Serving a meal on a buffet is a great way to host a potluck or simply allow for a greater number of guests to dine and serve themselves, saving the host from serving everyone or hiring help to do so. Here are a few helpful tips and pointers for setting up a buffet at your next event.

Plan Ahead

Plan your buffet table ahead of time to ensure you have enough room and arrange the dishes appropriately. Adding a table skirt allows for some out-of-sight, temporary storage beneath the table. If you are having a pot luck consider using a small notecard to mark where each dish should be placed so guests don’t have to hunt down a space on the spot. Arrange larger main dishes first then smaller side dishes around the periphery. It’s also worth considering whether your menu warrants labeling the dishes for guests.

Will your buffet have one line or two? Depending on the number of guests you are serving you may want guests to be able to serve them selves from both sides of the table. Knowing ahead of time how you would like the flow of guests can help determine not only placement of the food on the table but also placement of the table itself.

Make it Flow

If your buffet will only be accessed in one direction consider having plates on one side and silverware and napkins at the end, or better yet have napkins and silverware at the tables so guests don’t have to juggle multiple items while serving their food. If guests will be serving from both sides of the table have plates and silverware and napkins at both ends of the table.

Don’t Forget Servingware!

One of the most common mistakes when setting up a buffet is forgetting to have enough servingware! Neglecting this simple step will result in backed up lines and frustration for your guests so plan ahead and be sure to have appropriate servingware at each dish. If the table is being accessed from both sides try to provide two means of serving large dishes so guests don’t have to reach across the food.

Separate Drinks and Desserts

Ensure good traffic flow by keeping drink and dessert stations separate from the main meal area. Guests can only carry so much at once regardless and this also encourages movement across multiple areas of the room. Also consider providing pitchers of ice water on the tables for ease of serving.

These simple tips will make your next party buffet a huge hit and ease the stress of serving your guests! Do you use buffets often when you entertain? Do you have any tips for serving a buffet you’d like to add to ours?