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Buffet Table Decorating Ideas

Buffets are the easiest way entertain a large group of people, whether you’re celebrating a graduation, Father's Day, birthday, or any occasion.

Just like gift wrap, beautifully decorated buffet tables will make the ocassion more festive, making the food you serve look and taste better.

Why is that? It’s about pleasing all the senses, taste, smell, and the visual presentation. With a few simple buffet table decorating ideas, your guests will feel more festive and you will get cool points for style.

Plan ahead and come up with a theme. (that’s easy if it’s a holiday) It could be a color theme, like red, green for Christmas, fall colors for Thanksgiving, etc. or a cultural theme depending on the type of food you’ll be serving.

Christmas themed dessert buffet table with ginerbread house and fresh greenery hung from the chandelier

Setup the buffet table with everything but the food at least one day in advance to cut down on last minute stress.

Paper or Plastic? While people may be OK with using throw away plates for a large crowd, if possible, try to use metal utensils and real wine glasses rather than plastic ones. Plastic forks and knives just don't cut it.

If you do use plastic cutlery and cups, wash them in the dishwasher on normal cycle and turn off the heated dry. This allows you to reuse them many times over, saving money and the planet. Also, make sure to set out recycling bins.


Buffet Table Decorating Ideas Caterers Use

serving platters for buffet

Set out your serving trays the day before with a label next to each so you know which food is going where.

Have the food set at different levels to create more interest. You can easily accomplish this by placing some of your dishes on boxes that are set under the tablecloth.

Use two or three tiered servers to place things like appetizers, or desserts but make sure to spread the food out for better presentation, rather than crowding everything together. And remember to add food safe garnishes to your dishes.

Don't be afraid to go tall on decorations for the buffet table since you won’t be blocking anyone's view.


Large flower arrangements, mini trees, or large glass vases filled with something relating to your theme like; Christmas balls, seashells, or colorful fruits. Here they used wine barrels, grapes, and loaves of bread as decoration for a cheese table.


artfully displayed meats on cutting boards

Decorate your buffet table with fruits, vegetables and herbs. (Grapes, apples, oranges, lemons, olives, peppers, evergreen or citrus branches, herbs, flowers, potted plants, branches in a vase, or other garden cuttings)

Ribbons or plastic beads draped across the table can add sparkle as can confetti sprinkled about.



Glass Drink Dispensers Are The New Punch Bowl

They look great on the table, are more convenient for guests and are more sanitary too, plus they can be found for as little as $20. to $30. Fill one or more with ice tea, punch, lemonade or water with fruit slices floating about and recycle that old punch bowl as a food serving bowl.


buffet table centerpiece using a decorative platter filled with Christmas ball ornaments and Christmas candles

Candles are one of my favorite buffet table decorating ideas, but as beautiful they are, I worry about forgetting to blow them out at the end of the evening or that someone's beautiful locks will get singed.

Flame-less candles turned out to be the solution. They’re made of real wax with a battery operated flickering flame and my favorite works off a timer. Turn them on once and every night they'll come back at the same time, turning themselves off five hours later.

So the party's over. After the holidays or at the end of the season is a great time to pick up fantastic deals on decorations, plates, napkins, glassware, and more to put away for your next event.

Once you get in the habit of entertaining you can throw together an amazing party in no time at all. Cheers!