10 Festive and Practical Ideas for a Potluck at Work

How to label food for a potluck, food tent card sizes, free templates and more

Whether you’re a veteran of potluck parties or new to the experience, you’re sure to walk away with something valuable from this article. Not only are we answering basic questions, we’re also tackling how to label food and the best tent card sizes for a buffet table. Additionally, you’ll find 10 festive and practical potluck ideas you can print out for free!

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An example of a buffet table for an office potluck. Each dish on the table is labeled with a card or tag indicating information about the dish. Some of the pots are labeled to ID the owners.
Label office potluck food and dishware with personalized labels, cards, and tags.

What is a potluck?

So you’ve been invited to a potluck at work; what does that even mean? In short, each employee contributes a dish, which is placed on a buffet table for all to share. Why is it called a potluck? Well, the word dates back to the 1590s, when the food you would receive as a visitor might depend on the “luck of the pot.” In other words, you had no choice of dinner but rather had to settle for what was already in the cooking pot. Over time, the phrase transformed into “potluck.”

However, by the 1930s, the term “potluck” had come to mean a gathering where each guest brought a dish. Significantly, potlucks became fixed in American culture when churches began organizing them to feed communities during the Great Depression. Today, a potluck is similarly a great way to distribute the food cost of having a company party.

Perhaps most importantly, a potluck is also a fantastic way to share culture. In fact, some say that food is the best way to understand a culture as well. Sharing culture and socializing are excellent team-building exercises. It’s no wonder managers and team leaders continue to cook up potluck ideas for office gatherings.

This video will give you an idea of how easy it is to personalize labels, cards, and tags for your next office potluck.

How to label food for a potluck

In order to properly label food for a potluck, you should start by defining why you are labeling it. There are several reasons to label potluck foods that benefit other guests at the gathering. In general, describing the dish and/or ingredients is a must for office potlucks. This is because coworkers with dietary and allergy restrictions may not be able to partake if they can’t identify the ingredients. For example, people who eat kosher, vegans, vegetarians, and folks with specific allergies Tent cards and tags are perfect for labeling potluck dishes with ingredient information.

Another reason to label potluck food is simply to make sure your personal serving vessels and utensils make it home with you. More often than not, labels are the best way to identify your personal potluck dishware. Removable labels are one great option. However, our favorite type of labels to use for potlucks are 1-1/4″ x 2-3/8″ dissolvable ones that you can print yourself. They’re the perfect size and are awesome for dishware because they come right off with soapy water or in the dishwasher.

Of course, another reason to label food is to bring your potluck ideas to life with themed or decorative labels and tags. Regardless of why you’re labeling food for a potluck, you’ll need a way to personalize your labels, cards, and tags. Luckily, Avery Design and Print Online (ADPO) is free cloud-based software that you can use on any smart device with an internet connection. Not to mention the hundreds of free printable designs you can personalize with ADPO. 

Three different sizes of food tent cards are shown on a table next to a wooden spoon, knife, fork and snacks for size reference. The three food tent cards shown are Avery 5303 which is 2-1/2 inches by 8 inches, Avery 5302 which is 2 inches by 3-1/2 inches, and Avery 16109 which is 1-7/16 inches by 3-3/4 inches.
Avery tent cards come in three sizes that are excellent for buffet-style office potlucks.

What size are food tent cards?

Food tent cards typically come in three sizes: place card size (1-7/16″ x 3-3/4″), small (2″ x 3-1/2″), and large (2-1/2″ x 8″). There’s no set rule about what size you have to use. Instead, you should pick a size based on how much information you want to include. For example, a small tent card or place card is fine for a simple dish name à la “Mac n’ Cheese.” Small tent cards and our  2″ x 3-1/2″ printable tags are both a good size for quick dietary and allergy alerts like adding “dairy-free,” “vegan,” or “gluten-free.”

Conversely, if you want to provide more robust ingredient information, a large tent card will give you the room to do so. Large tent cards are also fantastic for labeling sections on a potluck buffet table, for instance, desserts or side dishes. No matter what size you use, tent cards are a great way to make potluck ideas pop with a cool theme.

Potluck dishes with dietary/allergy info 2″ x 3-1/2″
Buffet table sections or extensive dietary/allergy info2-1/2″ x 8″
Simple potluck dish names1-7/16″ x 3-3/4″
Comparison of different food tent card sizes with links to quickly find what you need.

Potluck ideas for an office Cinco de Mayo party

A small Avery tent card 5302 that reads, "Mild Guacamole (dairy free)." The cactus and confetti design is a cute potluck idea for a fiesta or Cinco de Mayo theme.

1) Cactus & confetti small tent card

Print this design on 2″ x 3-1/2″ 5302 tent cards (5302), or order custom-printed tent cards.

Avery place card 16109 showing a potluck idea for a fiesta or Day of the Dead theme. The design features colorful papel picado and the card reads, "Vegan Jackfruit Chicken."

