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Potlucks [moved from General Topics]

I'm wondering how others feel about potlucks at work. We have them once a month and each department takes turns bringing food. It think it's great seeing the different foods brought, whether they are home cooked or store bought. Some items are more of a hit than others. I also like seeing other people's reactions to the foods. It's really funny to me how our tastebuds can be so different. There may one or two items that someone raves about, but isn't so satisfying to me, and vice versa. It's also a good way to get new recipes and find out who the food lovers are. So tell me, what do you like and dislike about potlucks.

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  1. I work alone in my office and have for 13+ years and miss the office pot luck. My brother's office has them from time to time and they have a rule that whatever you bring has to be homemade or you can't eat :-)

    When I lived in rural NC our office would have them and they would be feasts..and nothing was store bought.

    1. I think there was quite a long thread on this somewhere else on the board. Did you search for it? There was a TON of good posts.

      1. My office doesn't really have potlucks, but when food is ordered for an occasion, homemade dishes are always welcome. This year for our holiday party, we had middle eastern food, and a few people brought homemade cookies and pies. We're 60+ people so to bring a dish that would feed the entire office isn't really doable.

        Honestly, I dislike potlucks in general. I like to know exactly what I'm eating since I can be picky at times. It's kind of hard to ask people who made what and what's in the dish. One just doesn't know how the food was prepared or when it was prepared.

        1 Reply
        1. re: cheesecake17

          I too dislike potlucks for the "fear factor" of the unknown, and my office finds an excuse to have them for 200 people perhaps monthly. So I instituted a policy that every dish is accompanied by a 3x5" card with the key ingredients and the chef's name to help accomodate those with religious, dietary or allergy issues (or who are picky like me). And having the name steers compliments to the right person and allows for follow-up questions.

        2. After working in the restaurant for years I then worked at a large Non Profit org and was the manager. We often had departmental potlucks. It was a lot of fun. However there were 5 or 6 that could cook and many that could not. And it was store bought cookies or potato salad. But the ones who could cook it was fun to see what they brought. We also did once a month or once every two months. I enjoyed it.

          1. I think they are great for block parties and home-based parties where you have a good handle on what people's cooking abilities and inclinations are. I have been to a few holiday gatherings when I lived abroad and found that the potluck worked wonderfully. Generally I think potlucks make sense when you live in a smaller house/apartment with a tiny kitchen that doesn't accommodate preparation/storage for large meals.

            I am not such a big fan of workplace potlucks. I think even if people aren't obliged to participate, they may feel social pressure to do so. What often ends up happening is that the people who aren't really inclined to participate end up making something terrible or purchasing a cheap substitute while others get offended that they put a lot of time and money into making a delicious and filling dish. Adding in the "homemade only" requirement makes it even more difficult to participate.

            I worked at one place that had a fairly strict dress code and people could pay a weekly fee to wear jeans on Fridays. The organization used that money to host a monthly luncheon, often with a theme. Some people were in positions that typically required professional dress, so no one was excluded from the luncheon for not participating.

            1 Reply
            1. re: queencru

              We were blessed I guess and dress code was very casual but still professional every day. Jeans were fine as long as dressed up a bit. With our lunch groups we offered it and it seemed only those who enjoyed it came. But as you mentioned too, we got some who just felt obligated to come, but overall pretty good turn out most times. Sometimes we did themes which was fun. Cajun, Southern, Texan, Chinese, BBQ, Salads, etc ... It was fun, be we were much more relaxed so it worked out great.

              But understand in some places, it is hard