How to Best Set Up a Christmas Lunch Buffet

Setting up your Christmas lunch buffet seems like it should be simple, but there's more involved than simply slapping the pots and plates down on the counter. Try the following suggestions for one of the most effective and efficient ways of setting up your buffet for your guests.

Don't Forget to Decorate--But Don't Go Crazy

What makes a Christmas lunch buffet distinctly fitting for the holidays is to decorate your buffet accordingly. At the same time, you don't want to clutter up the table with unnecessary items that will be targets for spilling or will get in your guests' way. Use a Christmas tablecloth (just plain Christmas colors is fine) to cover your table--the cloth will help catch spills, too. Use Christmas-designed or -colored napkins, plates and cups as well. As for the rest of the decor, one small centerpiece at the most in the center of the buffet table can provide a festive atmosphere.

Keep the Drinks Away from the Food

Drinks are probably one of the most likely culprits to cause a mess when hosting a Christmas lunch buffet. If someone drops a bit of food, the spill is contained. If they knock over a drink, the liquid will spread quickly across the table and the ground. You have two options to keep the chances for a drink spill to a minimum. First, you can have someone serve the drinks, asking each guest what he or she would like. Second, you can set up a separate drink table at a different location from the food. This will help spread out the traffic of guests as well.

Set the Table up Centrally

Instead of placing your Christmas lunch buffet in the corner of the room or up against a wall, stick it in the center of a room such as the kitchen or the dining room--a different room than the one in which you're setting up the table for dining, though. This will allow twice as many guests to access the food at once. You may even want to put two serving spoons in each dish to allow traffic to move quickly through the buffet and so that both sides can take food at once.

Where to Put the Plates and Utensils

At one end of your Christmas lunch buffet table should be a stack of plates. Allowing your guests to pick up their plates at the buffet is less hassle than handing each of them a plate individually or setting out plates at the table and then having your guests carry them over to the buffet. You can, however, place the utensils ahead of time at the table at which you'll be dining so that your guests have less to carry back from the buffet table. Putting out utensils ahead of time can also help you make sure that each of your guests has a place at which to eat. If you'd like, you can set out name cards to help you keep track as well.