Learn how to throw an office Summer party.
Have you’ve been tasked with planning this year’s summer party? With your team, you’ve probably come up with a bunch of ideas, but now you need to get down to the finer details.
In this article, we’ve broken down the whole process into different steps.
Let’s get started.
Who is the event for?
Who is the target audience of the Summer party? They can usually be grouped into three categories
- Employees: The event is for the employees; partners might or might not be invited
- Families: The event is for kids and adults alike.
- Key stakeholders: The event is an opportunity to build relationships. For example with your key suppliers.
Obviously, depending on who your target audience is, your event will have a very different atmosphere.
What is the approximate headcount?
When it comes to events, it’s impossible to plan anything without a headcount. You don’t need a definitive number until a week or two before the event but you do need an estimation to get started.
The easiest way is to base your estimates on previous attendance rates. It will vary based on your industry, employee age range and company culture.
When it comes to events, budgets are always a sticky subject. It’s a tug of war between those who are planning and those who are paying for the event.
However, you’ll want to find out what the budget is as soon as possible. There is no point planning your “ideal event”, only to be told it won’t be feasible.
If you’ve got limited resources, the key is to prioritise. Spend according to what your guest will appreciate the most.
Date & time
Unlike Christmas parties, when it comes to planning a summer party, you have a few more dates to choose from. A few things to consider are:
Time of year
Ideally, you want to have the party right before “everyone” leaves for the Summer holiday. This will change depending on who your audience is.
However, more often than not this will be Spring or early Summer.
You don’t want to plan your party too late, or else everyone will be gone. You want to strike the balance between good weather and high attendance (although “good weather” is, of course, notoriously unpredictable in the UK and Ireland!).
Weekdays vs Weekend
In addition to the time of year, you need to decide which day of the week you want to hold the event. Most often Thursday, Friday or Saturday works best.
Each day has its pros and cons and will have an impact on the overall attendance of the event. For example, people are more likely to have plans on Fridays & Saturdays. On the other hand, people might be reluctant to go out mid-week (Especially if you don’t get the next morning off).
Mid-day vs Evening
Hosting the event during the afternoon mostly applies to family events.
Location & Venue
Next, you’ll need to consider the event venue and location.
Very simply, based on your initial estimate, what size venue are you looking for?
Location & accessibility
This is key! If you want people to attend, the venue needs to be easy for everyone to get to. If people are worried about how they’re going to get home, they probably won’t attend.
Indoor vs outdoor
It’s a Summer party, so being outdoors is generally preferable. However, you still need a fall back plan in case the weather starts acting up.
The Irish and the English are always very optimistic about this… last year it was miraculously sunny at the Summer party so why not this year?
Food & Drinks
When you’re looking for venues, you’ll want to check for catering at the same time. Most event venues will offer onsite catering or have preferred partners with whom they usually work with.
Most often these events aren’t seated. But feel free to break the tradition.
Caterers most often charge on a price per head basis rather than for the total amount of food. This means the bill may add up fast but it is easier to budget for.
If you’re on a shoestring budget, planning food is tricky. But at the very least, you’ll want to have finger food. Guests will get peckish after a few drinks.
For smaller companies, you can get your guests to bring some of the food (for example dessert), which will help cut down on the costs.
As always, keep in mind your guest’s dietary requirements including those with allergies or vegetarians. It’s nice if they have something to eat too!
As we’ve discussed previously on the blog, there are multiple ways to handle drinks. Again, drinks aren’t always compatible with a tight budget, but they are always appreciated. Options include:
- Cash bar: i.e no free drinks. People pay as they order.
- Drink vouchers: One of the most practical systems for a limited budget. Each employee receives a number of vouchers they can exchange for a drink.
- Open bar: Employees can order drinks, and the company will pay the tab at the end of the evening. Generally, you’ll want to agree ahead of time with the venue, how much money you want to spend. After that, the bartenders will revert to a cash bar.
