Buffet Entertaining for Your Dinner Party

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Buffet entertaining is the easiest way to start giving successful dinner parties. They have become an American institution and they aren't going anywhere. It is the answer for entertaining any group. From church socials to an upscale holiday open house, this style of service can be adapted to nearly any situation or celebration.

A buffet party is one of the most convenient to give. With buffet entertaining, there is less strain on the person hosting.  Additionally,  guests who might feel anxious about being seated at a more formally set table are completely at ease wandering around a buffet table. A buffet table provides a blank canvas for the host.   You can incorporate just about any colors or themes when setting the table for buffet entertaining. Just about anything goes as long as the food and decorations are pretty to look at and the table is arranged in way that makes sense.

Though the name is derived from a buffet (a piece of furniture), a buffet meal can be served from a dining room table or a kitchen island. I have even heard of a sushi buffet served on a naked body! If you think you will entertain frequently, it would be a good idea for you to gradually buy pieces of equipment which are especially suited for buffet entertaining. Wooden, glass, pottery and china trays or large dishes are ideal for buffet table settings. Tiered wooden, plastic or glass stands when filled with food make an attractive display.

The decorations, including candles, may be taller than you would put at a “sit-down” table and you can use props and risers to display your food more elaborately. Whenever possible, use food itself as the decor. 

Types of Buffet Service

There are three types of buffet service: informal, semi-formal and formal. The choice of the type of service depends on the number of people to be entertained and the amount of help available.

Informal type service is used for a small group of people, usually a group of close friends or family getting together for a Sunday dinner or a similar occasion. There is no waiting on the table. The guests take all their food and silver to the place where they want to eat. In informal buffet service a guest helps himself first to a plate, then the food. Before he sits down he picks up the silver, napkin and beverage. For the second helpings, the host may pass dishes or the guests may be asked to return to the buffet table.  The Southern buffet menu would be perferct for this casual and informal meal.

Semi-formal service is popular with church or community events. This type of buffet service would also be a good idea if you are looking to cater your own wedding. It works well for events where there will be a lot of guests. The host(or designated person with the aid of a friend or two) helps the guests serve their plates. It is ideal to have one person serving for each dish. That way the guests don't overload their plates with food and the servers can make sure the food doesn't run out before everyone is served. The guests can take the plates of food to smaller tables which have been sat up with silver, linen and napkins. The host and assistants may serve thebeverage and dessert.

In formal buffet service, the type which is used in hotels and banquet facilities, the guest selects the food he wants and may take his own plate to the table or a waiter takes it for him. The waiter serves the beverage and the dessert. FYI, in this type of service a pre-plated salad is usually placed on the table shortly before the guests arrival.

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