8 Buffet Table Decor Ideas for a Smorgasbord of Style

Give guests a visual feast with an elegant buffet table that welcomes everyone with style.

Published January 23, 2024

People flock to the buffet table for the food, but they don't entirely ignore the way it looks. Get creative and try some stylish buffet table decor at your next fancy event. Even after all the food is gone, your table will still look elegant and put together. 

Start With an Elegant Tablecloth


The easiest way to take an ordinary buffet table from "blah" to "wow" is with an elegant table covering. From puddling tablecloths to stylish runners, this is the simple upgrade that elevates your party look instantly. 

Layering table coverings levels up the texture experience and adds interest to your buffet. Pair a simple but dark tablecloth with a sheer or lace cloth on top or add a printed runner across a standard cloth for instant party planner vibes.

Related: Use This Tablecloth Size Chart for Perfect Party Planning

Pick Only the Prettiest Platters


Skip the plastic or aluminum containers for this buffet table hack. Transferring everything to pretty platters, cake plates, and serving dishes makes the entire meal look more appetizing. You might have more cleanup in the long run, but you'll never forget all the compliments on your beautiful spread. 

Quick Tip

Place cutlery and plates on one end of the table to indicate where the line starts. 

Think About Height Variations


You have the prettiest tablecloth and a selection of lovely treats on equally lovely platters. But if something still doesn't seem quite right, it could be a lack of height on the table. 

Mix in taller platters, like tiered plates and pedestal bowls, to create visual interest on the table. Place risers under the tablecloth or layer dishes for added dimension. 

Consider Pre-Portioned Food Options


If you're hoping for an elegant buffet in place of a home-style approach, try planning with pre-portioned food selections. Filling the table with single-serving cups, small bowls, or pre-sliced dessert choices leaves visual blank space on the table.

Large pans of food might be convenient, but single-serving portions make the line move quicker and provide a streamlined look for your buffet. 

Related: 12 Sweet & Satisfying Dessert in a Cup Ideas & Recipes 

Fill In Gaps With Tulle


Blank space can be visually pleasing on a buffet table, but too much could create an illusion of scarcity. Welcome party guests with a full table by filling in gaps with fluffy tulle. This adds volume and dimension, as well as texture to the table without feeling heavy or crowded. 

Pop In Some Plants


Plants add life to our homes and landscapes, so why not include them in parties? Tall vases of flowers bring color and height to the table. Leafy plants add elegant movement and volume to the true star of your party — the food. 

Include an Inviting Backdrop


Your table might look perfectly polished, but the bare wall behind it could feel out of place. A backdrop, like streamers or balloons, welcomes everyone over to the food with cheer. You could also try custom signage for the event, a gallery wall of photos, or large strands of fringe. 

Related: 8 Creative Ways to Decorate With Streamers for a Fun Flair

Bring Light to the Party


You have height, texture, and visual interest. Now it's time for ambiance. Sparkling strings of lights, flameless candles, and small tea lights bring warmth to your buffet and give guests the cozy welcome you might be hoping for. Some sort of special lighting also helps your guests find the food table among a crowd or in a low-light moment of the event. 

Sample a Smorgasbord of Decor Ideas


Now you have just as many buffet decoration ideas as you'll have food choices on your table. Take what works for your event, depending on how fancy the celebration may be, and make your buffet table a reflection of your style.

8 Buffet Table Decor Ideas for a Smorgasbord of Style