Buffets - Planning Ahead Creates a Great Gathering
Standing in line, holding a plate,
seems to be a welcome holiday ritual. From Thanksgiving to the
company potluck and from the family Christmas Eve to the New Year’s
Eve gathering, buffets are a timeless tradition.
As a host or hostess, giving some
thought to how-to organize your buffet makes all the difference in
the world. A good flow, to and from the food and drinks, makes the
gathering more pleasant for everyone.
Organize your buffet with these easy
Decide on a traffic flow:
there a logical entrance and exit from the room with the food? If
not, create one. Nearly every room has more than one doorway. If
possible, plan your flow so that guests enter one and depart by
Consider your crowd:
If you are
having a large number of people, such as an office or church buffet,
reduce the waiting in line by either creating more than one line or
arranging for guests to form a line on both sides of the table.
Begin with the plates:
of plates indicate to your guests that the line starts here. Often,
a hostess will also place the silverware there as well. It is
difficult to hold your plate, serve yourself from the many dishes
and hold a bundle of silverware. Consider placing that at the end of
the line so it is easy to grab with a free hand.
Set the table with the basics:
Begin your table layout with the plates at the point of entry. Add
your centerpiece or table decoration. End the table with the
silverware for them to pick up. Not only is it pretty to bundle your
silverware and napkins, but it is easier to carry. Beginning with
the basics on the table allows you to see the space left for food.
Prior to the day of the party, gather your serving
dishes. Place them out on the buffet line, taking the time to figure
out how they will fit in that space.
During this planning, think
ahead to how you will keep hot foods hot. Do you need to be able to
safely plug in warming trays or Crock-Pots? If so, it needs to be
done in a way that keeps guests from tripping over cords.
Traditionally, cold foods are offered
first. Hot foods are offered last. This way, the hot food will still
be hot when the guest sits down to eat.
Don’t forget utensils:
the appropriate serving utensil to each dish, laying out a fork,
spoon, salad tong or spreader as needed.
If you intend to leave
the serving dishes on the table until they are filled, label each
with a sticky note so that it reminds you what goes in each
container. If friends or family is helping with the buffet, it is
easier for them to assist you.
If you are removing the dishes to the
kitchen to be filled, then you will need two labels. Place a label
in each dish and place a matching label on the table so that the
dish gets returned to the designated spot.
There’s a lot of
work involved in setting out a buffet. Try to accomplish some of the
related tasks well ahead of time. This includes wrapping and tying
silverware, creating a centerpiece, polishing silver and pressing
Sometimes, it is easier on the hostess for food to have an
identifying card. It keeps the guests from repeatedly asking about a
dish. If you wish to set out small tags naming each dish, those may
also be made ahead.
step to buffet organization is to create a checklist. You won’t want
to realize after the party is over that the salad was plain and that
the dressing is still in the fridge. Make a checklist of everything
that goes out on the buffet, right down to those very important
little details such as ice, butter, dressing, salt and pepper.