It’s no surprise that interest in outdoor events peaks in summer months. The promise of outdoor events such as picnics, festivals, and sporting events, can bring a smile to anyone’s face. They appeal to our senses and feelings of nostalgia, from the smells of food grilling to the soft grass and cold water lapping against our toes. Plus, there are plenty of health benefits from time spent outdoors, as it boosts our energy and immune systems, enhances our creativity, and elevates our mood and focus.
Additionally, outdoor events have an opportunity to address safety concerns such as crowd density and sanitation, while bringing the fun! So today we’ll share some new creative outdoor event ideas to inspire your planning.
Explore outdoor event ideas for interactive games and icebreakers
Encourage outdoor event attendees to mix and mingle by kicking your events off with conversation starters. Here are a couple of our favorite interactive games and icebreakers to ensure you never have a dull moment at your event and provide the best networking opportunities.
1. Host the trading card icebreaker
This game encourages attendees to share a short story about themselves. Just provide index cards and markers and ask attendees to write down one thing other attendees would not know about them, alongside their name.
Collect all the cards and then spread them out into different areas, keeping in mind distancing rules. Encourage each attendee to scan the areas for a card they find interesting. Have each guest read off their card, so they can connect with the person who’s fact it is.
Covid-19 considerations: Have guests pick up a pair of gloves before getting their supplies. When the game has concluded, all attendees must remove their gloves, and wash or sanitize their hands before moving to their next activity. Keep a “dirty” and “clean” basket for your pens and markers to limit the spread of germs. Encourage six feet of spacing and masks.
2. Do the logo icebreaker
Have attendees write their name and do a little drawing of a logo that would identify them onto a name tag. Now as they mingle, the people around them not only learn their name but also learn something unique about them.
The best thing about this icebreaker is that the number of players is unlimited, and you only need to provide the name tags and a pen or a marker for your attendees.
Considerations: This is a hands-free game so be sure to remind your attendees to keep a safe space between one another. Keep a “dirty” and “clean” basket for your pens and markers to limit the spread of germs. Provide gloves for use before touching markers and notecards. Encourage six feet of spacing and masks.
3. Offer the speed “dating” icebreaker
For the speed dating icebreaker, have attendees pick table numbers or meeting space locations (i.e. meet by the garden) randomly out of a hat on cut up slips of paper. Once everyone is standing across from their new groups set a time limit for attendees to get to know new friends.
Provide a pre-made list of questions that people can ask, such as:
- What is the strangest thing you’ve ever been asked to do during a meeting?
- What is the strangest thing you’ve ever forgotten?
- What is one place you never want to go?
- If you could pick a new skill what would it be?
Considerations: Tape the question list down to the table or location. Consider cleaning each table. Ensure six-feet of spacing, and mask wearing.
4. Play find the treasure chest
Shared goals can really loosen a crowd up. Divide attendees into small groups, and send them on a hunt for “Easter eggs.” Hide one egg or treasure bucket for each group, and let each group know their color. The first group to find their egg wins (but really everyone wins!). And they can give hints to other groups who’s eggs they find if they’d like.
Considerations: Encourage attendees to sanitize their hands and wear masks. Each bucket must be wiped down after use. Only put wrapped candies inside the bucket.
5. Create a sidewalk chalk art challenge
Sidewalk chalk can be used a number of different ways at your outdoor event. Encourage attendees to leave their mark with a name and date, to send messages to one another as they walk by a chalkboard, or to simply express their thoughts on the event.
You can also kick things off with a themed challenge, such as “beach”, “summer”, “fall”, and allow guests to vote for the top three chalk drawings who’s artists could earn prizes.
Considerations: Be sure to provide enough pieces of chalk for attendees to use (one piece for each person) and print out some rules and regulations on a big poster board—all to accommodate safe spacing. Sanitation stations can be placed around your chalkboard.
Discover the best catering ideas for outdoor events
Now that you know how to help attendees socialize, it’s time to figure out the best food offerings for your outdoor event. Keep in mind the following catering ideas for outdoor events to guarantee your grub is hit!
6. Make sure your catering is weather-ready by setting it up in a covered area
Because outdoor events come with uncontrollable weather, it’s critical your food setup is prepared for the weather to take a turn. Keep your catering placed under a tent or roofed area. And, ensure there’s enough spacing for all of your chairs to be six feet apart.
7. Provide pre-packaged meals at multiple stations for pick up
Provide attendees with an easy way to pick up their food from separates stations, and walk to a designated area. By using a ticketing system you can control when guests walk to their stations to select their meals.
