Thanksgiving used to be one day long. 


Now the season for giving thanks gives us a whole month of celebrating gratitude, hosting Friendsgivings, and kick-starting the holiday season. 


In the office, however, with end-of-year goals sneaking up and holiday party planning in the works, it can be easily missed. This often raises the question: Given everything else going on, is it worth the trouble of planning an office potluck for Thanksgiving? Will my colleagues still be excited, post photos to Instagram, and enjoy the celebration, or will the meal be rushed as everyone is preoccupied with other stressors?


Here are a few ideas to help you decide 1) Is it worth having and 2) If so, how you can organize this event without sacrificing too much of your time. 


Putting Turkey up for a Popular Vote


Let’s say you send out a mass email or Slack with the question, “Hey everyone, looking for input on a Thanksgiving meal. Should we get a turkey or do something else? Mix it up?”


This feels like a good approach… on paper. But it derails fast. Before you know it you’ve got votes for brisket, lasagna, and a heated debate between the Turducken and Tofurkey camps. 


Our vote: Go the traditional route with turkey. Opening up the vote usually just adds stress. 


How much turkey is too much turkey?


Whether this is company-wide or team specific, it’s easy to look at the employee count and think, “Alright, well my family has 12 people and we get an 18-pound turkey. We have 100 people here, does that mean I need like a small army of 25-pound turkeys?!” 


Good news: People tend to eat way less at the office potluck than they do on their home-turf. One 15-20 lb turkey per 50 people should work just fine. 


Ask people to bring in side dishes


To minimize stress, cater the event. However, when comparing the price quote to your November and December budget, you may or may not be able to swing it.


One way to save money is to have people volunteer for the side dishes on a Google Doc. Pro tip: this usually ends up being better food too – every office has at least one person with a phenomenal mac-n-cheese recipe. 


Bonus Idea: At the potluck, have each person share the background on their dish. Is this an old family recipe? Who made it originally? What’s a memory they have surrounding this dish? It’s a great chance to learn more about your colleagues and truly get into the Thanksgiving spirit.


Thank yous


 A nice final touch is to have everyone write a thank you note to a colleague or two. This ends up being the most meaningful part of the event, and taking some time to reflect on gratitude for your team sends everyone back to their desks with more than just a full stomach.


Alright… so what’s the verdict? Is it worth it? 


Absolutely. All of the positives – the camaraderie, an afternoon off, a chance to learn about colleagues – outweighs the stress of the season. 


In terms of timing the event, we would recommend the week before Thanksgiving, since the week of Thanksgiving finds many employees traveling for the holiday. 


Have a great office Thanksgiving!