We asked four experts on buffet entertaining how theyll decorate their holiday buffet tables. Mary Micucci, Paula LeDuc and Jean-Christophe Le Picart are preeminent caterers acclaimed for their stylish presentations of food, and Peri Wolfman is the coauthor of Table Settings, a very fine book on the subject.
"I'll decorate the buffet table with fragrant evergreens, berries, nuts, pinecones, pomegranates and other seasonal flora. And as always, Ill use lots of candles. When setting up the table, I place the platters at different levels. This means the table will be more attractive to the eye and gives an impression of abundance. Serving both food and beverages in different rooms creates a flow; guests circulate and that reduces crowding. This is also a great way to show off your home. I like to be creative with the beverages, offering one special drink that reflects the season and serving it in a pretty glass. And on a practical note: Depending on the size of the party and your budget, employing or designating helpers ensures that the buffet will be replenished and kept neat and tidy."
Mary Micucci of Along Came Mary, Los Angeles
"Decorating with seasonal fresh fruit is easy, colorful and interesting. Start with holiday greens as the base for red and green apples of all varieties and sizes. The apples can be mounded or arranged in interesting containers. I occasionally add lemons as accents to pop the color. Of course, candlelight is essential, and Ive even hollowed out the apples and inserted tea lights. One of our favorite candle ideas is to take a glass cylinder partly filled with rock salt and recess a smaller glass cylinder with a votive down into the salt. The result is a glowing, sparkling candle."
Paula LeDuc of Paula LeDuc Fine Catering, San Francisco
I'll use an arrangement of blown sugar ornaments as a centerpiece of the buffet table, with a single ornament at the place setting of each guest. Another good option would be an individual floral arrangement at each setting. The simplicity of a monochromatic table decor can be very appealingshiny white porcelain dinnerware contrasting with textured white cloths. I also like to use oversize, triple-hemstitched linen napkins. This year I'll prepare two appetizers or two desserts and alternate them at every other guests setting. The variety of this arrangement makes the table a bit more interesting."
Jean-Christophe Le Picart of Feast & Fêtes, New York City
"Scattering lots of simple votive candles in clear glass holders around the buffet adds the sparkle that is so much a part of the holidays. Gaylax leaves, which you can buy in little bundles at the florist, make a beautiful base under fruits, cakes and candles. I like to use a stacked set of glass cake stands filled with fruits, cookies and cakes to create a dramatic focal point and add height, while allowing more space for other foods on the table. To ensure that the stack of cake stands is sturdy and wont easily topple over, I put a little ball of modeling clay in three spots on the bottom of each upper cake stand and gently press it onto the one below."
Peri Wolfman, coauthor of Table Settings, New York City