If you're serving a lot of people, it's usually easier to serve buffet style, even though it means presenting a larger variety of foods than you'd have for a sit-down meal. We've got tips for how to make a buffet that's sure to please everybody.
- If you don't already know your guests' food likes and allergies, try to find out, just so you can plan to have something for everyone.
- Plan a good "traffic pattern" for your buffet. It should allow everyone to get through the line quickly and smoothly. For example, don't put a buffet table in the corner of your kitchen. Try to keep it in the dining room or somewhere out of the main flow of party traffic. You'll need to get in and out of the kitchen often without having to maneuver around people.
- Place plates at the beginning of the buffet table, where guests will start serving themselves. Next should come a salad, followed by a main course, side dishes, bread, and, finally, dessert. If room doesn't allow for dessert to be on the table with the rest of the food, bring it out later during the party or serve it from a separate table or countertop.
- Cold and hot beverages should be on a separate serving table or countertop, if possible. If not, have them at the end of the buffet table.
- Don't forget utensils! The easiest way to put them out is to roll individual sets of utensils in napkins in advance, and place them at the end of the buffet table so guests don't have to balance them all the way through the buffet line.
- Have a few cold foods and a few hot foods. That way, there's a variety for people to choose from -- and having just a few dishes to warm helps when you have limited oven space. Try not to put foods out too soon before serving time, and refill frequently.
- Serve foods that vary in flavor and texture. People like options!
- Don't forget serving pieces! Every bowl or platter of food should have at least one serving piece -- and be sure it's one that's appropriate, like a large spoon for meatballs, a slotted spoon or tongs for coleslaw, tongs for salad, a fork for cold cuts, etc.
Follow our easy tips so you know how to plan and serve the perfect buffet that's sure to have your guests raving and chanting...