The subtle art of planning an effective company summer party
Planning a summer party can be a high pressure task. First you have to handle a budget. Then you need to please a large and diverse group of people. You also need to balance the need to have fun with the business requirement to justify the cost and time away from work.
It’s no mean feat, so that’s why we’ve developed a handy tool to help you plan your perfect company summer party.
So, here are our summer party ideas, all wrapped into a tool you can use for many summers to come!
The summer party idea tool
Before you start to list out ideas, you need to work out where you stand on two decisions:
How much time do you have to devote to planning?
How much budget do you have?
Understanding how much time you have to plan your company summer party is an important factor - it’s as important as your cash budget, if not more so.
Whether you are a business owner or a member of the team, your time is valuable and planning the company summer party may not be part of your regular duties. The time you spend planning the party is time you won’t be spending doing the rest of your work.
If you’ve been expecting this job, then you’ve likely set aside some good time to work on your party plan. If not, it’s likely you don’t have too much time to devote to pulling together a plan for the party.
Work out where you stand on this scale.
Most businesses will maintain an annual budget, and with good foresite you’ll have a fixed amount of money set aside for your summer party. The question is simple; is the budget high or low?
Either is fine, there are plenty of options, but being aware of where you stand on this scale now will help to save you planning time by making sure you’re reviewing activities within your budget range.
The summer party idea tool
Below is the summer party idea tool, it contains two axis:
Required planning - how much time do you have?
Cost - how much budget do you have?
Based on your answers to these two questions, you’ll land in one of four quadrents:
Quick and easy summer party ideas
Ideas to make the most of your time
Parties where all is taken care of for you
Ideas allowing you to ‘go all out’
So, now you know which quadrant you’re in, here are some great summer party ideas to get your creative juices flowing:
Quick & easy - low cost, low planning
A BBQ is a classic summer activity. It’s a crowd pleaser. In terms of budget, you’ll need some cash set aside for food and drinks, but visit a wholesaler and you can soon bring costs down. In terms of planning, you’ll need to find somewhere as the venue, but when the sun is shining, that needn’t be too time consuming!
Looking for a change of scenery? Finding a rooftop bar is a nice way to make use of the summer season. It all depends where you are based, but many towns and cities have a rooftop bar or two. Some money behind the bar is great for your team and is also often enough to secure some private space at the venue.
If it’s sunny outside, people flock to beer gardens. Holding your company summer party in a beer garden is an informal way to gather with your colleagues, it’s low-cost, low-pressure and relaxed.
Fancy something with more activity? Plan a walk through nature. Company summer parties are an opportunity to get away from the trappings of the normal working day. Planning a walk through a local park (think National Trust or similar) is a nice way to promote healthy habits and will let your team relax and spend time together in a different setting.
Ice-cream, deck chairs, seagulls, sand (or pebbles!), piers, fairground rides and arcade machines are all synonymous with a summer beach. Take your team out on a beach day trip and have some seaside fun!
Making the most of your time - low cost, high planning
Office olympics is a great way to plan a memorable company summer party. First you should get hold of some gold, silver and bronze medals. Next come up with a few fun game ideas. Games can come in any shape or size and can be tailored to match the desires of any group of people. Some great ideas we’ve seen are:
Nintendo Wii championships
Paper airplane javelin
Paper plate discus
Elastic band archery
If you’ve got the time to plan, this is an excellent low-cost way to have fun on your summer party. End the event by holding an awards ceremony!
Want to take things out of the office? A scavenger hunt is another low-cost, high-satisfaction way to celebrate your summer party. The concept works like this; prepare a list of items to find or things to do, then send your group out in teams to go and complete each item on the list.
Items can include finding obscure things in the local area or having a picture taken with a local celeb.
All taken care of - high cost, low planning
If you’ve got a bit more budget, a common summer feature in towns throughout the country is the outdoor cinema. Have a search in the local area to see what’s on offer. An outdoor cinema is a novel way to spend some relaxed time with your colleagues.
If it’s sunny, go to an outside mini-golf course. If it’s raining, there are plenty of indoor options too (think Swingers and Junkyard Golf). Mini golf is an easy to organise event where the venue will get you and your guests all set and ready to play. All you need to do is turn up!
Day at the races
A higher cost option is to take your team to the races. From Ascot to Aintree, going to the races is a good excuse to dress up in your finest for the day. Enjoy some views of the racetrack whilst you place bets and enjoy some nice drinks and food. This is another low-planning option if your short on time to get a plan together.
The activity day is our speciality at The Great Barn. The concept is simple; plan your budget and tell us what you’re interested in, we’ll take care of the rest. Activity days come in many forms so we have prepared some sample itineraries to give you a feel for what you can do.
In terms of activities, here are some of our favourites:
An activity day is the ultimate way to spend a day doing things out of the ordinary and can really bring your team together. It also won’t take up all of your time in planning. No matter where you are in the country, there will be venues who can help you put on activity days, so check out our full list of activities to give you some ideas!
Go all out
So you have a big budget and you’ve got plenty of time - how about planning an ‘all-out’ garden party? Think of it like being on the same scale as a wedding, but for your company! A garden party will require you to think about a theme, a venue (what garden will it be in?) and catering. When it comes to catering, you’ll need to choose food, drink and find a team to serve all of it.
When planning such an event, it often pays to work with a professional planner who can help you to tick every box, from considering team members with dietary requirement to laying on showstopping entertainment.
If you pull it off, a garden party is the ultimate display of style for your company summer party.
The final item on our list. If your business has had the ultimate year and you really want to celebrate in style - take your team on holiday!
A holiday is probably the best way to guarantee good weather (depending on where you go!). It’s a big investment in terms of budget and planning time, but you’ll be paid back in gratitude and camaraderie from your team.
It might sound like a crazy idea, but if you have the resources available, a team holiday will make your company the envy of everyone!