How to Hold a Themed Potluck: 7 Tips

How to Hold a Themed Potluck: 7 Tips

How do you make a work potluck stand out? Consider serving it with a theme. A theme gives everyone something to adhere to and bounce off of. Plus, it spices up the old idea of having a potluck at your workplace. 

It gives employees a bit more of a challenge to find or make something that fits the theme everyone has agreed upon. Themed potlucks can add some joy to an otherwise mundane activity and transform it into something that people want to participate in. 

1. Pick a Date and Time

Make sure to find a date and time that works for everyone in your workplace. If anyone has any conflicts, try to remember to host the potluck on a day without any issues. If you want, you can host the potluck during lunch one day so that you know everyone will be able to attend. Plus, it gives your employees something fun to look forward to during the day. 

Just because you have a date and time doesn’t mean that everyone will know to clear their schedules right away. You’ll have to send out proper invitations — whether email or hand-delivered — once you finish the planning stages. Make sure you get everyone in the office involved in the planning.

2. Narrow Down Your Theme

When choosing your theme, remember to keep people’s allergies in mind. If someone is lactose intolerant, you may not want to opt for a theme that includes a lot of cheese. Some of the most common food allergies are milk, eggs and nuts, so try to stay away from them if you know they could negatively affect someone at your workplace. 

Research the cuisine that typically matches your theme. You should also ask everyone else what they think of a certain theme. You want to make sure that everyone participating feels excited and ready to contribute to what will be an amazing workplace potluck.

3. Assign Categories

Once you know your theme, it’s time to work on the categories. You don’t want to assign dishes to people, as it means they don’t get as much of a chance to be creative with their recipes. By assigning them a category, they have free rein over the type of dish they make while keeping anyone’s allergies or food sensitivities in mind.

Some people may want to get creative with their dishes and pair well with someone else’s dish. Someone in charge of bringing alcoholic drinks might brainstorm ideas with a person responsible for a main dish. Seafood is an excellent option because it allows for all sorts of fruity cocktails that enhance the flavor of lobster, crab, shrimp and more.

4. Create a Menu

Once everyone has had some time to brainstorm what they’ll be bringing, you can build a menu. There will be people in your workplace with certain likes or dislikes, so they may want to know what’s on the menu ahead of time. You can also take this time to get to know what each of your coworkers and employees is bringing so you can plan around any duplicates or allergies.

If you want everyone to stay healthy, urge them to limit processed and canned foods and challenge them to create dishes that are made with fresh food. This way, they’ll be getting the nourishment they should from a healthy, full meal in the workplace. One of these dishes may also end up being someone’s new favorite recipe.

5. Decorate As You See Fit

With your theme, you can choose to dress the room up or down. If you host the potluck in your work building, consider staying after work one evening to decorate the space for the next day. You can use paper decorations to liven up the space and help your employees get in the mood for the party a potluck brings. A more joyful theme might also call for balloons and streamers.

Decoration doesn’t just include physical decor. It can include the ambiance that you set with music and lighting, too. Since you might not have many options for different lighting in an office environment, you have to go all out with music. Building the right playlist means making it as long as you hope for your event to last and filling it with songs that everyone will enjoy.

6. Provide Entertainment

Nearly 90% of people are used to consuming some sort of entertainment while eating. While that doesn’t mean you need to stream a television show during your potluck, you should still have some form of entertainment prepared. You might prepare a game for everyone in between courses or to play right after dessert. Even a quick “getting to know you” activity might help people break out of their shells and talk to one another more.

7. Send Out Invitations

The formality of these invitations depends on you. If you want your potluck to be super casual or if it’s taking place at lunch, an email or two as a reminder might count as enough invitation. If you fully leaned into a more elegant theme, though, and you’re expecting an evening potluck with even more attendees, you might want to opt for paper invitations for the formality. 

You can direct your employees on how to respond to your invitation on the invitation itself. More formal invitations might require a response in writing, while others might allow your coworkers just to tell you if they’ll be in attendance.

Enjoy Your Potluck With Your Coworkers

Whether you host a potluck during the workday with only your employees or during the evening with the expanded office family, you should take pride in your workplace for coming together and adhering to a theme. With a bit of work, you’ll make this office potluck into the best one your workplace has ever seen. Whether you theme your potluck around a certain country’s cuisine or a time of the year, you’ll find more than just good food at your office — your coworkers might also have the chance to grow closer.

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