During this time of year, offices all over the world are finding ways to celebrate the fun and festive Yuletide without a lot of fuss and money. Many businesses have opted to forgo the traditional office holiday party because of the weak economy and instead, have found ways to celebrate the holiday season with office pot lucks and smaller intimate dinners and lunches. Office potlucks, of course, are not new to the corporate world and is a wonderful way for employees to congregate, communicate, and celebrate without a lot of fuss or fanfare. But, in doing so, there are do’s and don’ts that need to be followed in order for them to be a success.
In a traditional potluck, people bring a dish that is big enough to feed up to 8 to 10 people (depending on the amount of participants) and everyone shares their prepared dish with one another. Usually the dishes are selected beforehand to ensure that no one is duplicating someone else’s meal and there is a full range of items to choose from. Potlucks can be a fun alternative to a big ostentatious event if done the right way. Here’s how:
- Do choose an item that can be made easily without much fuss and can be transported to the office without much trouble and can be reheated. Dishes like macaroni and cheese, potato salad, mashed potatoes, and spaghetti are great dishes that can be made in bulk in a casserole sized dish and can be brought to the office without fuss and spills.
- Do be mindful of people’s tastes when it comes to seasoning. If you are heavy on the seasoning, opt to fall back on the spices and bring the seasoning with you so that others can season your dish to taste.
- Do know the “questionable” employees or participants. That is, the employee that is always digging in her tush when no one is looking or the accountant who always has cat hair on her coat. Would you want to eat her food knowing there may be some sanitary issues? Do not, however, make a big display regarding the dish this person made. That is rude and distasteful. Simply skip the item in question and move on to something that you will be able to eat without thinking about how their kitchen looks.
- Do be sanitary about the whole affair. Plastic ware, paper plates, paper napkins make it easy for everyone to clean up without much cleaning or double dipping of supplies.
- Do not commit to making the dish and not bring anything to the party. That is a big no-no. If you don’t think you will be able to make something, offer to donate a few bucks in order to help out with the cost of plastic items or paper cups. Or, opt to bring soda, juice, or other drinks! Calling in sick? Make sure you do so as early as possible so that a replacement dish can possibly be created or bought.
- Keep your opinions of food to yourself. If you don’t like the way something tastes, simply don’t eat it and keep it moving. What I do is I usually go around at the beginning and take a small, miniscule portion of each item to try. Once I know what I like, I go back and get the dishes in which I enjoyed the most.
- Not a cook? Not a worry. You can always buy something to bring. Many supermarkets and smaller grocers offer items in which are made in the store and can be taken like pasta salad, potatoes with cheese, etc. Already made desserts are another option which are usually a hit in these types of affairs.
- There should be a list of food allergies as well as an ingredient tag on the item for those who may have an allergy to peanuts, gluten, etc.
- Do make sure that everyone in the office is urged to participate and if there are rules to follow, they are explained to everyone beforehand. Communication is the key for everything!
- Do schmooze! This is a great time for you to interact with employees that you otherwise don’t talk to on a regular basis. ‘Tis the season for sharing and love!
- Do enjoy yourself. An office holiday doesn’t have to be boring or stuffy. Shut down the office, bring in some holiday tune-age and enjoy the companionship of your fellow co-workers!
This is the most wonderful time of the year and an office potluck for the holidays can be a special way to bond with those you work with. Follow the aforementioned Do’s and Dont’s and your shindig will be sure to be a hit!