Tips on creating a Grazing Table.
My 30th birthday has come and gone, I really wanted to share this fresh after the party whilst it was all still in my mind but due to an outbreak of chicken pox we ended up hibernating for the week after my party and getting absolutely nothing done at all (except cuddles, oat baths and doctors appointments)
Anyway, here we are! I completely forget to take pictures in stages so I only have the end product but due to having only 2 hours to get the room sorted and get myself ready for party guests to arrive I got a little flappy and just wanted to get it complete. So I thought rather than in stages, I could share some tips on how I created the look and a must haves shopping list.
TOP TIPS ON CREATING A DIY GRAZING TABLE
Have a centre piece! We used the cake as a centre piece, alternatively you could use a bread basket perhaps? A centre piece just gives a talking point and then also a middle to work out from when laying out the food. We turned a wooden crate (from iKEA) Upside down as a stand, you could just use a cake stand but it may become lost in amongst the table depending how busy the table is.
Colour is good, but it needs to be balanced! The more colour the better, but it would look odd if all the colour was in one place, so don’t be afraid to have more than 2 piles of certain foods to balance colour across the table. Garnish is good for this also, lots of rocket to frame the tables edge or around the crates and serving bowls that you use.
Creating height is a must! Height is so important when creating any kind of display (this is my visual merchandiser self speaking) Levels draw the eyes to all different places and will make a ‘wow’ factor, dimension will add interest apposed to everything being flat. We have used some Ikea crates, these are handy to have at home anyway, they double up as book & toy storage or even just add character to shelves. By turning the crate on its side you have doubled up that surface area, you can then display inside and on the top.
Cater to allergies and clearly label! Think about Vegans, Vegetarians and then any family & friends with allergies. The beauty of this kind of grazing table is that you will always have something for everyone as theres a lot of choice. Remember that perhaps you should have a non meaty section to avoid any cross contamination and cocktail sticks with little flags are a good way of labelling up certain foods.
Plenty of texture! This is mostly for aesthetic purposes, but realistically you will have lots of texture anyway due to the nature of the food your using but mix it all up so the texture runs throughout the table.
Use a good size range of serving bowls, plates, trays, jars etc You could use lots of chopping boards, cheese boards, slate looks lovely and also wood. I opted for some slate and wood but kept all my bowls either white or clear glass so it didn’t take away from the display. Different sizes is good to add dimension, but practically you need larger bowls for perhaps crisps and nuts and then smaller ones for dips and condiments.
Don’t forget the cheese knifes! Rooky mistake. Don’t forget the knifes, but also don’t forget to make the initial few slices into the cheeses, this way guests won’t feel awkward being the first and then it saves times for people too.
You can’t have too much garnish! We used A LOT of rocket, we used it to edge parts of the table, we used it as a bed to lay veg onto and we edged around the crates with it too. Anywhere there was a gap we put garnish, it just made the display look so fluid and was great for adding colour too. You could add pomegranate too in areas.
Think about a ‘desert’ area! Most buffets have a sweet area, so I decided to dedicate around a third of the table to sweet treats. We used marshmallows, fruit, dried fruit, chocolate covered pretzels, fresh brownie bites, fancy biscuits, mini pink meringues and macaroons. We just used the same rules as above, evenly distributing colours and textures etc
Don’t over think it but leave no space empty! I think its so easy to over think it, looking at an empty space and not knowing where to start but believe me once you get going you will just know what to do next. Get the centre piece in place, build around it and move outwards. Place other crates evenly and again work out from them. Don’t leave any space empty, there doesn’t need to be gaps in-between foods, if you want to separate certain foods use some rocket.
Grazing Table Shopping list:
First things first, you need to cover the table. Brown craft paper works really well, or just a disposable table cloth.
All the Cheese! (I sliced some of the cheese before placing on the board to make it easier for guests to grab!)
Cheddar (Slices & Cubes are a good idea, for different shapes to add to the aesthetics)
Goat Cheese. Drizzle sweet chilli sauce over it, you won’t regret it!
Wensleydale with Cranberry
Ham (For the non antipasti lovers & children)
Peppers stuffed with goat cheese (usually found in fridge in supermarkets)
Crackers & Breadsticks
Bread, Fresher the better. Local bakery if possible. Different sizes and textures is good.
Pretzel Sticks. Chocolate pretzels is also a good idea.
Red & White Grapes
Melon- Sliced looks lovely, we also used a tool to make little Watermelon balls!
Vine Tomatoes- They look so good!
Mini sweet Peppers
Rocket (lots of it)
Hummus, beetroot makes such a nice colour addition.
Pickles. Onions & Gherkins are a must.
Selection of Nuts.
Chutneys - Chilli Jam, Caramelised onion.
Coleslaw (Not your typical grazing essential but suitable for parties.)
Pork pies, Quiches, Sausage Rolls (bite size is better)
Pineapple (looks good whole on the table)
Brownies, Flapjacks, meringue (again anything bitesize)
If you have an account or know someone with an account at a whole sale such as Costco, then that would be the place to shop for some of the list above. However not all will be more cost effective at a wholesaler, places such as Aldi is great or fruit and veg as lower in cost, Lidl is good as they have the inshore bakery so bread is super cheap to keep costs down.
Hope this post has been helpful. Make sure you tag me if you give the grazing table a go!