How to Set a Pretty Buffet Table

by Rebekah Martin

Arrange a buffet table that guests will enjoy looking at as they fill their plates.

some appetizing food at banquet table image by Aleksey Kondratyuk from

Items you will need

  • Table
  • Tablecloth
  • Silverware
  • Napkins
  • Ribbon or twine
  • Food platters and bowls
  • Blocks or containers
  • Cloth
  • Drinks
  • Cups
  • Flower arrangement
  • Party confetti
  • Tea light candles

Buffet tables are perfect for large parties or gatherings; it allows the food to be spread out for consumption. It is important to keep the line moving so people do not get bunched up at the table or have to wait too long to get food. Buffet tables can be pretty as well as functional. With just a few simple flower arrangements and decorations, your buffet table will be the hit of the party.

Step 1

Lay a pretty tablecloth on the table. Even if the table is old and scratched, no one will know once it's covered. You can go with a solid color or use a pretty floral print for a lighter feel.

Step 2

Set up the plates at one end of the table. Most of the time, plates are set up on the left so people can flow from left to right, serving themselves. If you're using paper, make sure the plates are sturdy enough to hold a lot of food.

Step 3

Put the forks, knives and spoons directly after the plates. To make it easy, wrap them in a napkin and tie it closed with pretty ribbon or twine. Use colors that go with your party theme. Place them in a stack on the table for guests to grab as they go by.

Step 4

Set the food down the length of the table. Put large tall items in the back, with shallow bowls or platters near the front. You want every item of food to be clearly visible so guests do not miss anything. If the table is in the middle of the floor so guests can go around, put the tall dishes in the middle, with the smaller ones around the outside edges.

If you need to add height to some of your dishes, place blocks or containers under a cloth on the table. These acts as small shelves to hold a serving bowl or flower arrangement. Just be sure it is stable enough for the item being placed on it, as well as fully covered by an attractive cloth.

Step 5

Put the drinks and cups at the end of the table. Some guests may find they can't carry their plates and cups, so they must come back for a drink. Placing it at the end of the buffet table allows them to sneak in real quick and grab a cup. If you have room, it is better if you can put the drinks on a separate table from the buffet table.

Step 6

Put a vase of flowers in the middle of the buffet table. Make it tall and narrow, so it doesn't take up too much table space. Make sure it is not too tall, however, because you don't want someone's arm to accidentally knock it over. If you have a large table, you can do a few smaller arrangements instead of one large one.

Step 7

Throw party confetti on the table, between the dishes. These can be purchased at any party store, in almost any theme; baby showers, bridal showers and simple backyard barbecues. Be sure not to get any in the food dishes.

Step 8

Set a few tea light candles down the length of the table. This looks especially nice if the buffet is outdoors in the evening. Because the candles are so small, there is no real danger of them falling over; just watch them to make sure nothing flammable is near them.


  • Set up your buffet table, complete with empty dishes, before the party. This will ensure that everything fits on the table and looks pleasing to the eye; it also allows you to move items around until you like the arrangement. All you have to do after that is fill the dishes with food and place them back in their designated spot.

Photo Credits

  • some appetizing food at banquet table image by Aleksey Kondratyuk from

About the Author

Rebekah Martin is a freelance writer and tutor. Her work has appeared in various online publications. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Mississippi College. Martin teaches her young children at home and also teaches Sunday School to preschoolers.