How to Set Up a Gorgeous Buffet Table for Your Holiday Party

Make serving effortless at your next holiday party with a buffet table. Create your own with these tips and tricks.
By: Liz Gray

Sure, holiday decorations are nice (and so pretty), but let’s be real: It’s not a party without festive food and drink. A buffet table allows guests to flow through the food line  — perfect for a casual gathering. Want to create your own? Follow these tips for success.

Find the Right Spot to Set Up Your Table

Food tables are kinda like real estate: that is, all about location, location, location. You want an out-of-the-way spot that still allows for an entry and exit point. Skip spots like a kitchen island that create a bottleneck for a large group.

Original_Holidays-at-Home-Food-Table-From-Front_h

Original_Holidays-at-Home-Food-Table-From-Front_h

Photo by: Jason Kisner © 2013, DIY Network/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Jason Kisner, 2013, DIY Network/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Dress Up a Temporary Table

You don’t need a dining room or even a buffet table to make this party setup work. We used a fold-up party table topped with a covering made from a dropcloth (!!!) and a small, hemmed piece of gorgeous marbled fabric.

Original_Holidays-at-Home-Food-Table-Wide_h

Original_Holidays-at-Home-Food-Table-Wide_h

Photo by: Jason Kisner © 2013, DIY Network/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Jason Kisner, 2013, DIY Network/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Create a Starting Spot

Placing the plates and napkins at one end of the table creates a clear entry point. Copper string lights inside a footed cloche draw attention to the beginning of the line.

Original_Holidays-at-Home-Food-Table-Plates_h

Original_Holidays-at-Home-Food-Table-Plates_h

Photo by: Jason Kisner © 2013, DIY Network/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Jason Kisner, 2013, DIY Network/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Add Height

Since plates of food tend to be, well, flat, we placed food atop pieces with varying heights. Here, wooden chargers prop up potted plants and succulents, which are more affordable and longer-lasting than cut flowers. Footed pedestal servers are a great option, too. If your serving dish supply is low, use cardboard boxes or overturned pots covered with wrapping paper or fabric as a base for dishes of food.

Original_Holidays-at-Home-Food-Table-Succulents_h

Original_Holidays-at-Home-Food-Table-Succulents_h

Photo by: Jason Kisner © 2013, DIY Network/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Jason Kisner, 2013, DIY Network/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Label Your Wares  

Quiet cries of “What is this?” with custom-made food labels. Keep it super-simple with pieces of card stock or stick-on labels, or make these adorable twig place card holders with paint and a little copper wire.

Original_Holidays-at-Home-Food-Table-Place-Cards_h

Original_Holidays-at-Home-Food-Table-Place-Cards_h

Photo by: Jason Kisner © 2013, DIY Network/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Jason Kisner, 2013, DIY Network/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Pick a Color Palette

Pick a palette that corresponds with the hues you’re showcasing at your party. Since we used a lot of plum, turquoise and metallics at our party, we added bright accents — like these rustic potted celosia from the HGTV HOME plant collection — in those same hues.

Original_Holidays-at-Home-Food-Table-Flowers_h

Original_Holidays-at-Home-Food-Table-Flowers_h

Photo by: Jason Kisner © 2013, DIY Network/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Jason Kisner, 2013, DIY Network/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Even the food matches! Here, we used red and golden beets in this rustic, savory galette.

Original_Holidays-at-Home-Food-Table-Galettes-Beet_h

Original_Holidays-at-Home-Food-Table-Galettes-Beet_h

Photo by: Jason Kisner © 2013, DIY Network/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Jason Kisner, 2013, DIY Network/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Mix Store-Bought and Homemade Items  

We mixed homemade galettes and a handmade cheese plate with store-bought cheese, crackers and garnishes. Consider how much you can realistically cook beforehand: If you’re strapped for time, consider equally-delicious ready-made options.

Original_Holidays-at-Home-Food-Table-Cheese-Plate_h

Original_Holidays-at-Home-Food-Table-Cheese-Plate_h

Photo by: Jason Kisner © 2013, DIY Network/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Jason Kisner, 2013, DIY Network/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

How to Make the Perfect Cheese Plate:

Make the Perfect Cheese Plate 01:00

From Weekday Crafternoon, tips for making the perfect party cheese plate.
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