Stock my conference room
March 20, 2014 7:36 PM   Subscribe

If you were stuck in a window-less conference room for 2 days, what sort of beverages or snacks would you like?

My work is having an external review panel come in week-after-next, and one of my tasks is to make our conference rooms hospitable. This team of six will be in one of two conference rooms for two days straight - what should I provide for them? I'm mostly looking for beverage or snackish ideas (individually-portioned if possible), but any other little convenience item will be considered.

We'll definitely have bottled water, coffee (via Keurigs), and tea. I'm hoping to borrow a mini-fridge to have in there.

I have access to a Whole Foods and Trader Joes, if you want to make brand-specific suggestions. The panel's only food sensitivity is to shrimp.
posted by donajo to Food & Drink (48 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: while i'm all about stuffing my face with junk food when stuck in miserable work situations (feed the pain!) every once in a while i feel better when feasting on hummus and pita chips, grape tomatoes, celery sticks, and baby carrots.
posted by cristinacristinacristina at 7:42 PM on March 20, 2014 [6 favorites]

Best answer: I'd want water and more water, but lemons and limes to slice into it would be just great. Trail mix would be good too. And Macintosh apples.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 7:42 PM on March 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Those little bags of chocolate-covered almonds Trader Joe's sells.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:44 PM on March 20, 2014

Beef jerky.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:45 PM on March 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

A very good Greek salad, to remind me that outside the bunker there is sunlight and joy.
posted by tavegyl at 7:45 PM on March 20, 2014 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Cheese, crackers and/or pita chips, veggies, fruit (dried and fresh), nuts, and various dips (hummus, salsa, guacamole; Trader Joe's also makes a blue cheese and pecan spread that is to die for).
posted by scody at 7:45 PM on March 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh, and also some roasted and/or pickled munchies -- e.g., olives, gherkins, marinated artichokes or red peppers, etc.
posted by scody at 7:46 PM on March 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

Sorry, one more thing, though you probably already have this sorted: regarding tea and coffee, make sure to have an adequate supply of cream and milk. I drink my tea with milk, and it drives me nuts when my only option at events like this is cream (or, worse, non-dairy creamer).
posted by scody at 7:51 PM on March 20, 2014 [11 favorites]

I hate the stuff, but I know several people who would say Red Bull.
posted by lalex at 7:55 PM on March 20, 2014

GORP, jerky, oranges, pilot bread. Everything we need to live.
posted by codswallop at 7:56 PM on March 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

posted by paradeofblimps at 7:57 PM on March 20, 2014 [6 favorites]

Best answer: A selection of soda is nice to have available. I love baked goods, so brownie bites, madelines, mini-croissants, etc make me happy in these situations. Babybel cheeses are great too. Clementines, fresh berries, maybe yogurt?

If possible to do, I like when the snacks are staggered... Bring some in at the beginning of the day, bring something different in during the afternoon. Little surprises make the day go by much more quickly.
posted by Fig at 7:58 PM on March 20, 2014 [5 favorites]

Best answer: A mix of things that are 'comfort food' (candy and carbs) plus 'healthy' (fruits and veggies). Only one or the other will get tedious.
posted by Tandem Affinity at 8:01 PM on March 20, 2014 [7 favorites]

Best answer: One more - A bowl of asst hard candy, including mints.
posted by Fig at 8:06 PM on March 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Biggest hits at recent training I did: string cheese and hi-chew candies. People went nuts for them.
posted by purenitrous at 8:10 PM on March 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

Outside of the realm of snacks, does the room have nice lighting? If it only has flourescents, consider bringing in some table lamps or something so that people can enjoy something a little nicer on the eyes.
posted by lollusc at 8:25 PM on March 20, 2014 [3 favorites]

Twizzlers and malted milk balls!
posted by any major dude at 8:30 PM on March 20, 2014

Best answer: The sound of people eating in close proximity to me annoys the hell out of me, so maybe keep that in mind with crunchy things.

For me, I love small cans of soda (coke, fizzy juice etc), it's enough of a break for the mind and something sweet to keep me going, but I can't drink a whole can. Can you get the kind that serve on airplanes?

Also, hand sanitizer, napkins/tissues, and somewhere to put trash.
posted by Youremyworld at 8:43 PM on March 20, 2014 [7 favorites]

Best answer: I'm going to add that really effective trash removal will be helpful with all of these snacks!

Fresh fruits and veggies. Maybe smaller trays that can be replaced or replenished at different times of day?

Fresh juices -- OJ, grapefruit, apple? TJs lemonade?

Those Almondina cookies from TJs would make me want to stay at any meeting. WF has a great fresh baked cookie selection.
posted by mamabear at 8:56 PM on March 20, 2014

Best answer: Is there a way for you to bring in non-overhead lighting? When I have had to be in a similar situation, we would turn on the floor lamps for meetings and then go back to the overhead lighting for the rest of the day. Made a huge difference.

Also, something obvious to clean with, like clorox wipes. If they're going to eat and drink in there, it might get sticky and gross quickly.
posted by Nickel Pickle at 8:56 PM on March 20, 2014 [3 favorites]

Hi! I am stuck in a conference room this very minute during a similar review, reading metafilter for any sort of contact with the outside world. I have been here 13.5 today hours and I am positively loopy on diet soda and instant coffee.

What I am craving right now: Anything citrus. Tortilla chips and salsa. Good herbal tea (lemon, chamomile). I brought a chocolatey trail mix to last week's three-day session.

I would pay you $100 for a giant margarita just about now. (Can you bring in margaritas?)
posted by mochapickle at 9:00 PM on March 20, 2014 [14 favorites]

I would say, unless you know exactly who's going to be where and what their dietary preference are, try to ensure that every room has a selection of things that are low-carb/diabetic-friendly, gluten free, and vegan-acceptable. Not necessarily the same things, obviously. And ideally, a selection such that the diabetic/celiac/vegan person in the room does not have to spend the entire day hoarding the one thing of baby carrots because they can't eat anything else. (I don't have dietary restrictions like this, but I have friends who do who complain at length about this sort of thing.)
posted by Sequence at 9:11 PM on March 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

Oh, and because I meant to add: I mean knowing from their own mouths, because these things get mis-reported often, especially when they involve preference rather than "this person is actually going to die if we feed them this".
posted by Sequence at 9:14 PM on March 20, 2014

1. Nothing with a strong smell or loud noise when eaten.

2. Not all crap foods or all healthy foods; have a mix.

3. Things that don't make a mess when eaten.
posted by davejay at 9:24 PM on March 20, 2014 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Plain, unsweetened, unlemoned, unflavored iced tea.

Also, how about a variety of sweeteners: blue/Equal, yellow/NutraSweet, orange/Nectresse, pink/Sweet n Low, green/Stevia.

I love the string cheese idea!
posted by Room 641-A at 9:25 PM on March 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

GOOD food. Gourmet sandwiches and salads. Burritos. Sushi. Korean barbecue.
posted by amaire at 9:30 PM on March 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Someone to pick up the trash bins frequently. Being trapped with left over food smells is really unpleasant. I'd rather have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches than be stuck in a room that smells of old tacos and salad fixings.
posted by 26.2 at 10:03 PM on March 20, 2014 [10 favorites]

Sparkling water, diet coke, milk for my coffee. Beer.

Trader Joes has a trail mix that is called "simply chocolate" or something like that; it is cashews, almonds and chocolate squares. It's awesome.

Fruit: bananas, clementines (tj's has bags of these and they are easy to peel), berries.

Yogurt (I like trader joes honey Greek yogurt).

Dips in group settings kind of weird me out, but if you're are going that way I like hummus as well as spinach dip.

But you might want to limit the snacks and make sure to have good meals delivered.
posted by JenMarie at 10:10 PM on March 20, 2014

I know lots of people say baked goods, but I have been to many of these things and honestly, I feel so gross sitting around inside all day the last thing I want is sugar. I like the suggestions about almonds, cheese or GORP. A healthy low carb snack bar is also good.

