How to Arrange Plates & Forks for a Buffet Table

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Things You'll Need

  • Guest list

  • Silverware polish

  • Soft cotton cloth

  • Container to hold forks

  • Napkins

  • Other cutlery

  • Ribbon (optional)

A well-organized buffet allows your dinner party to run smoothly.
Image Credit: Jupiterimages/ Images

No matter what the event, a buffet can save you a lot of time and effort. Giving guests the opportunity to serve themselves allows them to take what they want and pass on what they don't want, resulting in less wasted food and more satisfied diners. Putting out a few platters and serving bowls is much less work for you than making and serving individual plates to each guest. When you're planning your buffet table, don't overlook the importance of putting out the plates and forks in a way that's convenient and keeps the food line flowing.


Step 1

Go through your guest list to determine how many plates and forks you'll need. After counting, increase the number by 25 to 50 percent, as some guests may go back for a second plate of food or drop a fork they need to replace.

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Step 2

Take out your plates and forks. Go through them one by one to make sure they are all clean. If they have not been used lately and have gathered some dust or grime, wash and dry them before the event. Omit this step if you're using disposable plates or flatware.


Step 3

Set up your tables and decide which direction the buffet line will travel. Stack your plates on the end of the table where the line begins.

Step 4

Polish metal forks with a soft cotton cloth to remove fingerprints and make them shine.


Step 5

Decide on a holder for the forks. One option is to lay them on a flat tray with the other cutlery. Another option that will save table space is to put them in a sturdy small vase or mug, like a bouquet of flowers. A final alternative is to bundle a fork with other flatware and cutlery and roll them up in a napkin. Tie a ribbon around the bundle.


Step 6

Place forks, other flatware and napkins at the opposite end of the table from the plates, so guests can pick these up after filling their plates. This gives them less to carry while serving themselves.



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