From Invites to Ice Cream: How to Plan the Perfect Company Picnic
It’s almost company picnic time in the northern hemisphere, and what better way to celebrate than with ice cream, cool drinks, and games. Here’s how to plan out a party that your employees will be talking about for years.
Send Out Invitations
Get this first step wrong, and your entire party is ruined. Keep the guest list tight – only invite employees and their partners or perhaps institute a “+1” policy. Beyond that, make sure you actually send out invitations. Telling people in an informal way as you stroll through the office makes the party sound unserious. Formal invitations set the tone.
Use a professional printer, but don’t fuss too much about putting your company logo on them. Make them personable, but professional. Include an RSVP so that people can commit and so that you can get a headcount. This will help you plan out the food and general budget, as well as games.
Set a Budget
Most people set a budget for corporate events with the primary motive being to save money or slash costs – this is wrong. You should perform a cost-benefit analysis on your picnic. First, decide what you want to have at your picnic in terms of foods and drinks, and then determine what all of this stuff will cost you.
You’re swimming against the current when you plan this way, but this is really how you make budgets without making compromises. It’s called prioritizing. Will you be able to have everything you initially want? Maybe, but maybe you’ll realize some things aren’t as important as you thought they were.
If something seems disproportionately expensive, and it will take away from the party as a whole, drop it. If it will cause too much of a financial burden on the company, drop it or ask for donations to help subsidize it and make it clear that this particular aspect of the picnic is optional and depends solely on the employees’ desire to include it.
Research picnic locations that will accommodate your expected headcount and theme. If you’re having “beach theme,” for example, it might make the most sense to actually have it at a beach (unless you don’t live on or near the coast).
Ask about what the venue includes and what’s extra.
Buy your supplies. If you’re having ice cream, and honestly why wouldn’t you, pick up these frozen yogurt spoons and consider customizing the cups and other supplies. If you’re having hamburgers and dogs, make sure you get enough rolls, and don’t forget to stock up on extra condiments. You will go through them faster than you think.
Make a list of everything you intend to have at the party and buy it at least a month in advance (except for the food, which should be purchased about a week in advanced if it’s raw and a day or two in advance if it’s fresh or prepared).
Plan Out Games
Here’s where things really get fun. Plan out games that everyone can be involved in. They don’t have to be complicated, either. Maybe you could put together a nice card game tournament, horseshoes, and a pie-eating contest. Another thing to consider is a drawing for a door prize. Give away a nice electronic gadget like an iPad or pool money with some of the upper management and give away a nice spa package or weekend getaway for an employees’ family.
The games, and the giveaway, will get you remembered for years to come.
Jennifer Latorre works as a business advisor. She loves writing about her experiences online. Look for her posts on many business blogs.