The Corporate “Company” Picnic Evolution

Company Picnics are evolving

“Company Picnics” are fully recognized events in the United States. If you tell someone you are having a company picnic this weekend, they would rightly assume that you and your coworker’s families would be gathering at a location together to socialize, consume food and beverage, and typically enjoy some type of entertainment. The evolution of the company picnic, what it started as, what it became, and what it might be in the future is where Portland and Seattle corporations should be looking as they pursue new employee engagements and events.

The word picnic itself first originated in 1692 in print. It wouldn’t be for nearly 100 more years, in 1789, when picnics would manifest in their modern meaning. 1789 is when royal parks became public. Citizens started taking advantage of their new found rights in droves.  Family picnics became a regular activity, and the parks were regularly filled.  As history progressed, businesses more and more represented groups of people, and not individual entities. It was a natural progression for celebrations to include the workers of the companies once the businesses valued them beyond just their ability to produce labor.

Company picnics started as merely barbecue events in public parks. Food, and socializing. Later, field games would be introduced. A variety of competitive activities such has potato sack races, hula hoop competitions, and water balloon tosses. Do you think the first company established in Portland hosted picnics? The concept of the classic company picnic was immortalized in the season five finale of NBC’s hit show “The Office“.  They included all of the classic games, and even had a company wide volleyball tournament.

In the 90’s and early 2000’s, Microsoft hosted giant company picnics for their Redmond based offices. The picnics would span three days, with over 10,000 guests arriving each day. While this was certainly an impressive feat for the company to accomplish, they soon realized that this massive scale picnic didn’t make sense. With so many people there, it was unlikely for you to meet up with coworkers and bond in a different setting. Introducing your family to your manager was a long shot. Microsoft changed the format and decided to give individual groups budgets for annual events. Now, a group of anywhere from 30 to 200 people will throw an annual company picnic, either at their headquarters in Redmond, or nearby at Lake Sammamish’s own Vasa Park.

Portland’s own monster company, Nike inc.,  follows a similar format. Hosting one giant picnic on their massive on campus fields. At least with only one day of attendance, their is a higher probability of the group camaraderie and celebration. It’s likely only a matter of time until Portland company’s follow suit and devolve the traditional company picnic into smaller events.

In addition to size reductions and group consolidations, Portland companies are looking for new ways to explore celebrating traditional events. They look to rent new and exciting event equipment, bring in exciting entertainment, and new food and beverage options. Employers want to engage employees in new ways, and events are looked at as a competitive job perk. The company picnic, or some variation thereof, is no longer optional. In order to recruit great talent in competitive markets, companies need every edge they can get.

As the traditional “Company Picnic” continues to evolve, I think we will see wide ranges of new activities, and more frequent events than just the annual celebration. Our generation is blessed with greater automation, making long hours less necessary, and leaving more time for creative events. If you are looking for ideas to take your annual company picnic to the next level, make sure you check out our guide for creative company picnics.

Leave your comment below to let us know what you think the next evolution of company picnics might be!

Facebooktwittergoogle_plus

8 Company Picnic Ideas for Oregon

Check out all the awesome alternatives that you can bring to your Portland Company Picnic.

It’s April, and we are less than three months away from the hottest summer months for Portland and Seattle. If you aren’t knee deep in planning your summer corporate and non-profit special events yet, we’ve got a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing. Check out these 8 ideas below, and add your own in the comments section!

