15 Employee Appreciation Day Lunch Ideas At The Workplace For Your Staff

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By Alisha Zoe

Employee Appreciation Day Lunch Ideas At The Workplace For Your Staff

Showing appreciation for employees should be an integral part of company culture. Taking time to recognize hard work builds morale, increases productivity, and boosts retention. An employee appreciation lunch is a great way to celebrate your staff while taking a welcome midday break. 

When planning an appreciation lunch, consider ordering food that aligns with your company culture or appeals to a wide range of dietary needs. Below are 15 creative ideas ranging from build-your-own bars to themed potlucks to restaurant catering. Suggestions for relevant Amazon products are seamlessly incorporated to enhance the experience without feeling promotional.

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Taco Bar

A taco bar is a festive option that allows customization. Provide tortillas, meat fillings like ground beef and chicken, toppings such as shredded lettuce, cheese, salsa, guacamole, and sour cream. Include corn chips and black beans for vegetarian options. 

These Clear 10-Section Serving Platter Trays with lids make transporting and serving ingredients easy. Metal tongs allow guests to grab food without cross-contamination. Consider ordering Jarritos soda to complement the Tex-Mex theme. 

Italian Feast

For an Italian-themed lunch, order favorites like chicken parmesan, baked ziti, meatballs, Caesar salad, and garlic bread. Keep tableware themed as well with these Tuscan-inspired ceramic plates and these wine glasses. 

A Bartesian cocktail machine allows you to serve Italian sodas, Bellinis, orNegronis. Wrap up the celebration by sending employees home with cookies from Spritz Italian bakery.

All-American Cookout

Fire up the grill and throw an old-fashioned barbecue cookout. Serve classic sides like potato salad, coleslaw, baked beans and corn on the cob. All-beef hot dogs, hamburgers and Beyond Meat patties ensure all dietary needs are met. 

This extra-large cooler helps transport and store cold items. Grill up vegetables like zucchini, bell peppers, mushrooms and corn in a grill basket. Finish off this All-American meal with apple pie, sodas and red checkered tablecloths.

People Also Read: 20 Best Employee Appreciation Day Gift Ideas For Your Loyal Team Or Workers

Thai Feast  

For an exotic lunch, order takeout from a local Thai restaurant. Opt for protein options like pad thai, curry dishes and summer rolls along with vegetarian fried rice and papaya salad. These rattan charger plates accent the meal and mimic Thai style. 

Brew Thai tea with this tea pot and serve with Thai desserts like mango sticky rice. Send employees home with a Thai cookbook so they can recreate favorites at home.  

Carnival Themes

Make your office feel like a carnival with favorites like soft pretzels with dipping sauces, hot dogs, nachos, and popcorn. These paper food trays and disposable serving utensils are perfect for a casual theme. 

Make cakes and desserts irresistible displayed under a cake stand cloche dome. Wash it all down with lemonade or Jarritos sodas. Give away whimsical prizes like this huge unicorn stuffed animal in a carnival game.  

Mac and Cheese Bar

For ultimate comfort food, set up a mac and cheese bar with fun mix-in toppings. Start with a classic mac and cheese then offer add-ins like lobster, bacon, broccoli, salsa, hot sauce and more. Keep ingredients hot with a slow cooker buffet server. 

Provide “bread crumbs” with these Parmesan cheese crisps and garlic knots. Give out custom post-it note pads as parting gifts so employees are ready to jot down ideas after their cheesy feast.

People Also Read: 15 Meaningful Employee Appreciation Day Card Ideas

Waffle Bar

Give breakfast some love by setting up a make-your-own waffle bar. Offer two waffle makers – one for regular and one for vegan waffles. Provide fruit compotes, whipped cream, chocolate chips, peanut butter, nuts and syrups for topping options. 

Make it a chocolate lover’s dream with a chocolate fountain surrounded by fruits, marshmallows and Rice Krispie treats for dipping. Send everyone home with a waffle mix so they can recreate the magic.    

Salad Bar

For lighter fare, create an upscale salad bar. Offer mixed greens and romaine along with proteins like grilled chicken, hard boiled eggs, beans and tofu. Provide fresh vegetable toppings like carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers. 

Include premium toppings like avocado, bacon, cheeses, nuts, seeds and croutons. Dress it up with three salad dressing options. Serve with artisan breads and fancy crackers. Package up dressings to-go so employees can enjoy gourmet salads at home.  

Fajita Bar 

Set up a build-your-own fajita bar with sizzling onions and peppers, warm tortillas, grilled steak and chicken, beans, rice, salsa, guacamole, cheese and all the fixings. Serve Jarritos soda and finish with churros for a sweet treat. 

Provide plastic gloves so guests can assemble tacos hassle-free. Send staffers home with handcrafted molcajete mortar and pestle sets so they can recreate Tex-Mex night at home by making fresh guacamole, salsa and more. 

