BInspired: 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:
  • Consider the entire family when choosing a company picnic theme.    Obviously, a casino theme which might be fun for adults probably won’t go over as well with the younger family members... or at least might not be considered the most responsible theme for toddlers. 
  • Make it easy for employees and their families. Elaborate costumes can be fun on Halloween but for the company picnic theme, make it easy for employees to dress the part.
  • Look for themes that can be reflected not only in the decorations but also the menu and activities.
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.

Giveaways Count

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:
  • Custom Stadium Cups
  • Imprinted Beverage Jugs
  • Logo Bottle Openers
  • Customized Koozies
  • Custom Printed Cutlery Sets
  • Imprinted Napkins

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.  
  • Decorations: Hawaiian themed decorations are easy to find. Also consider Tiki Themed Novelties and Luau Themed Items. Consider LED Tiki Torches for events that run into the evening!
  • Promoting Event: Send employees Light-Up Hawaiian Shirt Lapel Pin or Light Up Hula Girl Lapel with a Save-The-Date Message.
  • Attire: It shouldn’t be too difficult to get employees to put on a Hawaiian shirt or a sarong to comfortably fit in with the theme. You could even give out Hawaiian shirts embroidered with the company’s logo and/or event’s name for the event.
  • Activities: Walking on hot coals probably wouldn’t be the best idea, but having some grass skirts on hand for Hula lessons could be fun… and maybe Hula Hoops for the kids; How about Limbo lessons. If you’re near the beach, why not incorporate surf board lessons for the kids... or maybe have the kids provide adults with the lessons!  Kids also love those temporary tattoos so why not some tropical themed tattoos? Of course, a variety of beach activities could apply too!
  • Giveaways: Greet guests with Hawaiian Leis as they enter, Imprinted Tiki Mugs and Luau Styled Bucket Hats to name a few!
  • Post Event Keepsakes: Imprinted Hawaiian Themed Photo Frames featuring that perfect picture from the Hula Lessons, Limbo or the moment the CEO puts the Lei around the employee’s neck.
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! 
  • Decorations: Sand, Imprinted Beach Umbrellas, Imprinted Beach Mats, Logo Beach Chairs will set the stage. Divide up the picnic area into sub-themes with the beach, boardwalk and snack shack? Use some beach signs to help identify the areas and add to the ambiance! Don’t forget the Custom Party Coolers to quench everyone’s thirst.
  • Promoting Event: Why not send your employees a customized surfboard bottle opener/key ring or a custom skateboard key ring imprinted with the date and location of the beach party.    If you need more space to provide event information, consider giving employees a logo imprinted beach safe with the additional instructions included inside!
  • Attire:  Employees can comfortably fit in wearing shorts and t-shirts which they’d probably be wearing anyway on a warm spring or summer day.   Consider custom printed t-shirts and tanks featuring a the winning design from a pre-event competition.
  • Activities: Customize the traditional beach activities with Imprinted Volleyballs, Custom Frisbees, Customized Cornhole Toss Games and Custom Printed Paddle Ball Games. Got sand? Have some imprinted beach pails on hand for a sandcastle building contest. If you’re near the beach, consider surfboard or kayak lessons… or skateboard lessons on the boardwalk (be sure to have helmets on hand!). 
  • Giveaways: Logo Sunscreen, Imprinted Lip Balm, Custom Beach Towels, Custom Neon Sunglasses, Logo Flip Flops, Beach Totes, Custom Printed Hand Fans or Logo Misters
  • Post Event Keepsakes: In addition to imprinted game accessories that can be awarded to winners or raffled at the end of the night, send employees a digital photo frame featuring random pictures from the day… or, for a tighter budget, send pictures on a Surfboard USB Drive!
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.    
  • Decorations: Create ambiance with western styled decoration and bales of hay… they’ll serve double duty as both decorations and seats!  Add a few boards across stacked bales of hay and you’ve got a table. You’ve got to have a dance floor for a hoe down, add some bales around the perimeter, and a  bandanna styled pennants across the top. Maybe a few wagon wheels strategically placed and some LED lanterns.  You could even get a custom branding iron to add a custom touch to those steaks.
  • Promoting Event: Get the employees attention by sending them an imprinted bandana invitation or maybe a covered wagon stress reliever imprinted with a save the date message!   If you have a company cafeteria, get folks in the mood with some western menus leading up to the event like BBQ Ribs and corn on the cob!   Encourage employees to attend by offering embroidered custom logo western styled shirts or cowboy hats!
