Company Barbecues Go Up in Smoke

company barbecueIt looks like the good old summer company picnic/barbecue if finally going the way of the raucous company Christmas party. Fewer and fewer businesses are throwing seasonal bashes these days. Recent research showed that only 41 percent of the companies surveyed are planning a company picnic this summer.

"Last summer we threw a big company barbecue for clients, employees and their families, and only about a quarter of those who were invited attended. Most didn't even bother to RSVP," said Philip Gregson, a business owner with about 25 employees. "I think they were probably burned out from working together, or didn't feel like partying in the lousy economy. In any case, I'm not throwing one this year. I had tons of leftovers and was very disappointed."

There is a little good news about summer company- parties, however. Eight percent of those who responded to a survey done by the Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI) said that they are hosting a picnic for the first time or the first time in recent years.

And what do those few who are throwing bashes have planned? Everything from Frisbee competitions to old-fashioned dunk tanks and egg races, to drinking games. Some say they're even staging jousting tournaments, and others say that they are making medical testing available.

The research showed that when a company does throw a summer party, only about 50 percent of employees generally attend, and that's partly to get handouts of most popular of the company's promotional items, such as T-shirts, caps and other headgear, and Frisbees, games and toys.

Believe it or not, companies responding to the survey said that they spend an average of $4,116 on their company picnic. Part of that budget goes to recreational activities like bounce houses, inflatable slides, crafts, games, races, carnival attractions, raffles and water guns.

Gregson says that even water guns, T-shirts and plenty of beer couldn't save his company bash. But he's not giving up. If the economy and business climate are more optimistic next year, he'll try again.

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