Well, icebreaker games can do the trick. It’s especially great to help new team members or remote teams get to know each other. 

Now, there are many different kinds of Icebreaker games you can choose. The most basic one is to come up with a few questions and ask each team member to answer them. You can have everyone answer the same question or a different question every time. 

If you want it to be a team building game, you can go for ‘Two Truths and a Lie’. For this, have everyone write down two truths about themselves and one lie. When read out, everyone will try to guess which one is the lie. Whoever guesses it correctly will earn a point. 

4. Potluck Dinner

One of the best bonding ideas for large groups is a potluck dinner. Since it’s a potluck, it will be very cheap. 

When you prepare for this, reserve the conference room and prepare it for a dinner get-together. Then, ask everyone to bring at least one dish. I tell you, it will be like a feast. 

If you want to add conversation starters, you can put a theme on the food people bring. Let’s say you tell everyone to bring their favorite meals or a meal from their home city/state/country. Roberts and Kendall add:

“Remind staff that these potlucks shouldn’t be treated as competitive — it’s perfectly okay to bring in a ready meal so long as it fits the theme!”

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Instagram @un_sospiro_liszt

5. Spectrum Mapping

You’ll encounter a variety of people with different backgrounds in the work environment. This is especially true in virtual teams with members from all over the world. 

If you want better collaboration, it’s important to understand different perspectives. Spectrum mapping will help with that. Plus, it’s great for communication and doesn’t cost a thing. 

To start, choose a topic. It can be about work, personality traits, preferences, etc… On a whiteboard, draw a horizontal line to represent your spectrum. On each end of the line, label the extremes or endpoints of the topic. For example, you can write introvert above and extrovert below. 

Have the team place themselves in one spectrum and explain their perspective. According to Tasia Duske, the COO of

“Mapping helps start discussions about similarities and differences. Thus, this activity promotes teamwork and empathy.”

6. Charades

Not all communication has to do with speaking. If you want to improve the non-verbal side of it, playing charades is a fun and cheap team bonding idea. Plus, it’s known to lift team spirit. 

To prepare, create a list of words or phrases to act out. If you don’t have any ideas, you can use an online charade generator. 

When the game begins, split the players into 2 teams. One player from Team A starts by selecting a word or phrase and then acting it out without using any words or props. The rest of the team will have to shout their guesses. If they can get it right within the time (around 1-2 minutes), they’ll earn a point. 

Up next, have Team B do a round. For each round, switch the actors up. This way, everyone can work on their non-verbal communication skills. 

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Instagram @thejenkinscomic

7. Presentation Showdown 

One cost-effective team building activity that helps with public speaking is a presentation showdown. This will also allow team members to use their creative juices.  

Before the presentation night, give everyone a topic. If it’s a large team, you can make them work together in groups or pairs. If not, each person gets to do their own presentation. 

The topic can range from “Most likely to win Squid Games” to “Top 5 funniest office moments”. Whatever it is, have the person/team create a PowerPoint presentation with their takes. Whoever can deliver the best presentation wins!

8. Scavenger Hunt

The World Economic Forum (WEF) conducted a survey that saw problem-solving skills as the top skill in the workplace. They mentioned that at least 36% of jobs require complex problem-solving abilities. 

With that in mind, it’s important to organize team building exercises that improve problem-solving skills. The first inexpensive team building idea I thought of was a Scavenger Hunt. 

Yes, it’s low-cost, but it will take a lot of planning and preparation. You’ll first have to decide if your treasure hunt will be riddle-based, task-based, or both. You then have to create clues leading to the prize, such as a gift card or office supplies. 

When everything is set, make teams and give them the first clue. When they guess the riddle or complete the task, hand them the next clue. And the next… until they reach the treasure. 

9. Mystery Box Challenge

Here’s another low-cost team building idea that enhances problem-solving abilities. In the Mystery Box Challenge, you’ll need to split everyone into small groups. 

You’ll then grab a few random items from the office and hide them inside a box. Hand the box over to the team and start a timer to however long you’re giving the team. 

When the time starts, the team will open the box, examine the items inside, and create a new product or solution to a problem with the items. When the time runs out, they will need to present their product/solution to the judges. Whoever can come up with the best creation wins. 

