If you’re planning an outdoor summer work party, you’ve come to the right place! New Jersey’s warm weather this past weekend was a great reminder of just how good it feels to spend quality time outdoors. No matter the reason(s) you decide to plan a summer work party, getting employees out of the office and into the sunshine can have a positive effect on their happiness and mental health. Here is everything you need to plan a summer work party! An additional piece of advice – don’t forget to pack a bottle of sunscreen or two.

Consider Your Objective & Identify the Audience


What do you hope to accomplish with this event? Is it a method of reinforcing teamwork and build camaraderie amongst employees? Or simply a way to show appreciation for the staff?

When you’ve identified the reasons for holding a work party, it’s important to have an idea of who will attend. Will employees’ families be invited, or is it a work-exclusive gathering? Laying these questions on the table will make further preparations easier.

Determine a Location & Plan Activities


Based on the size of your audience, you’ll want to make sure there’s plenty of space to enjoy all of the festivities. Choose a spot that would make a great venue for a summer work party and will ideally be a convenient location for everyone to reach. Whether this is a country club or your local park, any location filled with activities and food will tempt employees to come, and forge relationships turning colleagues into friends.

Since you have a general idea of who might attend your work party, a list of activities can be constructed. Ask yourself which types of activities your audience may enjoy. Are your coworkers younger, older or a mix of both? Do any of them have obvious interests they’ve shared in the past? If so, how easy is it to incorporate those hobbies into fun party games? If you’re not sure what to include, choose some general activities that can appeal to anyone. You’ll want to have plenty of options when it comes to planning a successful outdoor summer work party.

Down below, you can find a short list of general recommendations. These are some safe bets for a work party, but their effectiveness is left up to your own judgment! They will be separated by whether physical activity is needed to enjoy the activity.

Active

Relaxed

  • Badminton
  • Volleyball
  • Soccer
  • Baseball/Wiffle Ball
  • 3-Legged Race
  • Tug of War
  • Softball
  • Water Balloon Competition
  • Kan Jam
  • Cornhole
  • Outdoor Movie
  • Theme Party 
  • Horseshoes
  • Group Photo
  • Scavenger Hunt
  • Ladder Toss

It’s generally recommended to avoid “high-impact” sports like rugby or football so that everyone is encouraged to participate.

Food & Refreshments


There’s a lot of details to factor in when planning a summer work party. In addition to each previously-listed step, we can’t forget food and refreshments for each guest. That’s not to mention utensils, napkins, plates, and plenty more supplies needed. Cleanup also needs to be taken into consideration and planned ahead of time.

One easy suggestion to make is setting up a summer barbecue. Cooking on the grill is a classic and nationally-recognized outdoor summer lunch, making it a safe bet. But here’s another thought – when you order full-service catering for your work celebration, it feels like a weight is being lifted off of your shoulders. That’s because the responsibility for meal preparation is left in someone else’s hands.

Event planners need all of the help they can get. If you decide to request full-service catering for your event, no matter where it’s from, it can make a big difference in the planning process. That said, the amazing service from Corporate Essentials in-house catering division, Martin +   go unmentioned. They’re available to make managing your next work party a breeze. In addition to an event’s setup and cleanup, the team crafts a number of high-quality meals that rotate on an ever-shifting menu, ensuring new choices year-round.

Martin + Fitch’s executive chef, Maura Martin, created the Picnic Lunch Menu as a summer seasonal menu with summer work parties in mind. It includes curated, delicious meals that check off all of the boxes; including choices of entrées and sides that can cater to anyone’s taste, dietary preferences, and best of all, take allergy restrictions into consideration. As always, the seasonal workplace menu including entree salads are available to serve your guests, as well as customizable menus specific to your event.

A wide selection of summer appetizer foods from Martin + Fitch is at your fingertips. Just a few of these options include the rustic Cheese Tray with Seasonal Fruit, Mezze Dips + Crispy Pita Chips, Assorted Seasonal Bruschetta, Salsa + Guacamole with Corn Chips, and more. Each is delivered in bamboo drop boxes with utensils for quick setup and clean up.

