Company Parties and Picnics

Show your employees how much you value their hard work by throwing a big bash at the end of the year or a summer picnic — or both. If your company is large enough, have a volunteer committee come up with a party or picnic plan for your approval. You may offer your suggestions, but these parties are for the employees and should be planned by them. Be sure to tell them what the budget is for expenses.

End-of-the-Year Gala

If there is one night of the year when everyone gets dressed up and gets out of the office together, it's the night of the company party. If you plan it during the holidays, it's the busy season for corporate parties, so reservations should be made early. Hotels offer package deals that will include a discount on overnight rooms in case people want to spend the night. Generally, these events are adult-only parties where each employee is allowed to bring one guest.

Hourly employees should be on the clock when they are planning the party. It is a company-sponsored event and although participation on the planning committee should be on a volunteer basis, this doesn't mean that they volunteer their time. There are strict labor laws against hourly employees conducting company business while off the clock.

Employees will enjoy dinner and live music with dancing. A minimum amount of alcohol should be served, generally no more than two drinks per person. Don't assume that everyone attending will be twenty-one or older. Younger employees may have an underage spouse or someone may bring an adult child who is not yet twenty-one. There should be a system in place for verifying that everyone drinking alcohol is over twenty-one years of age.

Most people don't have the opportunity to have their portrait taken too often. For an added touch, hire a professional photographer with a backdrop to take portraits of couples or individuals. The photographer can also go around to the dinner tables as they do at weddings. This may be done at no cost to the company by having the employees purchase prints if they are interested. Or, you can provide everyone with one picture as a gift and give employees the option to purchase additional prints.

If the company has an employee-of-the-year award, the end-of-year party is a good time to make the announcement. Have a raffle. You'll be surprised at how easy it is to get prize donations. Have the party committee contact area restaurants, hotels, and businesses that offer services that people will enjoy. Tell them that you're collecting prizes for a raffle and their company name will be announced at the party, included in the monthly newsletter, posted in the employee break room, or whatever publicity you may offer. If your company offers a service to the general public, offer to reciprocate. Or you can purchase raffle prizes. Either way, the people with the winning tickets get a prize and it makes the evening more fun.

Summer Picnic

The picnic committee is responsible for choosing the venue for the bash of the summer. Consider a regional park or a water park. If the picnic is at a water park, this doesn't mean that everyone has to wear a swimsuit!Choose a water park with a large picnic facility and there will be plenty of room for socializing. It's a misconception that everyone will be going down waterslides all day.

A water park can offer one-stop shopping. They'll provide everything from food to entertainment. Ask if you will be allowed to bring in your own desserts and beverages and make sure that the area assigned to your group will be large enough to accommodate everyone and has enough shade. Visit the park for a site tour before making a commitment.

At a regional park, you'll have more flexibility on food and entertainment. Plan a talent show or scavenger hunt; rent Karaoke equipment; pick your own live band; hire a clown, jump house, petting zoo, or pony rides for the kids. Check with the park rangers first to verify that what you have in mind will be allowed. For food, consider a catered chuck-wagon — style BBQ with an alternate menu for vegetarians.

No matter where your picnic is held, ask the committee to have some fun and design T-shirts with the company logo. Have a supply printed in adult and children's sizes to distribute at the picnic. The employees will leave with something to wear all year long. Put the date on the shirts and do it each year. Have a contest in a few years to see who has held on to the most shirts.

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