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ENTERTAINING
Best Holiday Buffet Strategies

 

The holiday season is also the entertaining season. If you are entertaining this year, consider a buffet rather than serving at the table. A buffet is the easiest way to serve a larger group. Buffets present the interesting challenge of combining a number of complementary dishes in a creative way. Here are some tips to help you put together a buffet that will make it easy for your guests to serve themselves, as well as serve as an eye-catching centerpiece.

The order of foods in a buffet is key to its success. Place the plates at the beginning and utensils and napkins at the very end of the buffet. This helps keep one hand free for serving. If your offerings require multiple plates, make sure that the plates that go with the dishes are placed next to them, such as salad plates next to the salad bowl, or soup bowls by the soup, so guests can easily get these on a separate trip without going through the whole line again. Condiments should be next to the dish they are intended for to avoid confusion. The easier it is for guests to serve themselves, the faster the buffet line will move.

Positioning foods at different heights adds visual interest to a buffet, and also eases traffic problems around a buffet. You can use stacks of large books (make sure they wonít slide if they are nudged!), or sturdy boxes to construct different heights of ledges for display areas for each dish. Cover with tablecloths, old curtains, or a mixture of other pretty cloths. Remember they will probably get food spilled on them, so make sure they are washable.

Make sure the bar and dessert areas are away from the main buffet area. This helps keep the foot traffic from becoming a traffic jam. Also, make sure there is room for guests to get by the buffet without colliding with other guests who are getting their food.

It is easier to serve chilled or room temperature foods in a buffet. Plan your offerings accordingly. You want to be sure you can get everything served at the same time. Plan your menu avoiding foods that are very soupy or need to be served piping hot.

If you are serving a large main dish, such as a roast, pre-slice it into portions for easy serving. Putting a little sauce on the portions will shorten serving time as well. Make sure there is some meat that does not have the sauce in case some guests donít like sauces or the calories they add.

Use only unscented candles or oil lamps near food. If you have flowers, make sure they do not hang over food, as they may have bugs or pesticides on them.

Make a placard for each dish. Make sure to note if the dish contains anything that people are commonly allergic to, such as peanuts, wheat, eggs, milk or other dairy products. This way your guests donít have to ask what the dish is, or announce their food preferences or allergies to the whole room.

Provide enough table space so that no one has to balance a plate on their lap. It is too easy for whole platefuls of food tip and to ruin someoneís evening or your furniture.

Last but not least, enjoy yourself. A well thought out buffet should mean that once the food is served you can relax, mingle with your guests, and enjoy the meal!

 

 


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