How to Set Up a Buffet

Holiday How To — Day Two — Each day leading up to Christmas I’ll post a bit of holiday know-how that will help make your season a little easier.

The delicious details are what separate a good party from a great one and an organized and pretty buffet table is one detail your guests won’t forget. Setting the table, especially a buffet, may seem like a last minute no-brainer, but a well-dressed buffet table will help you put your best food forward.

1. Select platters for each dish and arrange them on your table the night before your party. You’ll have plenty of time to work out any layout or spacing issues. Don’t forget to leave plenty of space for plates, napkins and flatware.

2. Write the name of each food you’re serving on a sticky note and adhere them to the bottom of the appropriate platter. There’ll be no last minute decisions about which platter’s for which food and any guest who volunteers to help will have all the direction they need.

3. Keep your buffet line moving smoothly by arranging platters along both sides of your table so guests can serve themselves from more than one side.

4. Prevent a long line from forming by stationing food in other parts of the house. Place an hors d’oeuvres platter on a coffee or end table. Be sure to place plates and napkins there, as well.

5. Put place cards featuring the name of each dish next to your platters so guests know what they’re choosing.

6. Display food at different heights by covering stacked phone books or inverted pots or pans with cloth napkins or smaller tablecloths if you’re short on cake stands or tiered platters.

7. Make it pretty! Garnish platters with fresh herbs. Place votive candles between platters, making sure not to place them in a Reach Zone, areas of the table where guests will reach to access the food.

8. Wrap silverware in napkins tied with ribbon to make it easier for guests to carry along with their plates. Brightly colored napkins and ribbon will give even disposable flatware a festive look.

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