Thanksgiving was approaching, and I wanted to cook a special dinner for the members of my co-working space, Orbital. So I devised an interactive meal to explore the dynamics of giving and receiving in a playful way.

Before the event, I asked each guest to tell me about their favorite Thanksgiving side dish:

I then recreated that dish for the dinner. The final menu involved 18 different dishes for 29 guests, which I prepped over the course of 4 days.

Upon arrival, every guest was given a mystery dish, with a foil cover:

On my signal, everyone lifted the foil to discover that the food in their possession was… their favorite dish!

However, there was one catch: if guests wanted to eat any other food that night, they would have to trade with their fellow diners. Furthermore, they would have to do it within a time limit: 5 minutes, the length of timeless 80s favorite, “Hungry Like a Wolf” by Duran Duran.

I hit play, and the trading began!

Within 5 minutes, all serving bowls were empty, plates were full, and everyone sat down for a delicious meal of Thanksgiving goodies and wine.

Everyone braved the 5 minutes of socially fraught food frenzy admirably, and with great senses of humor!

The evening closed with a written reflection from each guest:

People wrote about how they balanced social pressure with individual desires. My favorite entry: one guest wrote that their strategy was to run away and eat all the mashed potatoes in a corner. (Unfortunately, they were later discovered by other guests.) And someone folded a crane:

It was a fun and memorable night hanging out with the wonderful folks of the Orbital community.