How to Decorate a Buffet Table

Buffet means “sideboard” in French. Buffets came into vogue during the 19th century and have been a graceful way to decorate and offer self-serve food ever since. Arranging a buffet table correctly is important in allowing guests easy access to the food as well as an appealing table.

Think About Flow

• If you are going to have more than twenty people, set up the table so that people can serve themselves from both sides of the table. • Put plates at the beginning of the table and napkins and silverware at the end. It is a good idea to wrap the silverware in a napkin and tie it with a ribbon. This will better facilitate people serving themselves. • Make sure the food has been cut for serving. • Set up a separate table with drinks on it, or have cups and pitchers filled with drinks already at the tables. • Have plate warmers for hot food. • Have a separate table for desserts, with small dishes at the beginning and napkins at the end of the table. • Set the table in the order you would serve a meal starting with appetizers and salads, then main courses, followed by side dishes.


• Unlike a sit down dinner, you can use tall dishes and centerpieces when decorating a buffet, because it will not block people. Make the buffet table more interesting by arranging foods on cake stands, tall platters and large bowls.

• Stick to a small color palate. Don’t try to use too many colors on the buffet table. Pick at the most three colors, and stick to them. Think about the purpose of the get together. Are you celebrating a specific holiday, a birthday, or other special occasion? Then decorate with colors that compliment the event.

Choosing Colors for Party Decorations

  1. New Year’s-think silver, deep blue, gold and black
  2. Valentine’s Day-red, white, pink and purple are all great colors
  3. St. Patrick’s Day-green, white, and gold
  4. Easter-pastel green, yellow, pink, purple, and blue
  5. Fourth of July-Red, White and Blue
  6. Halloween-Orange Black and White
  7. Thanksgiving-brown, gold, yellow, orange, maroon, and deep greens
  8. Christmas-red, green and gold
  9. Birthdays-the person’s favorite colors
  10. Baby showers-pastel blue, pink, or yellow
  11. Anniversaries-big anniversaries come with colors already.
  • 10 and 25 years, silver;
  • 40 years, ruby red;
  • 50 years, gold;
  • 70 years, platinum and
  • 75 years, diamond white.

Fun decorations are flowers in tall vases, pillar candles, nice arrangements of foods, balloon bouquets, topiaries and other tall decorations that can be placed down the center of the table.