Furniture & Decorations


Eating while standing up can work, but it isn’t too comfortable. That’s why bringing along tables and seats to accommodate your coworkers is important to remember! Depending on the number of guests in attendance, coordinating furniture rentals can be a lot of work for one person. Full-service catering can be a simple solution to manage the rentals for your event.
In addition to the food, refreshments, utensils, plates, and other supplies mentioned earlier, full-service catering can coordinate all of the necessary equipment as well. That includes tables, chairs, umbrellas, lighting and more.

Adding to the never-ending list of ways Martin + Fitch is helpful, they take care of event setup and breakdown in its entirety. Whether it’s held indoors or outdoors, full-service catering can take the stress of planning a summer work party. If you’re planning a gathering based on a holiday, bring along relevant decorations! For example, a party held around the 4th of July can include some U.S. – themed props or decorations. They’re a great addition to give your event some visual variety.

Create an Invitation


For those graphic design professionals out there, this is the best part of the event planning process! The outdoor summer work party invitation doesn’t need to be overly formal or fancy, but it should be striking enough to immediately catch the attention of coworkers. An effective way of doing this is by incorporating bright, flashy colors that appear to ‘pop’ out of the page. If you want a more detailed look on creating an appealing card, Shutterstock has a helpful guide that offers plenty of useful tips, right down to the alignment of text and suggested color schemes.

This post won’t share advice on the finer aspects of graphic design, but we will mention a few of the components found in a successful invitation letter.

– The name of the event
– A compelling subject line
– A short explanation of the event’s purpose and what it involves (activities, food, drinks, etc.) The explanation should be straight to the point so that readers immediately understand the information it is sharing
– Location of event and its start time
– Contact information for further questions or RSVP

Now that you have an informative, appealing card created, it can be distributed to coworkers. Print out your invitations and hand them out individually in the office, tape them on bathroom doors and in common areas like the break room. It’s harder to ignore an invitation if it’s a physical object, in contrast to an email which can be easily deleted or lost in the shuffle of other emails. This should be done as early before the event as possible, in order to allow people enough time to decide if they will attend.

Recruit a Clean-Up Crew


Chances are likely that by the end of a celebration, there will be some cleaning to do. If you’re determined to take care of cleanup yourself, don’t forget the necessary cleaning supplies: trash bags, recycling bins, paper towels, air fresheners, etc. Or you can look into hiring a crew for cleanup.

But who wants to do that? Probably not many people. But as you may guess, this is another area where the benefits of full-service catering shine.

In addition to setting up the event, the team at Martin + Fitch will take care of breakdown and cleanup. Who else is better at taking apart furniture and decorations than the people who originally set them up? Appointing the help of full-service catering can save you a ton of time and eliminate headache. It’s one step closer to planning a summer work party.

Build a Backup Plan


Sadly, we can’t control the weather (yet). If it rains on the day of the party and you’re forced inside, have some ideas for indoor activities planned. You’ll thank your past self later if the original plans fall through! The following are a few general recommendations for an indoor celebration. Not all of them can be enjoyed anywhere, so plan accordingly.

Active

Relaxed

  • Badminton
  • Volleyball
  • Pickleball
  • Axe Throwing (depends on your number of attendees. There’s an entire industry dedicated to this increasingly-popular activity)
  • Ping Pong
  • Bowling
  • Cornhole
  • Indoor Movie
  • Theme Party 
  • Jeopardy
  • Group Photo
  • Video Game Tournament
  • Desk Decoration Exchange
  • Pool/Billiards
  • Card Games


That just about wraps up everything you need to plan a summer work party. Preparation makes up half of the battle! It can be easy to feel overwhelmed by the responsibility, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. There’s a lot to remember, including creating fun activities, food, drinks, furniture, decorations, and before any of that, settling on a good location and time to meet. Good luck and have fun!


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Judson Kleinman

About Judson Kleinman

As the founder and CEO of Corporate Essentials, Judson set out with every intention of bringing a new meaning to the words "office culture". As leaders in the industry, his company constantly sets the bar by investing in, and improving their product offerings, technology, people and training. 20 years and 1500 clients later, Judson can proudly say that Corporate Essentials continues to positively fuel culture and allow over 150,000 employees to work happy.