Guide to Planning a Summer Company Event

The annual company picnic or summer outing is a growing tradition with companies across the country. Company summer parties are fantastic employee appreciation and team building events, not to mention a great excuse to get out of the office and enjoy the weather. There are endless approaches you can take to planning a summer corporate outing, so follow this guide to make sure you’ve got all your bases covered.

Summer Company Party Planning Guide

Summer Company Outing Ideas

There are countless formats for company summer parties you could host, ranging from athletic events to team building activities. The most popular selections for company outdoor events include…

  • Company Picnic – get your team together outside at a local park for burgers, hot dogs, and yard games!
  • Company Barbecue – from ribs to BBQ chicken, this is a truly tasty option. Spice things up and get your team involved with a cook-off or potluck.
  • Charity Event – give back to your community with a company charity event. There are tons of charity options that you can do outside on a nice summer day, such as building with Habitat for Humanity or environmental cleanup. 
  • Boat Cruises – this is a great option if your business is close to a popular body of water. Charter a boat and treat your employees to food and drinks on the water. This has become an annual tradition at Merchology, with our annual July Boat Cruise! Once a year as a "mid-year party", we close the office around 11:30 AM on a Friday in July to celebrate and recognize our employees for their hard work. Minnesota is the "land of 10,000 lakes", and our boat cruise on Lake Minnetonka gives us a chance to enjoy the beautiful summer weather (especially important since our summers are so short!).

Merchology Boat Party 2018

  • Baseball Games – another popular option for summer work outings! Taking your team to a baseball game requires less planning and set-up than most company party options. Offering transportation to the ballpark and food & drink tickets is always appreciated by employees because it's less planning and spend out of their own pockets.
  • 5K Race Event  host a corporate race event for your employees or your community. This is also a great way to raise money for charity!
  • Golf Event – there are not many places we’d rather be on a beautiful summer day than on the golf course. Check out our complete guide to planning a company golf outing.

Golf Event Planning Guide

Organizing your Summer Event

There’s a lot that goes into planning a company picnic or summer outing, but it’s important to lay the groundwork before diving in head first. The first tasks you should prioritize in planning a summer company outing is determining the focus of the event, deciding when and where the event will be held, and establishing the budget for your event.

Determine the Focus of the Event

The first thing to consider when planning your summer corporate outing is the overall goal of the event. Is purpose to recognize and reward your employees for their hard work? Are you celebrating a company milestone of some sort? Are you trying to generate business in the community through this event? The general focus of the event must be determined before ironing out the smaller details.

Select a Date & Time

When selecting a time for your company picnic or summer outing, be sure to consider the work schedules and vacation time of everyone you’re inviting so no one gets left out! Most summer company parties take place during the day to avoid cutting into employees' precious summer evening and weekend free time. There's also a fun vibe that comes with celebrating and relaxing when you're technically "on the clock." If you are doing a weekday party, Thursdays and Fridays are especially popular for company outings, so get your venue and accommodations booked early! Another option is to host your company event in the evening or on the weekend if shutting down the office during work hours if not an option. This is an especially ideal option if employees are excited about bringing their families to the event too.

Establish a Budget

There’s more that goes into budgeting your company party than you think! Start planning your budget by sorting out these five things first.

  • Determine the Number of Guests – how many guests do you expect to be attending? Are your employees allowed to bring their families or significant others? Is your event open to the public? A good way to get a read on this is to send out your invitations a least a month in advance so guests have ample time to RSVP.
  • Select a Venue – if you don’t have sufficient outdoor space on site to host your company event popular options include renting out a park, chartering a boat cruise, or taking your team to a baseball game or golf outing. No matter what venue you choose, make sure it isn’t too far of a drive for your guests unless you want to provide transportation. 
  • Plan the Menu or Hire Catering Services – if you are hosting a company picnic or BBQ then the food is the star of the show. You’ll need to plan for enough food and beverages for everyone to get their fill and be sure to provide vegetarian options as well! Either hire a catering company to provide food service or get your team involved through a company potluck or cook-off!
  • Entertainment Expenses – entertaining your guests should be a top priority for your company outing. Make sure to factor in the cost of hiring entertainers or providing your own team building activities or yard games.
  • Equipment & Supplies – there are a few summer party essentials you’ll need to rent or buy if you don’t already have them. You need tables, chairs and custom canopies to protect your employees from the sun or the rain. You’ll also need to buy any supplies needed for food service like paper plates, cups cutlery, napkins, and condiments. Take it a step further with custom logo coolers and can koozies or commemorate your event with our selection of custom logo outdoors supplies & tailgating gear

Custom Printed Koozie Can Koozies with Logo

How to Handle Food Preparation for your Company Outing

This might just be the most important part of your event. Everyone’s favorite part of these events is when it’s time to eat, so make sure you don’t whiff on food preparation. There’s a few different ways you can handle food at your event.