Finally, I say this to quite a few people, but try to go with jugs of water and glasses rather than bottled water. Plastic water bottles are seriously wasteful, especially when the tap water on ice the convention facility will usually provide is as good and probably better.

Good luck with your event!
posted by dry white toast at 10:13 PM on March 20, 2014 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I work for a large organisation that does complicated computer-based technical training. We provide the usual tea and coffee, but we also do a selection of juices, soft-drinks, muesli bars, individual cheese and cracker packs, fresh whole fruit, individually packaged cookies and Tim Tams. This is in addition to a hot buffet lunch, I might add. There are bowls with mints on the tables in the training rooms and the food is outside in a different area - having somewhere else to have your break in can often be useful mentally too.

The muesli bars and cheese/cracker packs seem to be the most popular - I think people can overload on the sweet stuff. We used to provide morning tea with muffins and small cakes, but it was too much and there was a lot of waste. The whole fruit comprises oranges, apples, bananas and seasonal fruit (stone fruit here, at the moment, mostly nectarines and plums). Bananas are the most popular, probably because they're easy to eat.
posted by ninazer0 at 10:21 PM on March 20, 2014

Cover your allergy bases first, and then make ants on a log (celery, peanut butter, unsulphored raisins!).
posted by oceanjesse at 10:25 PM on March 20, 2014

I don't drink coffee and I always appreciate when places have diet coke at morning caffeine time even though I know other people find it immensely strange. I also like seltzer for something bubbly but not caffeinated later in the day.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 10:32 PM on March 20, 2014 [3 favorites]

Yeah, sweet/carby foods tend to be over-represented at these types of events. What I love to see in a long lock-down meeting:

Cold cuts
Hard-boiled eggs
Greek yogurt in individual containers
posted by nacho fries at 10:34 PM on March 20, 2014 [3 favorites]

These would be my super special requests if someone were so kind as to want my preferences, specifically:

• Juice - brightly flavoured rather than sticky-sweet
• Small oranges/clementines/mandarins
• A variety of crackers and things to put on them (cheese, hummus, neufchatel, sunbutter)
• A couple of types of good cookies - at least one type with chocolate and at least one type without (chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin are the best two, I think)
• Anything crunchy to be bite-sized, so that people who eat like macaques don't have more of an excuse to make being trapped in a room with them even more panic-inducing

posted by batmonkey at 10:49 PM on March 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

Oh gosh, fresh fruit x a million, especially mandarins. Good OJ also works.

Moist wipes and napkins/paper towels for sticky fingers, coffee drips, etc.

Breath mints.
posted by jrobin276 at 11:23 PM on March 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

Since there are no windows, bring the outdoors to the conference room. Buy or borrow a lot of non-flowering (because of allergies) live house plants.
posted by aniola at 11:26 PM on March 20, 2014

Seconding hardboiled eggs. We had them at an all day meeting once and they made a lot of people happy.

Popcorn is also good.
posted by gubenuj at 12:11 AM on March 21, 2014

OK, I am out! 16+ hours, I kid you not.

The last three hours, several of us nibbled on ice to stay alert. There were no cups anywhere, so we had to requisition them from storage. We all looked exhausted but it felt pretty civilized and refreshing to be able to pour a cold drink (not a margarita, sadly) into a glass with ice.

So: Cups and ice, along with the ideas for juice, soda, water, etc. The tiny cans of soda idea is brilliant. Grapes brilliant. Stuff to wash hands brilliant. Putting lunch in a different room so people have to stand up and stretch and look at something beyond each other, brilliant.

