How to Host a Company Picnic

This summer is seeing a resurgence of social events. Employers can use these tips to plan a safe, successful corporate party.

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How to Host a Company Picnic

Here's what you need to know:

  • Ensure that your company picnic is COVID-appropriate and select the right location
  • Choose the right time and plan engaging activities for employees to enjoy
  • Consider making the company picnic fully family-friendly and keep alcohol consumption under control
  • Try adding a raffle to boost picnic attendance

As things slowly lurch back to normal, this summer is seeing a resurgence of many of the social events that the pandemic paused. Weddings are back like never before. Business travel is firing up again, giving rise to “bleisure” travel that blends both work and personal travel into one trip. So, too, have company picnics returned.

There’s a reason why the summer company picnic is so etched in our minds. Not only has it been a classic corporate event for decades, company picnics are generally fun, family-friendly, and fancy-free.

That doesn’t mean that planning and hosting them is as laid back as attending is, though. Even though we’re in the best place we’ve been with the pandemic since it started, COVID is very much still a risk. It’s a risk for the general population, but even more so for at-risk groups.

So how do companies go about bringing back the corporate events that everyone loves while keeping people safe during a pandemic? Here are some tips and tricks for hosting a company picnic in 2022.

Ensure that your company picnic is COVID-appropriate

The most important place to start is by ensuring that your company picnic is COVID-safe.

There are plenty of timeless how-to’s for hosting company picnics that we’ll get into below. COVID safety tops the list for company picnics in 2022, though.

While it’s pretty natural to host a company picnic outside, be sure that you’ve selected a location that offers plenty of space. The less people are in too close of quarters, the safer it is for everyone.

Naturally, you’ll probably need some kind of indoor space as a backup for bad weather. The same goes for indoor space — make sure there’s enough of it. Then, to the extent possible, keep your indoor spaces open-air. Try using just shelters to shield from the heat and rain while preserving outdoor space.

Be sure that you’ve selected a location that offers plenty of space.

Finally, if you haven’t been already, encourage your workers to get vaccinated. A company picnic is actually a great option for offering vaccines, especially with the newly approved shots for little ones available.

It’s never a bad idea to encourage everyone to test the morning of the event and sit it out if they’re positive. Safety is always the 1st priority and COVID is a major factor in that.

Select the right location for your company picnic

With COVID protocols in mind, you’ll want to select an appropriate location for your company picnic. If you’re going to offer vaccines, make sure there’s a dedicated space for them.

Next, consider the events you’ll want to do and make sure you select a location that’s big enough to encompass all of them. While the goal is an outdoor event, make sure there’s a backup available in the event of inclement weather.

A large party tent can work as can a park shelter or even an event space with a dedicated indoor room. The most important thing to consider here is the number of attendees and space. Make sure you have enough for everyone to be inside comfortably and safely.

Choose the right time to host your staff picnic

It can be tempting to select a day that people already have off for a company picnic, but that will likely eat into the number of people who will come. Most people will want to take advantage of a long weekend to get away, not spend more time doing work-related things.

For most company picnics, a regular Saturday or Sunday will work. Just make sure to give your employees enough notice so that they can plan it into their busy summer calendars.

Alternatively, you could choose a day like Friday and give your employees the full day or a half day off for it. If you want it to be family-friendly, make sure the event starts late enough in the day that partners and children can attend, too.

When selecting a date, be sure to consider your employees’ workloads, too. If you run an accounting firm, tax time probably isn’t the right time of year for a corporate event.

Once you have a date selected, send out invitations and calendar events at least a month ahead of time. Also send reminders leading up to it to drive attendance.

Plan engaging activities for employees to enjoy

Naturally, the type of picnic you’re hosting will dictate your company party planning. Is it a staff-only event that will focus on team-building activities? Or will it be a family-friendly event that’s focused on more general social interactions?

Once you’ve decided, be sure to plan a number of engaging events. The more you tailor this to your employees’ specific interests, the better. You could include a card or board game tournament, a volleyball tournament, organize a massive game of tug-of-war, or simply hire a band for more passive entertainment.

If figuring out what to schedule is tripping you up, try deciding on a theme first. You could go beach-themed or tropical-themed, for example.

Then, in line with your selection, you could provide kiddie pools and a tropical-inspired menu, for example. Choosing a theme can help streamline the programming decision-making process.

Consider making the company picnic fully family-friendly

While it’s certainly possible to host a picnic as a staff-only event, aren’t there plenty of those already? Company picnics are often the time to engage with your coworkers’ families and get to know more about them and their personal lives rather than focus on team-building.

Plus, family-friendly means more than just kiddos and spouses these days. Don’t make your single employees show up solo. Make it dog-friendly if you can and let people have a plus 1. Most younger generations consider their friends to be their family and would happily attend if it means their best friend can join as well.

Keep alcohol consumption under control at the picnic

If you’re going to have alcohol at your company picnic, be sure to build in ways to keep consumption under control. First, many municipalities will require bartenders or other support staff for large events, so check into state and local rules.

Even if bartenders aren’t required, consider hiring some anyway or designating people to man the coolers. The goal is for everyone to enjoy themselves and sip on a beer alongside their hot dog if they want to. But no one should be out of control or inappropriate — it is a festive event, but it’s not an alcohol-fueled party.

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Try adding a raffle to boost company picnic attendance

If ensuring that people show up is a concern, consider adding a raffle into the mix. It can be for something employment-focused like additional PTO. Or, it can be for something more inclusive like a luxury TV as a prize.

You can double down and make it a fundraising event, too. Every attendee can get 1 free ticket, but the option to buy more.

Then you can funnel the money in a way that makes the most sense for your company. Maybe it can go towards a fancy espresso machine for the office. You could consider donating it to an important cause, too.

Especially after taking a few years off of in-person events, planning a company picnic can feel like a daunting experience. But it doesn’t have to be! Think of it as a fun, uniting event. All you really have to provide is a space for everyone to enjoy themselves.

If you don’t know what your employees would enjoy, just ask! Whether it’s through direct conversations or an employee engagement survey, ask and you’ll find out.

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