Buffets are a great way for guests to sample a variety of foods, but beautiful buffet dinners don’t just happen. It takes proper planning.
As a party planner, it is easy to get lost in planning the menu. You want to be sure you have enough food to feed all your guests, yet, one of the most important things to have in mind when planning a buffet dinner is the table setting.
Let’s look at these seven little-known ways you need to follow to set a beautiful buffet table.
1. Choose an Ideal Location for the Buffet Table
When picking a location for the buffet table, factor in the flow of movement as people serve. The space at your venue and number of guests invited will inform you where best to place the buffet table, such as in the corner or the centre of the room.
If your venue has plenty of space, place the buffet table in the centre of the room. This will enable guests to serve from either side of the buffet table and reduce queues.
Ensure you leave enough room on both ends of the table. Your guests should serve from one end and exit from the other without brushing shoulders.
No matter the location, ensure it is accessible by everyone and has a good flow. Let it be clear where the starting point and endpoint of the buffet are.
2. Add Varying Heights to the Buffet Table
Adding varying heights to your buffet table is a sure way to leave an impression on your guests. It makes the buffet look less overcrowded and overwhelming.
Only elevate dishes that are less messy. Avoid elevating sauces, as these can spill on your food and beverage linen.
If you are wondering what to use to vary the height, don’t sweat it. Simply use creative items such as stacks of magazines, books, overturned bowls, pots and baking tins. Go for items of different sizes.
To get a polished and professional look, cover your table with Sun polyester box-pleat table skirting. Add your centrepieces and stagger them. Once done, drape a tablecloth over everything to achieve a smooth, finished look.
3. Organise Items in an Orderly Way
An orderly table gives your guests an easy time when serving food.
As a basic rule, place all salads together, all main dishes, all drinks, all desserts and so forth. Don’t make your guests wander around looking for items.
If you have vegetarian options, separate the vegetarian dishes from non-vegetarian ones.
Label all food with their ingredients. This makes it easy for people to find what they want to eat as they move through the buffet table.
Here is an order you should follow:
- At the beginning of the table, place a stack of plates. This marks where the guests should queue and begin to serve themselves.
- Line up the food according to temperatures. Start with the hot dishes followed by the cold ones. This way, guests won’t be dining on cold meals by the time they sit down to eat.
- Place the cutlery at the end of the line. Better still, set them at the dining tables where the guests will sit. However, always provide extra plates, bowls, forks, knives, and spoons for your guests.
- Start with the plentiful food and place the scarce food at the further end of the buffet table. Over the course of the buffet, switch up the foods that are not being eaten enough.
Make napkins easy to grab. Fold the napkins with the seam facing outwards so it is easy to grab one on the go.
4. Decorate Your Buffet Table
Use centrepieces that will make your buffet table more memorable. Examples of these include floral arrangement or patterned fruits.
To avoid your centrepieces from taking up too much table space or blocking people, use those with a small base.
Always use quality food and beverage linen for both the silverware and the room decor. Do not use a busy pattern that will take away from the room.
Match your linens, napkins and tablecloths for that polished and professional event image. Your best choice for buffet table setting cloths are Trestle Polyester cloth and Sun polyester dress and fitted cloth.
5. Make Your Food Presentation Attractive
In the culinary world, you eat with your eyes first. It is therefore important that your food presentation looks attractive. One of the ways you can achieve this is by following a simple rule: groups, rows and levels.
- Groups: Present only one type of food per serving plate. This makes the buffet table look clean and appealing.
- Rows: On each serving plate, present the food in individual containers arranged in rows. This helps with portion-control, as guests can easily pick one item. It gives the buffet table a neat and professional look.
- Levels: This is where you display your food using cake stands and risers. It gives the food dimension and makes it visually appealing.
6. Avail buffet trays for guests
Include buffet trays on the table so your guests can dine in comfort. Buffet trays make it easy to carry their food and drinks to the table.
Ensure the trays are small, comfortable and easily portable. This reduces the chances of spills and accidents.
They should also be attractive so as to add visual appeal.
7. Assign Someone to Supervise
Supervise, supervise, supervise! Have someone to supervise the self-service area and replenish dishes on an as-needed basis.
Ensure the supervisor replaces nearly-empty serving dishes with freshly filled ones. Do not add food to an already filled serving dish; it may lead to contamination.
Also, the supervisor should control the queue and ensure it flows in an orderly way.
The supervisor can assist children, the elderly or people with disabilities who need help with serving.
Before We Wrap Up: Important Tips to Remember
The difference between a good and great buffet is the little things that add up.
- Make your food the star of the show.No matter what food you serve, it should be the star of the show.
- Have a litter bin. Place a litter bin or two where they can be easily accessible. This is one item that is easily forgotten yet absolutely necessary.
- Place spoon rests on the buffet table. Avoid messing up the serving space by leaving a spoon rest next to every dish being served.
For good quality table and beverage linen, purchase these from a trusted supplier like Australian Linen Services.