So, You’re Coordinating the Thanksgiving Potluck at Work? Here’s How to Make It Awesome (Not Annoying).

published Nov 7, 2017
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(Image credit: Erin Wengrovius)

Holidays in the office can be brutal. People are trying to take time off work and they’re totally stressed out over everything they have to get done — at the office and beyond. So how do you make the company potluck something fun that people actually want to participate in? It’s tough, but totally possible.

Here’s what you need to do in order to get volunteers who are just as excited about making centerpieces as you are.

1. Assemble a team.

You don’t have to be the holiday cheerleader alone. In fact, if it’s just you, you run the risk of being annoying. Assemble a core team so you can brainstorm ideas and wrangle people together. Peer pressure really does work!

2. Schedule it for earlier in the month.

Yes, we know Thanksgiving is technically toward the end of the month, but that’s also when people are probably the busiest and less likely to be able to help out. Plan your office party for this week or next and it will be fun and not just another thing people have to do. And plan it for during the work day. No one wants to spend extra time in the office if they don’t have to.

3. Send a careful invite.

If you want your Worksgiving to be enthusiastically received, it starts with the way you initially pitch it. Write a couple of drafts of your introductory (and reminder) email, so you don’t have to continually clog everyone’s inboxes with revisions or that one detail you forgot to add.

4. Start a Google doc.

Use Google doc or other shared service for your signup sheet, so that everyone can add their contributions without having to write you back (or without hitting reply all, the way Barbara does all the time). Set up columns for people to add their name, the dish they want to bring, and a note about whether or not it’s good for people with food allergies or special dietary restrictions. If Heather in accounting sees lots of vegan-friendly dishes on the list, she might be more tempted to bring a vegan dish of her own.

5. Skip the turkey.

It’s super unfair to ask one person to make (and schlep) a turkey. People don’t even like turkey all that much, anyway! Just make it a sides party and people will be a lot more motivated.

Sorry, Turkey-Lovers

6. Make it optional.

As much as you want to, you can’t make people sign up. Make it optional and no one will feel forced to participate. Louisa Smith, Apartment Therapy’s very own human resources coordinator, says it actually works. “Worksgiving is one of those company initiatives we keep bringing back each year because it’s always such a big hit.”

7. Offer prizes.

A little extra incentive has never hurt anyone. If you want to turn the party into a competition of sorts, have a secret voting ballot that allows people to pick their favorite dish. Whoever wins gets a prize.