Besides problem-solving, this game also enhances resourcefulness, teamwork, and creativity. 

10. Board Games

There are so many different board games that require problem-solving to win. Now, the team building budget might have to be a bit higher as you’ll have to buy the board games (unless someone already has it. Don’t forget to ask). Also, since these games are slower, it’s a great idea to provide snacks and beverages. 

For game night, select popular and indie board games that you know everyone will enjoy. You can include Jenga, Pictionary, Sushi Go!, Hanabi, Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, Chess, Trivia cards, and the list goes on and on. 

If you’re unsure what board games to bring, have everyone take a vote. This way, you know that each game will go down well. 

11. Escape Room 

Want to take the corporate team building outside the office? Then a team-building idea that won’t break the bank is an escape room. This will usually cost around $20 to $40 per person per hour. 

Escape rooms are great for problem-solving and critical thinking, as well as teamwork and communication. All that will help your team with workplace productivity

For an escape room escapade, have the team first choose a theme. You can do detective mysteries, historical adventures, science fiction scenarios, or even haunted houses. You can then book your reservation to the nearest escape room. 

When you arrive, you’ll be put inside a room. Everyone has to work together to find clues, search for objects, decipher codes, unlock locks, solve puzzles, etc… The goal is to escape the room before the time rounds out (usually within an hour). 

12. Seemingly Nothing in Common

Seemingly Nothing in Common is a great game as it challenges problem-solving, critical thinking, innovation, and conventional thinking. 

For this game, grab a couple of items that seem to have nothing in common. The team’s task is to group items by 3s or 5s and find something that connects them all. 

Let’s say there’s a watch, glove, and nail clipper in the pile of items. The team can group those items and categorize them as “things used for the hand”.  

You can give the team 5 to 10 minutes to sort out categories for every item. The team will then have to explain the connection. To add a friendly competition, you can have the other team argue for their explanation. The best connection and argument wins. 

13. Scattergories

Moving on to creative team building activities, you can start with a game of Scattergories. Again, this is a highly enjoyable game that won’t cost a thing. 

To play Scattergories, a host will have to come up with different categories. Some examples of this can be ‘book titles’, ‘female singers’, ‘animals in the zoo’, ‘desserts’, and so on. For each round, the host will assign one random letter. 

The players will then have to write something within the category that starts with the chosen letter. For example, if the category is ‘female singers’ and the assigned letter is ‘T’, you can write down Taylor Swift. 

But here’s the catch: if two or more people have the same answer, it won’t count. You’ll only earn a point if no one else thought of the answer you wrote down. This means you have to get very creative with your answer. 

14. Host a Class

Another one of the activities that requires creativity is group classes. This can be a painting class, cooking class, Taekwondo class, mixology class, coffee class, etc… Let the team decide what they want to learn. 

Now, there are two ways you can host a class. If you’re willing to spend a bit, you can hire a professional to come to the office and let everyone learn a new skill together. 

If you want to go even cheaper, you can have one member of the team teach their own crafts and hobbies. So for one session, you can have someone give a painting class. The next time, another person can teach coffee cupping. 

Not only will you be learning together, this will excite the person in charge of the class. I tell you, hosting a class is a team-bonding activity that will be talked about for a long time. Who knows, someone might even gain a new-found hobby. 

15. Themed Days

If you want to encourage employees to bond even during workdays, you can have themed days. Let everyone decide on a theme. It can be Health and Wellness Day, Disney Day, Tropical Day, Mismatch Day, etc… 

Once you have a theme, let everyone help decorate the office accordingly. You can build a sense of camaraderie as you create and put up decorations. To make it even better, tell everyone to wear costumes that match the theme. Let them bring food and beverages, too. 

This won’t only produce creativity, but it will be a fun and exciting day that will boost employee engagement. 

16. Marshmallow Challenge 

For this game, each team will need a marshmallow, 20 sticks of spaghetti, one yard of masking tape, and one yard of string. You might be wondering, “What in the world will we do with these?” 

Well, the goal is to build the tallest freestanding structure possible using only the materials provided, with the marshmallow placed on top. When the time runs out (usually 20 minutes), the structure must support the weight of the marshmallow. The tallest one that stays up wins. 

