Summer parties are becoming increasingly popular for businesses seeking a mid-year celebration or team-building activity, and we’re seeing corporate summer parties become just as important as the Christmas ‘Do’ for many companies.
But to create a memorable summer party, it’s no longer enough to get all your colleagues into a big garden and just dish out the drinks like nobody’s business. Not only do corporates increasingly want to see return-on-investment for their events (and not that staff are just getting a bit jolly and filing the expenses for it), but also that being memorable in the world of events takes some ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking and a whole lot of planning and organisation to pull off
So, what are the benefits of throwing a summer corporate party?
Most companies always throw a Christmas Party, and it’s often an event that all employees look forward to during the year. It’s almost seen as a celebration of the company’s success and employees’ hard work over the year. So why not throw a mid-year summer work party into the mix?
It makes sense – it breaks the year up; it’ll be warm and women won’t be shivering in their dresses. But that’s not all.
It’ll boost your team’s morale.
Employee morale can often dip up and down quite often, so hosting a company summer party is one way to keep the morale boosted – in the lead-up and afterwards. It’s almost seen as a perk, just in the same way that a Christmas work party is.
According to Slack, giving your team the chance to interact outside of the office is one way to boost their morale. It gives the team a chance to get to know each other more. Ensure that new hires are also included, this gives them chance to make connections within their first few days or weeks at the company.
Breaks the year up
Your summer corporate event will not only boost the morale of staff, but it will break the year up for them. Christmas is ageeees away and many staff start to experience burn out, around the summertime. They’ve been working hard for 6 months straight, with not much time off and awaiting their long-overdue summer annual leave. Announce the work summer party in January and it will also help with those post-Christmas blues that we all experience.
According to Compass Whole Health, January is the ‘most depressing month of the year’. It sees Blue Monday, grey skies, dark evenings and is also the time of year when seasonal depression, known as SAD, sets in and people need something to look forward to.
Can increase staff retention
These staff events are often perks on job advertisements, so your additional company summer party is another one to add to the perk list! They certainly help in attracting new employees, attribute to company culture and can be added to the list as to why it’s a great company to work for. You can impress candidates in interviews, and it only shows that as a company, you value your staff, their well-being and prioritise bringing the team together. More importantly, you can reduce employee turnover within the business too.
It is Tax-deductible
Yes, just like your Christmas party, your corporate summer event can also be tax-deductible! It just needs to be open to all employees, be annual (a summer event is perfect!) and cost less than £150 per head. If it meets all those criteria, you’re good to go. Read our blog on deducting tax for a Christmas party to see how it works.
What makes a good work summer party?
We thought we would let some of the incredible event professionals that we work with answer this one! So, what did they have to say?
Natacha Allen, Head of Commercial Events at RCP London Events mentioned that the perfect recipe of a summer party includes food and drink.
“The ingredients of a successful summer party are a combination of the senses that ignite to create the perfect experience and lasting memories.
The perfect recipe consists of: delicious and innovative food and drinks, good music and entertainment to set the scene, comfortable and relaxing seating, creative lighting and, last but not least, good company.
At RCP London Events, we can provide all the elements to make a summer party truly memorable. Our Medicinal Garden is a wonderful open space just adjacent to Regent’s Park, making it the perfect backdrop for imaginatively themed food stall and pizza parties, barbecues and engaging summer receptions that will be the talk of the town!”
For Lillian Lubowitz, Group Sales Manager at eve, engaging your team at your event is crucial.
“Summer is all about the social and what better way to celebrate and engage with your team than hosting your summer party in an exclusive London venue with private outdoor space, not available to the public – and we have plenty of options! Ironmongers Hall, London’s best country house venue in the City, offers a serene courtyard and water feature. Or we have Dartmouth House, boasting one of London’s rarest and endearing features – an enclosed courtyard for hosting open-air reception, creating the atmosphere of a chateau terrace. Or how about Plaisterers Hall, with a private garden only available for external use ten times a year and backing onto the remains of the original Roman Wall.
But that isn’t all. Lillian also advises not to forget about entertainment and of course, food!