2) Papel picado potluck idea

Print this design 1-7/16″ x 3-3/4″ place cards (16109), or order custom-printed tent cards.

Complete your Southwest theme with more templates and ideas in our article about throwing the perfect fiesta.

Western office barbecue potluck ideas

Avery 5302 card printed with a faux wood and red bandana theme for a western potluck theme. The card reads, "Mac & Cheese."

3) Bandana print small tent card

Print this design on 2″ x 3-1/2″ 5302 tent cards (5302), or order custom-printed tent cards.

"Dig In," "Eat Hearty," and "Grub Time" are printed on Avery round labels 22807. The labels match the Western theme and are shown on silverware settings.

4) “Dig In” Western stickers

Print this design yourself on 2″ round labels that you can shop by package (22807) or by the sheet (94501).

Or, order custom-printed round labels.

Get more Western theme ideas in our article with tips and templates for throwing the best Western-style party.

Thanksgiving potluck ideas for the office

A cute and simple sunflower is printed on Avery tag 22802. The tag is attached to a bag of cookies and reads, "Gluten-free chocolate chip."

5) Simple sunflower tag

Print this design on our classic 22802 tag, or order custom-printed tags.

Avery place card 5302 is glued on a skewer that has been stuck in a pumpkin pie. The card reads, "Pumpkin Pie" in swirly elegant font and is accented by a simple fall foliage branch.

6) Elegant fall foliage pie sign

Pro Tip: Sandwich a wooden skewer between a tent card and glue in place to make your own pie signs!

Print this design on 2″ x 3-1/2″ 5302 tent cards (5302), or order custom-printed tent cards.

Discover many more designs in our roundup of over 50 different printable Thanksgiving place cards, which can be easily personalized for your office potluck.

Ideas for a winter & Christmas potlucks

Avery tags 80511 are printed with a festive poinsettia print on a dark blue background. Cups of popcorn are labeled "white cheddar" and "caramel pop,"

7) Poinsettia tag potluck idea

Print this design yourself on round scalloped tags (80511), or order custom-printed scallop tags.

Pro Tip: Print in small batches on your desktop or office printer. For large quantities or saturated colors try our WePrint® service.

A tray of brownies are set on a potluck buffet table. In front of the brownies is a large Avery tent card 5305 printed with a evergreen foliage and pine cones. The card reads, "Desserts."

8) Evergreen foliage large tent card

Print this design on 2-1/2″ x 8-1/2″ tent cards (5305), or order custom-printed tent cards.

Potluck ideas for labeling your dishware

A close up of a bright red baking dish lid. Avery dissolvable label 4224 is used to ID the baking dish owner. The label features a crossed spoons design and reads, "Made by: Jonathan H."

9) Crossed spoons dishware ID label

Print this design on 1″ x 2 5/8″ dissolvable labels. You can shop them by the package (4224) or by the sheet (94200).

A top view of a bright yellow baking dish lid. Avery removable label 6460 is used to ID the baking dish owner. The label features a teal and pink floral design and reads, "Made by Kelly C."

10) Floral ID potluck idea

Print this design on 1″ x 2 5/8″ removable labels. You can shop them by the package (6460) or by the sheet (94200).

Or, order custom-printed removable labels.

Potluck ideas for your next office gathering

Potlucks are a practical way of sharing the food cost for an office party because each employee contributes a dish to be shared. Moreover, they’re an opportunity for coworkers to share their cultures, which is great for team building.

When labeling food for a potluck, the most important thing to remember is to be considerate of allergies and dietary restrictions, especially when bringing food to the office. Tent cards and tags are perfect for labeling food with ingredient info, while labels are best for labeling your personal serving items.

Furthermore, labels, cards, and tags that you can personalize help add some flavor to your potluck theme. Specifically, Avery Design and Print Online software and free Avery printable potluck ideas make it easy to personalize labels, cards, and tags.

Are you planning an office potluck? Connect with us on Facebook or LinkedIn to get more ideas for office events and share your potluck projects on Instagram using #averyproducts.

Author: JoJo Mrgich

JoAnn (JoJo) Mrgich is a copywriter and SEO content writer who began her copywriting career in 2011. A musical theater major at the time, JoJo began writing blog articles, product descriptions, and other online content for a dancewear brand. Since then, she has gone on to write in a variety of fields, from essential oils and natural beauty to fashion and swimwear, finally landing at Avery, which she affectionately calls her "forever home." At Avery, JoJo writes content for the Avery blog, covering everything from organization to party planning, as well as contributing to other online content for avery.com. She is also a technical and content writer for Avery Industrial, where she writes in-depth articles that span a wide variety of topics, from safety compliance to 5S lean practices. In her personal life, JoJo is a big fan of fantasy and science-fiction works such as Lord of the Rings and Star Trek (especially the original series). She also loves going to Disneyland and runs a non-profit social organization of 600 members that brings fans of "nerd culture" together for meet-ups and events in Southern California.