Setting up food stations at a graduation party is all about making the party work effortlessly. Having multiple food stations will allow your guests to move freely around the party. There will be fewer traffic jams of people. Also, staging different foods in different areas encourages mingling and movement. Dividing the refreshments into beverage, appetizer and main dish stations will help improve the flow of your graduation party.
Locate the beverage station away from the main food tables, even if it is just on the other side of the room. This will allow guests to get drinks without navigating through the traffic at the food table. Make sure to leave napkins at the beverage station as well, in case of minor spills.
If your beverages and main dishes are in one room, add a separate food station for appetizers in a different part of the house. This station can be as simple as crudité and mixed nuts, or it can be a more elaborate collection of appetizers. Having a food station people can snack from will allow guests that aren't very hungry to avoid the more crowded main dish station.
If you are serving lunch or dinner foods, try to stage the main course table in an area that has the most seating. Focus on simple foods that are easy to eat - items that are likely to spill may not be the best choices when everyone is moving around.
For summertime graduations, consider serving the main dishes near the yard. Additional seating, such as card tables, can easily be set up outside so people can sit down to eat without crowding the home.
Small desserts, such as cookies or chocolates, can be set up on their own station. If there is going to be a cake for the graduate, set up the table to focus on it. Choose other dessert options with different flavor profiles, so you can please more of your guests. Look for single bite items, such as miniature fruit tarts.
Set up buffet tables so that both sides are accessible in order to speed up the flow of people. If tables are pushed against the wall, crowds can form and it will take longer for everyone to get to the food.
Decorate the table to reflect the occasion. Consider using the graduate's school colors or items that reflect his interests and hobbies. However, stick to one or two key themes to avoid a cluttered look.