  • Attire:  It’s not too tough for employees to find a western styled shirt, a cowboy hat and maybe even some cowboy boots to compliment the theme.
  • Activities: There are plenty of options for Western themed activities like Square Dancing Lessons and Line Dance Lessons. As a safer alternative to traditional horse shoe games, consider Custom Washer Toss Games or Branded Cornhole Toss Games. You might be able to arrange for hayride even! Why not have a faux cow pie toss using some custom Hyper Flex Flyer, like a plastic Frisbee or flyer but soft and stretchy. Let the participants take home their “cow pie” when they’re done!   See who’s the fastest draw in the west, but play it safe and stick with Logo Water Guns!   How about some good old fashioned customized burlap sack races?
  • Giveaways: Custom Bandannas, western themed custom playing cards, custom belt buckles or printed cowboy boot shaped mugs, camp fire mugs! For the younger kids, how about a western styled stuffed toy?
  • Post Event Keepsakes: After the event, send them a custom “Wanted/Reward” picture frame with their picture from the event!
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!
  • Decorations:  Consider a Tiki motif with Tiki styled decorations and maybe even Tiki totems and plenty of LED Tiki torches as well. Other key Survivor theme items include custom flags  (which might make for great giveaways too!), custom buffs (or maybe bandannas) and don’t forget a customized wooden box to collect the votes from the tribe! Screened Team T-shirts are a good idea as well… maybe different colors for each team! Create shelters for the teams with Custom Beach Umbrellas or Pop-Up Tents to mirror those hand-made shelters from the show.
  • Promoting Events: Send employees and their families a customized puzzle as an invitation that they need to assemble to get the specifics on the event. It will set the tone for an engaging event that involves puzzles, activities and competitions.
  • Attire: Aside from Custom Buffs, Printed Skull Caps and/or Custom Printed T-Shirts the apparel is pretty much standard spring and summer wear which makes it easy and comfortable for participants. 
  • Activities: One thing about survivor, you can pretty much come up with a wide range of activities for the teams to compete in.   Why not assign points for various events and then add up or average out the points for each team to come up with a final “winner” or winning department.   Of course, it’s good to have activities geared toward different skill levels to encourage participation from the entire family.   Consider a Tiki Design  Bean Bag/Cornhole Toss, magnetic dart board games, a golf putting competition and a building completion using custom building bocks or imprinted foam bricks!  
  • Giveaways: Customized Tiki Mugs, Tiki “Immunity” Necklaces, Custom Sling Bags, Stuffed Tropical Fish, Tropical Themed Lapel Pins, Custom Solar Flashlights, or maybe Custom Printed Hammocks! Another possibility is Customized Skull Shaped Novelties like Printed Skull Stress Relievers, Custom Skull Key Chains and Customized Skull Jewelry.
  • Post Event Keepsakes: Maybe a Custom USB Drive Carabineer filled with pictures from the event, or for a step up, make a “video episode” of the event and load it on the Logo Flash Drive Carabineer or to step it up even more you could send it loaded on a Custom Video Player or Video Greeting Card!
“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.
  • Decorations:   There’s probably not a lot of special decorations needed for a Games theme since it’s more about the competition and fans. Nonetheless there are some key elements which can give it more of “The Games” feel… in particular event themed flags at each “venue” and, of course, each team should also have their flag.  Banners can also go a long way to help brand venues for participants. Remember, you’ll need something to serve as the award podiums and maybe even award ribbons or custom medallions? There are even stock metals for various sports.
  • Promoting Events: Send employees and their family a sports-styled calendar magnet announcing “The Games” Company Picnic and listing each of the events, their start times and locations.
  • Attire:  Custom printed team shirts can serve as uniforms… though you could certainly take it up a notch with customized sweats or performance apparel.
  • Activities: Consider what works for your location, season, venue and employees’ interest.   Pick up some custom logo sports supplies to put your company’s spin on each event whether it be customized footballs, logo baseballs and custom softballs, custom logo soccer balls and soccer jerseys or even swim goggles, ping pong balls or hockey pucks! If the venue includes a golf course, incorporate a golf tournament into the event and give participants customized golf tournament packs. While most of these events can be set up to accommodate different age groups to include all family members, consider options like T-Ball or Goal Kicks for younger family members.
