Passing silver trays of meticulously assembled appetizers throughout the
evening will thrill and entertain your guests, while adding a
level of sophistication and elegance to your cocktail party.
The basics of serving hors d'oeuvres butler-style:
Each hors d'oeurve should be bite-size
Hors d'oeuvres should be passed on trays
Stage trays away from the party area
Use silver trays with paper doilies
Accent each tray with a theme centerpiece
Serve food at least every 30 minutes
Present the tray to each guest
Leave leftovers until the next tray is passed
Your objective is not to feed your guests, but to entertain them. Most will have dinner plans to follow, so you don’t want to spoil their appetites.
Spread your bites out; the down time in-between will accentuate the presentation of each delicacy. Plus, you do not want to spend your evening in the kitchen and passing hors d'oeuvres.
Plan to pass a different tasty treat at least every 30 minutes. For a cocktail party from 6-8, schedule food service at 6:30, 7:00, and 7:30. All but the very last minute preparation should be completed before the party starts.
When heating or cooking use timers to remind you of your next step; time goes by quickly while you or hosting. Ideally, use the alarm clock on your phone and carry it with you.
Designate a staging area to prepare the food trays, away from the party area. Use silver trays with paper doilies. Doilies can be found in most grocery stores.
Alternatively, you may use flat, round trays of glass with doilies. Never use plates or chargers, which will cause everything to slide to the center.
Plan to drop the tray of leftover bites on or near the bar until the next round of epicurean entertainment. In addition, setup a drop table or plastic bins in the staging area to collect trash and dirty glasses.
A theme-related tray centerpiece,
unique to each passing, adds intrigue to the display and can be used to decorate elsewhere after the tray has been served.
Don't hesitate to ask a party guest "looking to help" to pass a tray of hors d'oeuvres.
Cocktail party hors d'oeuvres should be bite-size and elegant. All or most of the preparation and assembly should be done before the first guest arrives. In addition: