Jazzing Up Your Buffet Table

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I can’t remember the last time I either hosted or attended a gathering at someone’s home when a buffet wasn’t being served.   I think the days of a sit-down formal dinner are mostly behind us.  We’re a casual bunch and I almost always set up the food on my kitchen center island ready guests to help themselves.  

And as we learned in the segment there are simple tricks and tips you can use to make your buffet stand out.  Remember to pay attention to how the items on the buffet are arranged from silverware to the food.  Give some extra thought to the silverware to make it easy for your guests to balance it all on their way from the buffet table.  If you have a large crowd, consider making your buffet accessible from two sides.  Also, arrange your food from salads and side dishes first to the main dish next.  This is particularly smart with higher end main course items like shrimp or steak.  It’s a secret the restaurants use all the time.  

Layers make a huge visual impact.  Use casserole dishes upside down or books under a tablecloth as a free, easy way to jazz up your table instantly. 

If you’re having a larger number of people or lots of types of food, consider a couple of different stations.   This works really well for a potluck also.  A station is a separate table that consists of one particular type of food – a dessert station for example.  This will really cut down on bottlenecks at the main table and also help spread out the party.  We all know that people will stand around and graze!

And as for those finishing touches, don’t feel you have to spend a ton on a huge flower arrangement.  Try a variation on what I did in the segment and use things you have around the house that fit your theme and consider spreading out single stem flowers for a casual yet beautiful look.

Here are some of the particular products that I showed:
Better Than Linen napkins are available in a variety of sizes and can be found at local party schools and online.  I found mine at Party People (Shea and the Freeway 101 in Scottsdale.)  They ran $6:30 for 24.

On the other end of the napkin hierarchy are the less expensive Bounty Quilted Napkins at just over $2 for 200!  I sought these out to show because they won the Good Housekeeping napkin “challenge” as the best affordable paper napkin.  I found them at Target.

So as you set up your next buffet, just keep in mind two things – a buffet should look really inviting – and should encourage flow.  It’s quite easy to achieve.  Then get ready for the folks to arrive and have fun yourself!

Live and Learn!