Here are some tips for setting up a buffet scene, especially if you have limited space. Hobnob gives you some pointers for achieving party table perfection.

A buffet is the hallmark of a party. It’s the spot where guests gather, interact, and help themselves—each person gets to take just what they want, and as much as they want. It’s also a great way to get a reluctant taster to try something they have never had, since there is no pressure to commit to an entire meal. Just one taste could make a conversion, which does much to make a host happy.

The buffet is the go-to plan for most Hobnob parties, and this ties in especially with our party plan for hosting a comfort pasta buffet, which allows each guest to choose a sauce and topping to dress up their pasta.

Think about this before your next bash:

[1] Put out a little at a time. If you have dips, especially something like a guacamole, put the dip out in small bowls so that it gets refreshed as the night goes on.

[2] Think levels: Platters, small bowls, pedestals, and stemware create an exciting landscape on your table. Here’s what I like to do: Put utensils in a tall, sturdy glass or vase, position small bites on tiered plates or stacked pedestal dishes, place elongated picks in a champagne flute. This is a great space saver as well—going vertical as opposed to horizontal. Not only will you have a more exciting table to look at, you will create room for more goodies.

[3] Shapes: No need to stick to circular or oval, here’s your chance to use extra long dishes, square, or uniquely shaped dishes—like those with a wavy edge or interesting color. Each silhouette will add to the liveliness of the setting. I love the idea of something extra long, that goes down the center of the table and houses all the finger foods you’ve whipped up.

[4] Keeping things warm: If you are serving something that needs to keep warm, a crock pot, portable burner, electric warming tray or chafing dish is your best friend. Just remember to place away from table’s edge for safety.