The holiday season is upon us in full gear, and, along with decorating, shopping and gift wrapping, we are also planning for holiday meals. It is definitely that time of year when celebrating and entertaining go hand in hand. This year, my husband’s godmother will be turning 90 on December 22nd and to honor her as well as show her how much we have appreciated her generosity and unconditional love, we are hosting a birthday dinner celebration in our home. I have ordered the floral centerpieces, the cake and made arrangements for tables, chairs, linens, china, flatware, glassware, etc., to be delivered, but I am doing all the cooking. I find buffet style entertaining, where guests serve themselves, a popular choice for any occasion. This style of entertaining allows you to mingle with guests and replenish serving containers as needed. It also allows you to serve a larger number of guests.
1. Choose the Best Spot.
A buffet can be set up on a dining table or other large surface, such as a chest, kitchen counter, sideboard, library table or picnic table outside. Place the table where it is most convenient for serving, clearing and traffic flow. A minimum of 18 inches is required for guests to walk between pieces of furniture.
2. Organize the Flow
Arrange plates, food and serving utensils on a buffet in a logical order so guests can serve themselves without backtracking. If the buffet space accommodates only the food, place plates, silverware, and napkins on a separate table nearby.
3. Plan for Cocktails
4. Plan a Workable Menu
Make sure the food on the menu is simple to serve and eat. For my dinner celebration, the guests will be seated at tables, but for guests who will be seated in chairs only with plates on their laps, they will appreciate food they can eat with a fork. When seating space is limited and guests will have to stand, a menu consisting of finger foods is the best option.
5. Dress it Up With Pretty Fabrics
Fine table coverings, heirloom pieces, damask, linen, and sheer organdy toppers are used for formal occasions, but for casual or less formal events, look around your home for ideas. Try a quilt, fabrics that complement the dishes, burlap, or crisp cotton sheets.
6. Stack It Up
Add interest to a buffet by elevating several dishes to create levels. A cake pedestal or a shallow-footed bowl are perfect choices to hold food or other serving pieces. Less attractive items used for height may be hidden under drapes of fabric for the same effect. Take a trial run on setting your buffet, you won’t know if an arrangement will work until you try it. When you find your desired look, make a drawing of the shape of your buffet surface with all items needed as a reference. Set the table the day before your event.
7. Add Beauty With Centerpieces
Centerpieces should contribute to the mood of the occasion rather than dominate the table; otherwise, with the many serving pieces, the table will be too crowded. Also, if you are using a centerpiece on the table, be sure it isn’t too large or too tall which may obstruct the view of each guest. One arrangement in the center is best for circular tables. Scatter several arrangements down the middle of a rectangular table. Of course, fresh flowers are always lovely. Other possibilities to consider are fruits, nuts, greenery, potted bedding plants, ferns and figurines.
8. Go For Mood
The type of lighting you choose can help establish the mood and atmosphere. A dimmer switch that lowers overhead lighting is a necessity in a dining room. Remember to use candles only after dusk and do not put candles on the table unless they will be lit. Make sure all candles are lit before guests arrive. Tapered candles are usually used for a dressier table, while votive candles will work for any style table. Also choose votive holders to help carry out a theme.
DESIGNED TO ENJOY
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