6 Steps to Setting a Buffet Table at an Event

This week, I found myself inspired by articles in the magazine, Southern Living. 

Today, we’re sharing a few tips on setting the perfect buffet table. Whether you’re throwing a Southern summer soiree or an elegant wedding, these ideas will help you manage the food service and the flow of your guest experience:

Tips for Setting a Buffet Table

1. Vary the height

Just as you would vary heights with centerpieces, you should do the same with a buffet. It is more appealing to the eye and will add dimension to your set-up. Make sure to elevate the less messy dishes as you don’t want sauces to spill on your tablecloth.

Some people stack books under the tablecloth to create elevation; however, I prefer to vary the heights on top of the tablecloth using beautiful serving trays or eclectic items. Place taller items in the back (assuming that your table is set up against a wall.)

buffet table ideas

2. Have a clear beginning

Guests should know where the buffet table starts and ends – keep all plates on one end of the table. This will prevent a traffic jam. If you have a big group, pull the table away from the wall so that people can go along either side of the table.

3. Identify dishes

This is becoming increasingly important with all the different diet restrictions today. When developing the menu, consider your vegetarian/vegan guests and any possible allergy restrictions. Label all dishes and if necessary, include any important ingredients, such as, “contains peanuts.”

This is an opportunity to show your creativity! Your labels can be as simple or as colorful as you would like to make them – dress them up if you are throwing a themed party.

I’m personally a fan of labels hand-written in calligraphy. (I would love to learn how to write in calligraphy!) Make sure font is a large enough size for guests to read, especially if the event is dimly-lit for an evening soiree.

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4. Give some support

Place small plates near each dish so that guests have a place to put serving utensils. You may also want to put a small plate under a beverage dispenser if it has the tendency to drip.

5. Save utensils for last

You don’t want guests fumbling with their napkins and eating utensils as they are filling their plates. Keep those at the opposite end of the table from the plates.

buffet table setting ideas

6. Position strategically

Place items that you have a smaller quantity of at the end of the table near the utensils. Guests tend to fill their plates with the earlier dishes, so with your strategic placement, your food will “last longer.”

What sweet foods will be on your buffet table this year? Learn about all of The 8 Hottest Food and Beverage Trends by downloading our free eBook now!

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