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Top Employee Appreciation Lunch Ideas Your Team Will Love

July 9, 2024

Looking for employee appreciation lunch ideas to boost team morale? This article covers unique options like catered meals, food trucks, and themed events that will make your team feel valued and motivated.

Key Takeaways

  • Catering lunches shows employees they’re valued, boosts morale, and enhances company culture by providing fun and festive shared experiences.
  • Food trucks and themed lunch events offer exciting ways to break the monotony of the workweek and foster a sense of celebration and community among employees.
  • Virtual lunches ensure remote employees feel included and appreciated, reinforcing their integral role in the team.


Catered Lunches to Boost Employee Morale


Catered lunches aren't just meals; they’re a statement that you value your staff and their well-being.

The act of providing a catered meal, especially during the crunch times of the year, can be like a warm embrace for your team, ensuring that in the midst of hard work, they feel appreciated.

These gatherings do more than just boost morale; they also contribute to employee engagement by weaving threads of togetherness, creating a tapestry of a stronger, more cohesive company culture.

It’s a scene where barriers are broken down, and connections are made over shared experiences. And let’s not forget the practicality – by saving your team the time and stress of having to find their own lunch, you’re freeing them up to relax, recharge, and return to their tasks with newfound energy.

Catered lunches are a treasure chest of opportunities. They can be tailored to celebrate an individual’s hard work, perhaps with a surprise spread in their honor, complete with decorations and a heartfelt speech that acknowledges their unique contributions.

It’s a moment where every employee deserves to feast not only on gourmet delights but also on the sweet taste of being valued and recognized.


Food Trucks for a Fun Twist


Now, let’s roll into a little adventure on wheels. Why not invite a convoy of food trucks to your office, bringing a smorgasbord of flavors right to your doorstep?

This is the kind of fun twist that can turn any ordinary day into a festive celebration. With countless cuisine options, ranging from smoky BBQ to zesty tacos and even indulgent ice cream, food trucks offer a culinary carnival that will tantalize every taste bud.

While this may sound lavish, the investment speaks volumes. The cost of bringing in food trucks will vary, but it’s an investment in your team that says, “You’re worth it.”

And the joy of watching employees’ faces light up as they choose their meal is priceless. It’s not just food; it’s an experience – a break from the norm that can refresh and invigorate your team.

Hosting a food truck event requires some planning, but the payoff is immense. It’s a gesture that breaks the monotony of the workweek, adding a hint of spontaneity and delight that can linger long after the last bite.

Just a few hours of preparation can ensure a smooth and successful feast, so be sure to check on travel fees and book in advance.


Potluck Lunches to Encourage Team Bonding


From trucks to trust, let’s shift gears towards potluck lunches, where each dish comes with a story and a sprinkle of love. These communal feasts are the epitome of team bonding, a zero-cost initiative that encourages employees to bring a piece of themselves to the table.

It’s a chance for culinary connoisseurs and amateur chefs alike to shine, sharing their favorite recipes and creating a diverse buffet that represents the spectrum of your team’s cultural heritage.

The beauty of a potluck is in its simplicity and the profound impact it has on morale. It’s a collaborative effort – from planning to decoration – that fosters a sense of unity and collective achievement.

Moreover, reflecting on the shared experiences during potlucks can further cement the bonds formed, creating lasting memories and a stronger sense of community.

Setting guidelines or themes can be helpful, too. Here are some creative office potluck themes that can make your event fun and memorable:

  • Around the World: Each participant brings a dish from a different country or region.
  • Comfort Food: Everyone brings their favorite comfort food dish.
  • Dessert Extravaganza: A potluck where everyone brings a dessert.
  • Healthy Eats: Encourage everyone to bring nutritious and health-conscious dishes.
  • Slow Cooker: Dishes prepared in a slow cooker, perfect for keeping food warm.
  • Family Recipes: Share a dish that's been passed down in your family.
  • Breakfast for Lunch: Breakfast foods served for lunch, like pancakes, waffles, and omelets.
  • Soup and Salad: A variety of soups and salads.
  • Build Your Own: A "build your own" bar, like tacos, burgers, or baked potatoes.

Whether it’s a ‘Taste of the World’ lunch or a ‘Healthy Eats’ gathering, themes can provide inspiration and prevent the dreaded scenario of everyone bringing the same dish.

