How to Plan a Company Picnic in Seattle or Bellevue

Company picnic season is almost here, and as Seattle gets sunnier with each passing day, company retreats, corporate events, and work parties are in the planning stages in conference rooms from Tacoma to Seattle, Kirkland to Issaquah, and everywhere in between.

Need inventive, professional, and fun bar service for a Seattle area or South Sound company picnic?

Of course, we’ve got that covered! But what about the rest? After three summers of corporate receptions under our belt, we’ve seen a wide swath of the event services this area has to offer. We been dazzled by balloon arches, entertained by DIY floral crown stations, watched pony rides wander through parks, and eaten from more than a few bbqs and food truck feasts. We’ve watched as happy employees engaged with one another outside the office, meeting each other’s kids and spouses, or coming together more closely as a team over the kind of bonding that can only occur when you’re well fed,with a great drink in hand, and looking out over a Northwest sunset.

In this post we’re rounding up a few of our favorite work party themes, and trends, alongside the vendors who can help bring these ideas to life.

Planning a fun and inclusive company party for your Washington business:

Our list of laid back to elegant ideas will excite all members of your employees’ families, or all ages and interests of your wide employee base:

Hands on Happy Hour:

Bring in expert teachers to share how to plant succulents, watercolor paint, or dozens of other subjects, with workshops on location from The Works Studio in Seattle, Something to Chalk About’s onsite lettering classes, or buy wholesale farm grown flowers and bring in a florist to lead a DIY farm grown flower bouquet class. Ask us about our “Classic Cocktails 101” or “Garden to Glass Cocktails” classes onsite or hire us to provide the liquid inspiration while you learn from one of Seattle’s talented makers.

Low Country Boil-

Ask your caterer for a family style meal perfect for smaller parties that brings people together over the hands on fun of seasonal eating. With a (literal) mess of corn, potatoes, and fresh Northwest seafood, all tossed over newspaper lined family style picnic tables, guests will dig in for big flavor and quite a few laughs. It’s easy to break the ice with your neighbor when you’re both cracking crab legs and asking to pass the bread. Wash it all down with one of our Bourbon Brambles with locally grown marionberries and mint, or refresh guests with glasses of Washington made Pinot Gris and Rose wines. Don’t forget ambiance- bring in Seattle’s own Cascade Country musician, Aaron Crawford, to set the tone and keep energy high.

Add fun themed drinks for every party! A Marionberry + Mint Bourbon Bramble will quench thirst at the Low Country Boil

Add fun themed drinks for every party! A Marionberry + Mint Bourbon Bramble will quench thirst at the Low Country Boil

White Party-

Be sure to reserve the white Shutter Bus Co photobooth for your white party!

Be sure to reserve the white Shutter Bus Co photobooth for your white party!

Don’t leave the fun to P. Diddy and friends. Take inspiration from his famous parties and decorate an elevated soiree with white shade umbrellas and lounge furniture, encourage an all white dress code, and bring in Ravishing Radish to serve an al fresco meal. Passed appetizers will work the room while none other than our camper bar hosts the summer sips, since she is, of course, always on theme with her clean white exterior. Ask us to bring in additional chic white bars from Happy Hour Barre Rentals to serve guests, and keep the all white camper bar as a special satellite bar with an intriguing theme- maybe its a PNW rose tasting bar, or a gin and tonic bar. Choose drinks like our coconut milk margarita to keep the theme going strong, and bring in a club style DJ service to keep energy high all night long. Oak and Fig floral’s all white floral ceiling installations will transform a dinner tent or built onsite arbor entrance to the big bash.

Out in the Fields-

Working Farm Willie Greens in Monroe is the perfect spot to host your own farm to table, intimate dinner for a company retreat. The field will set the tone, and Chef Cody of farm to table darling, Della Terra will provide a meal with locally grown harvests. String lights overhead and rent farm tables from Seattle Farm Tables adorned with lanterns. Our rustic wooden bars will host carefully paired garden to glass cocktail menu of summer favorites like the Rosemary Ricky and the Seattle Sling and Washington made wines. A take home gift of farm to bar simple syrup from Simple Goodness Sisters for the guests will complete the story and allow your employees to relive the night for many DIY drinks to come.

Beer Garden Table rentals from Wander Event Rentals are available for large groups

Beer Garden Table rentals from Wander Event Rentals are available for large groups

Night at the Movies-

Bring the cinema to the office green space with a portable screen rental, your employees and their families, and our camper bar + snack stations. We’ll bring the cocktails, beer, and wine, as well as Shirley Temples, Roy Rogers, or Italian Soda’s for the younger guests. We’ll also bring in wooden bins bursting with noshable goodies like nostalgic candy mixes, cookies and milk., and “make your own” popcorn mix stations. Wander Event rentals and Vintage Ambiance can provide quirky cool styled lounges to take the party up a notch!

