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Ideas for Buffet Tables | Setting a Buffet Table
Ideas for Buffet Tables | Buffetscapes
Decorating buffet ideas and setting up a beautiful presentation can add so much to your event -- whether it is Easter Dinner at home, a wedding reception, shower, rehearsal dinner, or fundraiser -- WOW your guests. Ideas for buffet tables are here to help! Setting a buffet table is easier than you think.
All of us have seen a buffet table that was less than inspiring. It was set in a utilitarian fashion -- line 'em up and feed 'em -- long tables with the food falling into rank like an Army chow line. That is soooo yesterday! And, using some of my tips and tricks will actually help you get the food to fit on the table better!
In this article, you will find some tips and suggestions I used (and still use) when I was in the industry. Anyone can make a pretty buffet table. Let me show you how!
Image is from the buffet I set up for my sister's baby shower.
Notice: All Buffetscape photos are from my personal collection unless otherwise noted.
Today, most caterers, chefs and event hosts put more thought and creativity into creating memorable buffets or food stations at their events. So much so that these buffetscapes or setting a buffet table actually become part of your event dÃ©cor -- they help further the ambience and atmosphere of the theme you have chosen for your event.
Whether it is buffet decorating ideas for a wedding, fundraising event, Prom, rehearsal dinner or a get together of friends and family at your home, buffet decorating has come a long way. Below are buffet ideas for servingware, tiered displays, florals, chafers and photos, tutorials and links to more resources for self catering.
Setting a buffet table made easy!
Buffet Ideas for Serving with Style - Serveware for Your Buffet
These are a few items that can help display your food on a buffet.
Wire metal racks that hold 1, 2 or 3 dishes are a must on my buffet tables. They draw the eye up and give you something interesting to look at.
This tiered stand is connected but each level is complete on its own. Use it for cakes, appetizers, cookies, tarts, pinwheels of whatever you are serving!
This is one of my favorite cake stand sets. I love a little bling!
A buffetscape is the presentation of your food (and drink if you wish) in a manner that is visually attractive and ties in with the theme of your event. Some refer to it as a buffet display or buffet design. There are many ways to accomplish this but you need some basics that you will use with every buffetscape created.
On to the basics...
Image: Set up by McDaniels Catered Elegance, my photo
Ideas for Buffet Food Table Decorating
What are the basics?
Buffet table decorating ideas are not that hard to come by. Applying interior design tips can assist you with décor ideas for buffet food tables -- or creating a buffetscape (or centerpieces for your tables). There are 4 basic tips to apply:
- Use varying heights to create visual interest.
- Layer items (one item slightly in front of another) for added interest. It encourages the eye to roam.
- Use accenting colors and textures in fabrics and dÃ©cor items.
- When grouping items together, use an odd number - This technique has been proven eye pleasing.
The above ideas are basic tips all designers learn in school. If you apply them to your buffetscape, you will be on your way to creating an interesting and memorable buffet.
Now, let's look at specific ways to incorporate the above tips into setting a buffet table (buffetscape).
- Varying heights - This is easy to accomplish using common items found around your home. The only prerequisite is these "risers" need to be sturdy and solid. You will be placing platters, bowls and other serving dishes of food on top so making sure they will not topple is of utmost importance. Possible items you could use include hat boxes, jewelry boxes, vegetable cans, hard sided suitcases, inverted pots, tabletop plant stands, stemware turned upside down, books and more. Basically, look around your home -- anything that can be used as a solid "base" has potential.
- Accenting textures and colors - Most events have a color scheme already picked out. Use a neutral from that color scheme as your base linen (black, white, gold, silver) and accent with fabrics of the other colors in your scheme or a patterned fabric that has all the colors in it. Mix metals and wicker -- mix a patterned and/or textured fabric with a smooth, shiny fabric -- mix smooth leaf greenery with spikey bright colored flowers.
- Layering items - This is the easiest of buffet ideas to accomplish. In front of a taller item, place a shorter item or laying greenery at the base of any item is layering. You can also place like sized items, one slightly in front of the other when looking straight on. Layering adds depth, thus interest.
- Grouping Items - A proven, visually pleasing tip is using odd numbers in groupings. Look at your table and mentally (or physically if you prefer) divide it into sections. In each section use two or three dÃ©cor items mixed with 2 or 3 food items to create your grouping -- remembering to come out with an odd number.
You will be surprised at how many ideas for buffet food tables you can come up with by simply looking around your home!
Basic Element for Setting a Buffet Table - Cake Stands - Use together or separate
Because the three platters in this set stack or stand on their own they provide plenty of options for serving hors d'oeuvres, sweets, or fruit or for creating a dramatic centerpiece or riser in setting a buffet table. Each platter has its own pedestal attached so the three can be arrayed singly or in combinations. The clear glass coordinates with any dinnerware. The platters measure 13", 10.", and 8" inches in diameter.
Where do I get décor for my buffetscape?
