With the holidays just around the corner, more than a few of us will be hosting a festive dinner party, buffet or potluck. Following are a few helpful tips and tricks I've learned from hosting my own gatherings over the years:
BUFFET PSYCHOLOGY 101: As pleasant as any holiday event may be, it seems like the moment someone rings the dinner bell an otherwise civil gathering can turn into a stampede as guests mob the food table.
Much as I like to keep my buffets casual and freeform, there are a few rules I always follow to keep the meal organized. Call it a little "buffet psychology." Here are a few tips:
1. Organize the food layout, with a definite beginning and ending. Set the plates, napkins and silverware/plasticware at one end of the table near the food, so guests know where to line up. This will keep the guests from rushing the food like an NFL defensive line.
2. Consider plate size. Guests tend to fill up whatever size plate they have, be it small or large. Go with a smaller plate (8 to 9 inches) so guests don't overfill and waste food. They can always go back for seconds.
3. Organize all of the less-expensive/greater-quantity foods at the "beginning" of the buffet, like salads and starches (rolls, rice, potatoes, etc). Save the big ticket and expensive items for the very end of the buffet (tri-tips, ribs, chicken and fish) so guests have less room on their plates and are less likely to overfill.
They're simple tips, but can help you keep everything organized as your big event progresses. For more information, I discuss these tips and more here.
Craving more? Check out our handy Thanksgiving recipes and cooking tips page to help you out with your Thanksgiving planning. Not only do we cover familiar holiday dishes, we also share tips and tricks to save you time and energy during this busy time of year. And you can find all your Thanksgiving recipe needs in our California Cookbook. If you have any tips or questions you'd like me to explore, leave a comment or shoot me an email at noelle.carter@latimes.