Salute to Spouses Blog

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The holiday potluck – dreadful or dazzling

By Allison Perkins

Holiday potlucks in the breakroom are coming, are you ready?

I’ve learned there are two types. First, everyone brings a dish and the smorgasbord sits in the breakroom and is visited by one or two people at a time since everyone is so busy typing away to get done in time to leave for vacation.

Second, the entire office shuts down and gathers for fellowship around the food which can be a hoot at the right companies or uncomfortable at best.

So, whether you love or loathe mandatory company fun time, as it is called in the military, you need to find a way to play along.

First, don’t bring the weird food. You may absolutely love an exotic dish you discovered at your last overseas duty station and have mastered recreating it. That doesn’t mean everyone is willing to give it a try. The less complicated, the better.

Second, don’t feel pressured to cook. Most commissaries have a fabulous bakery and deli. Around the holidays they are flush with dessert trays and meat and cheese spreads. Save yourself the stress, just buy something. 

Third, try not to be a Grinch. It’s the holidays. It’s busy. Everyone is carrying an extra load to try to get done before the door is locked for the week. Try to take a few minutes to be social and make an appearance before you duck back into the cubicle.

And if you are the potluck planner, a few tips for you as well.

First, please, let people know early, not the night before or even a few days before. If you don’t know how hard it is to get to the grocery store for a single item, ask a military spouse whose husband is deployed. We’ve gone without milk at our house for a week simply because I didn’t feel like dragging all the kids into the store after hours to get it.

Second, don’t schedule the get-together the week of the holiday – you are simply asking for meltdowns at this point.

Finally, absolutely never ever make it mandatory – to bring a dish or participate in the festivities. The holidays can be a complicated ball of emotions for people at the holidays, especially military families. Give employees the space they need to deal with what is happening in their household without extra pressure to be merry and bright.

Happy potlucking!

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