Shopping for Buffet Ideas
Items you already own that fit the theme of your event is the cheapest way to go. Walk around your house with a basket and shop!
If you don't own anything that will go along with the theme, you could try...
- a local or online party supply store
- a local or online department store (Like Amazon!)
- dollar store (Dollar General, Dollar Tree, etc)
- discount superstore (Wal-Mart, Target, Meirs, etc)
- overstock inventory store (T.J. Maxx, Ross, Marshall's, etc)
- home dÃ©cor store (Home Goods, Bed Bath and Beyond, etc)
- Craig's List
- thrift Stores
- Garage/Tag Sales...
to find dÃ©cor for your buffetscape. Remember, someone else's discarded item could be just what you need for setting your buffet table, so definitely check Ebay, Craig's List, Garage/Tag Sales and local Thrift Stores. You never know where you will find the perfect idea for buffet tables. They can all be a treasure trove of décor -- and inexpensive too!
Themed Centerpieces for Buffet Ideas - French - Paris Themed Centerpiece
Themed centerpieces can be used on a buffet as well as a guest table. A Paris or French theme screams for some of the "City of Lights" landmarks, such as the Eiffle Tower above. What about an Arc de Triomphe, or Notre Dame? Any of them could be incorporated into your buffetscape.
More ideas about using Eiffel Towers as Centerpieces.
This is dependent on your theme. I like to use free association when coming up with buffet ideas for items to fit my theme. Some will be literal; others will create more of a feeling or mood.
Below are examples for a few different themes and corresponding keywords to give you the idea:
Cowboy boots, rope, bandanas, cowboy hats, spurs, branding iron, covered wagons, saddles, horses, cactus, mountains, chuck wagon, saloons, ghost towns, corrals, fire pit, granite speckled coffee pot and/or dishes, gold mining
Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame, red geraniums, cheese, bitros, sidewalk cafes, museums, Moulin Rouge, parks, chefs, food aromas, perfume, patisseries, twinkle lights for the city of lights, fleur-de- lis, street vendors, artists, berets, toile
Watering cans, white picket fence, lattice, statuary, pots, urns, fountains, flowers, topiaries, wrought iron, greenery, ivy, potters bench, mailbox, wheelbarrow, wooden flower carts
Candles, soft light, wisteria, whites & pinks, lace, sheer/gauzy fabrics, candelabras, hearts, red roses, white roses, glassware, white dishes, floral patterned dishes, white twinkle lights, ivy, sheer ribbon
Each theme and corresponding keywords can give you ideas for buffet tables and items you can use.
You will be accenting your food selection with these items so be careful not to overdo. And, some items are not made to be used in conjunction with food. These items carry a notice of this usually on the bottom. It states something like this: "Not intended for use with food". Please pay attention to these warnings.
Chafing Dish for Hot Foods - Keep Your Buffet Food Safe
This 4 quart Chafing dish is perfect for your buffetscape. It will keep your food hot and at a safe serving temperature using canned fuel (sterno). It is attractive and doesn't take up much room with its' round design. Throw out the big, bulky electric roaster and serve in an elegant chafer! Stainless steel; 4 quart capacity; 15.25" x 12.5" x 11.75"
Palm trees, fishing net (unused of course), palm leaf, tropical flowers, fish or hula girl figurine, grass skirting, hot colors, lots of greenery, seashells, candles (I like to use the LED so no on gets burned reaching over a flame), tiki torches (tabletop or full size), leis, and anything else you can think of!
Flowers, plants & your buffet
Believe it or not, some flowers and plants are actually toxic to humans. The effects can range from itching to cramps, diarrhea or worse! It is much safer to use silk plants and greenery on a buffetscape. Better safe than sorry!
If you use real, please research to verify it is not a toxic variety of plant/flower.
This is a fun way to make your buffetscape really pop. It has become quite popular in the last few years, though some industries have been doing it for years (like the cruise lines).
Basically, you create fun and interesting centerpieces with your food offerings. Strawberry trees, molded cheeseballs, pineapple palm trees, shrimp trees or waterfalls are just a few of the ideas chefs and party/event hosts have come up with.
The bottom line is coming up with unconventional ways to serve conventional foods.
Another way to use food is making a non-edible centerpice. On the right is a craft using Hershey's Kisses on a topiary form. It's a Spring or Easter Topiary Centerpiece. I made this a few years ago and used it on an Easter Dessert Table.
You can use the same format and any candy that fits the theme you are decorating for. Red, white and blue for 4th of July, Memorial Day, Veteran's Day, Labor Day or throughout the summer -- green and red at Christmas, orange and black for Halloween and so on.
You can do more than just lay your vegetables on a platter. Make a Vegetable basket. It will keep your veggies crisp, and cool and is a much more visually interesting display than a platter.
