Your essential guide to hosting engaging team lunches

Cassy Aite
April 3, 2024
Your essential guide to hosting engaging team lunches

Sometimes the best breakthroughs happen over lunch. It’s also a great time to bring people together, learn, and explore ideas. That’s why we think team lunches are a powerful route to engagement, team building, and community. 

In this guide, we’ll explore why team lunches are so valuable and how to plan them like a pro. We’ll also share our tips on how to make your lunch experiences even more engaging, and a fresh new way to cater them too — whether you’re hosting in-person or remotely. 

Why team lunches are a great addition to your company

It’s always refreshing to take a break from your regular routine to try something new, like a team lunch. Let’s explore a handful of reasons why adding team lunches to your company schedule makes perfect sense. 

Create opportunities for engagement and community

The workday can feel lonely, even when you’re part of a warm, friendly team. That’s even more the case if you’re part of a remote team, with everyone scattered across the world. A team lunch gives you the ideal way to break through barriers and bring everyone together. 

Team lunches are a useful tool to help reinforce your company culture, encourage engagement, and foster a sense of community. Use them as a casual way to help encourage friendships and teamwork, or host a more structured working lunch with team building activities and icebreakers to strengthen bonds. 

A way to encourage, motivate, or inspire

Outside of team building and community, you can use your team lunches for good in other ways. Host a team lunch designed to inspire, motivate, or encourage your coworkers to take action, learn something new, or feel refreshed. 

This is a really fun yet impactful reason to introduce a shared office lunch break. You could cover a topic like time management to help increase productivity, or run a session that could help your team members in their personal lives — like self care, how to cook delicious simple recipes, or the importance of finding a hobby they can enjoy. 

Show your gratitude and appreciation

Team lunches don’t always have to have some big, corporate purpose in mind. Sometimes you can host a team lunch just to show how much you care about and appreciate your employees. 

Treating your entire team to lunch is a simple yet rewarding way to say thank you for their work on a tough project, landing a major new lead, or securing funding. Not only can they enjoy a catered lunch hour, but it’s an opportunity to get to know the people around them better in a relaxed setting. 

How to plan effective team lunches

person holding watermelon on pink background

We’re sold on the idea that team lunches are a powerful way to bring people together, strengthen relationships, and create fun opportunities for learning and growth. Here’s how to take your company lunch from idea to reality, with tips for in-person, virtual, and hybrid get-togethers. 

1. Decide on a date and time

The first thing to do when planning your team lunch is to decide when to host it. Find a day of the week that works best for your team, based on their availability and workload. Book in a lunchtime slot, but be mindful of remote workers in other timezones and try to find a time that works well for everyone.

If you want to make team lunches a regular event in your calendar, aim to host them on the same day of the week and at the same time. This helps people to form a habit and know when to expect the next get-together. An exception to this is if someone can’t make your regular date and time. In this case, switch things up every now and again so they have just as much chance to make it as the rest of your team. 

2. Think about the type of team lunch you want to host

Every team lunch is different, so before you jump into sending out invites, take a moment to figure out what you want your team lunch to look like. 

Maybe you’re planning a team lunch as a birthday party, or a more structured event to learn about how to find balance and avoid burnout. While both work as team lunches, they’re really different — both in content and in how you’d plan and host them. 

Consider your organizational priorities and what’s going on at the moment, then find a theme or goal for your team lunch. This doesn’t have to be complicated — it could be as simple as wanting to express gratitude for a record breaking month. 

3. Find the right venue or platform

You can’t meet up for a team building lunch session without a place to gather, so next up is finding the perfect venue. This might be a meeting room or private dining space for in-person events, or a fun event platform for virtual events

Think about any activities you plan to run at your team event, and what your team members are likely to be doing — besides enjoying great food together. You might need space and materials to get creative, or a digital platform that lets you play games or run polls. 

Once you’ve found the right physical or virtual space for your team lunch, look for ways to make it feel special. For an in-person event, you could supply branded travel mugs or leave a camera on the table so people can snap some candid photos. For digital events, create a fun virtual background for your video call or virtual presentation

4. Send out invitations

With your team lunch all planned out, it’s time to let everyone know about it. Not only is this a must-have step in a practical sense, but it’s also an opportunity to create anticipation and fuel engagement ahead of the event. 

Prepare an email or calendar request that features all the details your team members need to know — like the date, time, and what’s happening. To add some flair and excitement, swap plain emails for customized digital invitations that match your team lunch’s theme. 

5. Remind your team members about your upcoming team lunch

When your team lunch is fast approaching, it’s a great idea to send a reminder out so nobody forgets. Give your team a gentle nudge and encourage them to make it to your team meal if they can. 