Also, check your dress code. We all looked terrific in suits, but I was yearning for yoga pants and a hoodie by 8p.
posted by mochapickle at 1:41 AM on March 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Sparkling water and caffeinated teas, for those of us who don't drink coffee or soda, but like caffeine and bubbly things.
posted by anitanita at 4:30 AM on March 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Some sort of real meat product (cubed beef, jerky, chicken, etc), and a selection of sliced fruits (melons, berries, etc). I'm a carnivore, and get upset when everything is veggies, which seems to be more often than not at my work these days.

Non-soda items would be nice as well, maybe iced teas or juices as suggested above!
posted by Verdandi at 7:03 AM on March 21, 2014

I'd like: Fruit, nuts, cheese & crackers, humus & pita chips, veggies & dip. Oh, and bagels! Coffee, tea, water and soda to drink.
posted by Shadow Boxer at 7:19 AM on March 21, 2014

Nothing strong smelling. Everyone is happy to see the Mexican food show up, but having to sit in that miasma later is overwhelmingly gross.

Fresh and easy and clean-smelling. Clementines. Muffins. String cheese. Bananas maybe. Bagels with cream cheese and peanut butter as options. Celery sticks would be a fun fresh touch. Sodas including diet - lemon or lime wedges are a fancy touch with that - and real milk to go with the coffee. Never never never that powdered creamer junk.
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:21 AM on March 21, 2014

Best answer: Water. In the morning, oj, fruit (fruit salad cups would be nice), granola bars, coffee, teas. Packets of nuts. In the afternoon, mix of sodas and juices, coffee, teas, bagels/ cream cheese or crackers/ cheese, good cookies. A fresh batch of real mugs every day, or at least something not styrofoam. Plenty of napkins.

A reliable printer
Reliable wi-fi
good pens and pencils
dry-erase board & markers & eraser

Can you email the team ahead of time and ask them for soft drink & snack preferences, or at least ask if there are dietary limitations? You can tell from this thread that there are lots of different preferences, I'd be chuffed if someone asked, and I arrived to find iced tea in the snacks.
posted by theora55 at 7:34 AM on March 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

I would be happy if you gave me some Pellegrino and fresh lemons and limes to squeeze into it. Close quarters loud, crunchy chewing also gets on my nerves, but that might be off-set by a nice vegetable platter and maybe some Mediterranean dips (although those can be pretty garlicy and might also be too powerful for air without a lot of circulation).

A lot of these problems could probably be solved if you were able to have the lunch break in a different room. More than anything the ability to get up, get a change of location, stretch your muscles, and focus on refreshing yourself instead of what's on the projector screen would be appreciated, almost regardless of the food.
posted by codacorolla at 7:58 AM on March 21, 2014

Seconding plants. I would go nuts in a room without windows. I need sunlight and windows.

Bagels and cream cheese always make me happy for breakfast. Fruit as well. String cheese and/or cubed sounds awesome for a mid day snack with some crackers.

Try and be diverse enough that everybody will have something to nibble on.

A well known coffee shop *ahem* has these great little protein packs. I'd just bring the ingredients instead of buying them put together. They consist of apples, cheese, crackers, nuts and cranberries. It it is a really good mix and very satisfying.

Pre-sliced apples tend to come in single serving packs, and I would be 100% excited to see them.
posted by AlexiaSky at 8:35 AM on March 21, 2014

Probably the Haribo Sugarless Gummy Bears should be avoided.
posted by jcworth at 8:37 AM on March 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

I was just going to suggest things to fidgit with -- even a Rubik's cube or a couple of those metal puzzles where there are rings hooked together. All that sitting + caffeine can make for a lot of nervous energy with no place to go!
posted by acm at 9:10 AM on March 21, 2014

Having just attended something like this, the biggest hits during our snack breaks were small fruit smoothies served in individual glasses, and tiny individual bowls of mixed nuts (like maybe a handful's worth). Also, at breakfast time, they served individual bagel sticks with a dollop of cream cheese piped onto each dish. Now that I think about it, maybe people just liked the novelty of a tiny, single serving of something... A bowl of hard candies on the table is also good, you can root through it to find something for a little pick-me-up.
posted by LolaGeek at 9:13 AM on March 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

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