Planning a Summer Company BBQ

Let's keep it simple with this checklist for planning your Company Summer Party. Have a quick read of this post and print off the handy check list at the end...take that to your next planning meeting and report back to us with what you'd like to have happen.

Most people make the mistake of thinking that the first place to start is with a budget. Actually the best thing to think about is why you're having the event. Is it a celebration of everyone's hard work and a thank you from the company? Or perhaps it's coinciding with a specific product or brand launch. Perhaps a specific team has been working particularly hard or on the contrary could do with a morale boost. Any one of these reasons will impact on all of your other decisions and if you're stuck for a reason for throwing the party or in fact decide that you need more of a budget at a later date, you can come back and add to your purpose to make it more relevant to more people.

The purpose will help you decide on a venue and in the summer the preference is always outside (we'll come on to weather management later). Ideally you'll have a plot of land nearby your office but it can be quite easy to track something else down. Try local golf clubs, a school, community cricket ground, directly to the council or even a football or rugby pitch. You'll often find that free hire can be achieved in return for a minimum bar spend. Make sure you contact us if you have any problems or queries with this bit - it's a thing we get asked quite a lot and something we're happy to help with.

With the venue comes the date. It's worth remembering that people like to go on holiday during the Summer due to their children being off school and if you are going to keep it to employees only (rather than open it up to people's families) you might find problems with attendance due to childcare. PLUS why not make  yourself the promise that you're going to make it so much fun for adults and children alike that parents would prefer to bring their little ones or teenagers with them?

Another thing to note about the date is that marquee companies will have busy periods - weekends in particular are crazy over the summer, whereas mid-week can be easier. Depends whether you want hangovers at work the next day, really. The best months to aim for are April/May and September/October. You're not competing with any other large events and for the most part the weather is quite mild still.

Now that you know why, where and who is coming to your company event, the next step is the really fun bit. Choosing your big top.

The way we work out sizing is based on two important facets: how many people and what's happening in there.

Perhaps you're having a circus workshop, a stage for local bands, a DJ or using it as a dining hall. Perhaps your company is big enough that you need a couple of separate spaces - awards ceremony, face painting, dancing, giant games in one space with a bar or restaurant somewhere else. That's fine too.

With all of this in mind we'll draw you a scaled CAD design of what it'll look like inside and even a site map if your event is large enough to warrant one. Fairground rides, food stalls, half-pipe skateboard experiences all take up space and require someone who knows what they're doing to pull it all together. With your ideas and our expertise we can make sure that you get everything in the correct spot and safe.

All this talk of food is making me hungry and reminding me that it's important to know what sort of food requirements exist within your team. There's nothing worse than turning up to an event, run by the people you spend a large proportion of your time, only to find out they've not acknowledged that you're vegan or hallal. In smaller teams it's easier to plug this gap by asking people over the coffee machine. The larger your company the more you might need to be systematic. Try not to reply on Managers or Team Leaders to know or find out - they're busy enough and it sucks if they forget or get it wrong. Go directly to each individual with a surveymonkey or google form, emailed to each person asking for their key information. An even lovelier way to access such information is by sending out an invite with an RSVP and dietary requirements section, just like at a wedding and of course with a deadline. Share this information with your catering company so that they can adequately plan.

A way to temper the costs of the event is to sell catering pitches to providers. If you've got hundreds of employees all bringing their families and buying food then that's a great way for catering companies to make money. Speak to us about how to attract certain suppliers and what you should be charging them to keep it fair.

Be careful with your choices over alcohol and whether you're making it available. Think about the atmosphere you're trying to create, whether it's an open bar (ideally for adults only) and the type of license held by your venue. A good venue should insist that you use their licensed and trained bar staff rather than bringing in your own, and ideally this will be reflected in your hire price. Your company are not able to sell alcoholic drinks without a license.



The options for entertainment are endless and we certainly have loads of ideas on this front and plenty of people we can put you in contact with. Circus tents tend to attract entertaining people and Arif in particular has worked in the music industry, the circus and as a street performer so we know plenty of fire performers, individual walk-about acts, circus skills teachers, bands, DJs, even sword fighter - you name it, the liklihood is that we know someone who does it.

Lights, sound and decor tend to come hand in hand with this section and usually centre on a theme, if you choose to have one. Getting it right is important though, so make sure you have a chat with us about what you're trying to achieve.

Toilets as well are fundamental to the success of your event. Have too few and you've got some serious problems. Get the wrong kind and people won't have fun. The number you need is based on how many people will be there, how long the event is and whether alcohol is being consumed. Again, seek professional advice either from us (remember we can do all of this for you if you'd like) or from an event toilet provider.

Last but by no means least is marketing. Make sure people know about your event date with penty of notice. I cannot tell you the amount of times I've been on site and people have been missing because all the decisions were left until the last minuate and members of the company didn't know about the date so made other plans. You're planning this event to increase morale, connectivity, productivity and ideally a stronger team within the company. That means people need to be there, having fun and feel a part of it. Just like any project in the workplace, this cannot be an after-thought or left until the last minute.

If you're wanting to host an event for your company but don't think you have time, rather than delegate it to someone who might find it difficult and certainly rather than leaving it until the last minute, engage a specific production company like us to run the show for you. The money you'll spend on production you'll end up saving in efficiency and output by having the right person doing the right job.

Outsourcing your company event isn't doesn't cost as much as you'd think but if you do insist on keeping it in house then at least you now know the inside secrets about how it's done and can go to your next meeting more informed. Simply print off or share the below checklist, and happy planning.

If you'd like more details on anything mentioned here then perhaps you'll find our guide useful. Just fill out the form at the bottom to get your copy.

Company BBQ Checklist:

- Capacity. How many people are you inviting and expect to attend?

- Date. Summer is filling up fast, give us a shout to find out which ones are best.

- Venue. Happy to help here if you need it.

- Big Top. Do you want a large tent to house everyone, or a few smaller ones? Somewhere just for the band or do you want everyone to be able to sit down together?

- Food. What are people's dietary requirements? Keeping it simple with one caterer doing different dishes or going all-out with different vendors? Please not a last minute burger van.

- Drink. Using the bar at the venue, bring your own or will the company provide? Are you allowing alcohol?

- Entertainment. Performers, games, bands, fairground rides, workshops. Ask for inspiration or help.

- Toilets. Tell a provider how many people and they'll spec it for you.

- Lights, Sound and Decor. There's options to go all-out here, just let us know what you fancy.

- Marketing. Is it just a mid-year 'thank you' for employees at the the company or a promotional event as well?

Hopefully this has given you a clearer idea of things to think about and as always we're happy to help in any way we can.

Looking forward to hearing your ideas,

Arif & Elise

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