6 Kwanzaa Activities, Games & Ideas for Work

Here is our list of fun Kwanzaa activities, games & ideas for work.

Kwanzaa ideas for work are Kwanzaa-related activities performed from 26th December to 1st January. Examples include setting up the Kwanzaa display, lighting the candles (Mishumaa Saba), and exchanging gifts. The purpose of these activities is to celebrate the African American heritage and reflect on the seven principles. Celebrating it in the workplace helps welcome diversity and allows African employees to honor their cultural background.

This list includes:

  • Kwanzaa activities for adults
  • Kwanzaa team building activities
  • Kwanzaa party ideas for work
  • Kwanzaa games

Let’s get started!

List of Kwanzaa ideas

Usually, Kwanzaa activities are associated with family or kids, but you can also incorporate them in your workplace! Such cultural activities can eliminate cultural misunderstandings and give non-African employees better insight into the African culture. Here is a list of Kwanzaa activities for adults.

1. Assemble The Kwanzaa Display

The first and most important activity is setting up the Kwanzaa display. This activity is simple. Follow these steps:

  1. First, decide on the room where you will be setting the table. Make sure that the area you choose makes the candle stand (Kinara) stand out. Since Christmas is celebrated around the same time as Kwanzaa, try to arrange the table in a different room than the one with the Christmas tree.
  2. Start by placing a tablecloth of either red or green color to protect your surface.
  3. You can place the ceremonial mat (Mkeka) on top of the tablecloth. Try to keep it in the center of the table.
  4. Next, put the Kinara on the Mkeka with the black candle that represents the people in the middle. The three red candles representing the struggle will go on the left, and the green candles representing the future will go on the right.
  5. You can also place the red and green candles alternatively. For example, you can put a red candle followed by a green one, and then a red one again.
  6. Lastly, place wooden bowls and baskets of fruit and vegetables around the Kinara Pears, and even popcorn make great additions to the table.

This activity is a strong symbol of cultural heritage, which makes it a part of every Kwanzaa celebration.

2. Connect through Food

The food served during Kwanzaa matches the red, black, and green of the Pan-African flag. Collard greens, African peanut stew, jerk chicken, okra, sausage, chicken gumbo, and black-eyed peas are the most common foods. These dishes represent a positive future and fortune.

You and your coworkers can divide the dishes you want to prepare and bring them to work. A delicious Kwanzaa dinner together is a great way to celebrate a culture rich in traditions, values, and symbolism.

3. Have A Candle Lighting Ceremony

The seven candles on the KinaraKinara represent the seven principles of Kwanzaa:

  • Umoja (Unity)
  • Kujichagulia (Self-Determination)
  • Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility)
  • Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics)
  • Nia (Purpose)
  • Kuumba (Creativity)
  • Imani (Faith)

There is a black candle, three red and three green candles. Here is the order in which you have to light them each day:

  • The black candle is the only candle lit on the first day. It represents the African American people and the unity of family, community, nation, and race. This candle sits at the very center of the Mishumaa Saba.
  • On the second day, the black candle is again the first candle you have to light. Of course, the first one will run out the previous day! You will have to replace it with a new one. On this day, however, the red candle to the far left gets lit in addition to the black one. The red candle represents self-determination, such as standing for oneself.
  • Similarly, the process is repeated the following days with the black candle followed by the three red ones, and then the three green ones.

This activity is a part of the celebration, and every Kwanzaa includes a candle-lighting ceremony.

4. Exchange Gifts

Exchanging gifts with your coworkers at Kwanzaa is one of the best Kwanzaa party ideas for work. Here are some things you can purchase that will be just the right fit for the event:

  • Kwanzaa Celebration Set

Kwanzaa cannot be complete without the proper set. You can give it to the first-time celebrators to get in the event’s spirit! Your set shout includes a Kinara and all the candles for the multiple days. You should also include a Kwanzaa mat and instructions.

  • Kente African Ornaments

Kwanzaa and Christmas are both celebrated around the same time, and many families celebrate both. Therefore, you can plan a versatile gift. Maybe something that will come in handy on Christmas! Kente African ornaments can be hung from a Christmas tree or placed in a glass bowl as décor for Kwanzaa. Usually, when you’re purchasing these items, you will get them in a set of three large balls covered in African Ankara print.

