Company Picnic Ideas for Fun in the Sun (Plus Partial Shade)

Company picnics are a time-tested way to celebrate the culture of your small business and the personalities behind your success. In addition, company picnics highlight commonalities among your team that connect them as people outside of work-specific departments, tasks and projects. With more employees working from home than in years past, a company picnic is more fun than ever. Summer’s in the air and outdoor events tend to make everyone feel festive—plus safer socializing in the fresh air. We have easy company picnic ideas to make your event fun and affordable. Check out these key company picnic activities and ideas for the best location, food, games, and giveaways.  

Family Fun or Employees Only?

A major consideration when looking at company picnic ideas is whether to encourage your team to bring the family, or leave the kids and the plus one’s at home. This decision affects cost as well as event dynamics. Some parents can’t wait for the chance to go it alone, though the ability to have kids and spouses on hand can increase attendance. The best way to make the right decision: Ask your employees via an anonymous poll using Microsoft Outlook Forms or a free tool like SurveyMonkey™. 

Food and Beverage for a Picnic Their Tummies Will Remember

If your employees like to cook, a potluck is a great and inexpensive way to get an assortment of food on the picnic table, from gourmet to pre-packaged. Potluck also guarantees that every attendee has at least one dish they’re sure to love. However, many employees, especially those working from home, enjoy a catered event where they can just show up and let loose. Whether you’re catering or doing a potluck, include personalized to-go containers so folks can take a little extra home for roommates, family members, or a midnight snack.    

Let the Games Begin!

When it comes to games, the introverts can watch, the extroverts can express but everyone can enjoy a good company picnic game or contest. A few slam-dunk favorites when it comes to company picnic activities and ideas: 

  • Piñata: Everyone enjoys hitting that thing! Fill it with logo lollipops, healthy snacks and customized party-colored pens. Everyone wins when the revelers hit the jackpot.
  • Badminton: Uniquely portable and perfect for a park or a beach, bandminton sets provide friendly competition and a sport everyone can play.
  • Cornhole Toss: This popular picnic sport focused on tossing a bean bag into a hole, is inexpensive and fun for all players, both the quarterback types and the bench warmers. Chances are good that one or more of your team members already owns a bean bag toss or cornhole toss game and can bring it to the picnic.
  • Water Balloon Toss: This game is an easy way to get team members from different departments partnered up together. Form two lines of employees facing each other, separated by one step.  Give each player one one side a water balloon. When you say “toss,” each employee tosses the water balloon to their partner. If the balloon breaks, the duo is out. Each time the balloon is tossed and the pass is completed, the duo moves one step further apart. The winning duo gets a prize. We suggest a gift card to a water park.  Honorable mention for every contestant? We’d suggest a personalized water bottle, of course!

Should Festivities Be Close to the Office or a Land Far, Far Away?

Key variables to consider when choosing a spot for your memory-making event: 

  • No Brainer or New Adventure: If you maintain an office to which employees commute, an event close to the office is a straightforward though less exciting destination. If your company picnic is on the weekend, it’s easier for your team to find their way to a park or waterfront in a new area or more distant location.
  • Free, Close Parking: When it comes to a great event for all attendees, ample parking that’s close to the target is a big bonus. You’ll have an easier time with set up and most importantly, your employees will start the event without road rage and end it without a parking ticket. If parking’s going to put your employees in a pinch, encourage Uber and reimburse the expense.
  • Picnic Tables: Set up near picnic tables and encourage employees to bring chairs and blankets. Better yet, provide branded folding chairs and personalized picnic blankets to your team and ensure everyone has a proverbial seat at the proverbial table.
  • Customized Tent for Food: Set up a tent to mark your area and help employees find you. Employees love to see their company name beckoning them to fun and food. In addition, a tent offers protection from inclement weather and party interlopers. Nope, this event and these deviled eggs are not open to the public!
  • Shade and/or SPF at the Ready: Show you care, and have thought of everything, by setting up your picnic in a partly sunny, partly shady area. Distribute personalized SPF to your guests, or a customized ball cap, so no guest goes home with too much sun.
  • Restrooms Within Walking Distance: Make it easy for your employees to sit around and stay awhile by setting up near a public restroom. If kids are included in the invite, look for a location with a playground nearby as well.

Birds Chirping, Music Blasting, or Both?

Everyone likes some music to get the party started and keep lightness in the air, and employees will bond quickly over similar musical tastes. Choose tunes that span the breadth and background of your team, from Dizzy Gillespie to Lana Del Rey. Bring a Bluetooth speaker and a multi-genre, multi-generational playlist. Encourage employees to participate in tune selection with a customized Bluetooth speaker for everyone who takes a turn playing DJ at the picnic by sharing a few of their favorite tunes.  

Wondering What They’ll Love? Ask!

When it comes to your company picnic, the customer is the employee and the goal is to leave everyone feeling awesome about their work, their colleagues, and your company culture. The spotlight is on your awesome employees, and your team will appreciate being asked where, what, and when. Some things to ask via an email poll or an online survey: 

  • Family or just employees
  • Food preferences including potluck, catered, dietary wishes and needs
  • Date and time

Souvenirs for Every Team Member

The best company picnic idea? Gifts for every guest! Everyone at your company picnic deserves a goodie bag—or heck, perhaps a goodie backpack! Make sure every employee leaves with a smile and a branded keepsake that allows them to remember the event and show off their employer all around town. Pick an item that celebrates summer and socializing, like this Engraved 11 oz. Stainless Steel Gia Wine Glass, classic customized Malibu Sunglasses, or a summer cooler bag

Tip: For more giveaway ideas, browse our complete collection of promotional picnic gifts.  

How to Be a Good Guest

If you’re attending a company picnic, here are a few tips to ensure you get the most out of the event: 

  • Read the Room (er, Park): If your colleagues aren’t drinkers, don’t bring Jello shots. Enough said!
  • Come Prepared: Wear sunblock and if there’s water, bring a towel and a change of clothes.
  • Be Grateful: A company picnic is designed to make you feel valued! And just like a surprise birthday party you really didn’t want, it’s sometimes more about being gracious than actually having the time of your life. Your employer appreciates you, so let them show they care. Talk to a team member you don’t know. Thank your host. Enjoy the free food and freebies!

The Best Company Picnic Activities and Idea? Give ‘Em Reasons to Show Up!

When you ask your team what works for them including soliciting their input on place, time, and food, they engage with the event and know it’s about them. Ask a smaller group what freebies would go over well, so you can keep the surprise element and still hit the nail on the head. Have fun connecting with the folks who make your small business go ‘round!

Karleen Wise Andersen

From marketing tips to product recommendations, I’m here to help small businesses be their best.

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