As student affairs professionals, we know the trope: Offer free food, and you’re guaranteed event attendance.
Serving food is already intrinsic to much of our programmatic work on campus, but we don’t always provide food with intention. More often, it just sort of…needs to be there. What if we flipped the script? Rather than adding food to the program, we added a program to the food?
We compiled a list of all the major food-related holidays in the United States and threw in some hashtags and fun programming ideas for good measure.
Oh, and don’t forget there are a ton of other holidays that work really well with food-centric programming, like Valentine’s Day, Cinco De Mayo, and Thanksgiving. We didn’t include them here, but they’re worth adding to your calendar anyway.
September 1, 2018 — National Gyro Day
September 14, 2018 — National Cream Filled Donut Day
September 16, 2018 — National Cheeseburger Day
September 29, 2018 — Coffee Day
Programming idea: “A Latte Fun” — We’re pretty sure that by now there’s 50% coffee running through our veins. But how much do we really know about America’s favorite drink? Invite a local coffee roaster to come to campus and host a coffee tasting session. You’ll learn all about how coffee is grown, how to identify flavors in different beans, and how to brew the perfect cup of joe!
September 29, 2018 — National Biscotti Day
October 4, 2018 — National Taco Day
Programming Idea: “Let’s Taco ‘bout it” — Ditch the traditional pizza parties and get your students talking about the real issues with tacos. You could get this catered or even bring a taco truck onto campus.
October 6, 2018 — National Noodle Day
October 14, 2018 — National Dessert Day
Programming Idea: “High Tea” — Organize a traditional English high tea complete with finger sandwiches and delicate pastries. You could even invite local businesses, staff, and faculty to give students an opportunity to meet new people. Splendid!
October 26, 2018 — National Pumpkin Day
Programming idea: “Have a gourd time“ — Organize a field trip to a pick-your-own-pumpkin farm or keep it classic with a good ol fashioned pumpkin carving competition.
October 28, 2018 — National Chocolate Day
Programming Idea: Golden Tickets. Bring some Willy Wonka magic to campus by hiding golden tickets around campus which can be exchanged for chocolate bars and prizes.
November 2, 2018 — National Deviled Egg Day
November 3, 2018 — National Sandwich Day
Programming idea: “Lunch & Learn” — Invite different department chairs to speak about their journeys during brief lunches at the dining hall. You can also encourage students to host lunch & learns on topics that they’re currently researching. It’s a great way to improve their public speaking skills while helping to prepare them to present their research at the end of the semester or at conferences.
November 4, 2018 — National Candy Day
November 6, 2018 — National Nacho Day
November 11, 2018 — National Sundae Day
November 26, 2018 — National Cake Day
Programming Idea: “Cake Postcards“ — Most folks like cake, and who doesn’t love a handwritten note? Check out this awesome tutorial by Sandra Denneler on how to achieve the best of both worlds. (Note: Don’t eat this cake, please)
December 4, 2018 — National Cookie Day
Programming idea: Christmas cookie decorating. Hold on to your sugar cookies because things are about to get glittery! Host a cookie decorating party for students to make personalized tree ornaments (or eat them, we won’t tell anybody).
December 8, 2018 — National Brownie Day
December 15, 2018 — National Cupcake Day
Programming Idea: Cupcake Wars (college edition) — Everyone loves cupcake decorating so why not add some friendly competition and prizes?
December 30, 2018 — National Bacon Day
January 4, 2019 — National Spaghetti Day
January 19, 2019 — National Popcorn Day
Programming Idea: “A-maize-ing Movie Night” — Organize a movie night where different student organizations host a movie. Each organization gets a chance to recruit new members and all you have to do is provide the popcorn!
January 30, 2019 — National Croissant Day
January 31, 2019 — National Hot Chocolate Day
Programming Idea: Set up a free hot chocolate stand in the parking lot to warm up your commuter students. No one can resist a free hot chocolate and it gives you a chance to engage your students, ask them questions about programming, or even use it as an assessment opportunity!
February 2, 2019 — Ice cream for breakfast day
February 9, 2019 — Pizza Day
February 9, 2019 — Bagel Day
February 12, 2019 — Frozen Yogurt Day
February 20, 2019 — National Muffin Day
Muffin or Chihuahua?
March 1, 2019 — National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day
March 3, 2019 — Canadian Bacon Day
March 5, 2019 — International Pancake Day
Programming Idea: “Late night pancakes” — breakfast for dinner is an instant winner. Bring lots of toppings and let students customize their pancakes as a fun late night snack.
March 14, 2019 — Pi Day
Programming idea: “Pie & Learn” — Like a lunch and learn but with many slices of pie. Invite the Math faculty to come and talk about how Pi works and how it has changed the way we do math.
April 2, 2019 — Peanut butter and jelly day
April 4, 2019 — National burrito day
April 12, 2019 — Grilled Cheese Day
Grilled cheese can be done one hundred different ways (but that’s another list). Invite students to show off their culinary skills in this Top Chef-style event, but make sure to have some dairy-free options as well!
April 26, 2019 — National Pretzel Day
May 11, 2019 — National Eat What You Want Day
Programming Idea: Mystery Dinner Night
Theatre, intrigue, and food? Heck yeah! This free option lets you throw in a little Harry Potter magic. This is a great opportunity to team up with your performing arts department and dazzle folks from both on- and off-campus.
May 21, 2019 — National Strawberries & Cream Day
May 28, 2019 — Hamburger Day
Programming Idea: Lawn games on the Quad. Nothing makes a successful BBQ quite like lawn games. Get your students to bring their A-game to classics like cornhole, can-jam, bocce ball, giant-jenga, human chess.
May 13, 2019 — International Hummus Day
May 28, 2019 — National Brisket Day
June 4, 2019 — Cheese Day
June 7, 2019 — Donut Day
Programming Idea: “Donut Stress Campaign” — Use donuts to promote positive messages about self-care during exam season.
June 17, 2019 — National Eat Your Vegetables Day
Programming Idea: “Wellness Week” — Okay, this is longer than just a day, but the alliteration just rolls off the tongue. Organize healthy activities throughout the week like yoga, meditation, self-care routines, and have vegetable themed activities on this day.
July 13, 2019 — National French Fry Day
July 14, 2019 — Mac N Cheese
July 17, 2019 — National Hot Dog Day
July 21, 2019 — Ice Cream Day
Programming Idea: We used to host an electricity-saving competition throughout all our residence halls, and at the end of the semester, we would throw a Ben & Jerry’s party (gotta love Vermont) for the winning hall to celebrate the winners.
July 29, 2019 — Chicken Wing Day
July 31, 2019 — National Avocado Day
July 30, 2018 — National Cheesecake Day
August 2, 2018 — National Ice Cream Sandwich Day
Programming idea: “A Midsummer Ice Cream” — Stock up on ice cream and popsicles and deliver them around campus using your office’s golf cart (if you have one). It’ll be like you’re at the beach…almost!
August 10, 2018 — National S’mores Day
Programming Idea: “Begging for S’more” — Host a s’mores bar, a super quick and easy pick-up event that will make every student rush to participate.
August 11, 2018 — National Panini Day
August 24, 2018 — Waffle Day
Programming Idea: “A Waffle Lot of Fun” — Ask the dining staff if you can borrow their waffle makers and set-up a waffle bar. This isn’t just a midnight breakfast event — you can do it during the first week of classes, during exam weeks, or any other time of year.
As you can tell, we’re
very a little bit obsessed with food holidays. If you do any programming around these days, please tweet us @HelloPresence with pictures!