Company picnics or cookouts can be a lot of fun: sun, grass under your feet, tasty food, fun games. They are a great opportunity for employees to connect with colleagues who they may not usually cross paths with, for leadership to demonstrate interest and investment in employees, and for everyone to unwind a little during the dog days of summer. But while everyone enjoys tasty grilled fare and lemonade, the organizer is probably still on their toes, making sure it goes well. Though you might still be on call, with these three tips you should be able to sit back and enjoy, or at least not feel totally crazy.
Prioritize your Budget
Determine the most important cook-out element for your staff, and work from there. Entertainment indispensable? Put your best food forward? One-of-a-kind venue? Identifying priorities will help allocate your budget dollars, and put your money toward something everyone will enjoy.
Regardless of team preferences, however, food will most likely be your biggest expense. Make sure you have enough food for everyone. No one wants to leave a party hungry!
You do not have to do everything. Ask for volunteers to help organize the party. Identify major tasks, and ask volunteers to commit to one or two. Set reasonable check-ins, and be clear about expectations. Co-organizers should know the budget for their segment, who is invited (just employees? are spouses or kids welcome?), the time-frame for the party and any food parameters you’re trying to follow. Engaging groups of employees will help lighten your load, and allow space for creativity, since it’s not just one person trying to make it all happen.
At the very least, designate a clean-up committee. Make sure they know when they need to get to work, and exactly what the expectations are for the space. You will be able to enjoy the party more knowing that clean-up will happen (and not all fall on you).
Accept that You Can't Please Everyone
There will always be an employee who thinks that a potato-sack race is lame. You can’t please everyone, and trying too hard to adhere to the demands of a specific person could just as easily lead to others feeling left out or wishing that they could receive special treatment. Do be inclusive and accommodate as many needs as you can. Provide activities, food and space for colleagues to enjoy each other’s company and engage in a casual way.
That said, do try to be mindful of special diets. Collect data ahead of time about what people can and can’t eat. Again, you don’t have to provide a unique menu for each person, but make sure that there is something that everyone can eat. Don't get too caught up in this - there are gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options out there that everyone, not just people with those dietary restrictions, will enjoy.