Labor Day launched in the late 1800s as a way to recognize the contributions that American workers have made to our society. Today, the first Monday in September is often more about saluting the end of summer and getting together for cookouts.

This Labor Day, take inspiration from the holiday’s original meaning and inject a little fun with celebration ideas just right for the office before everyone takes off for the long weekend.

1. Host a Classic American Barbecue

Backyard barbecues are one of the most widely practiced Labor Day traditions. According to one survey, over half of all respondents planned to either host or attend a Labor Day barbecue in 2020, so planning one of your own could be a good way to treat your team to something that feels familiar and celebratory.

Your barbecue can happen indoors or outdoors. If you’re concerned about the weather or just don’t have outdoor space available, dress up your indoor space with gingham tablecloths, chalkboard signs, and perhaps a few versions of common lawn games. Outdoor barbecues offer a more classic take on Labor Day festivities, and you can set up an event tent to keep the elements at bay.

As for food, classic takes on barbecue such as smoked brisket, pulled pork, and ribs are usually big hits. Plan out your catering with the help of your favorite local barbecue joint or browse their online menu ahead of time to get an idea of what’s available. Incorporating some of that restaurant’s signature items could help take your party over the top.

2. Have a Picnic on the Office Lawn

Picnics are fun, casual, and leave lots of room for interpretation. That makes this event idea an ideal choice for almost any organization because you can tailor the event to match your brand’s core aesthetic and your overall mission.

For instance, smaller organizations can keep things light with a few blankets spread over the lawn, a handful of board games, a speaker for music, and bagged lunches catered in from a local deli. Larger companies might need to take more time to create a plan that accommodates a crowd, but you can still use the same general blueprint with each idea amplified. Instead of bagged lunches, you might have a buffet table piled with sandwiches, individual bags of chips, fruit salad cups, and so on. Rather than a simple speaker set up, you might opt for a live band or DJ so everyone can enjoy the music.

Seating can be anything from folding tables and chairs to rented loungers and oversized pillows arranged in groups so people can gather, eat, and chat.

3. Invite Everyone to an Afternoon of Team-Bonding Activities

Team-building exercises help foster communication and boost employee engagement. Those higher rates of engagement help increase productivity and decrease employee turnover, meaning not only do you keep employees longer, but those employees may also work more effectively.

Labor Day is an opportunity to facilitate relationship building within your team and across multiple departments. Since you’re leveraging an existing holiday, try to keep the activities lighthearted and fun, perhaps incorporating seasonal elements or taking advantage of an outdoor setting.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Scavenger hunt: Put your employees into teams, then give them a set of clues or list of items to find. You can make the hunt office-themed, using hints to steer searchers around the building to find hidden objects, or send them all around town. Possible prizes for the winners can include everything from company swag to free lunches and gift cards.
  • Escape rooms: Send employees to an escape room where team members have to work together to find their way out. Problem-solving skills practiced while tackling puzzles in the escape room can easily translate to the workplace.
  • Volunteer: Unite your entire team to help support a good cause. Since Labor Day is intended as a celebration of the American worker, consider giving back to those who don’t have the day off, such as first responders and other essential employees. Drop off a catered meal to a local firehouse, offer to repaint and redecorate the employee break room at a healthcare facility, or spend time with veterans who just want some company.
  • Business idea pitching competition with judges: Put together a panel of four judges – these could be supervisors or a group of randomly selected employees – who encourage the rest of the participants to pitch ideas in groups. Anything goes (ideas don’t have to be realistic), and you’ll provide drinks and snacks to fuel the brainstorming sessions.

4. Turn Labor Day Into Your Own Employee Appreciation Day

Celebrate the contributions and achievements of your own workforce with an employee appreciation event that coincides with Labor Day. You can certainly piggyback on one of the ideas mentioned above and have a picnic for your employees or host a barbecue. But to show your appreciation, take your plan one step further by surprising your staff with a gift bag, meal perks, or some other kind of prize.

Additional ideas for an employee appreciation day include giving out awards, hosting a trivia night, holding a free yoga class, or even something simple, like giving each employee a handwritten thank you note.

Incorporating Labor Day celebrations into your company’s normal workday offers employees a chance to relax and celebrate while still honoring your shared professional goals. Plan everything out right, and you may even notice a boost in productivity as your team returns to work rested, happy, and better prepared to collaborate.

Need some help making arrangements for your Labor Day celebration? Cater your next company event with Grubhub. Contact our team today to learn more about your options for ordering in.