Shelly Barnes: Summer fun...time to plan an office picnic

Shelly Barnes • Jun 12, 2018 at 3:54 PM

Summer is a great time to get to know your coworkers. Having all your coworkers bring their favorite healthy dish is a great way to get a taste of everyone’s unique style, and who doesn’t love an excuse to eat?

Encourage coworkers to showcase their culture. Diversity in the workplace is so important, and food can be a great way to explore that. Also, try bringing dishes with a new twist on familiar veggies or try something new with a more uncommon farmers market find.

Some tips for a fun office picnic include:

• set a date that will work for everyone in the office.

• select a location, whether it is your office or somewhere outdoors.

• set out a sign-up sheet in a central location in the office for everyone to sign up for a dish.

• try out a new recipe or an old favorite. Bring copies of the recipe to share.

• decorate by setting a theme or even a colorful tablecloth and plates that can add some excitement to the atmosphere.

• add in some fun activities to help you get to know each other better. Try some of the conversation starters below.

• most importantly, have fun and enjoy the time with your coworkers.

Here are some conversation starters:

• What are you currently watching on Netflix?

• If you could visit anywhere in the world you’ve never been, where would you go?

• What’s your secret talent that no one knows about?

• What kind of pet do you have, and how did you choose its name?

• If you had to listen to one song for the rest of your life, what would it be?

• What animal do you think most closely matches your personality?

• What are three items you’d take with you to a deserted island?

• If you could choose one age to be forever, what age would it be and why?

• If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?

• What’s the best thing that has happened to you so far this week?

Try to this recipe at your next office picnic:

Kale Caesar Pasta Salad

Makes 10 servings


• 1 pound bowtie pasta.

• 1 pint small tomatoes, grape or cherry.

• 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil.

• Salt and ground pepper.

• 1 bunch kale, stemmed and chopped.

• 2 cups creamy Caesar dressing, 1 cup and the rest is to taste.

• 4 ounces parmesan cheese, grated.


Bring a pot of water to a boil and season with salt. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the tomatoes on a small tray, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and toss.  Season with salt and black pepper and roast about 8-10 minutes.

Chop the kale into small pieces and add to the pasta and tomatoes. Pour 1 cup of dressing onto salad and gently toss. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Refrigerate for one hour before serving.

The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture celebrates 50 years of excellence in providing Real. Life. Solutions. through teaching, discovery and service, ag.tennessee.edu. For more information on this or other family and consumer sciences-related topics, contact Shelly Barnes, family and consumer sciences Extension agent for UT Extension in Wilson County. Barnes may be reached at sbarnes@utk.edu or 615-444-9584.

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