One way to have a relaxed and fun client appreciation event is by taking the party outside.

That’s because people are more relaxed, happy and open to conversation when spending a nice, sunny day outdoors, says Sharon Bonner, president and CEO of Bright Ideas Event Coordinators Ltd. in Vancouver. “It’s a totally different atmosphere in a park as opposed to a banquet hall.”

Follow this advice to make your next client appreciation event in the great outdoors a success:

>Clarify the purpose of the event
Think about your reasons for hosting the event and what you want to accomplish.

Jeffrey Schwartz, executive director of Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada Inc. in Toronto, says that you need to ask yourself if the event is meant to drive referrals. Do you want guests to invite a friend? Is it meant to solidify your existing client relationships? Do you want it to be an educational event with a presentation?

>Create a detailed budget
Write a budget to save money and avoid any surprise expenses.

Put together a budget so as not to go crazy with the cost of the event and to ensure it’s a success, says Schwartz. Consider all of the details from the cost of the venue and food to the décor and music.

>Get permission
To hold an event in a public space, such as a park, you will need to get a permit.

Without a permit, you run the risk of being fined, not having enough space to hold the event or having members of the public join in, says Bonner. It takes roughly six months to get a permit.

You can apply for a permit through your municipal government.

>Find the right venue
When choosing a venue, think of the atmosphere you want to create.

A backyard barbeque can be a fun, inexpensive way to meet with clients, casually, but it can also be uncomfortable for guests and hosts alike.

It can be awkward for everyone if guests have to constantly go in and out of the house to use the washroom, says Bonner. So, to avoid having guests walk through your personal living space, make sure you have separate facilities or a separate entrance for guests to use.

As well, a park can provide a relaxed atmosphere for a client appreciation event, but a unique setting can make the day more interesting. Kendra Court, president of Gatherings Event Planning in Toronto, suggests settings such as a zoo or botanical garden. You can use the interesting venue to create a fun theme or activities for the event.

>Create some privacy
Privacy can be an issue when hosting an outdoor event in a public space.

Use the décor to set up boundaries so people can see it’s a private event, says Bonner. Or look for venues that are naturally enclosed, such as a green space backing on to a lake or an area surrounded by trees.

Conversely, you can partner with a restaurant that has green space, says Bonner. Not only will you have a private area to host the event but the catering will also be taken care of.