Get excited people—Cinco de Mayo is right around the corner! While traditionally, the holiday is in observance of the Mexican Army's victory at the Battle of Puebla in 1862 (that’s right, it’s not actually Mexico’s Independence Day), for many of us it’s become a celebration of Mexican-American heritage + all things delicious!
Here at the West Elm HQ, we take our holiday celebrations very seriously—on Cinco de Mayo there’s no shortage of colorful décor, cerveza and lots of food. This year, we decided to up the ante at the office and host our first annual—drumroll please—Guac-Off! Participants from all departments competed with their signature recipe for the title of best guacamole. Dozens of avocados, lots of limes and plenty of secret ingredients went into throwing one of our best holiday parties yet. So, how exactly does one throw an office-wide Guac-Off? We asked our fiesta coordinator, Dana Kassarda, to share her tips on creating the event—check it out below!
Rally the Troops
Kick thing off by sending out an encouraging email to drum up excitement. Here at the west elm HQ, we like humor—gifs, jokes, avocado memes (they exist)—whatever catches people’s attention + gets them excited for the event. Suggest recipes or ingredients and encourage participants to take risks. Play to your audience!
Do it for the ‘Gram
Everyone loves a good social moment. To ensure the event looks as good as it tastes, consider providing bowls + servingware for everyone to plate their dish. Add pops of color with streamers or bunting—a cohesive look + feel makes the event seem special and encourages participation. Bonus tip: designate a hashtag for the event to pool together user-generated content!
Cue the Music
Make the event a full sensory experience! Create a playlist for the event using Spotify to help set the mood. We chose a combination of Selena and Enrique Iglesias. I’m sure most people didn’t even notice there was music, but it helped to contribute to the overall ambiance, which read as Fun.
Tally the Votes
When it comes to choosing a winner, the process needs to be as simple as possible. First, give each entrant a number and display it on their dish (we used little toothpick-flags). Next, hand out slips of paper to everyone participating + voting in the contest. After everyone has tried all of the entries, have everyone place their vote by indicating on the slip of paper the number associated with the guac of their choice. Place all votes in a basket, and have one person count them out—the person with the most votes wins. Prizes are up to you—we do it for bragging rights + a super cool chef’s hat here at the office.
Improve + Repeat
If you’re the leader, be vocal and take the lead on these types of events. Post event, ask people for feedback and suggestions. As we were wrapping up our Guac-Off, I got at least five requests for future events which was a really strong indicator that people had a great time and that they enjoyed the community building experience.