How to Plan a Potluck Lunch at Work

Ciaran Griffin/Lifesize/Getty Images

Breaking bread with coworkers at a potluck lunch can create special memories. It can even build workplace cohesion and ease coworker tension. Whether you’re planning a potluck lunch to mark a special occasion or to simply “gel” with your coworkers, staying organized and enthusiastic is critical. That will help you avoid excuses about “forgotten” dishes and tables overflowing with cups, plates and plastic utensils.

Siri Stafford/Photodisc/Getty Images

Select a suitable date and time for the potluck lunch. Give your coworkers at least two weeks notice so they will have time to plan and prepare their dishes. Scheduling a potluck on a Friday allows for time during the week to promote the event. Avoid planning potlucks during stressful periods such as company inspections and personal performance reviews.

Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images

Take stock of your physical resources. Viewing your preparation and storage space can help you make appropriate dish suggestions. For example, some foods can be made right before the potluck begins if the break room includes a stove. This active planning can also help prevent food from going bad while waiting for the potluck to begin. For example, the break room refrigerator may not be able to store many cold dishes.

Jupiterimages/ Images

Create “balanced” sign up sheets. Making a predetermined number of slots for main dishes, side dishes, breads, and desserts can ensure there is a wide range of food at your potluck. Include a separate list for additional items such as drinks, ice, napkins and utensils to encourage people to sign up on both lists. Request that coworkers give at least a one day notice if they’re unable to fulfill their commitment. Asking your coworkers about any dietary restrictions and allergies can help ensure that everyone has access to enjoyable food.

Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images

Promote the potluck lunch. Hang sign-up sheets in a highly visible area, such as the break room to make everyone aware of the the event and the sign-up process. Provide periodic email updates about the “exciting array of dishes” being committed to the potluck lunch. Including the potluck lunch on the company calendar can serve as a strong reminder to the entire staff.

Jack Hollingsworth/Photodisc/Getty Images

Infuse fun activities into the potluck lunch. Although eating is the ultimate goal, making time for team-building games can make the event even more memorable. Suitable activities include karaoke, piñata busting and relay racing. Consider handing out prizes for the most interesting or tasty dishes at the potluck.