Holiday Buffet Serving Tips and Display Ideas

red plates with white napkins embroidered with various holiday sayings
Learn how to arrange food into a beautiful display at your holiday party, plus get great serving and storage tips inspired by these holiday party food spreads.

Add Quick White Accents

Arrange party desserts on a neutral table with cream and maroon flowers to create a sweet winter wonderland scene. Elevated white trays at various heights create a dynamic display and pop against the neutral table, allowing each dessert to shine. Add silver reindeer statues for a whimsical touch. 

Easily Arrange a Large Buffet

For large party food spreads, set dishes at slightly different levels so the table feels less crowded and guests can easily see every dish. When serving a large amount of party food, make smaller and lighter dishes, such as two kinds of potatoes, vegetables, and wild rice, in place of massive main course dishes.

Color-Coordinate Dishes

There's no reason why everyday dishes can't be pressed into service for holiday hosting. Give neutral-color platters a subtle wintry vibe with nubby cream-color linens like napkins or a table runner. Fill serving pieces with healthy nibbles guests can pick up and enjoy mid-party with ease, such as sliced fruits, veggies, and crackers topped with cheese. We spread chia seed crackers with creamy goat cheese and apricot marmalade for a salty-sweet combination sure to please.

Create a Pizza Station

Add to the holiday cheer of your party table with a build-your-own pizza station. Pile pitas on a wood pizza peel and surround them with sweet and savory toppings in little bowls, such as sliced peaches and almonds. Let guests assemble their own artisan-inspired combinations, then bake them in the oven or grill for a quick and easy winter warm-up.

Elevate and Stack Serving Dishes

Give a fresh look to your classic serving dishes by elevating and stacking them on the table. Place bowls of toppings and dips among a tray of chicken. Or set a cup of toothpicks inside a shallow bowl filled with appetizers. These simple alterations make your buffet more visually appealing and practical.

Set Out Make-Your-Own Drink Accents

Let party guests personalize their beverages from the holiday buffet with wood slice wine charms. These tiny slices attached to wire and beads are a naturally pretty addition to wineglasses. Allow guests to mark their initials, a number, or symbol with a white marker to distinguish their drink from others.

Make a Holiday Plate Display

Create a cheery punch table by spelling out "Joy" with monogram plates hung on the wall and surrounding with other red-and-white plates with intricate patterns and designs. Finish the table with a long, leafy garland along the back.

Make Champagne Flutes Festive

Champagne is a holiday party staple, so make sure it's dressed for the occasion. Use Champagne flutes with an intricate design to make your glasses of bubbly even more sophisticated. Try a spin on the classic strawberry garnish with star fruit instead. The shape of this tropical fruit fits the theme of the season.

Serve Appetizers with Ease

Make serving hors d'oeuvres a breeze by thinking through everything you need and keeping it all on one tray. Always keep the tray fully stocked with toothpicks and dishes so you don't have to do any extra work when guests arrive—aside from adding food and serving. Sliced olives, herby spreads, radishes, and sesame seed crackers ensure that this holiday snack spread is packed with flavor. 

Give Drinks a Holiday Glow

These festive red drinks will brighten up any holiday party. Use a clear pitcher filled with cranberries to show off the vibrant color. A rosemary garnish looks like pine needles and gives the cocktails an extra oomph that's sure to wow your guests.

Decorate a Buffet with Snow Accents

For a fun winter party table, sprinkle snow decorations throughout your buffet. Trail the table with a string of delicate white snowflakes acting as a festive table runner. Add mini Christmas trees dusted with snow to enhance your dreamy winter wonderland display.

Create a Themed Appetizer Spread

Give your appetizer spread a cohesive theme using woodland-inspired elements. Off-white plates and bowls filled with snacks like fruit, popcorn mix, salted almonds, and asiago cheese crackers sit atop a wood cutting board, and greenery and deer figurines add a winter ambience. A tiny tabletop tree propped next to the snacks carries the holiday theme to the tabletop.

Add Poinsettias as Table Accents

Spruce up your table with holiday poinsettias. Make the most of the classic Christmas plant and place individual poinsettia flowers inside gold glitter votives to act as mini bouquets. Scatter them throughout your table for pops of vibrant color.

Utilize Function in Small Spaces

Small space? No problem! Create a buffet on your kitchen table, then use nearby easy-to-reach shelves to stash extra bottles of wine or olive oil. Keep it cohesive with all-white dishes and minimal extra decoration.

Add Festive Greenery

Get Christmas party guests into the holiday spirit with a decked-out table setting. Lay a trail of garland (real or artificial) across your dining or buffet table for a simple and elegant centerpiece that stretches the length of the table. Pinecones and branches evoke a natural vibe that feels effortlessly beautiful. Place a sprig of greenery atop each napkin for a finishing touch.

Match Table Accents with Linens and Dishes

A soft blue-and-white-striped table runner atop a distressed wooden buffet is a lovely backdrop for your holiday goodies. Different shades of blue and white ceramic bowls and plates are an ideal base for your vibrant, crowd-pleasing holiday dishes like roasted carrots, turkey and salad. Add subtle accents like candles or neutral bouquets to enhance the rest of the display.

Add Personal Touches to the Table

Whether hosting a small or large holiday gathering, DIY personalized place settings will make each guest feel special. It can be as simple as a folded piece of cardstock with a stenciled design and their name. A delicate wreath illustration is a perfect option for the holidays and can be kept as a memento of the gathering.

Store Party Drinks Efficiently

Hosting can be exhausting when it involves running back and forth between the kitchen and gathering space. Make fewer trips to the kitchen by storing drink mixers and nonperishable snacks in a bin or cabinet placed in the living room. Hide your extras under a table sheathed with a long tablecloth to maintain your effortless hostess image.

Serve Cocktails on a Tray

Use a copper tray with a festive wood slice stacked inside to serve colorful rosemary-grapefruit gin cocktails. Set a hammered copper cocktail shaker atop the wood to tie the display together. Garnish the drinks with fresh rosemary sprigs for a dash of the season.

Show Off Pretty Holiday Napkins

Purchase napkins with holiday phrases sewn in festive colors. Tie strings of ornaments, pinecones, or plaid ribbon around the linens for a seasonal sprinkle. They'll be almost too pretty to use!

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