5 Tips for Surviving the Office Picnic

Ah, the end of the summer, the time when everyone panics about all the summery things they were going to do, before they wound up watching TV instead. Companies are no different in this regard. Many choose this time of year to add a new wrinkle to forced employee bonding, and that is forced employee bonding in an outdoor setting.

picnic 

(Photo Credit: kfoodaddict/Flickr)

Which isn't to say that a picnic can't be a lot of fun, if you're prepared. If your company has decided to throw an office picnic, there's plenty you can do to make sure it's more fun-in-the-sun and less having-a-meeting-while-being-bitten-by-bugs. (Hat tip to The Wall Street Journal for reminding us that office picnics require their own set of rules.)

1. Read the invitation. The whole thing.

There's a reason for this, besides wanting the organizer to feel useful. You need to find out if you need to bring anything. Don't be that person who shows up without a dish at the potluck.

2. Be prepared for any weather.

The weather report says it'll be sunny and 85, but you'll want to plan for anything from blistering heat to torrential rains. Bring sunscreen, bring bug spray, bring sensible shoes and an umbrella. You don't need to pack a tent, but you need to make sure you can make yourself comfortable no matter what.

3. Be cheerful.

Maybe you're more of an indoor kid, and that's OK. But the office picnic isn't the time to remind everyone about it. Look for the parts of the outing that appeal to you, and concentrate on those. At the very least, it's a day out of the office.

4. Bring something you can eat.

Even if it's a potluck, there's no guarantee that everyone will read the invitation as carefully as you did. Bring a snack for yourself. It's hard to adhere to No. 3 on this list when there's nothing to eat -- or worse, tons of things that you can't eat for whatever reason. (This one is obviously especially important for vegetarians, allergy sufferers, or folks who keep kosher.)

5. Bring cash.

Office workers spend most of their days in places where everyone takes Visa. Unless the office picnic is at that cluster of tables out behind the cafeteria, you're likely to be a long way from an ATM. Bring cash, just in case.

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