The Fun (Really), Hip (Seriously), Budget-Minded (We Promise) Corporate Summer Picnic

With inventive menus, creative gifts, and stuff to keep the kids (and adults) entertained, these unexpected themes go way beyond the boring barbecue.

By Lisa Cericola & Mark Mavrigian May 4, 2009, 9:00 AM EDT

Locally sourced picnic fare from Greg Christian Catering

Photo: Michael Maes for BizBash

An Eco-Friendly Barn Party
Everyone's hopping on the green bandwagon, and this country picnic includes sustainable food and favors.
Down-Home Organic Eats: Serve a buffet of locally sourced picnic fare. Chicago-based Greg Christian Catering can make pecan-crusted fried chicken; farfalle with shrimp, vegetables, basil, and goat cheese; and lavender-honey iced tea for $50 a person.
Rustic Soundtrack: Get everyone in the mood with live bluegrass music. For Big Hillbilly Bluegrass in Washington, pricing starts at $950; for Foggy Hogtown Boys in Toronto, $2,000.


Fun Photo Op: Rent a bucolic backrop from Grosh Backdrops and Scenery in Los Angeles, or use farm animal statues from RWB Party Props in Orange, California.
Horsing Around: Play a few rounds of horseshoes. Toy manufacturer Schylling makes shoes in rubber that are safer for young players—$9.99 for two sets from Target.
A Piece of the Outdoors: Send everyone home with an eight-inch blue spruce tree in a branded cotton sack from Bonzolio. Minimum orders of 48 trees cost $10 to $15 each. Available only in the U.S. only.

A Winter Olympics Bash
The 2010 games in Vancouver aren’t that far away, and they make for a (ahem) cooler take on a sporty summer outing.
Game On: Hold relay races on a melt-proof synthetic ice rink from BH Skating Parks International. Packages include ice skates, a snow machine, music, rink operators, and all other equipment needed. Pricing starts at $25 per square foot.
Winter Wonderland: It’s not the Winter Games without snow. The T-1500 Mini Snow Zone machine from Snow Masters will sprinkle guests with faux flakes, starting at $415 a day.
Fun Fuel: New York’s Thomas Preti Caterers can create a Winter Games-inspired spread that includes Alpine Swiss chicken brrr-gers, Olympic onion rings, and frozen peanut butter hot chocolate, all for $75 a person.
For the Winners: Chocolate gold medals, 10 for $24 from Honest Foods.
And for Everyone Else: BPA-free sports water bottles from Identity-Links come in the colors of the Olympic rings. Seventy-two 20-ounce bottles cost $7.12 each plus a $45 setup fee for logos.

An A-Team Adventure
This ’80s throwback is—let’s just admit it—a bit silly, while being nostalgic for the over-30 crowd and just plain kitschy for younger employees.
Adventurous Activities: Unirec can customize energetic obstacle courses and games, including races where participants run with parachutes; the company serves the Northeast, and prices start around $2,000. Feet First organizes similar activities in California, Seattle, Phoenix, and Dallas, and can put together a group Tinkertoy building project, topped off with action figures (they have Mr. T); packages start around $2,500.
Set the Scene: Adorning a wall or activity area with camouflage netting hypes up the action vibe of the television series. A 10- by 14-foot section is available for purchase for $135 from Rose Brand in the U.S. and Canada.
D.I.Y. Tunes: It’s a cinch to find era-appropriate music to get guests on their feet (or, for many, reminiscing). The I Want My ’80s three-CD set costs $35.98 for 42 songs, including “You Dropped a Bomb on Me” by the Gap Band. Order it with the A-Team soundtrack, which costs $10.98 on Amazon.
A Tongue-in-Cheek Dessert: Who says irony is bitter? A cheery Mr. T cake, like this one from Creative Cakes in Chicago, starts at $57.95 for a half-sheet and serves 35 to 45 guests.
Retro Gift: As a souvenir of the day’s outing, vintage-style T-shirts, $16.95 as shown, from TV Store Online can be presented to your own “A-Team.”

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