Consider prepacked meals such as fun snack boxes (modern Lunchables!) so guests can quickly pick them up and be on their way. Some affordalble ideas include:
- BLT sandwiches
- Franks and hotdogs
Ensure that each attendee takes any pre-packed meal they touched. Just add a sign to indicate they can’t place items back onto the station table.
8. Call in favorite local food trucks
Another fun food option for outdoor events is food trucks for lunch, dinner, and dessert. This idea will save you a lot of time when it comes to setup and clean up.
Make sure there is enough space for the food trucks to park and allow enough room for lines of people. Use chalk to help guide attendees into a line that’s spaced six feet apart.
9. Encourage eating in comfort, picnic-style
Encourage guests to bring their own blankets, and sit in pods under trees. This can help minimize costs for tables and chairs, and ensure each guest stays safely away from objects others have touched.
10. Make it easy to take it for later
Ensure attendees can take their leftovers with them instead of tossing them out. Pre-sliced and plated pizza makes this approach super simple. Just set up a station with to-go containers or paper bags. This station should be monitored by staff to ensure everyone takes what they touch. You can further limit the spread of germs by providing hand sanitizer and masks.
See the best entertainment ideas for outdoor events
Make sure your attendees never stop talking about all the fun they had at your event by providing unique entertainment. Here are a couple of different ways to incorporate the best entertainment into your next outdoor event.
11. Send a pre-event entertainment survey
Knowing your audience is the first step in identifying the best entertainment for your outdoor event. Gather feedback from previous outdoor events or send out a pre-event survey to see what your attendees would prefer.
Ask only one to three questions and try to keep most of them to multiple choice selections while allowing one open field question to solicit additional feedback. Also, take into consideration the schedule, and where your attendees will be for majority of the day, as this can impact the feasibility of certain options.
12. Offer a planting class
Allow attendees to have fun while contributing a good deed to mother nature. Just provide soil, mini bio-degradable holders, and a variety of flowers to be planted. Set up one large table where supplies can be picked up, and then send your attendee on their way to do the planting in their own space.
13. Feature a mixology class
Invite attendees to learn how to create a new drink of their choice! To ensure you are able to accommodate all attendees, you should have a pre-made list of all available drinks to be made. Each ingredient should be pre-separated and provided for each set of tables (one table to one pod of people), so the mixing goes smooth and quickly. Be sure to provide sanitizers at every table, as well as unique stirring utensils for every person. Soon enough your attendees will be relaxing with their favorite drinks.
14. Let guests fly drones to check out the scene
Explore the open space by encouraging attendees to sign up to fly a drone around the event location. This is a great idea to promote social distancing while allowing your attendees to have a little bit of tech fun! Don’t forget to send out a pre-event registration or allow your attendee to sign up onsite to reserve their spot to fly a drone. Please make sure to have sanitation stations and require attendees to wash their hands before and after flying the drone. Also, all gear must be sanitized before and after each use.
15. Create a simple photo booth and keep it lively with music:
Send your attendees home with a memory that they will never forget. Photobooths are always a hit and a great way to promote your event. To ensure attendees are staying safe simply put up an interesting backdrop in an open space, and have a photographer stand more than six feet from it. Set up speakers nearby with your favorite Spotify playlist to keep the energy lively.
Discover simple A/V tech ideas for outdoor events
Dancing, speeches, music, and communication are some of the most important components of an event. They also require the best AV teams and technology setup. Follow some of these AV ideas and tips to ensure your outdoor event will run smoothly.
16. Set up a check list
Four weeks before the event, confirm the needs of your speakers and hosts. Use these inputs to create a short check list for your AV team. By communicating ahead of time you’ll avoid last-minute surprises.
17. Agree on outdoor speakers
The everyday sounds of the outdoors will be your biggest rival when it comes to providing audio. Make sure that your team is stocked with the best outdoor speakers so that your attendees are able to experience the audio at your event as if they were attending an indoor event.
18. Setup speakers with easy diagramming
Now that you have ensured you are prepped with the best equipment; you must confirm the installation is complete. Use event layout software to position your speakers around your space so everyone can hear. Your main equipment should be somewhere safe and secure. Place speakers surrounding the main areas, keeping the audio all pointed in one direction.