Each team will have to use their creativity to plan, design, and construct their structure. As you can see, this is also a powerful tool for fostering collaboration, innovation, brainstorming, experimentation, and learning from failures. 

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Instagram @timkennedymma

17. Designing Contest

Another creative team building activity to choose from is a design contest. You can let them design a poster, a brochure, a magazine cover, or whatnot. 

To let creativity stand out, you can let team members choose any design medium they want. They can make digital art, use Canva, do watercolor painting, etc… You should give them several days to create their designs. 

When the day comes to reveal the masterpieces, you can make it a big thing. You can either assign some judges to vote for the best design. Or, you can have all the team members go around and pick their favorite one. Whoever has the most picks wins. 

Also, have everyone display their designs on a gallery wall and keep it there for several days. Whenever there’s a break, coworkers will have time to chat and look at the displays. As always, this is a great conversation starter. 

18. DIY Team Newspaper

A DIY team newspaper is a low cost team building idea that boosts teamwork and creativity. What’s more, this will allow team members to share interesting tidbits, stories, and achievements. 

Every month, you can assemble a group of colleagues to be in charge of the workplace paper. Let them discuss among themselves who wants to write stories, provide interesting facts, share photos, and all that. 

When they have everything, put it all together and publish it on the company website. If you want a physical paper, you can print out the content and clip them together to form a newspaper. You may need to spend on extra ink and paper, though. 

19. Happy Hour 

Remember, team building activities don’t always have to improve workplace skills. Sometimes, you should plan events just for morale. One good idea for low-cost, morale-boosting activity is to host a happy hour. 

When the work week comes to an end, you can invite your peers to a local bar to enjoy a beer or two. This is a great way to get to know each other better outside of work. Duske says: 

“Hosting a little Friday happy hour is an inexpensive way to gift teammates some time to socialize, unwind, and celebrate their achievements after a busy week.”

20. Beach Day 

Once a year, it’s a good idea to plan an outdoor team building activity. One of the cheapest things to do is have a beach day. This will allow the team to unwind while swimming, playing their favorite games, eating and drinking, enjoying the sun, listening to music, and talking. 

You can even organize a volleyball or sandcastle competition to keep everyone engaged and excited. There are so many things you can do at a beach. Plus, most beaches are free – so you’ll only need to pay for the food and beverages. And prizes if you hold a competition. 

21. Sports Day

Exercise is known to reduce stress, improve mental health, and boost morale, among other things. So why not host a sports day for the team?

If you don’t want to spend for a location, you can use the workplace premises, public parks, or beaches. If you have a small team building budget, you can rent out sports complexes, community centers, or even school grounds. 

Beforehand, you can divide everyone into several teams. Let them choose a color to represent their team and have each person wear their team colors to the sports day. 

As for sports, you can do basketball shooting, track & field, relay races, dodgeball, tug-of-war, soccer, etc… Have some workers volunteer to be the coaches and referees. Make it like a real competition with prizes for the winners. 

22. Movie Night

No, you don’t need to pay for cinema tickets. If you want it to be more personal, you can create your own movie house right in the office. Set up the projector, place blankets and pillows around, order pizza and drinks, grab the popcorn, and watch a movie chosen by the team. 

The team at TravelPerk, a business travel tool, says:

“A movie night is perfect for the winter months and an easy-to-organize hang that even new hires can enjoy.”

Everyone will enjoy a movie night – new hires, introverts, supervisors, and even managers. This is a chill way to get everyone together to boost morale. 

Final Words

Teamwork is said to boost workplace productivity, collaboration, and morale. This is why it’s so important to plan team-building activities. 

If you’re low on budget and out of ideas, you can pick one of the 22 cheap team building ideas that I mentioned here. To be sure, these are great activities that will improve teamwork, communication skills, problem-solving skills, creativity, morale, and so much more. 

About Author

Founder of With over 20 years of experience in HR and various roles in corporate world, Jenny shares tips and advice to help professionals advance in their careers. Her blog is a go-to resource for anyone looking to improve their skills, land their dream job, or make a career change.

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