People Also Read: 30 Best Employee Appreciation Day Ideas From Gifts To Party Celebration Ideas

Mediterranean Feast

Transport your office to the Mediterranean with fresh hummus, baba ghanoush, tabbouleh, dolmas, pita bread, baklava and Turkish coffee. These copper serving trays keep food presentation elegant. Use these olive wood spreader knives for breads and dips. 

Brew Turkish coffee in these authentic copper cezve pots. Wrap up leftovers in wax paper takeaway bags. Give out bonuses like organic Turkish delight candy and old world dry ingredients that evoke the Mediterranean, like za’atar spice blends, sumac, and Aleppo pepper.

Panini Bar

Set up an Italian-style panini bar so employees can craft gourmet sandwiches. Offer freshly baked focaccia, ciabatta and pretzel breads. Provide meats like salami, prosciutto, grilled chicken and Capicola ham. Have veggies on hand like greens, roasted red peppers, onions, tomatoes and pickles as well as cheeses like mozzarella, provolone, Parmesan and feta. 

This Panini press grill makes assembly easy. Serve with pasta salad or tomato basil soup with nice bread baskets and salad bowls. Give away olive oil gift sets so employees can recreate the magic at home. 

Mexican Fiesta

Make every employee a VIP with a Mexican fiesta celebratory lunch. Festive papel picado banners and decorations set the mood. Serve tacos, enchiladas, burritos and fajitas along with classic sides like Spanish rice, refried beans, chips and salsa. 

Frost the glasses for that frosty cocktail look with these colorful silicone drink huggers. Wrap up the event by providing sweet pan dulce Mexican pastries in bold colors and flavors.  

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Southern Spread

Bring down-home southern comfort to the office with regional favorites like buttermilk fried chicken, biscuits, coleslaw, mac and cheese, cornbread and banana pudding. The Crock-Pot slow cooker food warmer ensures hot items stay ready to serve. 

Pretty vintage milk glass cake stands elegantly display desserts. Thank guests for coming with cute little succulents potted in southern-themed planters. They’ll serve as a lasting memento and brighten office desks after the meal.

Company Potluck  

Skip catering costs altogether by organizing an employee potluck meal. Set up sign up sheets for appetizers, entrees, sides and desserts so there is something for everyone. UseSelector stickers help guests identify dietary-friendly options. Provide plates, utensils and napkins to make enjoying hassle-free. 

Display items on this 3-tier buffet server on wheels which doubles as extra serving space. The divider trays keep menu items separate. Finally, show appreciation with small personalized cutting boards employees can use again at home.  

Around the World

Transport your team’s tastebuds by planning an around the world themed meal. Set up food stations showcasing cuisines from different cultures like Italy, India, Mexico, Japan, Greece and more. Use mini chalkboard food tent signs to label each station. World map paper goods reinforce the theme. 

Consider ordering spices or pantry staples from each cuisine as gifts so employees can recreate ethnic cooking at home. Provide feedback cards shaped like airplanes so they can share their favorite global flavor adventures.

People Also Read: 15 Creative Employee Appreciation Day Social Media Post Ideas

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Q: What are some good prizes to give away during an appreciation lunch?

A: Some fun prize ideas include gift cards to local restaurants, tickets to movies or events, cozy office essentials like plush blankets and nice headphones, self-care items like candles and tea samplers, or tech accessories like wireless phone chargers, external batteries and multi-port USB hubs. 

Q: Should appreciation lunches be recurring or just once a year?

A: Most human resources experts recommend showing employee appreciation consistently throughout the year rather than just annually. Some companies designate certain months focused on employee appreciation when they incorporate multiple morale-boosting activates like special events, gifts, meals and office enhancement, while others integrate peer recognition programs, celebrations and perks year-round. 

Q: Is it better to order food or have employees bring potluck dishes?  

A: It depends on your goals and budget! Catering food enables more customization to align with your theme and presentation vision, while potlucks foster community, empower creativity and reduce costs. One hybrid option is to provide a main entree like sandwiches or pizza then have employees sign up to bring sides and desserts. 

Final Verdict

An office appreciation lunch allows leadership to nurture company culture, bring people together over food and drink, recognize hard work by individual employees and teams, and have fun together during hectic work weeks. Whether you throw a potluck, order takeout or hire a caterer, incorporating thoughtful touches like decor, theming, giveaways and engaging everyone makes for memorable morale-boosting experiences.

As you can see, the options are endless when planning an employee lunch to show your appreciation! With thoughtful food options complemented by themed products and takeaways, you’re sure to throw an event that leaves a lasting impression and has everyone looking forward to the next celebratory office meal.


  • Alisha Zoe

    I am a professional writer passionate about the workplace. My articles offer insights on business, team building, and corporate culture. I help you create unforgettable work events and celebrations.

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