19. Go wireless
Isn’t it the worst when you are walking, and you trip over a cord? There go your papers, coffee, and whatever else is in your hands. If you have the option to go wireless, take it. This will guarantee your attendees’ safety as they will not be tripping over cords while trying to navigate around the event.
20. Do a dry run
Communication is key. Your staff and the AV team must coordinate every step of the way. Set the expectation that too little communication is not enough. And store everything for the event in one place, as this will guarantee you are always in the know. Also do a dry run 48 hours before to ensure everything will run as smoothly as possible.
Explore examples of corporate outdoor events
The best way to ensure your event is a hit is to turn to others for inspiration. Here are a couple of companies that ensured their employees had a great time.
21. Host an outdoor concert
DreamForce is a four-day event that covers everything SalesForce, complete with amazing headline speakers and entertainment. Previous speakers have included Barak Obama, Megan Rapinoe and Tim Cook.
Then, comes the outdoor portion! Participants enjoy an outdoor concert with free food and booze, with performances by Fleetwood Mac, Metallica and Janet Jackson. SalesForce provides attendees with entertainment, food, drinks, swag, and special guests, plus a change of scenery, which guarantees them a successful event year after year.
22. Host an annual company picnic
Annual company picnics can create happy memories and new friendships. For example Nike inc. hosts one giant picnic on their massive on-campus fields. It’s a one day celebration where employees can have and meet others.
According to National Event Pros, “In the 90’s and early 2000’s, Microsoft hosted giant company picnics for their Redmond based offices. The picnics would span three days, with over 10,000 guests arriving each day. While this was certainly an impressive feat for the company to accomplish, they soon realized that this massive scale picnic didn’t make sense. With so many people there, it was unlikely for you to meet up with coworkers and bond in a different setting. Introducing your family to your manager was a long shot. Microsoft changed the format and decided to give individual groups budgets for annual events. Now, a group of anywhere from 30 to 200 people will throw an annual company picnic, either at their headquarters in Redmond, or nearby at Lake Sammamish’s own Vasa Park.”
23. Host a company field day
Each year Cvent’s sales and clients services team host their own field day with an evening of barbecue, drinks, and competitions. Field day is a success due to the unlimited amount of bonding between the teams and the games that bring them together.
The games include an egg toss, three-legged race, whiffle boss toss game, and a corn hole tournament that runs through the entire day. The final touch on field day is the winner of the corn hole tournamnets brings home bragging rights for ther team for the remainder of the year!
How hotels can best accommodate outdoor events
Since there is increased demand for outdoor events, here are a few creative ways to use hotel space for predominantly outdoor events.
24. Use parking lots for activities
Rope off a section of the hotel parking lot to serve its purpose of parking. Then use the extra space for activities or lounging areas for the attendees to socialize. Consider bringing out tenting to help shield from the sun and rain based on weather predictions.
25. Bring the catering outside
Bring the catering outside. Be sure to limit the menu options and ensure they are easy to deliver, as the team will be severing across much larger areas. Be sure to keep attendees hydrated – you could even consider having a sponsor for water bottles.
26. Use the courtyard for the seating
Give the attendees a patio-seating experience while serving them in the courtyard area. Using the courtyard will ensure tables and seats won’t have to be carried too far. And ensure the tables can be positioned six feet apart in the courtyard area with event layout software.
27. Partner with a local venue or restaurant nearby
For hotels that don’t have open areas outside, consider teaming up with a local venue that does have outdoor space. That way the hotel can accommodate sleeping rooms, while guests can enjoy event activities outdoors.
Now you’re ready to host great outdoor events in any venue.
A quick recap on outdoor event ideas:
Some fun events to hold include award ceremonies, festivals, networking events, galas, company picnics, and much more.
Make an outdoor event unique by creating a specific theme, such as adventure, safari, floral, or sports. And provide multiple activities for people to begin conversations with one another such as chalk drawing and “fishing” in blow up pools.
Make your outdoor event awesome with these ideas!
You have all the knowledge you need to host a fun and unique outdoor event successfully! Be sure to include ice breakers so attendees can network and meet new people. Don’t forget the food and beverage to ensure the attendees are energized.
Next, confirm the AV for the event so communication is smooth, and the attendees are able to let loose during breaks. Inspiration is never ending so don’t be afraid to see what other companies have done. And lastly, include the hoteliers, even if you are outdoors, as they can provide resources outside of their buildings.
By the way, please note this is not legal advice. We’re just doing our best to help our amazing industry adapt during these crazy times. Please check out your state guidelines for new event safety protocols regarding the pandemic.