Spring has sprung and this can only mean one thing: it’s time to get organised for the office summer party. Having a corporate party in the summer can be a great idea to boost morale and provide a mid-year incentive for staff. Why wait until Christmas to thank your team when you can do it during the warmer months when everyone is in a sunnier mood?
The trick to a successful company summer do is to start planning early. Not only does it give you the greatest pick of the best venues, but you will also have more time to get everything sorted, hopefully without any last-minute panics. As with any event planning, you should never underestimate the amount of organisation required or how long things can take. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the steps and tips for hosting a corporate summer party.
1. Should your summer event have a theme?
Organising a relaxed environment for your guests to enjoy the summer party can be a lot easier if you have a clearly defined theme to plan around. Whether you go for a classic garden barbecue or beach party, choose the 1980s, Arabian Nights or Summer of Love theme, add a Mexican flavour, a sporting event or a murder mystery twist, your theme helps to direct your creative juices in the right direction. From decisions on invites and party decorations to dress codes, entertainment and activities, and of course food & drink, you can present a coherent programme for the day or evening.
2. What’s the budget?
Getting a realistic budget signed off is crucial to enable you to start planning in earnest, so have your financial parameters in place before letting your imagination run wild. The budget will dictate everything from catering to entertainment and your choice of venue. A giant bouncy castle may sound like fun but can you afford it? Choosing a quirky venue may add interest to your event invite and attract more guests and, “surprisingly, many unique venues will not cost you any more than you usually pay,” explains one industry insider.
3. Choosing a date and time
Another important logistical detail to decide early on is the date for your corporate event. Weekday or weekend? Daytime or evening? Some team members may not relish the thought of giving up their free time to spend with colleagues or may have other commitments that prevent them from attending outside of working hours. Others may love the idea of a proper party. On the other hand, a weekday party during office hours could be a real staff incentive. Whichever date you decide, make sure you give invitees maximum notice to save the day.
4. The importance of catering
It cannot be overstated that good catering lies at the heart of every corporate event. You can have the most amazing venue, the best live entertainment and the most fun event theme on the planet, but if the bar runs dry halfway through the evening, your guests won’t be amused. The same goes for the food. While positive reviews about caterers are important, if during the event their dishes are served late or cold, they’re not appetising or there just isn’t enough food for your guests, it literally leaves a bad taste in the mouth. And, unfortunately, that’s all people will be talking about the next day.
5. What type of event are you planning?
You also need to think carefully about the purpose and format for your upcoming summer event. Are you looking to organise an informal celebration for your team to reward them for their hard work? Is it going to be a family event with plus-ones, children and pets? Or would you prefer to add a networking dimension to the summer party by inviting clients and other important industry contacts? These are all key decisions that need to be cleared in-house as they materially affect your planning.
6. Find the perfect venue
Choosing the right venue for your corporate summer event can make the difference between success and failure. Make sure your venue reflects your event theme and your corporate culture – you wouldn’t have a Hawaiian-themed pool party in an urban basement venue, would you? Check that the location is easily accessible in terms of public transport or parking and that the size and budget work for you. Also verify that the right equipment in terms of AV, lighting and technology is available for the entertainment or activities you have planned.
7. Remember to factor in the weather
Finding the right venue is all very well but have you considered the unpredictability of the British weather? Anyone organising a music festival in the country will have a contingency plan in place to mitigate against extreme weather conditions during the summer. For any outdoor company party, it is highly advisable to consider how you will adapt to any sudden downpours or sweltering temperatures. Make sure you have back-ups such as covered terraces, marquees or retractable roofs to protect your guests and entertainers from the elements.
8. What kind of entertainment?
There’s an abundance of choices available when it comes to good corporate entertainment options, so choose something that fits with the theme of your event and matches your corporate culture. No point going for risqué stand-up comedy if your team isn’t on the same wavelength. From live bands to DJs and dancing, close-up magic and circus skills, escape room challenges, games and contests, decide on what would give your summer event the wow factor with just the right level of interactivity to engage your guests.
9. Should there be teambuilding activities?
Finally, providing activities that everyone can participate in can be a great way to divert attention away from eating and drinking and add a useful team-building component to the proceedings. From lawn croquet to table tennis, a treasure hunt or karaoke, it gets everyone to socialise and bond, including those who don’t normally work together. Activities add structure to the event in a fun and exciting way and help boost team morale. They can also be used as evening entertainment, allowing you to kill two birds with one stone.