When you are throwing a party, one of the many aspects that you have to plan out is the food. You can either plan a sit-down dinner, where everyone sits at the table at the same time to enjoy a meal, or you can plan a buffet. A buffet is a great option if you are throwing a party and don't have room for a table that will seat all your guests, or if you want a less expensive food option, as buffets tend to be less expensive than sit-down meals. You must, however, first know how to set up a buffet table so that it looks good and functions well at your party.
Preparing a Buffet Table
Set up the buffet table in a place that will allow guests to work their way through the food on all sides of the table. Don't set up your buffet table against a wall, forcing all of your guests to use one side of the table, which can cause the line to back up.
Choose foods to serve that you can make last-minute or that can be prepared ahead of time and reheated before serving to make your buffet table as easy as possible to stock.
Plan out what dishes and serving utensils you are going to use for the food on your buffet table. Then, lay out the dishes on the table to make sure they fit. When practicing this layout, remember to keep the food in a logical order, with entrees at the beginning, then side dishes, vegetables and salads at the end. Also, make sure you have small plates next to each dish for the utensils to rest on.
Use small centerpieces to decorate the buffet table so that there is enough room for food and so that the centerpieces don't get in your guests' way when they are trying to dish food onto their plates. Also, don't use centerpieces that are heavily scented, such as flowers with a strong center or scented candles, as they can interfere with the smell, and therefore, the taste of the food.
Set up two smaller tables to hold drinks and desserts, so all of your guests aren't held up by people trying to get drinks, and those who want dessert don't have to go through the line with those who want entrees. This also makes it so your guests don't have to carry everything at once. They can get their entrees and side dishes, set them down, and then go to the drink table for something to quench their thirst.
Roll utensils inside napkins and store the utensil rolls in a decorative basket. This allows guests to move through the line more quickly and keeps everyone from touching others' utensils while grabbing their own. Place the utensil basket at the end of the buffet and dishes for your guests at the beginning of the buffet, so that your guests don't have to hold on to their utensils while they are trying to dish food onto their plates.