Party hearty! Try “The Luck of the Pot” this holiday season

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy – and your office a dull place. The holidays are the perfect time for an office party to bring some fun and good cheer into the workplace and brighten your employees’ moods.

It doesn’t have to be an extravagant or expensive. Just a short break from the everyday routine can do the trick. The best thing about a holiday party is that it gives your employees the chance to get to know each other on a personal level, not just as people who do certain jobs. This should help them communicate more effectively at work and may even defuse some of the office politics.

A popular party option for small businesses is to have an extended lunch break for all employees in the cafeteria or large conference room.  To get everyone more involved, why not go with “the luck of the pot,” or, as we say on this side of the Atlantic, potluck?

If you’re not an etymologist (a person who studies the origin of words), you’re probably unaware that the term “potluck” traces back to medieval times and the practice of never throwing anything away. Taverns and inns especially would put leftovers into a pot to keep warm (no health inspectors to worry about), so if visitor showed up on the spur of the moment for a meal they would get the “luck of the pot.” When “potluck” first came into use in English in the late 16th century, it carried the sense of “whatever is available to eat.” By the mid-19th century here in America, “potluck” gained a new meaning as a communal meal where each guest brings a dish to be shared.

Of course, as a health-conscious employer, you’ll want most of the food at your potluck holiday luncheon to be light and nutritious. (Who can stay alert –or even awake – with a bellyful of lasagna, meatballs and garlic bread?) Here are some tips and suggestions to make your party a rousing success!

  • The person who has the most daily contact with all of the employees, such as an administrative assistant, should organize the office potluck.
  •  Unless your office kitchen is fully equipped, hot dishes should be avoided. Also, since your fridge space is probably limited, dishes that don’t have to be refrigerated are usually best.
  • The food should be easy to transport, serve and clean up. Unless you have a firefighter at the party, flaming saganaki is out of the question.
  • The majority of the dishes should be small portions of appetizers and finger sandwiches.  Turkey or ham wraps are popular options. A tossed green salad with veggies and a light salad dressing (lemon juice, olive oil and/or vinegar and white wine) is a wonderful choice.
  • Desserts can be as simple as apple crisps, fruit kebobs or dips, or cookie bars.
  • For snacking, put out holiday bowls of baked chips, pretzels, trail mix, nuts and/or dried fruit such as raisins.
  • Make sure you remind employees to bring their potluck dishes and not their lunches the day before the party.

About Ken Dallafior

Ken Dallafior is Senior Vice President, Group Business and Corporate Marketing at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM). Dallafior leads BCBSM's group sales force, oversees corporate marketing and product development, and develops and implements key corporate strategies. He also provides leadership to critical sales operations such as agent relations and commissions, sales incentives and complex issue resolution for group customers and sales agents. In addition to working in the insurance industry for nearly two decades, Dallafior played professional football from 1982 to 1992. He is founder and board member of the Detroit Lions Courage House.
 
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