- BYOB: “Bring your own bottles”. Certain venues don’t have alcohol licenses so they ask you to pay a corkage fee instead. Whilst uncommon, it can certainly help the budget stretch further, depending on the corkage.
Pro-tip: Even if you have a very small budget, try to at least give your guests a welcome drink on arrival. It will give your event a much more welcoming feel.
When it comes to corporate entertainment, the list is endless. We’ve dedicated an entire article to the topic. When it comes to Summer parties here are a few options for you to consider.
You’ll want some music. Playlists are fine for ambient music but don’t work so well for parties. If you’re planning on dancing, you’ll probably want a DJ to perform at your event.
You can view prices, pictures and reviews of some of the best DJs in Dublin directly on PartyWizz.
Pro-tip: Check out our separate article for some advice on booking the best live bands.
You can view prices, pictures and reviews of some of the best live bands in Dublin directly on PartyWizz.
All three options are suitable for large events (100+). However, for smaller events (and especially smaller rooms), you’ll want to restrict yourself to a Singer or a DJ.
You can view prices, pictures and reviews of some of the Singers in Dublin directly on PartyWizz.
If you want to go the extra mile, why not hire a magician to go around the room and entertain your guests, small groups at a time. It’s different, it’s fun and it will make your event really memorable.
For some practical tips on hiring a magician, you can check out our separate article on the topic.
You can view prices, pictures and reviews of some of the best magicians directly on PartyWizz.
Booking a caricaturist for your corporate event is a fun way to entertain your guests and to have them walk away with a fun souvenir of your corporate event.
For some expert tips on hiring a great caricaturist, check out our dedicated article on the topic.
You can view prices, pictures and reviews of some of the best caricaturists directly on PartyWizz.
Hire a professional dance troupe to come and do a full show. This activity isn’t just limited to Irish dancing. You can find dance troupes for most forms of dancing.
If you want to learn something new, you can also book a course for your employees. This works best for smaller events (less than 100). Even if most people don’t get the moves down perfectly, it’s a great way to open the dance floor.
You can view prices, pictures and reviews of some of the best dance troupes directly on PartyWizz.
This mostly applies to family events. You should be able to easily book one in your area.
For some practical tips on hiring a bouncy castle, check out our dedicated article on the topic.
Pro-tip: Get the bouncy castle set up a bit further away from the main reception area. Depending on the unit you rent, the ventilation noise can be loud.
You can view prices, pictures and reviews for bouncy castles directly on PartyWizz.
If you want long-lasting memorable pictures, nothing beats hiring a professional photographer. It’s an additional expense, but if they’re high-quality pictures, you’ll be able to use time and again. For example on the website or brochures….
You can view prices, pictures and reviews for photographers directly on PartyWizz.
If you want to cement in the memories of this event, consider hiring a videographer. The fun video memento will guarantee you no longer have to chase people to attend next year.
You can view prices, pictures and reviews for videographers directly on PartyWizz.
Photobooths have become party staples. They come in all shape and sizes. We’ve dedicated an entire article to hiring a great photo booth which you can check out.
You can view prices, pictures and reviews of some of the best photo booths in Dublin directly on PartyWizz.
Having a theme is optional but it adds to the fun of the event. For some ideas, check out our separate article on party themes for adults.
When choosing a theme, keep in mind the objective of the event. For example, if you’re fundraising for a charity, the event may have a very different atmosphere than an event just for employees to relax.
Again, activities are optional. However, it can be fun to incorporate one or two in the event. Most activities can be DIY so it won’t add a huge amount to the budget but will make the party a lot more fun.
You can find some great ideas in our article on adult party games as well as our article on corporate entertainment.
Don’t go overboard with activities. You can keep some time for ‘regular’ socialising.
Assemble the schedule
Now that you have all your party elements, it’s time to assemble the schedule. Remember, when it comes to planning; the devil is in the details.
Write down an hour by hour breakdown of the event but don’t be afraid to modify your schedule on the fly, the day of the event if necessary.
That’s a wrap
We hope you have an amazing time at your corporate Summer party.
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