How you send your reminder depends on the size of your team and your company culture, but a quick note in your Slack channel, or a simple email reminder works well. Use this moment to provide any pre-event details your guests might need — like how to use their Hoppier virtual card to order lunch ahead of your event. 

4 ways to make your team lunches more engaging

three happy people with arms in the air on yellow background

Want to make your team lunch even better? Here are four ways to make your next team lunch more interesting, engaging, and impactful for everyone involved. 

1. Give your team lunch a theme

One of the easiest ways to make your team lunch more engaging is for it to have a theme. Everyone’s showing up for a reason, and there’s something exciting and new to draw them in. 

For your themed lunch, think about what your team members would be most interested in. Maybe they’d love an “around the world” style potluck paired with a cooking demo, or to grab something from a food truck and sit down together to plan your next big project. 

Your theme doesn’t have to be big, expensive, or extravagant. You could even base your theme on one of your culture priorities — like teamwork, work-life balance, or lifelong learning. Take inspiration from what your team members appreciate about your organization and their own personal goals. 

2. Host a lunch and learn

If you want to add another layer of engagement and team bonding to your team lunch, try a lunch and learn. This is a powerful combination of casual dining and expert knowledge, so you’re checking off two boxes at once. 

Bring your team together to listen to an expert on a topic, followed by a practical activity or team based learning exercise. You don’t have to seek outside sources for this either — add some fun to the mix by asking a team member to give everyone else the lowdown on an interest, hobby, or passion of theirs instead. 

What’s great about lunch and learns is that they translate so well to virtual or hybrid experiences. It’s super easy to put together an engaging presentation or demo and deliver it to your team, wherever they’re based. 

3. Provide a fun way to enjoy lunch together

One of the perks of a team lunch is getting a free lunch, but you can go one step further and make the whole experience feel more engaging. Look for a fresh new way to cater your team lunch that’s more impressive than a sandwich platter. 

There’s no shortage of great corporate lunch ideas out there. You could arrange food trucks to visit your office, hire a private dining space, or ask everyone to bring a dish in, potluck style. While these are all super, they’re harder to achieve if you’re hosting a remote or hybrid event. 

Instead, try a service like Hoppier. With our platform you can send virtual credit cards out to your team members ahead of the event, so they can order their favorite dish from a local vendor — wherever they are. Not only does this make ordering lunch more interactive, but it’s a great talking point, too. 

4. Add some entertainment

yummy food assorted on blue background

Introduce some added fun to your team lunch by treating your team members to some entertainment. It’s a great way to bring some atmosphere and camaraderie to your lunch if you don’t have any formal activities planned. 

There’s so much choice when it comes to different types and styles of entertainment that you can really create something unique. Ask a magician to show your team members a few tricks, tune in to a livestream of a live music act, or set up your own trivia quiz for everyone to take part in. Check in with your team members on what their preferences are so you can create a team lunch experience they will love. 

Hoppier: a creative way to cater your team lunches

Corporate catering can have a reputation for being uninspiring, expensive, and wasteful — especially if you’re not sure how many people will show up to your event or your choices are limited by local vendors. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. 

Enter Hoppier. Our platform gives you a fresh new way to cater your team lunches and other corporate events. In just a few minutes you can set up a program, personalize your experience, and send virtual credit cards to your guests so they can order their own lunch. 

hoppier gift cards in action

Benefit from plenty of personalization with our virtual credit cards. Choose the card colors, add your corporate logo, and give your program a catchy name. Give your event attendees access to all the vendors available, or tailor the experience to specific ones for a themed experience. 

how to use Hoppier gift cards

You also have full control over the spending balance per card (and when it can be spent), with any unspent funds returning to you once the date has passed. This means there’s no waste involved, so you can reinvest funds back into your next team lunch. It’s a fuss-free, streamlined way to approach office party catering

Bring people together with creative team lunches 

It’s no secret that team lunches are a hugely valuable way to build connections, reinforce your company culture, and express gratitude for your team members. Use this guide to help you find inspiration and plan your way to a team lunch program that your employees love. 

For more fun ways to get your team members excited about your event, watch our free webinar on how to create memorable and engaging virtual events. It’s full of ideas and tips from experienced event professionals. There are lots of great ideas here that apply to in-person and hybrid events too, so be sure to check it out even if your next team lunch isn’t a virtual one. 

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Ready to 2x your global engagement at your next event, with Ox stress?

Make Hoppier your unfair advantage today, schedule a demo

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Ready to 2x your global engagement at your next event, with Ox stress?

Make Hoppier your unfair advantage today, schedule a demo

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Ready to 2x your global engagement at your next event, with Ox stress?

Make Hoppier your unfair advantage today, schedule a demo


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