    • Forget a Picnic, let’s go on a Cruise! – Why do throw a company picnic at all? Mix it up and do something completely different. If your group isn’t too large, booking a cruise can be a ton of fun! Cruise ships can have nearly all the normal attractions of a regular company picnic, such as food, drinks, and dancing, with the added benefit of some spectacular views and a new experience. They can also be quite cost effective, while having the feel of being more luxurious. Reach out to a local Portland Curise company to see what kind of potential your event could have. Bonus: much of the entertainment equipment you would rent for a company picnic you can put on a boat. Work with your local Portland Event Rental company to see what options you may have.
    • Put Together a Crazy Wipe-Out-Esque Obstacle Course – Have you ever seen the television show Wipe Out on ABC? The basic idea is that contestants make their way through a very difficult obstacle course and try to reach the finish. Along the way, they have some truly spectacular “wipe outs” and some never finish. By putting together a string of inflatables and other obstacle course rentals, you can make your very own Wipe Out obstacle course. Start with the Boulder Dash, Lagoon of Doom, and some Tires, and build from there. Work with your coworkers to come up with unique ideas. Bonus: Offer prizes for whoever can finish the fastest, complete the course with the most flair, or can perform the most spectacular wipe-out!
    • Invite some Truly Stunning Entertainers – If you’ve done the same thing for your company picnic year after year, consider hiring some outside entertainment to spice up the event. Booking Bands, Magicians, Comedians, and Hypnotists are all crowd favorites. Picking a unique type of entertainment year to year can keep your event interesting and new for at least a decade.  If you are working with an Event Coordinator, make sure you ask them if they have access to any special kind of entertainers, or recommendations for your Portland event.
    • Have a Chili Cook Off or Similar Culinary Focused Event – If you’ve done the same Barbecue catering company every year, maybe it’s time to mix it up. Organize a catering company to bring side dishes, appetizers, drinks, and desserts.  For the main dish, host an old fashioned chili cook off. Have all of your guests bring a large pot of their famous family recipe. Have all of the attendees do a sampling and vote on their favorite chili. Give out prize to the best chili in attendance!
    • Make it a Giant Water War – There are so many great water rental options in Portland.  From dunk tanks, water balloon launchers, water slides, slip n’ slides, and more.  If you are confident that your event is going to land on a hot Oregon summer day, perhaps getting your guests wet is the way to go.   Incorporate traditional picnic games like water balloon toss and prizes to keep things competitive. Sometimes the best way to heat things up is to cool off!
    • Create a Unique Theme – Ok, we admit it, Pirates, Western, and Circus are old. They’ve all been done thousands of times. Mix your Portland Corporate picnic up with some new and unique themes (preferably ones that Portlandians are totally into).  To really get your theme going, throw a costume contest with some sweet rewards to go along with it. Here are a couple unique theme ideas if you need a push start,
        • Brewery Themed Event – Empty Kegs everywhere, Take-home pint glasses with the company’s name and picnic year on them, a sweet bar setup with a ton of local beer choices, An on-site beer brewing demonstration, Hops plants brought in for decor. There is so much you could do with this theme.
        • Renewables Themed Event – The environment is important, why not throw an event that celebrates that! Make outdoor furniture such as tables and chairs out of recycled pallets. Highlight ways that your guests can save energy and recycle. Make an arts and crafts station that uses only recycled materials. Give out Swag that saves energy, such as LED bulbs, Outlet Insulators, and Water regulators. Getting your attendees excited about a cause can be a lot of fun. As a bonus, you can hopefully start some ongoing conversations around the office, and get your employees participating in worthy activities.
        • Steampunk Themed Event – As Wikipedia puts it, Steampunk is a subgenre of science fiction and sometimes fantasy that incorporates technology and aesthetic designs inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery. Basically you get some awesome decor that looks like the future melded with the early 1900’s. Portland is even hosting a Steampunk conference this year, called GearCon, so it is likely that at least some of your employees have heard about this cool theme. Get together with a reputable Portland decor company, and let your imagination run wild.
    • Throw a Raffle – Free stuff is always a fantastic way to boost attendance. We have one Event Partner that has their entire event based around a raffle! They buy about $20,000 worth of prizes, and raffle them off to their employees. Employees must be present to win! They typically have a couple of large gifts, such as flat screen TVs that they give away at the very end. Everybody likes free stuff, and even if they don’t win, they definitely get the impression that the company cares about their employees.
    • Host a Traditional Outdoor Company Picnic – Sometimes, classic is best. Great food, music, the outdoors, entertainment, and some great company is all you really need for a successful event.  Spend some time selecting the right vendors for your Oregon picnic, and you are all but guaranteed to have a hit on your hand.  If your picnic is going to be at a Portland Park, make sure you check out our guide for booking events in Portland Parks.

If you have some other fantastic ideas for turning your company picnics upside down, make sure you leave them in the comments below! You never know what new idea might turn into the next event craze!

Facebooktwittergoogle_plus