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B•Inspired: Company Picnic Ideas
Annual Company Picnic are a popular way for businesses across the country take an afternoon out to show appreciation for their employees and their families as well as an opportunity to do some casual, fun team building with their employees. On the other hand, many employees only show up because they feel like it’s the politically correct thing to do and look for the earliest opportunity to duck out unnoticed. So, how do you get people to really want to be there and to stay? Instead of just assigning someone to stake out a place in the park at 5 AM and paying for the hamburgers, hot dogs and lemon aid, why not make the Company Picnic something to remember as a fun event and a true expression of appreciation for your employees efforts (and their family’s support).
Here are some insights on how to make your next Company Picnic more than just an obligation for your employees as well as some ideas that might just inspire more of your own.
Create a Fun & Engaging Theme
Using a theme not only can make an event more intriguing for participants but can also make planning of the event easier by narrowing down options for food and activities. A few tips on selecting an ideal company picnic theme:
See some specific company picnic theme ideas at the end of this article.
Involve the masses
People who are involved in planning and carrying out an event are not only more likely to show up, but they’re also more likely to get others to willingly participate. For smaller companies, ask employees to sign up to coordinate a specific aspect of the event like food coordination, decorations or set up. Keep tasks small enough so that individual employees aren’t overly burdened by their roles. For larger organizations, get departments to sponsor a specific aspect of the event. At the event, be sure to give recognition to those that do help make it happen whether it be a simple announcement or gift. For larger organizations, post banners identifying the department that sponsored a specific activity… or name an area or event after that department!
Of course, involving the masses also means involving the management. While it’s great to empower the employees with making decisions for a Company Picnic, it’s still important that management stay involved and even more important for them are seen involved at the event. There’s no more powerful message of appreciation than having the CEO helping serve up the hot dogs and hamburgers at the Hoe down, leis at the Luau and sitting in the dunking booth at the Carnival (and, that last one could be a great fundraiser for a local non-profit!).
Promote in Advance
News flash… sending out an email to all employees announcing the date of the company picnic does not really constitute “promoting” the event. And, please, don’t simply send out an Outlook invitation… that will make it way too much like yet another meeting that the employees would prefer to avoid. Remember that you’re inviting the whole family, not just the employee. So, in addition to potentially sending out a save-the-date email, direct some sort of an invitation to the whole family whether it’s sending out an announcement card to the family’s home or giving employees a themed promotional product to take home with them. Even better, consider sending out a series of reminders which complement each other or can be used at the event.
Another way to promote the event while also giving everyone a chance to be involved in the planning phase is to hold a competition for an event logo design… imprint the winning design on invitations, giveaways, t-shirts and more. You could even have multiple winners (maybe by age group to involve family member)… with different designs for different purposes.
Engage with Activities
Without some sort of engaging activities, employees will likely end up sitting and talking with the same group of people that they do on their breaks and at lunch. Why not use the opportunity to foster more interaction and team building with some fun activities that encourage employees and their families to engage more with each other.
Sports, games and contests are great ways to get people involved but also consider fun learning opportunities. Too, while it’s great to recognize winners with awards, be sure to level the playing field so that everyone has a chance to win a prize of some sort or just incorporate the prize in the activity!
A great example to help illustrate our later two points: One of our customers purchased light-up Yo-Yo’s for a company picnic recently. They used the opportunity to make it an engaging and learning event by having adults from the sponsoring department provide Yo-Yo lessons to the younger participants who learned tricks like “walking the dog”! Everyone walked away with their Yo-Yo and had fun learning (and teaching!) something new at the same time.
Everybody likes to get something free and it’s a great way to help people remember the event. So, be sure to send employees home with something to remember the event with. It might be an award for winning a planned event, a giveaway consistent with the event’s theme or the grand prize from a raffle. Don’t let anyone leave empty handed… most especially the youngsters. Those youngsters might just encourage their parents to participate again next year… and they might even become employees in the years ahead!
Remember the Necessitates
There’s always the basic necessities that are needed for any Company Picnic. Why not consider putting a custom flair on them with your logo. Here are just a few ideas:
It’s Not Over Even After It’s Over
After the event is over and employees are back to work, give them and their families a reminder of how much fun they had. Have someone take a photo of a particularly memorable moment, frame it and send it to their home. If you have a bunch of photos, send them a digital picture frame or digital key chain with pictures pre-loaded. If you don’t have the budget for that, give them a customized CD or DVD with photos. In addition to giving the employees a keep sake from the event and a reminder of what fun they had, it can help to create the type of buzz that encourages non-participants to join the fun next year.
Specific Theme Ideas
Here are some great theme concepts and ideas to make them happen… or at least to inspire more ideas:
Hawaiian Luau Themed Picnics
Whether you roast a pig in a pit or not, the Hawaiian theme is one that’s easy to get started.
Beach Party Themed Picnics
Whether you live near a beach or not, a Beach Theme featuring surf-attire and Printed Beach Balls is another easy theme that people enjoy. If you don’t have a beach, bring in a truckload of sand to add to the authenticity of the event!
Western Themed Picnics
Have a good old fashioned Hoe Down featuring western wear and some good old country & western music… even if you’re located in a major city.
Survivor Themed Picnics
Take a lesson for the widely popular television show and use a Survivor theme with Island decorations and a wide range of competitions for all age brackets. Group participants into large teams and give each team different color Survivor styled buffs imprinted with your logo. Don’t forget the immunity necklace!
“The Games” Themed Picnics
You don’t have to wait every 4 years to have your own competitions. Why not have your own company version of “The Games” with events for all ages. Combine events like Softball and T-Ball with Volleyball and Kickball… and maybe even a game of Twister for good measures. You could even hold adult events one weekend reserving local ball fields, pools and other venues for a series of competitions and then hold an award ceremony the next weekend including more activities for the kids.
Carnival Themed Picnics
A Carnival Theme can take a little more work but can be a whole lot of fun with “booths” set up for carnival style games like coin toss, ring toss and balloon pop… and prizes, you can’t forget the prizes! To make the event a bit easier, have each department be responsible for one booth… both in designing, setting up and staffing. You can give out prizes at each booth just like they do at traditional carnivals, or give recipients raffle tickets to combine and redeem at a central price booth… or maybe just to keep and enter into a raffle for a larger prizes!
Treasure Hunt Themed Picnics
A Treasure Hunt featuring obstacles and events for teams of families to complete before receiving the clue for the next destination can be a fun, team building exercise. Reward team with prizes at each destination or let them earn raffle tickets that can be redeemed for prizes when they reach the “treasure”. You could take the concept down a “pirate” theme for the kids or more like “The Amazing Race” television series.
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