I recently did a presentation of how to set up a buffet for the ladies of Firethorn in Lincoln. I decided to buy some items to carry in the stores that you can grab and make a huge difference in your presentation. This week’s blog will be showing you those items and telling you what to do with them. Next week we are going to post the video on the blog, so you can see me in action – enjoy!
The Table and Covering
Try to avoid the kitchen island. Seriously, boring!
I always move my buffet or table setting around to different parts of the house or yard, it makes every event unique. Have fun with the table shape and the coverings. The base fabric can be just a tablecloth but when you dress it with fun fabric, burlap or blankets it becomes festive. I brought a couple summer blankets in that you can use in a variety of ways! Come grab one!
Blanket/Tablecloth – $49
Risers and Lifts
All summer long you will reach for these risers for your get-togethers. In vintage stainless, they will take any dish from ordinary to cool. Layering your food creates interest and volume. Don’t line up food on a table…that’s a drag. I am convinced you can serve bad food but if it is displayed well, somehow, it’s more appealing. These risers come individually and are so functional!
Rustic Stackers – Small $49 / Medium $59 / Large $79
Don’t just put serving dishes out…think outside the box. I have used wood planks on a spinner full of appetizers, garbage can lids placed upside down (new and clean please) on top of a cute bucket for finger foods, granite or marble remnants for a cheese or charcuterie board, baskets tipped sideways for a spread of bread or chips, a miniature wagon for dips, etc. But always use these trays and platters with whatever you find around your house. They are impactful and fun. The stainless platter with a lift and then a ruffled stainless tray on top of that lift makes all the food look integrated and appetizing – it screams party!
Long Tray Set (set of 3) – $189
Ruffled Tray Set (set of 3) – $99
Look around your home and have fun with how you display your food. Line whatever you find with a piece of parchment paper and off you go. You don’t need to have food-safe dishes…that whole “don’t poison your guest” thing is overrated.
Always add a touch of organic to your table. If you are pressed for time, set up the day before with artificial and then add fresh greens. I do this a lot, and people will actually touch and smell the flowers. Go lop some limbs off a tree or grab some grasses and wa-lah, a centerpiece! Get that thing up high and huge – it says you know what you are doing.
Make a menu for the start of the buffet. I brought in these adorable swing menu boards to have for the stores. Set up your main spread and then after dinner when the buffet is done, have dessert already written on the back and you’re on your way.
Large Menu Board – $59
These are fun for small gatherings as well as large parties. You can also use a mirror, a picture frame, wood plank, chicken wire with a clothes pin, etc. But I love having this one in my party pantry for a quick sign (yes, I have a party pantry – it’s my happy place). I also love this wall-hanging one. Soooo cute to use for a menu, welcome sign, or as a day-to-day to-do list.
Note Roll Wall Board – $59
I almost always rename the dishes to make them my own and tie into the party theme or event. For example, instead of the basic names for July 4th, spice them up! See my menu below…!
I adore these chalkboards on stands. Those puny round wire things that you buy at craft stores are too low, fall over all the time and are only useful in tiny settings. Get these and you can set them in front of any dish and make a statement.
Menu Item Stands (set of 3) – $79
P.S. these are so cute with a bow tied around them on top of a package with a message written on it. Better grab several and keep them in your gift closet (yep – no judgement please).
Remember the details! Grab themed appetizer pics, straws or objects that relate to the event. Use bandanas for silverware wraps/napkins for your fourth of July bash – so cute.
Throw a message up in a frame – for my July 4th party, I did “home of the free, because of the brave” (thanks Dad)!
Again, think outside the box and make every event different. Just changing one thing gets the cartwheels. Use different plates, bowls, etc. for each event (i.e. baskets with paper liners, mason jars, foil pie plates for barbeques, etc.).
Use an entry table or furniture piece for the bar or a draped folding table etc. I have a shelf outside on my patio door and everyone knows when they come for parties where the bar is. Grab a cheers sign from us – it just makes everyone happy!
Cheers Sign – $59
Use consistent materials between the settings (i.e. if you are using wood and metal at the buffet, pull it over to the bar). This wine bottle topper is a show-stopper and also makes a great gift with a couple bottles of wine. It sits on top of two wine bottles and can be filled with just about anything. Chocolate covered strawberries, nuts, veggies, etc. It always gets the wow. If you are gifting, print out homemade labels for the bottles and wrap together. I love doing a Mr. on one label and a Mrs. on the other for weddings. Throw in this tray – so cute!
Wine Bottle Appetizer Holder – $49
Add a touch of organic to the bar that relates to the food buffet in color or type. Make sure everything they need is there for self-service…
Glasses- Clear high ball throw-aways work for almost every drink for a casual party
Trash can for discards – but they have to be cute ones!
It’s actually trendy to serve one or two signature drinks, plus wine and beer. Wine carafes are great if you need to cut costs on wine (but keep a good bottle hidden for your refills. Let guests serve themselves for casual events at your home.
The miscellaneous tricks from my entertaining arsenal
- Set it all up ahead of time including the serving utensils and put post-its where the food goes. Then on the day of the party you just have to set the food out where the signs direct you.
- Keep extras under the table cloth for easy access.
- Don’t try to invite guests that “fit” together. It’s amazing to see people interact and connect that you never thought would.
- Make your music fit the party. Typing in a few key words into Pandora or Spotify creates a perfect mix for large gatherings.
- Get some help. I often times will hire someone to keep dishes full and garbage empty.
- For smaller dinner parties, spark the conversation. I have thrown scrabble letters on the table and you won’t believe how fun (& sometimes naughty) it gets! Put 20 questions on a placemat or Jenga at the bar!
My favorite part of any party is the set up. I love making each event an event for my guests. Even it’s just a Sunday night dinner for the gang – I love to make it fun and festive. Even more than that, I love the compliments and cartwheels. I live for those! Happy partying!