Tips for Planning Events for Employees, Family, and Friends

Written by
Kyle Sherman
Published on
June 15, 2022 at 8:00:00 AM PDT June 15, 2022 at 8:00:00 AM PDTth, June 15, 2022 at 8:00:00 AM PDT

From company picnics and employee outings to class reunions and family get-togethers, these summer traditions are a chance to create memorable experiences for all who are invited. We’ve compiled an 8-point checklist to help create a fun, unforgettable summer event for employees, family or friends.

1. Create a Guest List

Get it all down on paper (or in an excel file) – decide if this company picnic will include staff only (on average, 80 to 90 percent of employees plan to attend) or if spouses/partners and other family members will be invited. For class reunions, scour social media sites for school buddies’ contact info. Write down all family members for this summer’s annual party. Consider creating a special website or intranet site for the event. Then, chose a way to invite them: through the web page, by using one of the online invitation sites, by email, phone or other method.

2. Find a Venue

Selecting a new location for your summer event each year adds to the excitement. Local gardens and arboretums, pavilions, amusement or water parks, dinner cruises, outdoor festivals, state parks or even a private residence are all good options. Choose a date and time for your event, which the venue can accommodate. Consider work schedules, vacation schedules and family schedules. Saturday around lunchtime and midafternoon are usually the most common day/time to host a family picnic.

3. Theme the Event

Choosing a theme adds interest and can help with finding the right activities, food, decorations and even invitations, reminders, response cards, etc. Popular themes include beach party, safari, wild-west, casino, circus, luau, field day, sports teams and the like. Theme the event to suit employees’ interests, classmate’s sports team or a family’s hobby.

4. Book a Caterer

Caterers can simply take care of food alone or orchestrate the entire food service, from plates and glasses to tables and chairs, tents, portable toilets and more. Decide on a menu that fits the theme. Pig roast or American grill? Caribbean cookout or street tacos? Vegetarian or ethnic? Include beverages with the menu: Beer and wine? Frozen drinks? Water and soda? Consider changing up the menu, too. Providing picnic standbys such as hot dogs, hamburgers and salads can please everyone; trying new food choices can liven up traditional picnic fare. “Make Your Own” food bars is always an option. Also, every good picnic has a certain amount of culinary surprise – like cotton candy, SnoCones, candy bars, ice cream trucks, slushies … and something chocolate.

5. Plan Activities

Fun, appealing activities that suit your guests’ ages and temperament are usually well-received. Rides, inflatables, carnival games, sports, craft-making, paddle boats, pony rides, karaoke, card-playing, raffles, charades, bike rides, swimming, sunning, face painting, photo booths, dunk tanks –anything that sounds fun and works with your theme. Remember to provide an agenda for the day.

6. Hire Entertainment

Caricature artists, clowns, balloon artists, event artists, trapeze artists, gymnasts, stunt men, magicians, DJs, acrobats, jugglers, ventriloquists, comedians, fortune tellers, puppeteers, bands, soloists, dancers, impersonators, DJs, emcees, bands, choirs or roving entertainment are different types of entertainers you could hire for the event.

7. Host Competitions and Give Prizes

Relays, volleyball, horseshoes, egg tosses, three-legged races, the annual company softball game – these classics picnic traditions are not only activities your guests love, they are usually unique to your company culture, school pride or family history. Take it up a notch and include fun prizes – custom awards and trophies, plaques, certificates or trinkets go a long way to creating memories. It also makes guests feel special and valued.

8.Create Signage

From parking cars to directing guests, custom signs and table tents are clear, informative ways to move the crowd to all the places you want them to go. What’s more, you can coordinate signage to match your event theme, company logo, school colors or family crest, creating the best visual elements to fully immerse your guests into the themed experience.

With any company summer picnic or employee outings, class reunion or family get-together, you want to make your guests feel welcome so they have a great time, connect with one another, meet each other’s families, build relationships and camaraderie or take pride in the organization. Using these tips, you can make your summer event one that your guests will not only remember, they’ll look forward to the next event all year.