Office Picnic Etiquette

Break out the sunscreen and bug spray, and let’s toast to office picnic season!

Richie Frieman,
June 22, 2015
Episode #345

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Break out the sunscreen and bug spray, and let’s toast to office picnic season! That’s right, it’s that time of year for companies across the globe to hold their annual office picnic. Whether it’s a get-together at the boss’ house or held in a large pavillion at a local park, office picnics don’t always have the same rousing sense of glee that comes with an ideal gathering of friends.

Now, I’m not going to slam office picnics—I love them—when everyone is on board. And that’s the key. If you’re swatting away mosquitos in 95-degree weather, while slurping down lukewarm lemonade or relaxing at a catered event in style, the success of an office picnic comes down to proper attitudes of all who attend. So, let’s take a look at proper office picnic etiquette… and how to survive everything that goes into one.

Tip #1: Yes, You Have To Go!

Around April and May, I start to receive email about office picnics that are coming up. What to wear? How to act? Can you drink? Should you bring a date? Do you even have to go? The list of questions goes on and on, and all are amazing issues to point out. However, the one non-debatable issue is actually being required to attend an office party of any kind. Bottom line: you have to go. For starters, what’s your excuse? I mean, you even get an impromptu happy hour out of it. Even a birthday celebration for your office arch nemesis can be avoided with a little white lie about “having to meet a deadline” or something. But skipping an annual office party? Sorry, my mannerly crew, playing hooky is not an option. If you don’t go to an annual office party (picnic or holiday), you look like a Grade A Party Pooper. Yes, they give grades for that.

I mean, what’s your excuse? You’ve known about this for months. Who will believe you if you say you can’t make it?  Sure, you may not have known the exact date … but you knew it was coming. Here’s the deal: office parties are still work, and no amount of free iced tea and apple pie can cover that up. However, you have to bring your best attitude to the picnic and be ready to engage with colleagues. If you try to dodge the party, you look incredibly rude as well as antisocial—two very bad qualities to have in the office. Additionally, it makes it look like you can’t stand to be around your colleagues for just a few hours, which are designed to be fun. Plus, attending an office picnic or holiday party, is the single easiest way to say, “I’m a team player.” You don’t have to work the crowd or sing karaoke to be part of the event. You just have to show up.

But the only way you can really get out of the picnic is due to a family issue, or if you have a vacation planned (which is paid reason to not attend and you know no one will expect you to cancel it). Aside from that, you better be there.

Tip #2: Drop Your Ego

Paul from Chicago emailed me about his Chicago Cubs themed office picnic, which he couldn’t stomach to participate in. Now, at first I thought maybe he just hated the Cubbies or something? I mean how hard is it to wear blue and white? However, it turns out the “show your support for the Cubs” theme was actually about having to pay homage to actual bears, not the team. Folks, I kid you not. Apparently his boss is a rather enthusiastic environmentalist and this was his way of being “funny.” So, everyone had to either wear bear ears or paint their nose like a bear, and everyone had to do a choreographed dance. Alright, I’m with you, this idea of office morale is a bit unbearable. Sorry, had to do it.


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