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How to Plan a Corporate Summer Party Your Employees Will Actually Want to Attend

photographer: Tim King Photography | planner: Pacific Event Production | venue: Pendry San Diego

by Lauren Mandel, Director of Marketing

Let’s be honest: employees don’t always look forward to mandatory corporate events. But if you plan the right type of event — with the right vibe — then your team will view your corporate summer party as a fantastic perk rather than an obligation. Booking an exciting venue, choosing a creative theme, booking engaging entertainment, and bringing in plenty of delicious food and drink will have your whole office talking about your corporate summer party for months to come. Follow these 7 simple steps (and see creative twists below) to plan the most incredible corporate summer party this season.

1. Pick the Right Venue or Event Space

The venue for your corporate summer party should feel fun and lively — and nothing like your day-to-day office environment. These parties were all hosted at very different venues, but we love how each was completely transformed.


Airy & Bright Raw Space

Seating area at Zillow Group party
photographer: McCune Photography

The Huntington Bay Club offered the perfect indoor/outdoor venue for this chic corporate summer party. Found Rentals provided the rustic-glam lounge areas and tables (topped with gorgeous florals from Lavender Flowers), while 24 Carrots Catering and Events curated an incredible bar display and delicious bites.

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Spacious & Historic Outdoor Venue

show entertainment
photographer: Sheri Whitko Photography

LadidadiXM filled Chicago’s spacious Gallagher Way near Wrigley Field with summer camp vibes for Groupon’s annual corporate outing. Employees enjoyed a day and a night filled with engaging activities, photo booth opportunities, and more.

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Pool Deck Paradise at a Chic Hotel

Pool Deck at a Chic Hotel
photographer: Tim King Photography

Branding — just like everything else in life — is best done poolside, as is evident by this incredible corporate event at Pendry San Diego. Pacific Event Production transformed the hotel’s pool deck into a California oasis for their client, Zillow.

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Ethereal Garden with a Tented Event Space

Ethereal Garden with a Tented Event Space
photographer: Rebecca Marie Photography

The Chicago Botanic Garden is a dream venue for any type of event, but we especially love it for a corporate celebration. The event planners at SQN Events worked with Reenie Rose and Divine Designs and Events to enhance the garden’s natural beauty with whimsical décor, a lush bar, and plenty of photo ops.

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2. Get Creative With a Theme

Whether your corporate summer party is decked out in on-theme décor, or you’re encouraging your employees to dress the part for a fun costume party, these creative themes will inspire your events.


Colors of the Rainbow

colored balloons and flowers
photographers: Charla Storey Photography & Eric Kelley Photography

A breakout session at Engage19! Baha Mar infused the rainbow into each and every aspect of the event, from confetti-filled balloons to the epic dessert bar display. The conference was designed by Emily Clarke Events and hosted across multiple venues, including Grand Hyatt Baha Mar, SLS Baha Mar, and Rosewood at Baha Mar.

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French-Inspired Celebration

French-themed party
photographer: Kari Otero Photography

Transport your employees to the streets of Paris with a French-themed summer celebration. This tented event at Gate Hill Day Camp from Florie Huppert Design showcased the colors of the French flag, from the linens to the picnic tables. French flags were even draped from the top of the tent.

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Comic-Inspired Corporate Bash

Comic-Inspired Corporate Party
photographer: Kehoe Designs

Kehoe Designs transformed multiple floors and the rooftop of Joy District for a comic-themed corporate event in Chicago. Balloon installations and custom artwork (that doubled as photo ops) kept guests engaged and entertained throughout the party.

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3. Brand Everything — From Décor to Signage

Branding not only provides an ideal photo backdrop, but it can also help remind your employees why they’re celebrating. Display your logo throughout the décor, create custom bar signage, and more.

Maximize Logo Exposure

LaCroix photo wall
photographer: Jesi Haack Design

At this LaCroix event at the The Saguaro Palm Springs planned by LB Events + Design, there was no shortage of branded décor. Throw pillows, drink coolers, welcome signage, even ping pong paddles, all from Jesi Haack Design, were all branded with the LaCroix logo and colors.

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Say It With Custom Signage

Engage sign
Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World® Resort

Engage Summits does it again, this time with some of our favorite custom signage from Chalk Shop. The planners at Très Chic Southern Weddings seamlessly integrated chic on-theme signage for the bar and buffet at this celebration hosted at Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World® Resort.

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Beautifully-Branded Backdrops

Aveeno brand backdrop
photographer: 153 Multimedia Productions

Skincare brand, Aveeno, worked with X7 exeven Events and The Lounge Design Miami to create the ultimate summery product launch at The Confidante Miami Beach. Barra Design created one of our favorite elements: the welcome sign-photo op hybrid, which spelled out the brand’s name in gorgeous greenery.

