Present a Professional, Stylish Buffet Table Your Guests Will Flock To
You’ve made a list of ghoulish goodies you want to make, grabbed Halloween decorations
to use on the table, and set it all up. You stand back smiling at your handywork,
thinking the table will look great. Then you see it finished. Suddenly, it hits
you. Your food and decorations just don’t look like the cool presentations you see
in magazines and on tv.
Your decorations look mountainous, while the dishes look squatty and short – your
guests will have to lean over bowls of dip or chips to get to the cheese. Because
the serving table doesn’t look anything like you thought it would, you
hate the cramped and unattractive way it looks. Something is wrong with the table,
but you just don’t know what it is and how to fix it. Well, you’re not alone!
Flat, uninteresting buffet table. Ho hum…
I can’t tell you how many times this has happened to me. That is, until I thought
about that lovely word “up.” Oh yes, that simple, short word made
all my table problems disappear like Criss Angel makes a beautiful babe vanish!
Here are few tips using the “up method” I learned from trial and
error over the years, tips to help you with your next party.
Boxes to the Rescue
The beginning – a tablecloth!
Presenting a buffet food table is much easier than you think, once
you understand that everything you need is likely all in your house.
Having different heights allows you to make the food look more appealing
and will add a ton of space to your cramped table top. Plus, by using boxes you
can pick up anywhere for free means you don’t have to spend a fortune on serving
pieces, nor wonder where you’re going to store them when the party ends.
All you’ll need are three heavy-gauge cardboard boxes that are about three
feet by three feet and a few table cloths or pieces of material. Let’s
Practice Makes Perfect
Shovel everything off the table you’re planning on using and gather
several matching or
coordinating tablecloths – you’re going to need more than one. You
can also use large pieces of washable fabric if you’d rather, but it has
to be washable because spills and drips will happen.
Pull out the trays and serving
dishes you plan on using for the night of the party and place them around the
table on the bare tablecloth. Add your Halloween decorations and see if you like
what you see. Needs something doesn’t it?
Setting Up the Table
Take all the dishes and decorations off the table but leave your tablecloth.
Grab the three cardboard boxes. Look at
the photos for ideas on ways to place them on your table, or come up with
placement ideas of your own.
Cover the boxes neatly so that no one can tell they’re simple cardboard boxes.
Set a few of your dishes back on the table and see what a dramatic difference
this simple step added. Here are four examples to view:
Olympic Setup – boxes centered with the other two boxes on close on either
side and the one in the middle just slightly raised.
Trophy Setup – Pull the two boxes to the edge of the table for more drama and to make more room for
taller decoration balance.
The Medalist – This style is great if you’re
only using two colors on for the table and it is a great arrangement to use if
you want to have two buffet lines snacking at once.
The Grand Dame – Put every
leaf you have in the table to create a massive design prowess with this layout.
Use the splashiest tablecloths and decorations when you set your table up like
this, because this style can really make a great statement.
Your Buffet Table – The Fun Part
Now that you have the boxes placed where you want them and covered in any number
of combinations of material or tablecloths, it’s time for the fun part.
Decorating the table! Gather vines, fall silk flowers, and add to your tablescape.
Put your serving pieces on the table and look at the fabulous table you’ve
created for little or no money. Play around with splashes of color too, and
look at how each piece of material changes how the table looks. There are endless
Cover the three boxes
with the same black material but draw attention to the center box by adding different
cloth, runners or color.
Wow! How different does the buffet table look now? There are no rules except
to make sure that all the bowls or boxes are sturdy and not wobbly since your
guests may bump into it during the party.
Steps to Success
If you want to use some heavier pans or dishes to your design and you don’t
want to add to the cost of your party or to your storage issues – no problem.
I would recommend that you either buy vinyl or pieces of material from a fabric
store to use for table cloths so you can cut them to size as you build your presentation.
First, test the boxes to make sure they’re sturdy enough to hold your filled
containers. Tape the boxes shut with duct tape. Make sure they’re totally
flat and level after taping so they won’t wobble.
Cover the base of the table with
the first table cloth and then start stacking the boxes in threes at the back
or side edges of the table.
Once you get them placed where you want them, cover them with the remaining tablecloths
so that no boxes show. Again, step back and look at how amazing the table top
looks, now that it has several heights to add to the drama of your table. Just
don’t get it so tall that your guests have to lean way over or get into
other dishes trying to reach. I’m really short, and I can’t tell
you how many times I’ve gotten dip on my costume trying to reach a dish
at the back of the table.
You can tuck vines or other
dead things to fill in the gaps, making your table look like you’re a professional and
What, No Boxes and in a Hurry? No Problem!
If you couldn’t find three boxes that are about the same size, grab a stack
of mixing bowls, cake plates and other tall dishes from your cabinets. It doesn’t
matter if they are cracked or chipped or have sweet little Easter bunnies on
them, because no one is going to see them after you cover them.
Place a large
mixing bowl on the table and cover it with a scrap of fabric or a section of
tablecloth and look at how nice that looks for a tray or serving bowl stand.
But don’t use just one height! Put different levels together. Start
with a tall cake plate and add a bowl with the same width. Cover it before
adding the serving piece for a tall, sturdy pedestal. Continue adding different
heights, but leave a few plates or trays on the table toward the front and step
Add Serving Pieces
Now that you know some caterer’s secrets for making your buffet table look
great for little money, you can add even more interesting items to raise your
food to new heights. Watch for after season sales for multi-tiered serving stands
that come with their own dishes. It won’t matter what season you go for
because you can wrap it or cover it, so buy those bargains as you see them. I
bought a dandy three-tiered set at Sam’s for around $25.00, and I know
I’ll use it for every serving table I do all year long. Just keep your
eyes open, and now that you’ve got the hang of it, you’ll see things
that will be great to use to keep your party table updated. Happy hosting!
Using serving stands instead of boxes