  • Kwanzaa Cookbook

Kwanzaa is never complete without delicious food. A cookbook is also a present suitable for those celebrating for the first time, as it will help them learn more about African American culture. Within the pages, you can find recipes for typical Kwanzaa dishes like coconut cake, blackened catfish, and spicy peanut soup.

Giving gifts is an essential part of every celebration. So, make sure you give the best gifts to your loved ones to make them feel special.

4. Play The Traditional Kalah Game

Kalah, also known as Kalaha or Mancala, is a traditional game played during Kwanzaa. This game can be a great icebreaker to help you become closer to your coworkers. The game comes with a Kalah board and several seeds.

How to play:

  • You can play this game in pairs, so you and your partner will sit on opposite sides with the board in the middle.
  • The board has six circular pits or ‘houses’ in a row on both sides. There is a larger pit or ‘end zone’ on each end. Each player will own the row of houses closest to them and an end zone to their right.
  • To play this game, you must first decide on the number of seeds or counters inside each house. The game gets slightly challenging if the number is on the higher end, but the standard number of counters is usually four.
  • With the seeds in all 12 houses, one of the players starts by picking up the seeds from one of his houses and placing them in other houses one by one in a counterclockwise motion.
  • If the last seed goes in the player’s end zone, they get to make another move, but if the seed ends up in one of the houses owned by the other player, the move ends. If the last seed gets inside the player’s own house that’s empty, with the opposite house filled with seeds, both the last counter and the opposite seeds are placed in the player’s end zone.
  • The player who empties all their pits first wins the game.

Playing this game can remind the employees of their cultural heritage and make other employees learn more about the African culture.

5. Reflect On The Principle Each Day

There are many lessons to be taken from the seven principles. All seven days of Kwanzaa focus on different principles. You and your coworkers can discuss teaching one according to the day and reflect on them. You can talk about how you can apply these to the workplace:

  • Umoja (Unity)

Having a sense of unity is an essential part of any organization. Every successful company emphasizes a sense of community because it can affect employees’ productivity levels and loyalty and workplace dynamics.

Unity among coworkers can also bring equality to the workplace. For example, when there is no favoritism and uneven distribution of resources, employees stay productive without turbulence. Similarly, if there is fair compensation and the employees do not feel underpaid, they will maintain the same level of respect for their employer and develop a sense of loyalty.

Umoja teaches us that every organization should be diverse and inclusive and must create unity no matter the employees’ race, culture, religion, heritage, or gender.

  • Kujichagulia (Self-Determination)

Self-determination is a vital element in making any company successful. When individuals confidently voice their opinions and play an active role, they are bound to feel more satisfied and productive.

However, from this principle, it is also important to reflect on the typical treatment of employees of color. Professionals of color are often not given the opportunities to bring their creativity to the table. Their opinions and judgments are often overlooked, and their accomplishments are not appreciated. So, all employees of color must be self-determined to stand up against favoritism and unjust culture at their workplace. They should demand that the organization welcomes their innovative ideas and unique identities and opens them to the same opportunities as their peers.

  • Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility)

Teamwork is essential for increasing efficiency and improving communication skills. If employees feel like they belong in the organization, then they can work collectively as a team, develop empathy and support each other. Helping each other also encourages them to share responsibilities for better decisions.

Building and maintaining a strong community means helping employees of color with their problems. Employers should be the ones to bring this change to the workplace.

  • Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics)

The fourth day of Kwanzaa or Ujamaa focuses on creating your own economy or self-sufficiency. We can think of many examples as inspiration when we reflect on this principle. Research has proven that entrepreneurs who are over 50 years of age are more likely to gain success than those much younger. It is because of their extended experience.

We can incorporate this at the workplace by helping other team members. Since we want our organization to be self-sufficient, we should begin by helping our coworkers and motivating them to do better. It is also a good idea to get closer to your teammates. Let your coworkers know that you care about them without making the conversation too personal. The same goes when you see an employee struggling. Ask them if they need your help without giving unsolicited solutions or advice. This approach can help your team become more self-sufficient.

