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What to bring, birthday in the office

About four years ago, the powers that be at my office stated "the association will no longer be paying for birthday cakes for employees birthdays" - and so it is. Our department of 12 decided we didn't want to give up our 12x per year afternoon sugar fest so we'd each bring the treat on our respective birthdays. Just like when it was your birthday in elementary school, you'd bring the cupcakes.

Anyway, at first it was just people bringing in a typical sheet cake, sometimes a pie, your very average birthday treats. When it came to my turn that first year, I did an ice cream sundae bar. From there it really ramped up with creative choices, not all of them sweet. The following year, I did coke and rootbeer floats (complete with souvenier cups). Last year, I made hummus, baba ganoush and tarma and brought veggies and pita.

So it's coming up upon my birthday again and I'm not coming up with anything new or exciting. I was thinking of doing quiches and having the party at breakfast, but all we have at the office for reheating is a microwave and that might just ruin a quiche.

Donuts and bagels are something that show up pretty often regularly so thats not an option.

Any ideas for something easy but fun? Transportable is key.

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  1. How long is your commute into work? My department has (usually around a holiday when we have a short day before the holiday) a little breakfast get together. I brought a breakfast casserole and someone else brought a fresh fruit salad (with watermelon, strawberries, etc.). But I guess that's really the same idea as the quiche and wouldn't hold up to being "microwaved" (IMHO).

    Banana splits? LOL.

    1. In addition to cakes and cupcakes, what about some delux dessert bars? Like, make a pecan pie on pastry sheets and cut into squares (make traditional desserts into finger food).

      If forks are an option, you could assemble strawberry shortcakes at the last minute.

      If a refrigerator is an option, you could make individual tiramisus in cocktail/high-ball size plastic cups

      I love the ideas you have had. I save the cardboard half-boxes my bottled water comes in for my food transportation needs.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Tehama

        what about a chocolate or cheese fondue (or both), although not ideal they can both be heated up in the microwave.

        1. re: cleopatra999

          I love this idea. I have a fondue pot, so this could really work. What will be the easiest chocolate for melting in the microwave and remaining heated in the pot with a tea light? Last time I used a sterno under the crock pot and it burned the chocolate

          1. re: Muhlyssa

            I once got a chocolate fondue kit, it contained a chocolate mixture that could be either melted in the microwave or on a stove. I think that you could find something like this at a specialty store. without this I would use a milk chocolate and be careful not to overheat it, I like to use toblerone, the little nugat pieces are great. I would try out the chocolate at home b4 just to make sure it will work with the m/w. Use wooden skewer with the fruit already on them if you want.

            You can also rent the chocolate fountains quite easily these days, or even better, they are cheap to buy now!

            I also just thought of one of those sandwich makers? the sandwiches can be prepped ahead then grilled at the office with the maker. So many options, even dessert (apple pie filling & cream cheese or mascarpone).

      2. If you want to WOW for a breakfast, what about Clafoutis? Easy as anything, can warm up in micro, if needed - dollop w/ yogurt or serve plain. It tastes INCREDIBLE. It's the "pancake" version of France, which makes it fun. It's just plain FUN for breakfast! Here is one that I made, but I know there are other recipes:


        1. "but all we have at the office for reheating is a microwave and that might just ruin a quiche."

          Look into using the "Power Levels" on your microwave at work. Most people make the mistake of using the highest level of power to reheat items for some reason. I use the microwave to re-heat things, not cook them.

          Anyway. We do the whole "potluck" kinda thing for birthdays, events at the office I work at. A few of us always try to outdo each other to make things interesting. We also only have microwaves, so it makes things challenging in a fun kind of way. Thoughts:

          1. Tamales are practically MADE for reheating in a microwave. Not sure if you have a decent spot to buy tamales. I wouldn't waste my homemade tamales on my office mates.

          2. Night before: chop an onion, shred some lettuce, chop a few tomatoes, some cilantro, shred some cheese. Make some standard blender salsa. At work the next day, assemble a 7 layer dip in a 9x12, or something bigger if you've got it. I do this in the top of one of those tupperware sheet cake carrier containers for a large group. Bottom to top: Refried beans, salsa, onion, avocado, cheese, lettuce, sour cream dollops, cilantro. (no heating needed -serve with some tortilla chips) This can be assembled in about 5 minutes at work.

          3. I've brought quiches. Great idea. So easy. Microwave at half power. No need to worry about nuking it. (I prefer my quiche cold, anyway) + Fruit salad.

          4. Mini croissant sammiches. Easy to assemble, and package at home the night before. I'd go with chicken salad if you think lunchmeat is too pedestrian, but then again, if you use some really nice rare roast beef, real turkey, and real mayo you'll probably get rave reviews since so many people these days are used to eating that subway fake pressed meat garbage.

          5. Sub sandwiches! SO easy, and again, if you use REAL meat, people are amazed since they are used to eating garbage.

          6. Chili bar if busting out the crock pot is an option.

          Don't take for granted something so easy as sandwiches. You're probably used to eating real meats. Most people eat things like pressed turkey, or pressed ham which is basically another form of bologna to me. It is whipped, and pressed and reshaped. Don't get me started on things like butterball turkey in the deli case. It is NOT turkey breast. I have had turkey breast many times in my life, and the stuff that they sell at places like Subway is most definitely not turkey breast...[/startingtorant]

          Anyway, maybe these ideas might strike a chord with you. Good Luck!

          1. Since it sounds like the office has a fridge, you could also do fill-your-own crepes, with homemade whipped cream, crushed or sliced lightly sugared berries, sliced bananas, toasted nuts, and hot fudge for the top. Really delicious, and most of it do-ahead.

            1 Reply
            1. re: bear

              Along the same lines, aren't tricks with waffles sort of a new thing? If you have a maker, it shouldn't be that hard- just make the batter beforehand and keep refrigerated. Cut into bite sized squares and offer a mix of savory and sweet toppings!

            2. Birthdays need better than average versions of familiar things. Also chocolate. My pick would be the standard chocolate chip cookie recipe (on the Hershey's or Nestle's bag), but with twice as many chips.

              It's a super-sweet version, and many people cut back on the sugar or brown sugar, but for a special occasion, I'd use it all, and make sure it's cane sugar.

              Believe me, there won't be a crumb left.

              1 Reply
              1. re: KRS

                Perhaps chocolate chip sandwich cookies with chocolate ganache as the filling? Average with a bit of a twist or take it up a step and do profiteroles?

                1. Hey Muhlyssa,

                  How about individual tarts filled with pastry creme, with a choice of seasonal fruits, (mascerated or not) for build-your-own toppings?


                  1. The last time I took food to the office it was in a crockpot, and the lid was held on securely with bungee cords. Low-tech engineering, but effective. It sat on the floor of my vehicle and didn't spill at all.

                    I'm so impressed that your gave away souvenir cups on your own birthday!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: AreBe

                      You beat me with the crockpot suggestion!

                      A taco bar or pulled pork in the crockpot, with tortillas and fixings on the side might be nice.

                      If you have some folks with a good sense of humor who haven't seen it - a Kitty Litter Cake can be very funny. I made one recently for an office birthday...underneath the "litter" there was a delicious homemade chocolate cake filled with whipped cream and topped with ganache.

                    2. What about a cheesecake bar. Just set out plain cheesecake then do cherries blueberries chocolat whip cream anything. These go great. The other thing that I do is a gourmet cookie jar bar. I fill clear large jars with about six kinds of homemade cookies like Chocolate chip sugar peanutbutter snickerdoddle oatmeal and chocolate fudge. This is a huge hit.