“Another great way to make your summer party is of course entertainment, and you can still make your event fun event without a huge budget – how about the roof terrace at 41 Portland Place with garden games? One of the best things about Summer in my opinion is the food. Our Gathered Table offers curated menus from the best and brightest minds in food. My favourite is a summer lunch buffet menu by Ixta Belfrage, from Yotam Ottolgenghi’s Nopi Restaurant, one of the most influential women in food.”
Rebecca Hurley, Venue Marketing Manager at BMA house says that summer parties are all about enjoying the moment.
“When you think “summer party” you think warm evenings, a setting sun and the chance to be outside relaxing with others. Above all else there should be that sense of timelessness and a carefree spirt that makes you forget about tomorrow as you simply enjoy the moment. The key ingredient is the perfect setting – highly accessible to all, yet away from the hustle and bustle, full of warm outdoor spaces but backed up by indoor options (its England after all). When combined with a great summer menu and refreshing beverage options, a great space such as the BMA House Courtyard or Garden offer that perfect place to meet and relax.”
Mellini Gordon, Sales and Marketing Manager at Events @ No 6 says your corporate party is all about substituting the pencil skirt and tie for something flowy and fun.
“The corporate summer party is that one opportunity to substitute the pencil skirt and tie for something flowy and fun. Our guests provide the enthusiasm, and we provide cocktails, champagne, fabulous food, and spectacular views across the City of London.
Check out our Terrace Room at Events @ No 6. It is flanked by two open-air Terraces and is ideal for corporate and private events for up to 120 guests.”
Food and drink ideas for a corporate summer event:
Whatever food you decide, be sure to have options for all, depending on your guests’ dietary requirements.
BBQ food at a corporate summer party will never fail you! One of the first things we think about when we think of summer is BBQs. So if you want to keep it classic and not overcomplicate things, pick a BBQ.
We all have fond memories as kids having picnics. Another traditional summer activity, picnic food will always be popular amongst the families. If your work summer party is outside, this lends itself well to setting up picnic blankets all over and incorporating the food into your overall theme. You could even mix it up a little and go for healthier alternatives to the classic pork pie or scotch egg.
Add a casual feel to your corporate summer event with street food. Who doesn’t love multiple cuisine options? Make sure there are options for all dietary requirements too and you’ll be good to go.
Whichever catering option you pick for your summer work party, you’ll need refreshing drinks to complement. The number one thing to keep in mind is that you need to cater for all. So be sure to include alcoholic options and non-alcoholic options.
Nothing screams summer more than a traditional summer drink. We’re talking an ice-cold beer, glass of Pimm’s or a refreshing fruity cocktail.
Don’t forget the celebratory bubbles
If you’re opting for more of a celebration, get the bubbles! Perhaps you’ll be doing a mini award ceremony during your business summer party or a speech. If so, get your guests ready with a glass of champers.
Mocktails. Yes! Create non-alcoholic versions of people’s fave cocktails and you’re guaranteed to have something that everyone will love. This is ideal for the parents or drivers that would love an alcoholic version but can’t on the day.
– Strawberry lemonade
– Iced Tea
– Cucumber and Lemon Water
– Watermelon Lemonade
– Mango Lemonade
– Slush puppies (One for the kids, or the adults too?)
– Virgin Sangria
Now you’ve got the food, drinks and boring budget details out of the way, it’s time to get started on the fun part – Themes! We’ve collated a list below of all the best summer party ideas, to make your life a little easier.
eve’s top corporate summer party ideas
Hire a funfair and take your guests for a spin
Include a funfair at your summer party for simple yet effective summer entertainment. Those who’d rather not take part don’t have to, and have you ever been to a corporate event that’s theme is FUN? We’re guessing it’s pretty unlikely…
London summer party venue City Central at the HAC provides an optional funfair with venue hire. That’s our kind of party.
Get active in the Office Olympics
This is one of our favourite corporate summer party entertainment ideas and it’s fabulous for team building. Venues with large outdoor space work perfectly for this – plan some activities and challenges outside, provide branded medals, feel-good music and let your team work up an appetite before heading into your venue for a quick change and a delicious meal.
