How to choose a summer party theme to strengthen your culture and employee brand

Matt Turner, the founder and MD of Clownfish Events on how different brands can create the best summer party for their employees.

June traditionally marks the start of the summer party season and for a range of good reasons, workplace summer parties are now overtaking Christmas dos as the must-have annual employee event. For high growth businesses with a demanding working environment, hosting an office summer party is an opportunity to reward employees and reinforce the company’s cultural values at the same time. This results in a greater return on investment in terms of improved productivity and employee engagement.

Let your hair down

Compared with Christmas events, summer parties are more informal and therefore flexible to organise at short notice, which makes them a better option for companies that don’t have the resources to plan their events far in advance.  There’s also usually more scope to combine informal socialising with important team-building activities if this is needed. At a time when over 60 per cent of employees are reporting feeling stressed by their work, a summer shindig creates a chance to step away from the 9-5 pressures and have some fun!

Paradoxically, it’s our constant access to mobile technology that makes employees more stressed than ever. The problem is particularly widespread in high growth companies, many of which are challenging more established brands and want to operate at lightning speeds.  There tends to be an ‘always on’ culture in these organisations, with an underlying perception that high performance is synonymous with working extended hours and always being available. In some companies, the problem is so embedded that workers are effectively cancelling out every single day of their annual leave allowances, simply because they are routinely working beyond normal office hours from mobile devices.

Digital detox

To counteract rising stress levels, digital detox summer parties that offer the chance to re-connect with colleagues and share quality downtime are becoming increasingly popular. This kind of event can be surprisingly cost-effective too, as venue hire costs are minimal and there’s no real need for gourmet food and wine. Think fireside sing-alongs: a tipi, fire pit, cosy blankets, toasted marshmallows and maybe an open mic for budding performers to show off their talents. Regardless of the industry you are in, a party like this makes the vital connection between respecting work/life balance and the impact of proper downtime on mental wellbeing.

If a detox isn’t needed for your team, there are many other cost-effective party options that can be used to convey specific brand values and create a consistent cultural experience to boost employee engagement levels. For instance:

White Party – stylish, sophisticated and achingly cool. This theme is ideal for luxury brands and high-end professional services companies that might also want to celebrate their organisation’s emphasis on promoting diversity and a cosmopolitan culture. Think Mediterranean islands, white furniture and ambient lighting to recreate an exclusive holiday hotspot. Add a dance floor, DJ, chill out zone and plenty of entertainment for an event worthy of an A-list beach club.

Brand values: passion, attention to detail, diversity, dare to be different, simplicity, style

Great for brands like: Deloitte, Burberry, Selfridges, Grant Thornton

Traditional English Fair – heritage, tradition, under-stated style and practicality.

This theme is great for brands that want to emphasise their British provenance as a sign of quality – like custom manufacturers, food and drink producers and ethical brands. Choosing a garden party theme with traditional accents like deckchairs, bunting, fairground rides and side stalls (with some Pimm’s and strawberries thrown in!) is a great way to celebrate the summer, keeping costs down but still delivering an event that is unique and memorable.

Brand values: community, fun, quirky, sustainable, heritage, traditional.

Great for brands like: Pip & Nut, Higgidy, Sipsmith, Riverford Organic, Radley

Sporting Fun – competitive, team spirited, entrepreneurial and spontaneous.

This theme is the perfect choice for challenger brands, start-ups and dynamic/fast moving industries where risk-taking is the norm. With the 2018 World Cup just about to kick off and increasing numbers of companies wanting to promote health and wellness amongst employees, sporting challenges are likely be very popular this summer.

Brand values: excellence, growth orientated, teamwork, courage, commitment.

Great for brands like: Allbirds, Go Ape, Metro Bank, Uber, Spotify

Boho Festival – glamorous and fun; a good fit for international brands looking to emphasise the importance of ‘down time’ and adventure. If your employees will be hankering after their usual week at Glastonbury, this could be the answer. Use the fallow year to your brand’s advantage and bring the main stage to them.

Brand values: innovation, distinctive, creative, open-minded, sustainability

Great for brands like: Jo&Joe, Montezuma’s, Tatty Devine, Etsy.

Find out more: Clownfish Events

Michael Somerville

Michael Somerville

Michael was senior reporter for from 2018 to 2019.

Related Topics

Employee Engagement