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4. Provide Delicious Food & Creative Cocktails

From branded buffet presentations to creative takes on your favorites finger foods, these catering and cocktail ideas will be some of the most memorable parts of any corporate summer party.


Perfect Presentation for Summer

flamingo decorated food
photographer: The Vanity Portrait Studio

Delicious food is enhanced by an on-theme presentation, all from the creative team at Culinary Eye Catering & Events. Appetizers on sticks peeking out of grassy platters make for adorable and appealing bites for guests.

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Lobster Boil to Feed a Crowd

lobster boil
photographer: Jeff Marini

If you’re looking for a crowd-pleasing, family-style menu for your corporate summer party, look no further than a lobster boil. Bub City Rosemont provided guests with fresh lobsters and all the traditional fixings, including fresh corn and butter for dipping.

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Playful Packaging Filled With Treats

branded French fries
photographer: Eugene Lee Photography

Patina Catering worked with KMM Packaging to present their cuisine in adorable displays. The logo-covered French fry holders and burger boxes were creative vessels for the delicious food at this outdoor corporate event at The Stonehurst.

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On-Theme Serving Vessels

coconut serving platter
photographer: Carter Rose for Wolfgang Puck Catering

If you’re hosting a tropical-themed summer party, take note of the food at this event from Wolfgang Puck Catering – Dallas and hosted at AT&T Performing Arts Center. Coconuts were used everywhere — from the food to the décor — and we especially love the halved fresh coconuts that were used as serving bowls.

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5. Engage with Experiential Activities & Entertainment

Experiential marketing is no longer just a trend — it’s an expectation guests have when attending top events. Choose engaging activities or interactive entertainment to wow your guests at your corporate summer party.


A Creative Carnival Experience

Daisy branded tent
photographer: Suzan Jone

Jessica Fels Event Production & Design incorporated the theme of this event for Marc Jacobs into every element, including the carnival-style games with custom graphics from AAA Flag & Banne and SoCal Graphics. From the branded Ferris wheel to the toss game, guests had so many opportunities to stay engaged while celebrating at Santa Monica Pier.

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Get Artsy With Action Stations

DIY candle making
photographer: Scott Clark Photo

Guests at this moody celebration by TINSEL Experiential Design at Angel Orensanz Foundation had the opportunity to participate in multiple activity stations, including DIY candle making. Provide candles — or other art projects — with your company’s colors or logos to be customized by partygoers.

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Entertainers Everywhere You Look

entertainment at The Pearl
photographer: JBJ Pictures

Another carnival-themed event, this time hosted at The Pearl and focused on entertainment. Entire Productions filled the space with on-theme, unique entertainers, including a juggler, violinist, and acrobat. Rentals and décor from Blueprint Studios helped tie the whole event together.

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6. Provide Plenty of Photo Ops

If there’s no Instagrammable moment, did a party even happen? Event guests expect a photo op or two, and we found a few options that are perfect for any summer event.


Fashionable Photo Ops

custom backdrop
photographer: Gloria Mesa Photography

This fashion-forward party, hosted at JLM Boutique – Beverly Hills, featured multiple custom backdrops where guests posed for photos. Anything but Gray Events undoubtedly knew guests would love each Instagrammable décor element, including balloons from Balloonzilla, food displays featuring nibbles from Collette’s Catering & Events and florals from Shindig Chic.

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An Interactive, Artistic Photo Op

interactive coloring wall
photographer: Don’t Quit Your Day Job Productions

Guests created their own picture spot at this corporate event, hosted at Glasshouse Chelsea in New York City. The teams at Glasshouse Chelsea and Bastille did an incredible job with the festive décor. A black-and-white backdrop was quickly transformed, thanks to colorful markers and guests’ creativity. We love a photo op that can double as an activity.

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Perfectly-Placed Neon Signs

neon signs
The Lakewood

Neon signage, greenery and floral-filled backdrops, and perfectly-placed props created photo ops for Bachelor star, Jojo Fletcher’s pop-up shop at The Lakewood in Chicago. Guests enjoyed passed bites from Paramount Events and Dineamic Catering while they mingled and explored the reality star’s new clothing line, FLETCH.

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7. Don’t Forget the Favors and Swag

After such an incredible event, it would be a shame to send your employees home empty handed. Use one of our favorite conferences — with two separate but equally incredible events — as an example for great favors and swag.


Personalized — and Practical — Towels

personalized towels
photographer: McKenzie Deakins

This beach-themed welcome party from Geffen Events was part of the Agnes & Dora conference and had so many swoon-worthy details, but we especially loved the branded towels. Drive Marketing created the swag items that were handed out as favors, but not before they were used by guests at the party.

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Fill Up Your Favors

personalized water bottles
South Towne Exposition Center

Guests are bound to get thirsty at corporate summer parties, so why not give them swag they can use now — and later? For another event of the Agnes & Dora conference, this time at South Towne Exposition Center, Geffen Events provided branded water bottles for guests.

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