How to Set a Buffet Table
Portable banquet tables (3’ x 8’) are usually used to set up a buffet in the outdoors. For an indoor buffet, you can also use your kitchen island, a credenza or other furniture.
The decoration of the buffet should match the decoration of your tables. Keep it simple and uncluttered; the buffet table is to showcase the food. You will need space to access the platters for refilling and tidying up quickly. Set the Beverages on a separate table or on the dining tables.
If you use a bouquet on the buffet table, be sure to choose flowers that are not too fragrant, not in the way of guests reaching for the food. Watch for falling petals, pollen & leaves. Buffet set up needs to have a logical flow. You can do a one sided service or a two sided service. Two sided is often used when you have more than 20 guests. This allows for a faster flow and shorter line.
One Sided Buffet:
Guests should start with the plates and then proceed to the main dish and side salads. It is best to set up the desserts on another table or reset the buffet table once the main course is over. Do not forget to set appropriate serving spoons and forks next to each platter. I love to use risers to give different heights to different dishes. You can use deep-dish platters, cake molds, wood blocks etc. as risers. Hide them under the tablecloth. For the best effect, use a drape table cloth to cover the table, set your risers and cover them with a shorter cloth crumpling it around. Set your bouquet on the center back of the table.
Two Sided Buffet:
Same set up order as above but everything is doubled. If you have very large serving bowls/platters you can set serving ware on both sides. If your bowls/ platters are medium sized then place two of each side by side. Flower decoration should be very low, or just use branches or loose flowers directly on the table.
It is important not to over crowd your buffet, as the guests can only carry so much at a time. Flatware, glassware and napkins should be set on the dining tables and not on the buffet table.