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Simple Tips on Creating a Grazing Table

A grazing board or table is my go-to for parties and gatherings. I love doing it. It is simple and lots of fun putting together. I feel like I have permission to play with food because I can arrange it however I want. Want to give it a try? I will share a few simple tips on creating your own grazing table to impress your guests at your next gathering, party, or just a game night. 

I love a good grazing table! Don’t’ you? It can be a grazing board/table/plate/tray. It doesn’t matter. I think it is the best way to serve and eat at any social gathering. I think of it as a buffet of charcuterie, snacks, and sweets. You eat a variety of food, pair any combinations of flavors to your liking, and you don’t have to commit to just one dish.  

A grazing table is also a great visual display for any party or gathering. That is why it had gained popularity. Some caterers will specifically cater to grazing boards or platters. They can be a bit costly, but they are pros at creating beautiful and gorgeous grazing boards for any occasion. 

The largest table I have done was on my dining table for our annual Christmas PJ Party. We had over 50 people, adults, and kids. My grazing table aimed to serve appetizers and desserts while we also had a taco bar as the main food. As the before and after picture below shows, it was such a hit! 

Now, I’m not a professional and what I create by all means is not as glamorous as a caterer. But that’s the beauty of a grazing board or table because it does not have to be perfect. You can easily create a grazing table or board that is pretty and tasty. Here are my simple tips on planning and creating a grazing table.

Tips for Planning Your Grazing Table

  • What is the purpose know what the purpose of your grazing table is. Are you serving it as an appetizer that goes with the main course? Will it be the main food display for the gathering or party, or will it serve just sweets? Of course, know how many people you are serving. This will also help you figure out what size board of table you will need to display the food.
  • Make a list for the food – once you know the purpose your grazing table is playing in your gathering, you need to plan out the list of food you want to include. 

1st: List the main food you want on your table—for example, items like meat, cheese, dips, and spreads.

2nd: List out the foods that will accompany the main items. So if you have meat and cheese, you need to have a variety of crackers (wheat, soy, plain, seeded, etc.) to go with it. If you have dips and spread, you need a variety of bread, crackers, or veggies. You don’t want your guests to eat the dip with their fingers, right?!

3rd: List out items that are decorative and can help fill up your table. Focus on COLORS! Fruits and veggies are great to help add colors. They are great to eat alone or with the main food. Also, leafy greens and herbs are great accents for the food. I usually use whatever I have in the fridge or garden. 

  • Check your stash before shopping – I always check what I have in my fridge and pantry before shopping. Depending on your board or table’s size, you may not always need a whole bag of something. Once you made your food list, do some shopping in your own kitchen before going to the grocery store. You will be surprised at how much you can cross off your list based on what you already have or can use instead. This will save you some money too. 
simple tips for creating a valentine's day grazing board
Read my guide to creating the ultimate Valentine’s Day brunch here.

Tips for Creating Your Grazing Table

I have done a few boards and tables for parties and gatherings, so I have made a few mistakes and learned more efficient ways to put a grazing board/table together. The most important tip is to HAVE FUN with it! 

  1. Line table – Line your table with butcher paper or parchment paper.
  2. Layout shapes and height – If you are creating a small board, you can achieve this with a few small dishes and bowls. If you are doing a large board or a table, add a variety of shapes with plates and bowls. Make use of your cake stands to add height to your table. Or flip a cute wooden crate or box upside down to give you some height. Layout your shapes and height first around the table. Make sure it will be accessible once food goes on it. So put height in the back of the table will be served on one side, or put the height in the middle of the table if it will be serving on both sides. 
  3. Layout large leafy greens or herbs – If you have leafy greens or large sprigs of herbs, spread them out along the sides of the table or board. You want the greenery to stick out on the sides to add color and texture to your table. The same idea as what leaves and sprigs do to accent a bouquet of flowers. 
  4. Display larger food items first – Items like cheese blocks/wedges, dips, sauces, or any items that need a bowl or dish.
  5. Spread out the bread and crackers – Take each kind of crackers and bread you have and place it on 3 different areas of the table. That way I can get a soy cracker next to the cheese, the dip, and the spread without needing to reach back over to the other side of the table.
  6. Spread the colors – Once you have all the larger items on the table, start spreading out the rest of your items. But keep in mind the colors you have and spread them around the different areas of the table. 
simple grazing table tips
Using my full dining table to create a grazing table serving appetizers and desserts.

These are my simply tips on creating your own grazing table. Like I mentioned before, have fun with it. You will truly wow your guests at your next gathering or party. 

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