How to Throw Fun Employee Thanksgiving Potlucks

Thanksgiving potlucks at work are a fun way to celebrate the holiday together. Bring festive spirit to the office through food, contests, activities, prizes, decorations, music, and more.

Host it at Your Office 

Host the potluck gathering right at your office building if possible to provide a central, convenient location employees already know. Select a spacious area like your cafeteria, lobby, or conference room, or lounge, optimizing freedom of movement.  

Decorate the party space festively for the occasion with Thanksgiving decorations. Put up paper turkeys, leaves, harvest wreaths, cornucopia centerpieces, bales of hay, and seasonal tinsel. Display employees’ kids’ Thanksgiving crafts or art to add personal flair.  

Play upbeat, family-friendly Thanksgiving or autumnal playlists to set a festive mood. Enlist a volunteer decorating committee from different departments to design the ideal theme and spread the workload.   

Having the celebration onsite ensures easy access for employees from multiple locations. It also builds positive morale, seeing the workplace transformed into a holiday venue. Just be sure to provide plenty of tables and seating for the bountiful feast.

Make it a Pitch-In Feast

Make the potluck a collaborative pitch-in meal, with everyone bringing a dish to share. Create a sign-up sheet for employees to select specific categories to contribute, like appetizers, entrees, side dishes, desserts, and beverages. 

Suggest traditional Thanksgiving fare but also encourage creative fun options like stuffed peppers, pumpkin chili, squash soup shoots, sweet potato salads, harvest shepherd’s pie, or seasonal sangrias. 

Encourage staff to showcase treasured family favorite recipes and food traditions from their diverse backgrounds. Potluck diversity spotlights your culture of belonging beyond surface differences. 

To prevent overlaps, assign specific categories for each employee to cover based on sign-ups. Provide disposable eco-friendly servingware, utensils, napkins, cups, and plates to simplify logistics. 

Share printable recipe cards and display ingredients for common allergies or dietary preferences. Have festive table coverings and centerpieces mixed in for pops of color.

Incorporate Friendly Contests

Add some friendly competition through contests awarding bragging rights for favorites. Possible categories include:

– Best Thanksgiving-themed Dish: Vote on the tastiest and most creative turkey day recipe. 

– Best Family Recipe: Recognize time-honored traditions passed down.

– Most Beautiful Presentation: Reward visual appeal, decoration flair, and presentation creativity.

– Fan Favorite: Vote on the most popular dish with the highest demand and lines. 

– Most Unique Ingredient: Call out originality in components used.

Have employees submit name cards with their entries for anonymity. Share contest criteria are encouraging themed naming and presentation. Judging can be done anonymously with secret ballots or fun team debates. Give the winners turkey trophies, medals, or dining gift cards.

Friendly contests make the experience participatory while recognizing outstanding food contributions. Just keep the tone light, not cutthroat. Even silly superlatives like “Most Likely to Be Gone in 60 Seconds” keep it fun.  

Provide the Turkey and Drinks

Offer to provide the main protein centerpiece and beverages to alleviate work for employees. Preorder catering trays of sliced turkey, ham, or plant-based roasts so attendees can enjoy the starring dishes without having to prep them themselves.  

Supply a wide selection of festive seasonal beverages like apple cider, spiced cranberry punch, maple nut coffee, mulled wine, pumpkin spice creamer, and both alcoholic and nonalcoholic options to accommodate all preferences.

Having the company cover the meat and drinks removes the pressure on staff – they can focus just on contributing sides, apps, or desserts. But you could also make it communal potluck-style by assigning employees to prep the proteins and beverages as their items. 

Order gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegetarian dishes to ensure inclusive options for all dietary needs. Doing the heavy prep lifting of the mains enables a fun, relaxed group celebration where employees can enjoy each other’s cooking talents.

Add Festive Games and Activities

Incorporate festive games and activities into the potluck to liven up the event beyond just eating together. Classic options include:

– Pie Eating Contests: See who can eat an entire slice fastest using just your hands behind your back.

– Cornhole Toss: Set up boards for fall classic point-scoring fun. 

– Tabletop Football: Flick paper footballs on mini fields set up on tables.

– Turkey Bowling: Use frozen turkeys as bowling balls to knock down pins.

– Thanksgiving Trivia: Test knowledge of holiday history, movies, and traditions. 

– Gratitude Grams: Provide notes for peer shout-outs.

Plan activities suitable for your workplace from active to low-key. Have self-directed options like craft tables, photo booths, or pumpkin decorating alongside group games so employees can choose their involvement based on comfort level. The activities inject an interactive spirit into the gathering so employees can bond over play, not just food.

Door Prizes and Giveaways

Add to the festivities by raffling off door prizes and giving out fun swag. Source gift card prizes donated from local restaurants, shops, attractions, superstores, and services. Pull names from a cornucopia for drawings. Give out company-branded items like reusable mugs, water bottles, notebooks, snacks, or apparel printed for the event. Have candy treats like mini chocolate turkeys, pumpkin spice treats, or candy corn available in fall colors. Assemble inexpensive themed swag bags with seasonal stickers, pins, magnets, masks, hats, socks, office or kitchen supplies, and other turkey day picks. Wrap leftover cookies or snack mixes to send home with staff.

Door prizes and giveaways make it more celebratory while showing employee appreciation for making the potluck merry and bright. They also enable participants to take home festive reminders, extending the positive holiday spirit.

Thanksgiving potlucks build unity, morale, and connection. With thoughtful planning and involvement, they provide meaningful breaks from routine celebrating together.

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