Guests will be full of conversation and bring a real buzz into the next part of your event, and the option to include team building activities or multiple options on-site is a definite positive. Plus, we’ve no doubt that your competition will provide some very entertaining social media content for some post-event promotion.
Bake-Off and bring out the competitiveness
If you’re looking to include a team building element to your corporate summer party, creating a Bake-Off style competition is a great way of getting people working together (and competitively, on the other hand) in an activity that still brings the fun.
Hire a venue with outdoor space and a marquee and have your colleagues work together in teams to produce the best bake. Or if it’s too hot and you’re not up for baking, try something more seasonal like watermelon carving, biscuit icing, summer drink or mocktail creation or even ice cream making – an excuse to eat it before it melts? Yes please.
Contribute to your guests’ positive wellbeing with yoga
Adding a wellness element to your event can work wonders for morale and it helps to keep your event unique. If you go for a venue with outdoor space, why not incorporate a yoga area where guests can take five in a calm and peaceful spot and then crack on with the party feeling refreshed?
Incorporate a murder mystery for an experiential event
Another great option for team building, opt for a large venue (old townhouses work well) with outdoor space and immerse your guests in an evening (or day) of mystery, working out ‘who dun it.’ Have your guests arrive as characters, in full costume and with a back-story for a truly experiential event – and this can work well alongside many corporate summer party themes if you choose to have one.
Carry on with your event as planned, perhaps dine al fresco, have a BBQ or enjoy some entertainment whilst trying to get information from other guests on their alibi, motive, personality and such. It’s a great way of introducing some fun into your event with an unusual activity, and there are some London venues like Dartmouth House that lend themselves brilliantly to this.
Creating memorable summer events
Tips from the team at eve on how to create events that won’t get forgotten
First things first
Getting the basics down will help you to ensure that your summer party is a success, and one that is memorable post-event – for the right reasons. After all, it’s all well and good having elaborate and exciting entertainment to wow your guests but if they’re queuing half an hour for a drink or to use the toilet, it’ll be this annoyance that they remember.
Making sense of it
Think about the five senses and how you can reach each one for a memorable event. Visually, it’s not all that difficult to incorporate a corporate summer party theme or introduce exciting entertainment to please the eyes and ears, but there’s a reason bakeries pump the smell of fresh bread into their stores, you know.
Smells and sounds can have a large impact on how we feel as human beings – the smell of bread, coffee, home, for instance, they make us feel things. It’s important to remember that different people may react in different ways, but consider incorporating lavender for a calming vibe, or try a rosemary scent to give guests a pick-me-up.
On that note, we all know how sounds can affect mood, too – loud typing; water dripping; the sound of chewing – pretty annoying, right? But you can encourage positive emotional responses with sounds, too. Music is an obvious one, but there are a number of sounds that *generally* help to make people feel good. A crackling fire, rainfall, birds. These are great additions to immersive events: imagine having a rainforest themed summer party this year with the sounds of animals and the smell of rain bringing everything together?
The guest journey
Once you’ve got a venue booked, make sure you spend some time there thinking about the journey that your guests will go on from arrival to exit, to iron out any potential challenges or annoyances that might crop up on the night.
Where do guests go when they first arrive? Do they need to queue, and if so, where will this be? Will it be in the way? Where can guests put their jackets? If guests are seated, how far away will they be from the facilities (e.g. restroom)?
Map out the journey that you’d like your guests to take and compare it with the one your venue and layout offer – and more importantly, how it can make people feel. Here you can help to avoid having your guests feeling any negative emotion towards your event by making their journey into it as smooth and easy as possible – and if you can make it creative, that’s even better.
“I attended an event years ago which had a red carpet up to a Central London venue and a group of ‘paparazzi’ at the entrance, each holding old-school cameras with the big, iconic flash units, with staff communicating the guest list to them via an earpiece. This meant that when I arrived, I heard “Laura! Laura! Over here!” alongside the sound of vintage-style camera equipment and I don’t think I’ll ever forget that event. They created a personalised experience that was well-organised so ran smoothly and it was truly unique. I went into the event feeling energised.” – Laura Toogood, Senior Venue Consultant, eve