Summer Staff Parties in NYC: Unique Challenges & Opportunities

Summer.Staff.Party.Ideas.NYC.jpgSummer Staff Party Ideas NYC

It’s summertime in the Big Apple, and as someone who lived there for the past fifteen years before moving to Long Beach, California this month, I can attest that it is its own unique animal. It’s fun, it’s spontaneous, it’s insanely hot and humid and at times unbearably miserable – but it’s definitely got its own thing going.

I spent the majority of my time working in Manhattan as an events industry professional, both programming and producing a wide variety of gigs: lectures, classes, concerts, outings, political rallies, singles mixers, scavenger hunts, trivia nights, and so much more. It’s a pretty dynamic place, and there’s always things happening. During the summer months, the amount of things to do and ways to do them only multiplies.

For people in charge of planning activities for summer staff parties in New York City, the world is your oyster. It’s a special time to do something for employees, since for the other half of the year people are stuck inside complaining how bitterly cold and wretched the weather is. Creating these sorts of events presents its own special challenges, however, but also cool opportunities you should try to take advantage of!

Here are some useful tips:

Venue is Key

Probably the single greatest test for the planner is the venue. This will make or break your event, and have the greatest impact in determining whether the function is a success or a failure. When thinking about where to hold this party, consider the following:

  • Geographic Location – Where should this be held? Because New York is a walking city, and because you’ll have a lot of competition for your event among the troops who likely have been invited to other things, now that the weather is nice. You can safely assume a high attrition rate if you select a spot that’s too far away. For this reason, I recommend throwing your fest near (or event AT) the office.
  • Indoors vs. Outdoors – It’s summertime, and people enjoy being outside (especially after a brutal winter – see a few paragraphs above). Then again, weather in this part of the world can be extremely unpredictable, and you could be slammed with oppressive heat, humidity, thunderstorm, etc. If you’re going to go with an outside option, make sure there’s a great indoor alternative should Mother Nature not be cooperative (follow this link for more on this subject). If you want to skip the drama altogether and just do it inside, make sure it’s a place that can comfortably accommodate your entire group, and has air conditioning.
  • Style – A personal preference based on the culture of your company and group, however do you want something casual, lounge-y, beach-y, rooftop-y? Should it be a loud and boisterous place, or something more calm and reserved? What kind of food & beverage should be served? All these details factor into the overall attendee experience.

Activity Should Be Appropriate to Your Group

I’ve harped on this many times here on my blog. Especially during the summer months, your options for “what to do” skyrocket. You can do things like take a boat ride around Manhattan, play sports, or even a relaxed pub crawl – stuff you wouldn’t necessarily be able to do during a howling snowstorm. But whatever it is you decide to do, it MUST be suitable to your attendees.

For example, don’t choose something that requires a lot of physical activity if your group is older, or has people who are infirm. The opposite is also true: if your colleagues are high-energy competitive types, don’t stick them at an outdoor poetry readying in the community garden next to the office tower you work at. Use your best judgment, but ultimately remember that you know your audience best, so pick the right form of NYC corporate party entertainment.

Make It an Escape

This is supposed to be an enjoyable employee reward experience, not a hard-core team building event. I say, embrace that! Keep far away from anything work-related. In my business where I crate a customized trivia party for the office, there’s an impulse among my clients to include industry-specific questions, etc. But for the fun staff outing during June, July or August, no one wants that! Financial service professionals don’t want to be at the seasonal party being asked about derivatives; lawyers don’t want to be asked about trial law. You get the picture.

Instead, the fest should be a complete escape from the ordinary, a total departure from the day-to-day. Doing so helps create an environment which helps people relax and let their guards down, which in turn fosters more socialization and interaction on a personal level. It’s during these moments where people REALLY get to know one another, in a way which they could never do at the office.

In closing, I wish to state that I commend the leaders of any company or team – no matter how big or small – who commit the time, effort and expense to throw a summer staff party. We are thankfully far from the deep financial instability we ensured during the global economic crisis of 2008/2009, and many organizations are now in a position to say “thank you” to hard-working workers through appreciation events such as this. But I am aware that these are still optional, still an expense on the balance sheet, when the ultimate question at the end of the year is still, “how much money did you make?”

As such, I want to let the person who gives the “green light” to such events a thank-you. No, not because I’m an entertainment vendor and such parties are in my interests; but rather, because you actually care about the people who you work with. That’s the whole reason I started TrivWorks in the first place, as a means for companies to show their workers that they value and appreciate them, that their efforts matter, that their loyalty is something to be grateful for. As both an employee and observer of other employees for many years, I often didn’t feel this from my employers, and it had a deep impact in me. So yes, thank you for being a “good boss” and keeping your team happy this summer!

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