Throwing a company picnic or summer social can garner gratitude or groans—it all depends on execution. Pulling off a company picnic isn’t as intimidating as organizing a retreat, but it does take attention to detail. Here are the do’s, don’ts, and general tips for putting on an awesome company picnic your staffers will want to attend.
Do: Present it as a choice
Ask your staffers if they’d like to celebrate with a barbecue. Most likely they’ll say yes, but giving them a say the matter makes it a choice rather than an obligation. Avoid making the event mandatory, and respect those who don’t want to participate.
Do: Schedule it during company hours
Throwing a picnic is a grand gesture, one that will be appreciated even more if it doesn’t rob staffers of personal or family time. Book your picnic for a slow Friday during the summer and take a half-day off to enjoy the sunshine.
Tip: Catering or potluck?
Leave this up to your staff. Pay for the main dishes—burgers, hot dogs, and a vegetarian option—but offer staffers a way to show off their killer cooking skills or family recipes. If enough of your employees want to pitch in, then a potluck is a great way to foster camaraderie among your ranks. Again, don’t make it mandatory.
Don’t: Leave anyone behind
Figure out a way to shut down the office for a few hours: Don’t leave anyone back at the office to sign for packages or manning the phones. If you give staffers enough notice, they can reschedule deliveries or route important calls to their cell phones.
Do: Pick the perfect spot
Plan ahead and reserve a prime spot for your summer social at a local park or recreation area. Book ahead by contacting your local park administration via city hall to ensure your picnic doesn’t conflict with other events. Scout the space to verify that it caters to your group size and accommodates any activities you have planned.
Don’t: Talk shop at a summer social
Keep discussions about spreadsheets and PowerPoints back at the office. If you’re the boss, initiate conversations to help you get to know your staff better. Hobbies, family, movies—all great topics. Everyone will follow your lead.
Don’t: Forget designated drivers
Bosses don’t let staff drive drunk. If you are serving alcohol at the company picnic, ensure that your guests get home safe by appointing some staffers as designated drivers or providing a discount code for a taxi or Uber.
Tip: Games are great!
Flag football and ultimate frisbee are fun, but not for everyone. Schedule short, low-stakes games, like relay races or badminton, that offer everyone a chance to participate (or not).
Do: Offer prizes
Raffles and contests are great ways to get people excited about your party and to keep them from leaving the festivities too soon. If you have a budget, gift cards are a great prize. No budget? Staffers are always thrilled to win an extra paid day off.
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