Host a corporate BBQ

There are many creative ways to get everyone on your team inspired, working hard, and enjoying life as a group. With summer just around the corner, now is the time to plan a corporate BBQ your colleagues will always remember. But how do you get started? If you have a large team, planning for this event can be extensive. Here are some tips on how to prepare a corporate BBQ like a pro.

Survey the crowd. Before setting a firm date for any work event, put a call out to get a sense of which dates, times, or days work best for the most employees.

There are multiple ways to seek this information. If you’re with a larger company, you can delegate by touching base with managers and asking them to gather this information from their staff. Alternatively, you can send out an email or Google doc suggesting three different dates and requesting that everyone vote on their preferences. This survey is a great opportunity to ask people to add in any dietary requirements they have and whether they prefer meat or vegetarian options (or anything else, such as gluten or dairy-free).

Determine the best place. What is the ideal location for a fun, relaxed, corporate barbecue? Whether you have a huge number of people attending or a small group, it’s a good idea to find a large space. Having room to spread out means more space for social or team building activities like frisbee or volleyball in the summer, or baseball and football in the fall. If you’re going for a more upscale vibe, consider a patio or paved area with cozy chairs and decorations. This allows people to gather around and interact in ways that wouldn’t be possible in a massive outdoor space.

Once you have a feel for the size you require, consider whether you should host the event on site where you work or offsite. Each scenario has its pros and cons. Hosting the BBQ at work can be ideal since everyone knows the locale and how to get there. If there isn’t sufficient space though, or you think a change will do everyone good, you’ll need to seek out a nearby rental location to host your event. If you’re close to a conference center with an urban or suburban view, take advantage of luxurious spaces, or get a patio with a sweeping view. Choosing a venue off site is good idea since a change of scenery can help employees break away from their typical cliques and workday concerns.

With regards to venue, it’s important to consider accessibility. Can employees with medical concerns or physical disabilities navigate the space comfortably? Is there enough room for everyone to sit and congregate? Is there convenience bathroom access? All of these factors are important to ensure comfort, safety, and equity. You should also confirm nearby hospital access in case of an unexpected emergency.

Plan for a backup in the event of adverse weather. Even if you plan to barbecue in the summer or live in a tropical climate with the promise of near constant sun, weather is unpredictable, and you don’t want to give a poor impression by being unprepared or wasting people’s time. Try to find a venue that has an indoor room as a backup as well as a stove or kitchen to cook the food. If there’s no kitchen, have a caterer available as a backup. Some quick food backups include pizza, sandwiches, fries, and salad varieties.

Create an invitation. Barbecues are generally casual affairs. However, everything corporate can be done with varying levels of class, and regardless of how casual you’d like your event to be, you want to ensure you’re well prepared. A well-crafted invitation can help set the tone. Online invitations are generally the most convenient and cost-efficient method. Use your company’s standard scheduling tools like a Google calendar or Microsoft Outlook to ensure its received, opened, and accepted by as many employees as possible. Send out invitations at least 30 days in advance. If you can send a “Save the Date” note earlier, even better, as it helps ensure a successful turnout.

Plan your cooking. The next step is the best part: Planning in detail what to eat! Hopefully, you received a sufficient amount of information regarding food preferences in your employee survey. If not, you still have time to send out preference emails or to speak to employees and managers. It never hurts to offer all possible options (vegetarian, gluten-free, etc.), but you need a general idea of how many people will require these specialties so you don’t run out.

Once you have a potential menu, consider who will do the cooking. It might be you, a recruited team of colleagues, or even a catering company. No matter who you choose, make sure the cooks are prepared for the job and arrive early to get started. Make notes about a backup plan should the weather or food preparation fail, and be sure to inform those who are helping.

The final preparatory step is shopping. If you have a caterer, they will likely bring most of what you need, but be sure to confirm this with the company. Some caterers don’t supply beverages, for example, so you might need to haul these yourself. And if alcohol will be served, check with the venue regarding the need for a liquor license. Regulations vary from state to state.

In addition to shopping for food, consider purchasing decorative pieces as well. You can opt for fun items like balloons and streamers, or you can make it a more elegant affair. Recruiting other staff to help out, and even recruiting a team to develop the look, is a good idea.

Spring BBQ

Planning for a corporate summer BBQ requires all the same planning and collaboration as a four seasons event, with a few more considerations mixed in.

Don’t wait. It’s never too cold outside to refrain from dreaming about summer. Now that spring is in the air and you have some idea of which days work best for people, it’s time to get started with your plans.

First of all, many of your teammates will be away for summer. To be fair to all, solidify a date well in advance that is amenable to as many people as possible. Most likely someone will have to miss out, but give the impression that everyone should make their best effort to be there.

In addition to finding a date that is good for the masses, you need to know how many people will be in attendance and which venue would be most appropriate. Food, the most important issue, will take a while to sort out if you want to do a traditional grill mix. Once you factor in food and the number of dietary options required, determine a budget. If people need to chip in for the cost of the event, you need to let them know ahead of time.

Now that you have the essentials down, your work has truly begun. Spreading the word, ordering food, planning sports, and social activities, soliciting help, and clearing schedules are some examples of the work that awaits you.

Prepare for lots of fun. A corporate barbecue isn’t just about eating, of course. It’s about getting to know your colleagues and forging meaningful experiences. One of the best ways to achieve this is by playing games and laughing your heart out. Plan activities that will get people interested in taking part. Physical activities can get people in a light-hearted mood.

A simple ice breaker that can help people relax around one another is “two facts, one lie.” In this game, each participant makes three statements about themselves and only one of the statements can be a lie. It’s astounding what you can learn about others in such a short time.

Getting physical is another way to open up and help employees see each other as individuals and as part of a larger team. Childhood games like tug-of-war, musical chairs, hide-and-seek, and courageous scavenger hunts can be surprisingly fun to play as adults.

There’s no big secret to creating the ideal corporate barbecue. If you plan far in advance, recruit help, survey employees to ensure you meet their needs, and plan an event full of good food and open-minded fun, you can’t go wrong. A successful corporate BBQ is all about having confidence and energy, and finding ways to get close to the people you work with.

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