Planning key to fun in the sun

Daniel Estes
Daniel Estes

In a fast-paced world in which everyone bustles from one task to the next, it’s easy for people to get stuck in the routine of day-to-day work. Maintaining workplace morale remains vital, though, to running a successful business.

One way to keep employee spirits high is to arrange social gatherings outside of the office that allow for mingling and a little relaxation. Businesses that offer these types of getaways often have happier employees and, in turn, a more motivated work force.

During warm weather months, a great idea for an event like this is to host an outdoor employee picnic or barbecue. It’s a chance for people to have some fun in the sun, eat some food and forget about the stresses of their summer workloads.

When planning such an event there are many aspects to consider. There are the basics: who, what, when and where. But then there are other important details to account for, too, such as what food will be served, what activities will take place, safety and sanitation and how much it’s all going to cost.

Coordinating group activities can be expensive. There are ways, though, to keep within a relatively low budget and still create a worthwhile experience.

Generally, the most expensive part of a picnic or barbecue is the food. One way to keep costs low is to do as much of the work as possible without outside help. One possibility for a do-it-yourself picnic is to create a sandwich bar. Simply supply sandwich fixings and let your guests do the rest. It’s as easy as that.

Keeping food sanitary and edible is a key aspect of planning an outdoor event. Proper preparation is vital to ensure hygienic cuisine. This includes making sure all meat is cooked thoroughly prior to being served. When preparing food, it’s important to properly wash knives and other utensils used around raw meats between uses to insure meat juices don’t mix with other foods later in the cooking process.

Another important step of proper food sanitation is ensuring food doesn’t remain in the open air for an extended period of time. According to the Food and Drug Administration, leaving food out for any longer than two hours makes it unsafe for human consumption. If you plan on having your event go longer than this, it’s important to have food preparation and delivery spaced out into tiers according to the amount of time you plan on spending outdoors.

The list of fun activities that can take place during an outdoor event is limitless. The trick is to have a plan. Going into an event without knowing what entertainment options to offer participants is a great way to ensure an unsuccessful outing. One of the many perks of being outside during the summer months is that it gives people the freedom to get up on their feet and move around instead of sit inside a cubicle all day. Outdoor games like horseshoes, beanbags and disc golf give people a chance to get active and really enjoy the freedom of the outdoors. Such games are also inexpensive. Ensuring people have a variety of entertainment options adds to the positive nature of an event.

Another way to enhance the ambiance of a picnic or barbecue is to ensure there’s some light, upbeat background music. It might seem like a small detail, but setting the scene with the right seasonal playlist can make the difference between an average get-together and outstanding summer shindig.

So, yes, it’s possible to arrange a fun, outdoor gathering for your employees. And you can do it without breaking the bank or ripping out your hair. Just remember: Keep it simple, keep it safe and have a plan.

Activities such as this are a fun way to spend a summer day outside of the office and, in all likelihood, create a more vibrant, positive workplace for weeks to come.

Daniel Estes is a summer intern at the Mesa County Health Department and student at Colorado Mesa University studying communications and psychology. Connect with the health department on Facebook at and on Twitter @MesaCountyHD.