What Really Happens the Night Before the Office Potluck

Happy Easter!  I’ve had a busy weekend, and I’m getting this out later than I’d like, but, still, mission accomplished. Hope you all got to spend some time with people you love, and enjoyed the beautiful weather.

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What Really Happens the Night Before the Office Potluck

When you are a single female, office potlucks are met with a mix of anticipation and dread.

The dread part comes first. It’s the moment you realize that you must go to the store, buy a week’s worth of groceries, and make a dish for your closest coworkers, knowing you’ll only get a spoonful.

Did you just think I should’ve just bought some prepared potato salad at the deli, slapped a spoon in it, and called it good? Yeah, I heard you. I have my ways. I can only waggle my finger at you, and, in my best stern voice say “Shame! That’s cheating!”

Because, for us single females, despite the cost which blows our monthly budget out of the water, potlucks are *really* about showing off.

Our Betty Crocker genes don’t get out much. With no regular “audience,” we have no one to impress with our culinary acumen. We tend to go home, shove our deli meat into some maybe,  possibly,  good bread and call it dinner.

This is where the anticipation comes in.

See, as much as there is dread and anxiety over the cost, there is the excited planning that goes into high gear.  It’s not enough to bring a dish people will like. It’s time to impress them with exotic ingredients or techniques. They can’t be too exotic or no one will touch them, and no one is impressed with having the only untouched dish at the party.

The ideal potluck dish has got to look excellent, taste fantastic, and be sufficiently complicated or mysterious (how’d she do that??) to become the chief topic of conversation for the meal.

“Gosh, I haven’t used my melon baller in years, maybe I could use it to scoop out servings of salmon mousse, serve it on tiny homemade crackers with a touch of that caviar and serve it with some sparkling wine I made from last year’s grape harvest. I’ll just whip up the crackers from the hand-milled flower right after I put away the deli meat. ”

When you start sounding like a contestant on Iron Chef explaining their sea bass three ways, with truffle oil foam and poached quail eggs, or twice killed pork rendered planks of maple and cedar, it might be time to dial the whole thing back to eleven.

The minute you decide to make a more reasonable dish, you start to panic and imagine that one of the single guys at the office could taste your masterpiece, fall madly in love with it, and want to be married within the month. It’s worth the hours spent hand-milling flour if it catches a man.

I wake to the smell of a burning batch of crackers, and wipe the drool from my face, and the dream has faded. Maybe store-bought crackers aren’t cheating after all.

Kate Barnes – award-winning writer, blogger and thinker of thoughts – lives in Denver. By day she works for the Colorado Community College System, and by dark she sits in the glow of the computer screen creating websites, words, and grand schemes.  She welcomes your comments and can be reached at flyingsolo@k8space.com, you can visit her website at http://www.k8space.com.



  1. amrosend says

    Pot lucks are not much fun for me either. Leaving work, picking up my blessings, going home and making supper and helping with homework … typically leads me to forget about said pot luck until about 3:30 AM (the morning *of*) while I am lying in bed – in sudden terror that I have forgotten about the pot luck. This leads to a deperate dash to my pantry to dig out some baking supplies … paired nicely with a chaotic mess in my kitchen following this mad baking session. The funny thing is – I honestly do not think my co-workers care exactly *what* I bring … but they usually still follow me to the break room when I bring my contribution to the table (as they are impressed it is still warm…) No, I am not that crazy to plan to wake up early to make something spectacular (as sleep is such a precious commodity in our household) – but I *am* that forgetful because my Mom-nesia kicks in as soon as I walk in the door to my home. At least the fog lifts in the early morning hours … otherwise, I would be the person running into a convenience store at about 5:30 in the morning to pick something up.

    I really enjoy your musings, Kate. Keep up the excellent writing. You have a gift!

  2. @amrosend:
    Goodness, I think you win. I admire all the things moms accomplish, and am exhausted just thinking about that 5:30 convenience store run. I think that getting it there warm is a mighty impressive accomplishment, and I offer you my appreciation and congratulations on your achievements, because it’s not an easy thing.

    And thank you, too, for your encouragement. I really appreciate it, and it really helps me keep going.

  3. amrosend says

    Seriously – I get so excited every time I get an e-mail that you have a new post. You have a new fan with me. I look forward to reading more from you.

  4. Thank you! That really makes my week! I’m very glad you’re enjoying them, and it really helps me to know that someone is looking forward to my special brand of craziness… 🙂

  5. I was looking for the “like” button on your last note … which is just crazy as this is not “Facebook” or “G+”. Your creativity is refreshing. Keep up your excellent work!