How to plan a company picnic that
won't sack your budget
Independence Day is the acme of picnic season, but there's still
plenty of summer left for you to treat your employees to some outdoor
food and fun at a company cookout.
Plan your fun
Company picnics come in all shapes and sizes.
As you begin planning yours, think about what you want your event
to accomplish. Do you want to formally thank current and retired
employees and their families? Are you hoping to give your employees
a chance to get to know each other in an informal setting? Or do
you want to give your employees a chance to spend some quality time
with their families?
It's also important to have a clear idea of what you
want to spend on the event. Knowing what you want your picnic to
accomplish and how much you can spend will make selecting a location,
food service and activities much easier.
The taxman can
When setting your budget, remember that you
have a rich Uncle Sam helping to foot the bill. Most business-related
meals are only 50 percent deductible, but the tax code makes a specific
exception for company picnics.
"The expenses for food, beverages, and entertainment
for a company-wide picnic are not subject to the 50 percent limit"
and are fully deductible, according to Internal
Revenue Service Publication 535, Business Expenses.
Give yourself plenty of lead time to plan and schedule
the picnic. Since the picnic is a gift to all of your employees,
you'll want to look for a date that will work well for as many of
your employees as possible. Try to avoid scheduling your picnic
on traditional picnic holidays such as Memorial Day, Labor Day or
the Fourth of July. These are busy days for families, caterers and
picnic facilities. You'll also want to rule out any date that falls
during a particularly busy time period for your company.
food service, no service
If you're overwhelmed by the thought of putting
together a party for 25, 200 or 400 people, take heart. Help is
as close as your computer. Some businesses, such as The Fun
Company, specialize in delivering complete events packages for
businesses around the country. Golf and recreation clubs provide
similar services. If roller coasters, water works and Ferris wheels
are on your list of possibilities, try contacting one of the big
amusement parks. Six Flags
Over Georgia, for example, gives special prices and picnic packages
to groups of more than 100 people.
Begin your search by gathering estimates and information
from both full-service event planners and location service providers.
Once you have narrowed your choices to two or three locations, take
a tour. This will give you an opportunity to get a feel for both
the location and the people with whom you will be working.
Ask for written cost estimates. If your first
choice service provider returns a bid that's too high, don't cast
it aside. Call them back and explore alternatives. In short, negotiate.
Eliminating a menu item or activity might bring the price down to
your budget level.
the workers know
Send out preliminary information about the
event to your employees as soon as the date and place are confirmed.
Follow up with sign-up sheets, which should be filled out well in
advance of your event. The early sign-up procedure will give you
a chance to obtain and distribute tickets to your guests. If you
need in-house help to run games and events, be sure to ask for volunteers
when you send out the notice for the event.
Have a designated greeter and troubleshooter
to welcome guests and assist with any problems or concerns that
may arise during the picnic. During the week following the picnic,
survey employees for feedback on the event and for suggestions for
the future. Write an event summary, complete with comments, contacts
and suggestions for the next picnic.
July 2, 2001