December 16, 2015

Holiday Party Potluck Tips

A company potluck can be a great annual tradition and bring a lot to the table (literally and figuratively). Employees get to interact with each other and they all get to contribute to the cause. Potlucks can give everyone at work a glimpse into your family by sharing time-tested family recipes. You share your food and your serving pieces with people you only see at work.

However, there is more work  required than just hoping everyone brings a dish. If your office is planning on having a pot luck, here are 5 tips to make sure it is a HUGE success:

  1. Have a Champion! An office needs someone to take responsibility for the event. This goes beyond just sending that email announcing it and asking people to sign up on the fridge. The champion needs to build excitement, talk to people and see what they are going to bring and share what others are bringing. This person can also get some decorations and make sure there are enough plates and utensils for the meal.
  2. Coordinate the Food. Our company’s sign-up sheet looks like Buddy The Elf wrote his wish-list for lunch: peanut brittle, cookies, sweets, pies, cheese dip, etc. Try to coordinate so people bring things in the following categories:
    • Appetizers – This include spread, dips, crackers and cheeses.
    • Protein – Things that you would normally eat as your entrée, like meatballs, sandwiches, wraps, shrimp, etc.
    • Sides – Often confused with appetizers, these usually involve the use of a utensil. Soups, salads, vegetables, etc are all popular.
    • Desserts – This is where people can go wild! Make sure there is not too many, and that things are not duplicated. After years in catering, people like chocolaty things, fruity things, and cookie things!
      A great alternative to having people bring the protein is for the Company to purchase the main entrée. Buy BBQ, pizza, sandwiches, or something substantial so everyone can be sure there is enough for them to enjoy.
  3. Ensure there is food that everyone can eat. Keep in mind that there may be people with dietary restrictions – vegetarian, gluten-free, no pork, or no shellfish. Not everyone needs to be able to eat everything, but there should be something for everyone. If you are bringing pizza, keep one vegetarian. If you are bringing sandwiches or BBQ, offer a vegetarian option or provide a salad or vegetables for those that don’t eat meat or gluten. (Make sure there is no bacon bits in the salad or dressing, though). This will make for a more inclusive party without much disruption for those with dietary restrictions.
  4. Make it an Event! – If this is the company holiday party, it should be a big event! Make sure everyone is there, from the CEO to the janitor. People shouldn’t want to go out to lunch and skip the potluck. If the upper management doesn’t show up, it does not seem like an all-company party. Entice people to come with raffles, drawings, and something out of the ordinary. A Christmas classic playing on a TV or holiday music from someone’s Spotify stream is just enough out of the ordinary to make the event special.
    By only doing a potluck once per year, more people will be excited to make something rather than just buy it at the store. If you want to do a 2nd party sometime else, get it catered.
  5. Be Prepared. Know who is bringing what and if anything is being delivered to the office. If so, make sure it arrives a few minutes BEFORE people start to trickle in. Make sure you have enough of the following:
    • Plates
    • Napkins
    • Forks and Knives
    • Serving Utensils
    • Plugs for crock pots (Do you need to bring in an extension cord?)
    • Drinks
    • Cups
    • Ice
    • Tables and Chairs

Company Kitchen’s potluck is always fun. Everyone leaves stuffed and afterwards there are still mountains of food left in the kitchen. Miraculously, it is all gone by the end of the afternoon. (Actually, people pack up the left overs and take them home.) Plus, we raise money for a local charity and collect toys for the Toys for Tots campaign.

What is your office’s holiday tradition? I’d love to hear them in the comments below. Happy Holidays!