Posted by: Professionals In Human Resources Association (PIHRA) | May 13, 2013

Time for a Summer Break?

Time for a Summer Break?
by Jay Lewis,Club PIHRA

What a perfect day!  Sun is shining, a warm summer breeze blows in through the window, cars pass by with surfboards strapped to the top, a classic Beach Boys tune plays on the radio, and the familiar aroma of Hawaiian Tropic suntan oil . . . . Hey, wait a minute.  Get back to work and quit day dreaming.  You’ve got a pile in the “In” box and a bunch of deadlines to meet.

Is it finally time for a summer break?  Last month we talked about some great ideas for your organization’s summer social activities.  This month we promised that we would talk about the option of hosting a “Summer Break”.  What is a summer break you might ask?  A summer break is a social event that your company or organization might host for employees and company guests.  Many companies hold picnics, parties, visits to amusement parks or other locations.  However, if a company does not have the time, budget or desire to pull off a full-scale summer event, they might choose to put together a “Summer Break”, which is generally a social event on a smaller scale held at the workplace location.  It could be:

  • An early morning event held just after the employees arrive at work to kick start the day
  • A lunch time event
  • A late afternoon event held just before the team leaves the office for the weekend.
  • A surprise event announced at a spontaneous time.
  • Or it can be an event where people stop in at random times throughout the day when their schedule allows.

The main objectives for holding a “Summer Break” are to:

  • Give the team a short break from the work day.
  • Allow the employees an opportunity to gather for socializing and to make new acquaintances.
  • Show team members that the company recognizes their efforts and cares about their well being by hosting a special event.
  • Allows management to socialize and communicate with the employees.

Some companies choose to host these smaller events on a monthly basis.  By giving each “Summer Break” a different theme, the organization is able to keep the special events fresh and exciting, well attended and highly anticipated by the team.

Some of the more popular ideas include:

Donut Tasting

Nobody will admit it anymore, but most people still like donuts.  Start off the day by holding a good old fashioned donut tasting in the lobby.  As everyone wanders in from the freeway commute battle ground, they can experience the wonderful world of donuts, milk, hot chocolate and a cappuccino cart to get a fresh start on the day.  Cut the donuts into bite size pieces so that everyone can try different flavors.  Nothing says good morning quite like this.  Be sure to have a few low fat and sugar-free choices set aside for those with special dietary needs.

Lemonade Bar

A bar at work?? Well, this one’s ok because all we serve is lemonade . . . and  in an exciting array of flavors.  Peach, hibiscus, passion fruit, tiger’s blood, watermelon, blueberry and the list goes on.  To top it off, add a selection of gourmet cookies or fruit trays.

Hawaiian Shave Ice Stand

Welcome to the tropics.  What better way to say hello to summer than with a mouth watering cup of shave ice in a choice of flavors. Put on some island music, have a tropical wardrobe contest, and for the really brave, a chance on the Robo surfer, which will truly test their hang ten skills. (Robo surfer is a simulated surfing inflatable game that determines  how long the guest can remain on a moving surfboard.)

Batter Up! 

A baseball game without hot dogs and peanuts?  No way.  Employees can take an afternoon trip to the stadium counter for a foot long Dodger Dog and a bag of peanuts.  Throw in some baseball theme music, a baseball trivia contest or some game highlights on the video screen.  And last but not least, a fast pitch game will see how well those great athletes in the office can really throw a fast ball.

The Boardwalk

Anyone who has visited Balboa Island or Newport Beach has to know how great a Balboa Bar or Frozen Banana tastes. Bring the beach to the office with a Balboa Bar shop.  Frozen bananas and ice cream bars dipped in chocolate and rolled in a tray of rainbow sprinkles, nuts, butter brickle, coconut . . . and more.  A few boardwalk games, some Beach Boys tunes and the fun begins.  Oh, and of course an award for the best pair of Bermuda shorts.

The Good Old Days

Pull up a stool for a genuine handmade malt on a 1950’s spindle malt machine.  The thickest shakes this side of Staten Island.  Is root beer your flavor?  Then have the soda jerk throw in a scoop of ice cream for an ice cold float.  Have a hula hoop and bubble blowing contest.  Don’t forget to spin the hop sock vinyl and have awards for the best poodle skirt, duck tail, etc.

Build your Own

An ice cream sundae bar will bring out the crowds, guaranteed!  You’ll see people that you didn’t know were even part of the organization.  Maybe they aren’t.   Just put out about 16 toppings on the counter to smother a generous bowl of ice cream.

Think Fit

For a health twist, serve over-the counter smoothies.  A few flavors and a real healthy alternative or two can round out the menu.

Silver Screen

Play clips from famous films and give everyone a chance to stop by the theater snack bar.  Pop corn, Cracker Jack, Red Vines, Mild Duds, Junior Mints, Malted Milk Balls, and all those other favorites to choose from.  Have a movie trivia contest and give awards to those who come dressed as their favorite stars.

But don’t stop there.  Come up with your own ideas. Be creative . . . the sky is the limit . . . think outside of the box.  The more creative each “Summer Break” theme, the more they will be remembered and appreciated.  Management can dress in the theme and serve or greet the employees as they attend the gathering.  Give prizes for the best theme costumes or theme decorated office in that theme for the month.

“Summer Breaks”, do not and should not take a lot of effort.  They can be done without spending a fortune or taking too much time away from the workday.  And most of all they should be fun!

Do these ideas sound like a lot to take on?  A reputable event planner can be a big help.  Club PIHRA can help you get started and steer you in the right direction.  Give us a call or send us an email and we’ll be happy to give you some great ideas.

These “E-Ideas” are brought to you by Club PIHRA, a special interest group within the PIHRA organization. Club PIHRA meets regularly at a spectacular location and brings together HR professionals with organizations that represent an endless variety of recreation opportunities including amusement parks, special event providers, theaters, sports events, party planners, museums and other companies that offer valuable employee benefits. See the for more info and upcoming events.  Author Jay Lewis is a Board Member of Club PIHRA and can be reached at: or or 626-794-7371.


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