Ever been to an office potluck and seen someone double dip their pita into the humus, or let the wine bottle touch the saliva rim of their cup? If after that experience you felt like never showing up to another work-related social gathering again, fear not, there’s a way to avoid it this year.
The holiday season is approaching, with all its joys of plastic and paper everywhere and its almost mandatory smile-and-get-together events. Word on the street is that the recession is forcing many companies to forgo the dinner banquets and hold office lunch hour ‘how’s life’ sessions instead. The whole festive air doesn’t have to totally dissipate though. What better way to treat employees and coworkers with a fun holiday snack-a-thon?
Gift baskets are really a party in a bundle, and can cheer up any office lunchroom, especially when everyone gathers around to unleash the ribbon and discover what’s buried inside. From gourmet cheese varieties no one’s tried before, to intricately flavored crackers never seen on grocery store shelves, the sequences of surprises are mini bursts of delight.
But wait a minute, who wants to go dipping for H1N1? Besides the benefit of paid sick leave, double dipping opportunities should be abolished from the start. That’s why it’s important to make sure your gift basket contains ‘safe’ food items and that everyone in the room practices safe snacking. Here are some tips:
• Offer up individualized foods, such as separately wrapped gourmet truffles or cookies that people can grab one at a time without infesting the rest of the dish.
• Use bowls to spread out snacks that come in bags, such as the cookies or crackers, so no dirty hands are being shuffled around in there. It would be even better to have tongs available in bigger bowls and smaller plates for each person to fill up with their own portion.
• Keep the food in a designated area, and all the ‘how’s life’ conversations sort of at a distance. For example, have a table propped up against the wall with the snacks and everyone else wandering around the lunchroom. That way you can avoid people sneezing and breathing and getting their crumbs all over the food that’s still good!
• For dips and spreads, having a spoon in the dish implies that a do-gooder should scoop their share on to their individual plate. However, there’s always a fool who disobeys the custom. If the flu is a real concern and you see people coughing in their palms, it wouldn’t be too much to either personally serve out portions or to prepare sampler plates that coworkers can grab ‘n go. Only disadvantage with the sampler plates would be not knowing peoples tastes in advance.
• If you are serving wine, don’t leave it out for grabs. Pour out the cups beforehand so the saliva rims don’t touch the bottle!
• On top of avoiding the gross-factor at your holiday work luncheon, remember your food safety skills. Avoid foods that need preparing or cold storage (it’s more headache anyway), and remember to wash your hands and keep gel sanitizer around!
One last tip – be sure to please everyone with both sweet and savory items so no one is left out, especially not you!