  • Giveaways: Fan and Cheer gear like Imprinted Foam Fingers, Customized Cheer Sticks and Custom Rally Towels. Don’t forget Custom Noisemakers too, like Imprinted Cow Bells, Logo Stadium Horns, Customized Maracas, and Custom Printed Clappers.   You might even need some Logo Whistles and Customized Air Horns to sound the start and end of events!
  • Post Event Keepsakes: Send employees a custom printed “year book” with pictures from the event, or maybe a “newspaper” recounting the highlights of each event and the medal winners. Remember the “agony of defeat” pictures too!
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!
  • Decorations:  Decorations for a Carnival Theme don’t really need to be that difficult. Custom Pop-Up Tents can serve as the booths with colorful Banners for the Booth Names (e.g. Ring Toss, etc.). Add some brightly colored decoration including a lot of Custom Logo Balloons and some themed garland and pennant streamers. Include some themed accessories for the various booths like custom popcorn boxes or bags, customized snack trays and color changing mood stadium cups.
  • Promoting Events: Using the raffle ticket concept, why not create a custom poster designed to look like an oversized raffle ticket to send to employees as the invitation for the event. The same posters can be posted around the office as reminders. They could even be used as tray liners in the company cafeteria!
  • Attire:  Visitors to the carnival can dress in their normal attire but you’ve got to get some volunteers to dress as clowns for the kids (and the ambiance). Maybe find someone to serve as a stilt-walker too!
  • Activities: Fortunately, it can be pretty easy to create carnival booth games just like those at real carnivals. Of course, you’ll want to have some prizes that will be suitable for the various age groups. . In many cases, the props used for the games can also become giveaway items and prizes at the end of the event. Get some customized soda bottle shaped stress relievers and custom bracelets for a Ring Toss Booth.   With a few water guns and some stress reliever targets, you’ve got a Target Practice Booth!   As an alternative to water guns, consider a foam dart gun instead!   The Fish Bowl Toss Booth is another great game and all you need are some custom fish bowls and some customized ping pong balls!   Instead of live goldfish, use fish-themed novelties like fish shaped stuffed toys, fish shaped pens and fish stress relievers in the bowls. For the youngest of participants, you’ve got to have the Rubber Duck Booth featuring floating Custom Rubber Ducks!
  • Giveaways: Colorful Beads, Imprinted Dog Tags, Customized Stuffed Toys,  Custom Crayons, Logo Coloring Book, Customized Piggy Bank, Customized Lapel Pins and Custom Buttons, Logo Rubik Cube Items, Custom Neon Sunglasses, Customized Light-Up Sunglasses, Glow Sticks, Customized Novelty Hats, Custom Kickballs, and much more.
  • Post Event Keepsakes: Hand out custom disposable cameras to everyone at the picnic to take pictures of their family and their coworkers families.   Then, after the event, give them back the developed pictures they took along with a custom logo flip photo album. Employees can then use the pictures for their photo albums or share them with their coworkers for their albums!
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.
  • Decorations:   You could take the concept down a “pirate theme” novelties path for the kids or something more like “The Amazing Race” television series. Use large banners to mark the start and finish lines as well as for the various obstacle events along the way. Give each team different colored custom printed caps and/or t-shirts… maybe custom pirate hats for the kids. Add in some themed break stations along the way so participants can take a break and get some refreshments.
  • Promoting Events: Send a Custom Treasure Map or create a Custom Poster that looks like a Treasure Map. 
  • Attire:  Aside from custom imprinted team shirts and caps, normal attire for the day will suffice making it simple for families. Give out some Custom Drawstring Bags or Customized Sling Packs for attendees to carry their belongings as well as any clues that they pick up along the way… and, of course, the treasure at the end of the hunt. 
  • Activities: Like the television show, create different activities along the treasure hunt pat that participants need to complete before they get their next clue. These can include a wide range of challenges like carrying a Custom Serving Tray stacked with Logo Stadium Cups filled with water through an obstacle course, Solving a Custom Rubik's Cube, Printed Frisbee Toss into a designated goal (like a custom cooler tub) and many more.
  • Giveaways: Why not let participants keep some of the challenge props like the stadium cups, Rubik's cubes and Frisbees. Award each member of the team with a Custom Silicone Wristband for each Obstacle they Satisfy… and then let them redeem prices based on the number of wristbands that they accumulate or how far they got in the completion.
  • Post Event Keepsakes: Send them a Custom Treasure Chest with pictures from the event!
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