Employee engagement was at 32% at the start of 2022, which is lower than in previous years. As many business owners understand the benefits of having engaged, happy employees, increasing employee engagement is a significant consideration. Organizing an event where your team gets to relax, bond and have some fun is an excellent way to increase engagement and satisfaction, and a potluck could be the perfect solution.
If you know how to organize a potluck at work, you can bring people together in an informal environment so they can relax and get to know each other. If you’ve never organized one, some potluck organizing tips are all you need to get started.
What Is a Potluck?
A potluck is a gathering where everyone brings a prepared dish to be shared among the group. The variety of food that gets brought depends on the guidelines you provide. You can leave it entirely up to the attendees — which is super exciting but could result in 12 macaroni and cheese dishes and no salad — or you can assign people dishes to bring.
Potlucks can also have a theme to add more fun and excitement. Regardless of how you organize it, the main goal should be to create an event that engages employees and encourages them to connect.
The Benefits of a Potluck
Hosting a potluck has more significant benefits than enjoying good food. It brings co-workers together, and your business can enjoy the following advantages:
- Increasing employee engagement: Positive events at work boost workplace engagement. A potluck is also a nice break from a typical workday, allowing your team to get to know each other better.
- Encouraging creativity: A good potluck involves each attendee contributing something different to create a balanced meal. When everyone has to bring something different, people must get creative. There’s an opportunity to share some family favorites and showcase kitchen skills.
- Strengthening relationships: Your team gets to talk to one another and build a sense of camaraderie, which can only benefit their work performance.
How to Organize an Office Potluck
When you leave too much to chance, your potluck could throw you some curveballs. However, with some planning, everything should run smoothly. The following potluck checklist will help you plan an event everyone will remember:
1. Choose a Theme
Although a theme isn’t mandatory for a successful potluck, it does add an element of excitement. It could give people an opportunity to dress up. A theme can also help people come up with creative dishes. Reach out to your team for suggestions on dishes to include. Some fun themes to consider include the following:
- Fall potluck
- Celebrate your family heritage
- Favorite comfort food
- Around the world
- Country fair
While the suggestions above could work, you can also use them for inspiration and develop a unique theme suited to your business.
2. Assign Dishes
Your potluck should be a full meal, so you’ll need people to provide finger food, appetizers, main courses, desserts and salads. Send an email asking people what they would prefer to bring, so they can cook something they know will be a hit. However, ensure that everyone brings something different. Assign meals to those who don’t respond, and be prepared to ask some to change their dish.
3. Ask for Recipes
One of the best things about a potluck is recipe sharing. Ask your team to write down recipes and instructions for their dishes. A simple list of instructions can be a great conversation starter, and all the attendees have the opportunity to learn something new.
4. Remember the Utensils
It’s best to provide the basics like plates, utensils, glasses, napkins and table decor. If you take on the responsibility, you have peace of mind that you’ll have everything you need instead of relying on co-workers who may have to cancel last minute.
5. Clear the Fridge
If you’re hosting your potluck on a workday, people will bring their dishes when they come to work in the morning. Clear out the office fridge so they can store the food until the event begins.
6. Arrange Your Space
If you choose a theme, consider decorating your space to boost the atmosphere. Double-check you have plenty of table and counter space and that you organize your table. Consider grouping dishes by category so everyone knows where to find their favorite. It might also be worth keeping desserts aside so people aren’t tempted to skip a course and dig into the sweets.
7. Label the Dishes
Have your attendees label their dishes so everyone can find options they can enjoy, like vegan or gluten-free alternatives.
8. Allow for On-Site Preparation
Some attendees will have to finish their dishes in the office kitchen before serving. Ensure everyone has access to the oven, microwave and stovetop by noting who needs them and for how long. They can take turns instead of trying to work around one another.
9. Be a Gracious Host
Ensure you’re available to answer questions, point people in the right direction and handle any last-minute emergencies. As you’ve organized an office function, ensure people mingle and get to know each other. Consider giving people name tags if it’s a large group and seat them next to people from different departments. Get some conversation starters going while everyone enjoys their meal.
Office Potluck Ideas
Office potlucks should be fun, and no one should be nervous about what to bring. There are almost limitless options for what people can bring, but keep the following ideas in mind for those looking for inspiration:
- No cooking options: Some people dislike cooking, so providing some no-cooking choices is excellent for removing the pressure. Options could include chips or vegetables with dip, sandwich or cheese platters, or bowls of fruit.
- Cold food options: Giving people options they can prepare at home is convenient for your guests and limits office cleaning. Some cold food ideas include pasta salad, coleslaw, cakes and antipasto platters.
- Hot food options: A good potluck has some hot options for people to try. Consider ideas that are easy to prepare in large portions, such as macaroni cheese, nachos, sliders, curry and roasted meats.
- Dessert options: Your desserts should be easy to prepare in large portions, like cakes, cupcakes and trifles.
Your potluck should boost team spirit, which is easy when everyone is considerate during the event. If you or anyone on your team are attending your first potluck, the following tips will help keep everyone happy:
- Bring something: Everyone on the guest list should bring something. If you genuinely forget your dish, try to grab something before you attend.
- Try everything: Sample everyone’s hard work unless you have a genuine reason that prevents you from trying a dish.
- Give everyone options: Ensure you have options that cater to everyone’s dietary requirements in each course, including dessert.
- Make up a plate: If someone can’t attend due to a work commitment, make up a plate for them and keep it aside for later.
- Clean up: Everyone who enjoys the potluck should help with the cleanup. The more people who help, the quicker the process.
Offer Office Catering at Your Next Potluck With Apple Spice Catering
A potluck is an excellent way to unite your team and enjoy fantastic food. If you’re snowed under with work tasks or need to cater to large groups, Apple Spice Catering can help you. We will go the extra mile to ensure your team has fresh, delicious meals for every occasion, from your office potluck to a special breakfast and everything in between. We also offer delightful box lunches in individual portions for that big meeting or impromptu corporate lunch in your area.