Are you having fresh shrimp for your event? Build a Shrimp Waterfall or a Shrimp Tree. If you don't want to create yourself, order an edible arrangement from Edible Arrangements. Just strp outside the box and do something different.
Look around your house, office, basement, mom's house and garage. Remember that box of decorations you put up in the attic? Remember grandma's pink Depression glass collection? You know that figurine collection you have added to over the years? Use them!
Build your own theme around them or just make an elegant buffet table with candles, fabric and serving pieces without a set theme.
This is much easier than you think; just let your creative side take over! The pictures throughout this lens are to inspire you. Change, add too, take away from these buffet ideas -- let loose and just create!
Free guide to building your own buffetscape. Use it for your next party or event!
Article about Self Catering and keeping foods at the proper serving temperatures.
Setting a Buffet Table to WOW!
Serving dishes that can do double duty, are gorgeous, unique or different help make your buffetscape memorable to your guests. You are going to entertain during your life. Why not invest in some buffetware that you will use over and over again!
Old Dutch 838 Round Antique Copper Chafing DishBuy Now
Signature Housewares Sorrento Collection 2 Tiered ServerBuy Now
Signature Housewares Sorrento Collection Stoneware Serving Trays in Tiered Caddy, Set of 3Buy Now
White and Pink Beaded Multi Cake StandBuy Now
Irene Pedestal Cake Stand, Set of 3Buy Now
Signature Housewares 11-Ounce Stoneware Ramekins with Serving Caddy, Ivory, Set of 3Buy Now
You can lend them out too! Family and friends will be knocking on your door ready to borrow some of your gorgeous, serving dishes for their parties and get-togethers!
Buffet Serving Dishes - to use on Your Buffet Table
Don't forget to check eBay for great deals and, often, unique items! Tiered cake stands are plentiful and there are lots of different styles. I never build a buffet without using at least one. Take advantage of vertical space with tiered serving stands!
Decorating buffets vs Not Decorating Buffets
Do you decorate your party buffets or not?
Yes! It's fun and adds to the party.
Did you know...
Hot foods should be kept at a temperature of 140 degrees F (60 degrees C) and cold foods that are dairy or mayonnaise based should be kept at or below 41 degrees F (5 degrees C) to avoid food borne illness.
Ideas for Candy Buffet - Buffet Decorating Ideas
Candy buffets can be decorated too! Visit theses articles for more fun!
- Candy Ideas for Candy Buffet
Get the lowdown on candy ideas for candy buffets when planning a gorgeous candy buffet at your wedding reception, party or event.
- Tips for Setting Up a Candy Buffet at Your Reception
Candy Buffets have been steadily gaining in popularity of the last few years. They are not just for wedding receptions anymore either! Any type of reception or party can be a candidate for a candy buffet. Some of the events that can incorporate a can
- Candy Buffet at Wedding | Sweets Table at Wedding
Ideas, suggestions and the tools you need to create an elegant sweets table or candy buffet at a wedding.
Don't Forget the Dessert Table Buffet - Modern Style or....
Dessert Buffet Table Décor Ideas will give the you the basics of planning both a modern style and traditional style dessert table buffet. The colors used here were black and white but you can use any color scheme you want!
Traditional Style Dessert Table - It's up to You!
Holiday Buffets and Dessert Tables
Holiday Buffets - Vintage Halloween Dessert Table - Themes are Great!
Create your own Vintage Halloween Dessert Table with Photos. Yup, the holidays are perfect times to set up a buffet -- buffetscape that will impress your family and friends. Use seasonal décor and a little imagination and you'll have a wonderful food table your guests will talk about!
Go Scary with a Spooky Halloween Table - Halloween Buffet Tables
A spooky Halloween table is a lot of fun to make. This article -- Halloween Buffetscape -- shows you two different buffet tables:
Transylvania Hotel and Resort - (Vampire Theme)
Ghoulish Graveyard Buffet
Christmas Party Ideas - Dessert Tables is 3 Styles - Retro, Elegant and Candy Themes
Helpful Resources - Buffet Suggestions and Ideas
These are a few of the places around the web that can help with décor ideas or products for your event.
- Ideas for Buffet | Buffet Decorating
Beautiful buffet tables are something guests remember. Designing a buffetscape is not as hard as you might think. These suggestions and ideas will inspire your ideas for buffets.
- How to Make a Veggie Basket (for your buffet)
Don't just lay your vegetables on a tray. This veggie basket is food AND part of the décor!
- Do It Yourself Wedding Food -- Catering Your Own Wedding
Self-Catering ideas and much more!
- Food Ideas for Self Catering Your Party
Keeping in mind that most homes don't have chafing dishes on hand to keep food at proper serving temperatures, or refrigerated salad bars, you should be selective with the food choices.
The End of Ideas for Buffet Tables but...
just a beginning for you!
I sincerely hope you take away some information and suggestions that will help you with ideas for buffet tables in the future. Thanks for stopping by!
Note: All buffetscape photos are from my own personal collection.