Potluck lunches are more than just meals; they’re a tableau of your company’s diversity and camaraderie served on a platter.


Healthy Lunch Options for Wellness


Providing meals that celebrate wellness speaks to a company’s commitment to their employees’ overall health. This can even have a ripple effect, leading to increased productivity and reduced absenteeism. It's about more than just food – it’s about fostering a work culture that prioritizes mental health and well-being.

Incorporating salad bars, vegan and vegetarian options, and a variety of wholesome, nutrient-dense foods into your lunch offerings can transform the midday break into a revitalizing ritual.

Employees return to their desks not just full, but fulfilled, knowing their employer supports their healthy lifestyle choices. The result? A positive work environment with a workforce that’s energized, focused, and ready to tackle their tasks with gusto.

A healthy lunch initiative also elevates your company’s image, showcasing a forward-thinking approach to employee care.

Offering balanced meals can be a key differentiator in attracting and retaining top talent, as prospective employees often look for workplaces that align with their values and lifestyle. So, serving up healthy options isn’t just good for your team – it’s good for business.


Themed Lunch Events


From celebrating employee birthdays with a splash of confetti and birthday cake to hosting holiday-themed feasts that bring joy and laughter, these events are a powerful tool for boosting morale.

Some theme ideas include:

1. International Cuisine Day:

  • Mexican Fiesta: Serve tacos, burritos, nachos, guacamole, salsa, and margaritas (mocktails for the office).
  • Italian Feast: Offer pasta dishes, pizza, bruschetta, Caprese salad, and gelato.
  • Asian Delights: Include sushi, spring rolls, stir-fry, dumplings, and fortune cookies.

2. Decades Day:

  • 1950s Diner: Burgers, hot dogs, fries, milkshakes, and root beer floats.
  • 1970s Disco: Fondue, cheese and crackers, fruit platters, and classic 70s snacks.
  • 1990s Throwback: Lunchables, pizza rolls, bagel bites, and classic 90s candies.

3. Seasonal Themes:

  • Summer BBQ: Grilled burgers, hot dogs, corn on the cob, potato salad, and watermelon.
  • Autumn Harvest: Pumpkin soup, apple cider, roasted vegetables, and pies.
  • Winter Wonderland: Hot soups, chili, baked bread, hot chocolate, and holiday cookies.

4. Holiday Themes:

  • Halloween: Spooky-themed foods like "mummy" hot dogs, pumpkin-shaped cheese balls, and themed cupcakes.
  • Christmas: Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and Christmas cookies.
  • Easter: Ham, deviled eggs, spring salads, and pastel-colored desserts.

5. Interactive Food Stations:

  • Taco Bar: Provide various fillings, tortillas, toppings, and sauces for custom tacos.
  • Baked Potato Bar: Offer baked potatoes with a variety of toppings such as cheese, sour cream, bacon bits, chives, and chili.
  • Pasta Station: Include different types of pasta, sauces, proteins, and veggies for a customizable pasta dish.

Picnic Lunches in the Park


With themes still on our minds, let’s step outside the office walls and into the embrace of nature with picnic lunches in the park. These outings offer a breath of fresh air, literally and figuratively, allowing employees to have a fun way to:

  • mingle with colleagues from different departments
  • relax, laugh, and connect on a personal level
  • strengthen the bonds that form the foundation of effective teamwork.

Organizing a picnic is a gesture that tells your team, “You deserve a break.” It’s a chance to enjoy the sunshine, play games, and indulge in a spread of food truck delights or homemade goodies.

Picnics can also serve as family-friendly events, where employees’ loved ones mingle and get a glimpse of the supportive workplace culture their family member is part of.

When planning your outdoor feast, consider the logistics to ensure a seamless experience for everyone. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Choose a venue that’s easy to access
  • Make sure there is plenty of space for activities
  • Consider a venue with a scenic view to add that extra touch of tranquility

A picnic lunch is more than just a meal; it’s a chance to create memories and reinforce the message that your company cares about the well-being of its people.


DIY Burger Bars


From the serenity of the park to the sizzle of the grill, DIY burger bars are a tantalizing way to engage your team’s creativity and cater to a wide range of tastes.

This interactive lunch option allows employees to build their perfect burger, choosing from an array of buns, toppings, and patties, including veggie burgers for those with dietary restrictions. It’s a fun, hands-on experience that satisfies both the gourmet and the gourmand.

