Set up your budget
Although it can seem intimidating at first, a budget is the backbone of a successful picnic. Believe it or not, it can also be fun and rewarding to work with. The best way to tackle the budget is to get organized, which usually involves formatting a tracking page.
Spreadsheet programs for budgeting come in handy, but you'll want to carry a printed version with you in your notebook to help you make price comparisons and to show you at a glance where you can spend more money and where you'll need to stick to your original budget.
At the top of the first page in the budget section of your notebook, write down the amount of money your company is willing to spend.
Under that, write down the number of employees and guests expected to attend. It's important to estimate this number even though it may change later, because all of your other planning needs will revolve around how many people are expected. Base your estimate on the previous year's event or take the number of employees and anticipate 80 percent will come. Then multiply that number by 2.5 to allow for children and spouses.
Draw a vertical line down the center of the page. On the top of the page to the left of this line, write the word "Estimate." Positioned similarly on the right, write the word, "Actual." Under each of these words, write the total your company is willing to spend plus any money you're going to charge employees to attend.
Note: Although charging money seems to contradict the very reason for a picnic, for large companies charging a small fee helps to ensure and offset the overall costs. If employees are charged $10 for each person they bring, they're less likely to bring all their friends along on the company bill. Amusement parks sometimes charge $40 per person or higher, so even if they must pay $10 for each family member, employees are still motivated to take advantage of this discount and attend, especially when they must pay in advance.
Down the far left of the page, list anything you might spend money on, such as the location, food, beverages, rental equipment, entertainment, and so forth.
As you collect estimates, insert the amounts (no matter how small) next to the appropriate word in the "Estimates" column. If your estimates put you over budget, go back and negotiate prices or cut items you can borrow or do without.
As you purchase items, insert the amounts in the "Actual" column, subtracting the amounts from the total at the top of the list as you go. When actual prices are less than the estimated cost, you'll have that much more money to spend on other stuff. Now you can easily stay within your budget.