  • Hire a Catering Service – you and your team can kick back and relax while your catering service handles all cooking, serving and clean up for you. Of course, this comes at a cost, so make sure you have room in the budget!
  • Host an Event Where Food is Served – one popular method for feeding your guests is to host the outing at a place where food is served, like a baseball game or outdoor restaurant, and then cover the cost or distribute food and drink tickets.
  • Cook-Off – have your guests compete for prizes in a company cook-off! Popular cook-off dishes include BBQ, chili, and pie.
  • Company Potluck – send out a sign-up sheet and have each employee sign up to bring a menu item to contribute. This is a great way to save money while getting your guests involved. Merchology recently had a Cinco de Mayo potluck, and half of the fun was actually in the food preparation for our Hispanic staff who wanted to show off their cooking skills! It was a cool way to taste each other's favorite taco meat, guacamole, and churros recipes.

Merchology Cinco De Mayo Company Potluck 2018

Company Picnic & Company BBQ Menu Ideas

The food and beverages provided can make or break a company picnic or barbecue, so it’s essential that you nail the menu. Plan on providing at least one or two main course items per person plus sides. Always remember to provide a wide range of options to accommodate all dietary requirements and food allergies. Here’s a look at the most popular food and beverages for summer parties.

BBQ & Picnic Main Courses

  • Burgers & Veggie BurgersCompany BBQ 02
  • Hot Dogs or Bratwurst
  • Sloppy Joes
  • BBQ Chicken
  • BBQ Ribs
  • Tacos

BBQ & Picnic Sides

  • Coleslaw
  • Potato Salad
  • Grilled Veggiespeople choosing food from table on catering and buffet party on business seminar conference or wedding
  • Baked Beans
  • Mac & Cheese
  • Salad
  • Fruit
  • French Fries
  • Pasta Salad
  • Corn on the Cobb
  • Potato Chips

BBQ & Picnic Desserts

  • Ice CreamTable of brazilian festa junina
  • Pie
  • Cake
  • Popsicles
  • Cotton Candy
  • Cookies

BBQ & Picnic Beverages

  • Merchology Cinco De Mayo Party 2018
  • Water
  • Lemonade
  • Iced Tea
  • Beer
  • Wine
  • Cocktails
  • Coffee
  • Soda



Entertainment & Activities for your Summer Corporate Outing

 You will need a plan to keep your guests entertained throughout your event, unless you are hosting your company outing at a public event like a baseball game or your event is an activity like a 5K or golf tournament. In terms of hiring entertainment, popular choices include bands, DJs, comedians, performers and artists.

Another route for entertainment is to provide interactive activities and games on site. An easy way to accomplish this is to provide yard games. Think bocce, croquet, ladder toss, badminton, horseshoes, and bag toss/ cornhole. Why not take it up a notch and add your company or event logo to a custom cornhole set? Outside of lawn games, team building activities like kickball, karaoke, wine & cheese tasting, volleyball and team competitions are always a hit!

Coleman Wooden Bean Bag Toss Game with Company Logo

On the Day of the Event

Today’s the day! You’ve got a full guest list, rented out a venue, booked entertainment, and ordered food and supplies. To make sure your summer corporate outing goes smoothly get there early to set up tables, chairs, tents, and games. Also, make sure to place trash bins throughout the event space to cut down on littering and clean up time.

After set-up is complete, make sure to verify that your resources are sufficient. Double check that you have enough ice to keep your food and beverages cold, no one wants a warm beer on a hot day! Also, check that the grill has propane or charcoal if you will be grilling food. If everything is in order, go ahead and crack open a cold drink and enjoy the weather!


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