Have you ever noticed how your otherwise well adjusted friends and colleagues go crazy at the sight of a buffet table? There is something about beautifully displayed food and a line full of hungry peers that makes people go a little nuts. Perhaps it is the feeling that one may not get through the line in time to score a beautiful piece of prime beef?
First, always remember it is best to have a snack before you arrive at a fundraiser, wedding or business event so you won’t be tempted to race straight to the food table.
Here are a few more Buffet Etiquette Tips to ensure you are perfectly polished for your next event:
1. Don’t confuse the word “Buffet” with “All You Can Eat.” Select a small portion of the food items of your choice and hold only one plate at a time. No one really believes you when you say that one of those plates is for your wife/husband – especially if you are not wearing a ring! Everyone should go through the line individually unless there are extenuating circumstances.
2. Avoid jumping back in the buffet line for seconds until everyone has had the opportunity to go through the line once. If you are just coming back for a bit of mustard or another roll, make an executive decision on how much that extra roll will mean to you as you reach in front of your best customer or client.
3. Don’t swim upstream or go against the current of buffet traffic. There are often two lines, one on each side of the serving table. In that case you may pick a side but make sure and start at the right end.
4. Set your drink down before going through the buffet line. Select a place where you will sit and place your drink at the table. It’s much easier to hold your plate and select your food items without a drink in your hand.
5. Keep your distance from the person in front of you. Standing too close, breathing down someone’s neck sends the wrong message and does nothing for your professional image. Save your dignity and stand back!
6. Hold your napkin and utensils in your left hand, under the plate, leaving your right hand free to use the utensil provided to serve the buffet food items. Never use your fingers to grab the food unless the table is intentionally set up to “grab and go.”
7. No grazing as you proceed. Wait until you are through the line and seated before you eat anything from your plate. You certainly don’t want to nibble on the food from the buffet table as you make your way through the buffet line.
8. Make a separate trip for dessert. Use separate plates for different courses and food stations. You wouldn’t think of putting your lasagna on your dessert plate…or would you? Loading up your plate with salad, entrée and dessert appears a bit anxious and a little glutinous.
9. Make the best of the long wait in the buffet line. Do your best to be pleasant and make conversation with those standing patiently in line. It’s amazing how much you can find out about another person in such a short period of time. You never know, he or she may be your next boss or new client as long as you don’t embarrass yourself by shoveling all of the shrimp onto your plate from the bottom of the chilled silver serving bowl.
10. Enjoy the candy table but leave some sweet treats for the rest of us! A new trend that I must confess I enjoy is the yummy candy offerings found at many event buffets. You’ll often find this table is set-up old fashion style, with bowls of candies and little plastic bags and bows for you to package up your own unique mix. Remember, a trip to the candy bar is reserved for after you’ve enjoyed your meal. Practice self-control by leaving plenty of sweet treats for others. Pick a few of your favorites and move along the line!
Enjoy your meal,