Checklist for Organizing Company Picnics
The most important part of organizing a company picnic is finding someone to be in charge. Unfortunately, if you’re reading this article, that person is probably you. But don’t worry.
Six months (if you're lucky) before the picnic:
The reason you want to start so far ahead is due to the difficulty of obtaining a good location for possibly hundreds of people. Honestly, you can salvage almost any other disaster—but not having a location will kill your picnic. Remember when picking a location that you’re going to have to have an enjoyable picnic come rain or shine—also come snow, 108-degree heat, high winds, and crying babies. All at the same time. Find (or create) a location with shade, protection from the wind, and bathrooms.
Three months before the picnic:
Plan the entertainment. This is a great time to take advantage of your co-workers; for example, if you have coworkers who have a talent for the world’s spiciest chili, play a mean game of chess, have a charity they need to raise money for, or have a volleyball net or tug-of-war rope, now is the time to bribe ask them to volunteer. Here are some suggestions:
Remember, it doesn’t have to be normal, it just has to be enjoyable. Make sure you have a mix of activities so the extroverts and introverts don’t end up alienating each other, for once.
Plan for prizes, too. A great way to do this is decide on items people will enjoy with company logos on them for the ultimate bragging rights (we offer volume discounts). If you have a contest, consider having a trophy made and including a gift certificate. (You’d be surprised at how many businesses will offer free or discounted gift certificates just for the asking, especially for fundraisers.) Nobody will give 110% for a company t-shirt, but find a t-shirt with a clever saying on it, and all kinds of introverts will come out of the woodwork for it.
One month before the picnic:
- Cooking equipment, if necessary (portable grills, BBQ grilling tools, charcoal or other fuel, lighter fluid, matches, etc.)
- Tents or other shelter (if using an existing shelter, get a volunteer to make sure it’s clean before it’s time to set up).
Make sure someone is responsible for getting the following supplies.
Make sure these task get done:
One week before the picnic:
Panic. At least a hundred things will go wrong, be forgotten, get lost, break, or go on an unannounced vacation by this point. If there is any single item on your checklist that hasn’t gone wrong by this point, e-mail your volunteers and find out if anything has gone wrong, and they just forgot to tell you about it.
Send out reminders that the picnic is coming soon.
One day before the picnic:
Panic some more. Call your volunteers again. Send out another reminder.
And personally call the person in charge of the main dish to make sure that anything frozen is being defrosted. Call them twice.
The day of the picnic:
It’s too late to panic. Take a chill pill, get your list of volunteers, and check them off as they arrive, supplies in hand. Keep your cell phone ready to call your backup volunteers if your main volunteers fall through. Keep things loose. Yes, you’re the organizer, but you should have fun, too.
After the picnic:
Get everyone to help clean and pack up. Make sure the area is how you found it or better.
Pass out leftovers and collapse.
When you recover, send out pictures (or a link to them on a shared drive). There should be some doozies!
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