Day 5: How to Set A Buffet Table

This was a previous post, but coordinates with Successful Entertaining! Enjoy, Sweet Friends!

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So, yesterday I shared the decorations for the wedding shower we hosted this past weekend. Today, I'll be sharing some details that make all the difference in hosting a Successful Dinner Party.

The first thing I do is write my dishes down on to post-it notes. That way I can label each platter I choose, but before then, I can arrange the food in an appealing manor, before actually doing it! (Did that make ANY sense??)

Here are a few tips for choosing 
a buffet menu for a cocktail party:

1. Keep it simple!

2. Choose 6-8 items, nothing too fancy, and nothing that requires more than one hand.

3. When choosing proteins, go for a fish, a meat/poultry, and a vegetarian option. (Hummus is always a great option!)

4. I know it may seem lame, but everyone REALLY does love a veggie and fruit tray. These should be staples on any buffet line.

5. Arrange the table with hot foods first, ending with cold. However, it is best to choose items that can be served room temperature, so you don't have to deal with chaffing dishes and iced platters...

I like to add all the serving pieces I may need to the post-it. That way, if others arrive early to help, they know exactly what needs to go with it.

For the Chicken Satay, I needed a bowl for the sauce and a spoon. This post it was then placed on the platter that was used for serving.

Start with a blank table cloth. Be sure it is pressed well, and even on the table. You don't want to add all your decorations, then find out your cloth is off by a few inches on one side....

Now, add your decorations. I love using a long, clean line down the center of the table. One larger arrangement with a table runner keeps it uncluttered.

Candles always, always add elegance to any table. This runner was a twig runner, and very wobbly. Add in the evergreen branches also lining the table, and the candles could have been very hazardous. To avoid any issues, I used taller votive candle holders than normal. Making sure no wick was close to the top, or close to anything that could catch fire. I have done that, many times...

Now arrange your platters around. While using height can add a great aesthetic to your table, if it cannot be properly stabilized, you don't want to risk someone accidentally knocking a platter off..... If I want to add height, I will use odd serving pieces such as a cake platter for bread, or a tea tray full of veggies and fruit. This weekend, I kept it simple and didn't go out of the ordinary.

Set the plates and napkins at one end, being careful not to stack too tall. Also, arranging your napkins square, diamond, square, diamond helps your guests pick them up with one hand.

Add your food labels, and you are ready! Well, after you put the food in their coordinating dishes...

Do you have any tips for arranging a buffet table?

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May 7th. Put it on your calendar! Successful Entertaining will be released! YAY!!! Containing almost 100 recipes and countless tips and tricks for you to read and use!


  1. Great tips! I've never hosted a buffet, but it looks like it could be stressful. Your suggestions are awesome.
    New GFC follower, and I'd like to also invite you to Meet & Greet blog hop:
    Hope to see you there,

  2. I love this, what a great guide to hosting a buffet! The post-its are a great idea! :)