Team bonding is often about completing tasks and challenges in small groups and against other people. That can be fun, but also a bit stressful. So try a different kind of exercise – get people to have a play and build team spirit at the same time.
Organise an afternoon for creative crafts in the office. Relax and channel your inner child – making things out of salt dough and doing some painting. It’s an opportunity to share ideas and good times with colleagues in the process.
One idea would be to make something collectively for the office – a salt dough decoration or painting for a forlorn corner of the office. You’re building consensus through creative effort – a competitive challenge in itself.
Think Plasticine, but this time you make it yourself. Salt dough is a mix of flour, salt and water. Try making it according to this recipe from Rainy Day Mum, so you can dry (instead of oven bake) your creations in the office microwave.
½ cup salt
1 cup plain flour
½ cup water
Mix salt and flour in a bowl. Add water slowly till you get a firm dough – you may not need all the water. Wear an apron.
Get a feel for the salt dough first by playing with it a bit. Give yourself permission to be a kid again. Roll it, stretch it, bounce it. Now you can start working with it. Here are three techniques that potters use when working with clay, so see how you do with your dough.
The easiest technique. Take some of your dough and roll into a ball using the palm of your hands. Then stick your thumb into the middle and bit by bit pull the dough outwards and upwards, making a bowl shape.
Roll out a base for whatever you want to make. If you’re going for a bowl, cut yourself a little circle. Next, roll out sausages of dough and push them into the base. Layer these sausages one on top of the other. You can make bowls like this or even bottles – purely decorative of course. Unlike coiling with clay, you may not need to wet the dough to help it stick – so experiment and have fun.
Roll out sheets of dough into whatever thickness you want. You can then use them to make walls, just like using Plasticine at school to make little houses. Now you can create cubes and even straight-sided pots to hold your pens and pencils – see what objects you can use as scaffolding to shape the dough around.
Use whatever’s handy in the office to add texture to your creations. Tightly wrap bits of string around them, use the sides of Biros to create ridges or unwind paperclips to draw fine lines into the dough. Press the odd button or drawing pin into the dough to create a decorative, lacy effect.
If you want to make a wall decoration, you can punch holes in the dough to thread a ribbon through to hang it.
Salt dough beads, jewellery and Christmas ornaments are easy things to make. (Don’t hang them too low on the tree. The amount of salt can be terribly toxic to dogs, so don’t put your decorations anywhere a pooch can nibble them.)
Drawing and painting
You may have the pencils and paintbrushes laid out, but there will always be someone who feels a bit awkward that they might not be as talented as others in the office. But we’ve got a clever workaround.
Here are some suggested painting and drawing styles to give to people. You’re deliberately giving them leads on looking at shapes and colour in ways that aren’t obvious, so they have freedom to not be perfect in what they draw.
For example, they could paint celebrities – Brangelina anyone? – in a particular style. You could even have a collaborative effort or two teams where people work on one portrait each, one person painting the mouth, another the left eye and so on. (This would also work if you were making flat-salt dough portraits.)
Give people a pencil and watch them go.
Your artists will go dotty for this style.
Saw what you see or paint what you feel?
You could think up other styles – graffiti, 1960s psychedelic, or designing an album or CD cover. In fact do a quick poll and that will get people involved. They well see it as a chance to indulge their – perhaps hidden – artistic side and they could bring that creative instinct to their work, too.