The beauty of a burger bar lies in its versatility and inclusivity. Whether you’re a meat-lover, vegetarian, or vegan, there’s something for everyone. This isn’t just about eating; it’s about crafting a meal that’s as unique as the person who creates it.

It’s a delicious break from routine that encourages experimentation and conversation, as employees swap tips and toppings.

Setting up a burger bar is a simple yet effective way to say, “We appreciate your individuality.” It’s a testament to the diverse palates and preferences within your team and an acknowledgment that everyone’s ideal meal is different.

A DIY burger bar isn’t just a lunch option; it’s a reflection of your company’s culture of inclusivity and respect for personal choice.


Sweet Treats to Finish Off the Meal


No meal is truly complete without a touch of sweetness to round it off. Offering sweet treats at the end of an employee appreciation lunch is the perfect way to add a celebratory note to the occasion.

From cupcakes to donuts, these delectable desserts can symbolize employee recognition and bring a smile to everyone’s face. It’s a simple but effective way to boost morale and show your team that their hard work is acknowledged and rewarded.

Think of it as the cherry on top of a well-planned event. Whether celebrating a baby shower with a custom cake or toasting a work anniversary with gourmet chocolates, these sweet moments create an atmosphere of joy and appreciation.

And don’t forget the power of variety – offering a selection of treats ensures that there’s something for everyone, catering to different tastes and dietary needs.

Incorporating sweet treats into your lunch events can also be a fun and nostalgic throwback. An ice cream social, for instance, can evoke fond memories and encourage employees to share stories and connect on a more personal level.

Ending your meal with a sweet treat is not just a nice gesture; it’s an affirmation that every member of the team is valued and their contributions are worth celebrating.


Virtual Lunches for Remote Employees


But what about our remote colleagues, the ones who contribute from afar? Virtual lunches are an innovative way to bridge the distance and include remote employees in the camaraderie of employee appreciation events.

Platforms like Hoppier facilitate these virtual gatherings by coordinating meal deliveries, ensuring that everyone, regardless of location, can enjoy a shared meal experience.

The virtual space offers endless possibilities for team-building activities, from trivia and murder mystery parties to cooking classes and virtual scavenger hunts. These activities can turn a simple meal into an engaging and interactive event, fostering connections that transcend physical boundaries.

And for an added touch of thoughtfulness, consider sending care packages or surprise treats to remote employees, bringing a piece of the celebration to their doorstep.

Organizing virtual lunches requires creativity and consideration, but the effort is well worth it. It’s a way to show remote employees that they are an integral part of the team and their presence, though digital, is equally appreciated.

Virtual lunches are more than just a meal; they’re a lifeline of inclusivity that connects the entire workforce.


Recognizing Milestones During Lunch

Creating a culture of recognition


Appreciation isn’t just about the now; it’s also about honoring the journey. Recognizing personal milestones like work anniversaries and birthdays during lunch events can be incredibly impactful. It shows employees that their time and efforts are not just noticed but celebrated.

Celebrate employee appreciation day to contribute to a culture where employees feel appreciated, which in turn can lead to increased job satisfaction and productivity on employee appreciation day. In this context, employee recognition plays a vital role in fostering a positive work environment.

Personalized gifts, such as a custom mug or company-branded apparel, can add a special touch to these celebrations.

And for significant milestones, consider more substantial tokens like restaurant gift cards or even plane tickets, offering a well-deserved break to your dedicated team members. Remember, the goal is to tailor the recognition to the individual, making it as meaningful as possible.

Whether it’s with a simple afternoon snack or a more elaborate gift, acknowledging milestones during lunch is a powerful way to reinforce the message that every team member’s contribution is unique and significant.

This isn’t just about giving a gift; it’s about creating an experience that stays with the employee, a tangible reminder of their worth and the appreciation they’ve earned.


Next Steps

Not only is celebrating your employees fun, but it's key to creating a positive work culture and keeping employees engaged.

Our employee engagement software is designed to help you engage and reward your employees on a day-to-day basis. With one powerful platform, employees can deliver recognition to one another, participate in corporate wellness challenges, and select custom rewards.

We're here to help you cultivate a fun workplace and ultimately transform your company culture. Schedule a demo today.


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