  • Nia (Purpose)

Nia means purpose. This principle allows us to reflect that without a sense of purpose, we would all lose our motivation. While we all want to be helpful and play an active role in society, our purpose does not necessarily have to be flashy. These personal missions can be as small as complimenting the dress of someone or helping a person in need in any way.

We all rely on each other and unknowingly fulfill our purposes. Even in the simplest moments in life, where we are complimenting someone, asking about their day, or helping them with a difficult task, we fulfill a purpose.

In terms of work, you may ponder over your purpose in your career. You can ask yourself why you chose this career path and whether you had an intention of making the best out of this choice by ensuring that your intention is meaningful. In this time and era, we focus more on internal needs and purposes than external ones. Instead, we should try to make a difference and impact society through our work.

While reflecting with your coworkers, think of how you can make a difference in the future and how changing your intentions will affect you and your work.

  • Kuumba (Creativity)

The sixth day of Kwanzaa is encouraging as it brings out your creative side. It gives you the freedom of innovation and to think outside the box., You do not have to bring out that creativity only when brainstorming ideas but also when you are planning meetings. You may, at times, fall into a creativity slump, but there are ways to improve that.

You can try collaborating with a coworker as it improves the relationship of employees within the workplace. When you look at a single project from different perspectives, the two of you can come up with better ideas and innovative solutions to problems. Getting creative can also help you become more motivated at work.

You can also try to spare 30 minutes every day or even every week to focus your attention on new ideas instead of never-ending tasks. Sometimes you may suddenly get a new idea. At those times, do not forget to put them down on paper as soon as possible!

  • Imani (Faith)

The last day of Kwanzaa teaches us to have faith in ourselves. Faith is the last principle because you would be unable to maintain unity, collective work, purpose, and creativity without faith. Moreover, since the green candles represent the future, they show that what change or hope you have for the future is not impossible.

This idea goes side by side with commitment. You can reflect on this in terms of work because having faith in yourself Is necessary for growth and confidence and believing that your thoughts can impact the results of your efforts. Once you stop limiting your faith by valuing yourself according to the opinions of others, you will start building self-esteem.

6. Attend An Online Kwanzaa Celebration Event

You can also attend online Kwanzaa celebration events. If you and your coworkers cannot set up a Kwanzaa display at work, then attending an online event is the perfect opportunity. You will easily be able to find one since there are several of these gatherings during the seven days.

In that event, they will be live streaming the setting of the table, music, and other Kwanzaa team building activities such as Jaliyah, the African American craft of storytelling.


There are many ways to celebrate Kwanzaa at work. The best thing would be to start with the traditional assembling of the display and the food. Then, you can play games such as Kalah with your coworkers and, most importantly, take lessons from its seven principles and apply them to daily life. Conducting Kwanzaa team building activities are necessary to ensure diversity and to avoid the neglect faced by African people in the workplace. These activities will celebrate the African culture and the other employees will learn about the valuable cultures of others.

FAQ: Kwanzaa ideas

Here are answers to questions about Kwanzaa activities, games & ideas for work.

What are Kwanzaa's ideas for work?

You can do activities at your workplace to celebrate Kwanzaa from 26th December to 1st January. These activities can prove valuable as the principles of Kwanzaa can be applied to the workplace.

What are some good Kwanzaa games for groups?

Some Kwanzaa team-building activities for groups include:

  • Sharing talents
  • Playing Kalah
  • Exchanging gifts

These are some light-hearted ideas for your Kwanzaa celebration at work.

How do you celebrate Kwanzaa at work?

You can celebrate Kwanzaa at work by reflecting on its seven principles and applying them in your workplace. Here are the seven principles:

  • Umoja (Unity)
  • Kujichagulia (Self-Determination)
  • Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility)
  • Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics)
  • Nia (Purpose)
  • Kuumba (Creativity)
  • Imani (Faith)

These seven principles are rich elements of African culture, and every Kwanzaa celebration should focus on them.

Author: Carly Hill

Arguably the #1 Christmas fan. I believe it’s never too early to get started decorating your next tree!

Carly Hill

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