A buffet is an incredibly convenient option when you need to feed many hungry guests. However, there are a lot of small things that can go wrong if you are not well prepared with the best buffet table ideas.
Setting up a great buffet is not that complicated, but it’s something that you can’t simply rush. These buffet table ideas will help you get started.
1. Check what is offered by your catering company
If you are preparing your buffet yourself, you will most likely have to use your own tables, chairs, tablecloths, plates, cups, and utensils. If you have hired a professional catering company, however, check what they can offer you.
Maybe your catering company can provide you with all the equipment you will need to make your buffet a success. If not, you might have to turn to a rental company for your tables and chairs.
2. Set up your buffet line properly
Your hungry guests will run to your buffet as soon as it’s ready. If you didn’t carefully plan your buffet line, you might end up with a bit of confusion.
Place your buffet tables in the middle of the room, if possible. This will make it easy for guests to access food from both sides of the tables. Make sure everyone understands where the buffet line begins, and where it ends.
3. Put the plates at the front of the line
When your guests approach your buffet, the first thing they will look for is a plate, so they can fill it up with delicious foods. It only makes sense to put the plates at the front of the buffet line.
Whether you have real plates, plastic ones or paper ones doesn’t matter. As long as they are clean and easy to grab, your guests should be happy.
4. Put the cheapest foods at the beginning of the line
It’s a good buffet table idea to put the cheapest foods you have to offer at the beginning of the buffet line, and to place the more expensive items at the end. This way, guests will add more of the cheapest foods to their plates.
However, if after some time you notice that no one is touching the more expensive foods, you can switch up the position of the plates. The goal is to not end up with piles of leftovers.
5. Don’t offer too many dishes
Even if your catering company is offering you a lot of interesting choices, you should avoid choosing too many dishes for your buffet. If you only choose a few options, a lot of your guests might be disappointed, but if you choose too many, you will certainly end up with too many leftovers.
Make sure you choose a few different types of items, including vegetarian dishes if you think it will be necessary.
6. Add a label for each dish
If your catering company is not providing you with labels to identify all the dishes available, you should prepare those labels yourself.
Clearly write down the name of each dish on a small piece of cardboard, or print it out on a piece of paper. Your guests will want to know what they are looking at, before they add it to their plates.
7. Put utensils at the end of the line
Make sure you have enough utensils for everyone, and all types of utensils that will be needed. If you are offering soup, for example, don’t forget the spoons.
You should put the utensils at the end of the buffet line. It will be more convenient for your guests to pick them up after they have filled their plates, than to try to fill their plates while holding on to their forks and knives.
8. Put drinks on a separate table
One of the important buffet table ideas is that you should put the drinks on a separate table. This will be more practical than placing them among your food plates. If the party has child guests, make sure you place your wine and alcoholic beverages on a distinct section away from the fruit punch and soft drinks.
When your guests want a refill, they will not have to go through the whole buffet line again just to fill up their cups. Remember to keep an eye on the drinks table, and to clean it up as soon as something is spilled on it.
9. Have more than one pile of everything
Unless you are setting up a small buffet for only a few guests, you should have more than one pile of everything on the buffet tables. That means a few piles of napkins, and a few piles of plates. Don’t stack up too many plates if you want to avoid an accident.
10. Don’t forget trash cans
Finally, make sure you have at least a trash can in the room. This is even more important if you are using disposable plates. When your guests are done eating, they will look for a trash can to dispose of their plates and of their leftovers. Make it easy for them to find one.