Orchestrate an Appetizer Party with Ease

Hosting an appetizer buffet with no set seating is easy on the host. But to make it more manageable for guests to mingle while munching, make note of these key tips:

Think about guests who might have trouble standing for any length of time. Arrange a few groupings of two to three chairs where several people can converse. Position extra end tables throughout the house so guests are able to set down their beverages.

When planning the menu, look for recipes with make-ahead aspects to prevent last-minute fuss. Have a variety of tastes, textures and colors to please your guests' palates.

Chose a selection of snacks that can be picked up and eaten without a plate, such as cubed sausage and cheese, skewered meatballs, fruit kabobs and cut-up vegetables. Avoid foods that require a lot of cutting.

Set out bowls of nuts and snack mixes in other rooms. Make extra napkins readily available.

Offer guests small, sturdy plates that are easy to handle. Consider making simple-to-carry bundles of cutlery and napkins.

Think about the traffic flow and place plates, napkins and utensils on the buffet table near the doorway where folks will walk into the room. Make sure guests can reach all of the serving platters on the table.

To discourage lingering and congestion around the buffet, remove chairs and other tables from the room. Set up the beverage station in a different area.

People are more inclined to eat something when they know exactly what it is. So consider labeling the appetizers on your buffet table with place cards.

It's tempting to hide trash receptacles for a party, but all of the used plates, napkins, utensils and toothpicks from an appetizer buffet can look a little unsightly when they start piling up. So make wastebaskets visible in various rooms.