Weddings Aren’t Seasonal: Why Fall and Winter are Great Times to Get Married

We’ve never done this before, but why not celebrate all these recent graduates, support an up and comer’s growing resume, AND learn from someone new, by having a guest post!

About the author: Andee is a recent college graduate from Arizona State University with a love of writing, the outdoors, and funky cafes. You can usually find her hiking or planning her next trip. She is passionate about traveling, her family, and the perfect cup of coffee.    

Photo by Dan Manning photography

Photo by Dan Manning photography

Weddings Aren’t Seasonal: Why Fall and Winter are Great Great Times to Get Married

If you want a unique wedding, consider getting married in the fall and winter seasons. These months in the Pacific Northwest have a beauty all their own.  Many people would try to hide what these months are like by having a tropical beach theme, but that's a mistake. Instead, lean into the qualities of these months. Imagine bright fall colors or jewel tones contrasting with gray or rainy skies, cozy warming cocktails, and blazing fires. Look through these ideas and decide which sounds most appealing, then find a venue that will help you realize your wedding dreams.

Cozy Ideas

In colder months, weddings can be cozy and romantic.  To protect guests from the elements in a garden, have a tent with heaters. Provide blankets for guests to wrap around themselves. Consider providing umbrellas for guests to use and buying some wholesale towels for people to dry off.

Offer up a cocktail, like the Hello Fall, with apple cider, vanilla bean and pear puree, vodka or gin, and ginger beer-- all comforting spices that will warm up guests. Hot chocolate with fixings like marshmallows and whipped cream is also a good choice; you could offer the option of spiking it. Or, as a hot chocolate alternative, try the Chai Swizzle: chai with brown sugar, cinnamon, and Bailey's.

Chai Swizzle cocktail by Happy Camper Cocktails, photographed by Meredith McKee

Chai Swizzle cocktail by Happy Camper Cocktails, photographed by Meredith McKee

Also, think about how the seasons may influence the toasts and first dance in special ways. For the toast, instead of plain champagne, try a special cocktail. The Tombez dans Les Pommes consists of apple cider, brut champagne, spice bitters, and a rosemary stir stick. For the first dance, consider a slower, more instrumental song-- there are actually fall and winter wedding song playlists available.

Hello Fall cocktail by Happy Camper Cocktails, photographed by Meredith McKee

Hello Fall cocktail by Happy Camper Cocktails, photographed by Meredith McKee

Photography

Sparkler send offs are safer in late Fall as the rain comes into WA state, please avoid these send offs in dry weather

Sparkler send offs are safer in late Fall as the rain comes into WA state, please avoid these send offs in dry weather

Before you choose a venue, you might want to consider what kind of wedding photos are the most appealing to you by looking through fall and winter bridal portfolios.  Having a photo shoot with a backdrop of fall leaves is lovely, with the rich colors a contrast to white or cream bridal gowns. Falling snow or rain in the background can be used to great romantic effect, as can umbrellas. If you can picture yourself in these photos, then that may be the type of venue and month you want to choose.

Venues

Now it's time to look at venues, which will depend on how many guests you're having and whether you want to stay indoors or out. Indoor venues include Magnuson Park in Seattle, a city-owned space with a variety of different-sized rooms you can rent with plenty of dance space. Westland Distillery in downtown Seattle has a dining room with 40-foot ceilings and floor to ceiling windows for lots of natural light; standing receptions can host 250 people while seated ones can handle 150.

For fall weddings, check out the University of Washington Botanic Gardens, which offers an indoor space that opens onto a large courtyard where you can place a bar and have dancing. The photos in the stack below are from the wedding of Jeremie and Kevin, and took place on a gorgeous day in early September.

Outdoor venues for fall or winter include Kelley Farm in Bonney Lake, Washington, which might be one of the best compromises between an indoor and an outdoor wedding. It has a huge barn, a big brick patio, spots for a tent, and separate spaces for the bride and groom to get dressed; they already have an indoor bar, so you would just need a tasty bar menu and talented bartenders to serve up some delicious winter warmers. Rock Creek Gardens in Puyallup also has a beautiful tented wedding space in a lush, private, and elegant garden setting.

Foods

For food, think hearty and warm. Find a caterer who changes their menu up for fall and winter months. Try serving hot soup in small mugs. Consider elevated comfort foods, like macaroni and cheese or grilled cheese with tomato soup. Small candied apples on sticks make a great thematic fall treat. Lava cakes, with their hot chocolate filling, are a good choice for a cooler day.

Wedding cakes should also lean into the fall and winter wedding themes. Autumn cakes can use seasonal spices, like pumpkin spice or chai and cinnamon, and be decorated with fall-colored flowers or berries. Winter cakes might be snow white or dripping with elegant chocolate ganache.

Fall and winter weddings are an opportunity to have a beautiful, creative wedding, where guests will remember cuddling up together and enjoying themselves. And during these months, venues are generally much less expensive, giving you the most bang for your buck as well as a wedding few other people will have. Just consider your guests' comfort, provide hot food and warming cocktails, and you'll be all set.