If you’re assigned to host this year’s potluck party, it’s easy to fret over how things will turn out. After all, you have to think about how to throw a memorable party that everyone would want to go to. But take a deep breath and relax, party host! Here are some hosting tips and tricks for a successful party.
1. Keep track of the dishes the others are bringing
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During the planning stage of your company party, prepare meal categories for each food contribution. You may write the types as appetizers, main dishes, desserts, beverages, and company party favors. In this way, you can see who is going to bring a particular dish, and you can also see which categories need more contributions from the others. This could help you avoid situations like having too many main dishes but not a single dessert.
Also, give your guests a choice to pick the category that they want to contribute to. Consider which is more convenient for their time and budget, and talk to them about the number of people who will be attending for the correct meal portions.
2. Don’t assign an expensive dish to anybody
Party food doesn’t need to be expensive. A potluck party is where you can share your favorite or best recipe for everyone. But also, don’t let anyone bring an inadequate contribution to the party. It is not good to ask someone to prepare a steak for fifty people, because that is too expensive. But it’s also not good to let someone contribute one bag of potato chips for fifty people to the party.
Reassure everyone that they don’t need to impress everybody with an expensive dish. In fact, they can make simple-yet-hearty recipes that will definitely be memorable for your fellow guests.
3. Consider the place and time you are hosting your potluck party
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One of the most important tips for hosting a party is to take note of where and when the party is happening. Let’s look at the things to consider for an outdoor setting. If it is happening at night outdoors, you must provide enough lighting or even bug spray for your guests. If it is happening in the morning, you must provide shaded areas or some cooling equipment for your guests.
Your topmost priority is to keep everyone comfortable. So, strategically plan your event to keep the venue and time enjoyable for everyone.
4. Organize the buffet
Don’t just unknowingly place meals in any area of the food table. Some guests might end up skipping a dish because they didn’t notice it on the table. To let everyone enjoy all the food, make a logical layout of the buffet table. Place the plates at the beginning of the table followed by meals.
You can even add labels for your food. Then, separate the food according to their food categories like main dish, sides, or desserts. For the snacks, appetizers, and drinks, you may place them in a separate table that is easy to reach.
5. Think about food safety
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Just like any other food, potluck party food should also be prepared and served well. Preparing and serving food in good condition can help prevent food poisoning. So, remember to wash your hands before touching any food in the buffet. Also, clean the area and tools to be used for your event.
Be more vigilant on certain foods that may spoil easily. Starchy foods like potatoes and beans may breed bacteria at room temperature, even without additional ingredients like mayo. This might be disappointing, especially if your guests want to eat vegan meals with beans or potatoes. Don’t worry though, there are other quick and easy vegan recipes you can try out there for your party.
6. Set up a sign-up sheet weeks before the party
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It’s important to know how many people are actually willing to attend the potluck party. After all, you wouldn’t want to have a company party with few attendees or many attendees but with not enough food.
Setting up a sign-up sheet also helps you plan for the portions of the food, and who would be assigned to bring individual dishes. It will also help you prepare for unexpected situations, like when the party is open for your co-employees’ family members. Sometimes, the number of attendees might exceed the number of people who signed up.
7. Prepare for the unexpected
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As mentioned previously, you have to prepare for unexpected scenarios. It may not just be the number of your attendees that went unanticipated. It could also include the problems that come with your party’s venue.
You must have a backup plan for every problem that may arise for your company party. When it comes to food, it is better to exceed the food portions. Concerning the event’s venue, think of the pros and cons of an outdoor or indoor site. Some of the few things that you have to consider are the weather for an outdoor venue and the kids who might be running around in an indoor place.
8. Provide instructions for everybody
Of course, make sure that office etiquette is still observed. Remind everyone about the company rules and how it would be applied in the potluck party as well. For example, drinking alcoholic beverages is discouraged among employees. If that is so, then remind everyone not to sneak in any alcoholic drinks during the company party.
In addition to that, make sure to remind everybody about the theme (if there is any) of your potluck party. You don’t want anyone feeling left out or embarrassed because he or she wore polka dots when the theme is stripes!
9. Don’t make everything too formal
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While rules can keep the company party going smoothly, don’t set too many rules on everything. The office potluck event is meant to be informal. Instead of large tables, consider small tables with a maximum number of seats. This lets people interact more closely. Skip the seating arrangements as well, so that everyone can have the chance to talk to people, especially the ones from other departments!
When it comes to food, don’t restrict anyone from eating anything. Don’t put a limit to what anyone can eat, unless that person has a health condition that prohibits them from eating that type of food.
10. Don’t forget to thank everyone
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For a successful gathering, a token of gratitude should definitely be included in your priorities. Consider sending an email of gratitude and a special message thanking everyone who helped and participated in the company party. Or if you want to go the extra mile, you may consider giving cool company party favors for everybody who attended.
Showing gratitude to everyone who attended the potluck party may also encourage others to attend next time. But remember to ask permission from your supervisor or director to let you do these tasks so that they can also assist you and you don’t bypass any regulations in your company.
Organizing a company party can truly be a lot of work that anyone would back out from being the event’s organizer. But at the end of the day, a successful event can bring lots of good memories for your co-workers and higher-ups. Also, it can give you a great deal of accomplishment as the party host!