Grazing tables have started to gain popularity in recent years becoming one of the most fun and colourful ways to serve food to your guests. If you do a quick search on Pinterest, you’ll understand why.
In the Middle Eastern culture, grazing and gathering go hand in hand. We don’t think of it simply as a snack or a starter; for us, it can represent the whole meal, including dessert. As we often keep eating even after we had dessert, we use to call it ‘the snack after dessert’.
Grazing tables bring people together through conversation, food, and drinks, which makes them a great choice for anyone organising a party – be it a birthday party, a Christmas gathering, a wedding party, a baby shower, etc.
Today, I want to share with you my top tips for putting together a grazing table that will not only wow your guests but also entice them to dig in and start chatting.
Let’s get started.
How to make the perfect grazing table for your gathering
1. Choose a theme and stick to it
Always remember that the food should be the main hero of your grazing table. Use crockery that doesn’t steal the spotlight.
2. Make sure the table is accessible from all sides
Your guests should be able to reach all your beautiful food without too much effort. Also, this way, they will be more inclined to chat with the other people at the party than if they were to stand in line for the food.
3. Add texture and layers to your table
Use baskets, cake stands, bowls, jars, trays, and boards to create interest and keep your food arrangement from looking too flat.
4. Choose the right serving pieces for the occasion
Depending on the type of event you organise, you can use wooden boards to keep it casual, or you can choose marble boards and stainless steel with a white table cover for a more elegant look.
5. Start with a food centrepiece that fits your theme
This can be as simple as a cheese platter, but make sure to choose chunky cheeses and accompaniments that stand out from the rest of the food on the table.
6. Fill the gaps between foods
For this, you can use fresh grapes, rosemary, beautiful coloured fruits, fresh herbs, or whatever works with your theme. Be careful not to over scatter though, as it can make your table look too crowded.
7. Keep it friendly and ready for grazing
Some of your guests might hesitate to dig into your grazing table if it looks over-styled. Break up some cheese or spoon out some dip to give an effect that someone has already started enjoying the food.
What foods to add to your grazing table
In terms of what you put on the table, you should choose foods that suit your chosen theme, and that you can display in bite-size portions. Avoid food that’s either too big or too messy to eat.
A typical grazing table would include the following:
- Veggies such as cucumber, cherry tomatoes, radishes, celery, snap peas, etc.
- Crackers, breadsticks, and pretzels
- Fruits such as grapes, strawberries, figs, pears, etc.
- Cheese (gouda, cheddar, brie, goat cheese, etc.)
- Dips (hummus, cheese dip, yogurt dip, etc.)
- Bite-size snacks and desserts
One of my most favourite grazing tables I’ve prepared was for my son’s pre-formal party. The theme was Middle Eastern, so I chose rustic and mainly used wooden boards on which to display the food. I also rolled out some beautiful paper on the table, which allowed me to place food directly on it.
As you can see in the photos above, I love adding structure to my tables so that guests can easily choose what they want to eat without having to literally dig in and touch the surrounding food. Moreover, my grazing tables (this one included) are all homemade food that can be prepared in advance and it’s very filling despite the bite-size format.
As I know you might be curious about the food I prepared, here are a few simple and quick recipes you can make for your own Middle Eastern grazing table:
As a last piece of advice, please remember to have fun with your grazing table creations. I know that being a host comes with some stress and worries, but the best party is one where the host is happy and relaxed. For a no-stress party hosting experience, check out my journals on the ultimate party planning checklist, and how to host a party like a pro.