I am so excited to share my tried and true tips for How to Plan a Dessert Buffet that will have everyone wondering how you did it!  All while keeping it simple and approachable for an size party.  Here we go!

How to Plan a Dessert Buffet that is Simple |

Let’s Plan a Party

I LOVE to plan a good party and because my world revolves around food…that is always where I start.  This past weekend my Tales graduated from high school which was an extra fabulous excuse for a gathering. 

We decided early in the planning process to go with a dessert buffet.  Who doesn’t love something sweet?  I let Taylea help me narrow down the menu options.  Let me show you how I planned the dessert buffet.

First of all, I turned to my family and Costco for a little help.  My biggest piece of advice is that, you do not have to make EVERYTHING!  Plan on about half of the items being homemade and then take help where you can.


Ultimate Guide of How to Plan A Dessert Buffet |

How to Plan the Dessert Buffet Menu 

When I begin the menu planning process I always start with what I call the “must have” items.  For a dessert buffet I divide the bites into two categories, chocolate and non-chocolate.  I want to be sure that my menu has an equal amount of both items because variety is so important. 

From there I think about the theme of the party {in this case it was rustic with flowers and antlers}, the venue, the time of the event {our party was from 2-4 p.m.} and how many people are expecting to attend.  All of these things can help set the tone for how simple or elegant you want to get with your desserts.

Advice for Setting Up a Dessert Buffet

Our venue was a cute building in the middle of town, called The Gathering Place.  It is a large open room with plenty of light and hardwood floors but what I love the most about this building is the exposed brick on one interior wall.  I knew it would be the backdrop for the buffet table.

I used two large tables pushed together, then I covered them with plastic table cloths and brown paper.  That allowed for easy clean up but I also used the brown paper for a second purpose, which you will see later in the post.

Guide to setting up a Dessert Buffet Table

Using Serving Dishes for Height and Dimension

You can see that I have used a variety of serving dishes in different heights and textures to create dimension and interest.  For most of the party we used metal, wood and white elements but I did add pops of color with a couple of cake plates and the flower arrangements in mason jars

Now you can see the second purpose for the brown paper...I wrote the dessert names directly on it, so that guests would know what they are eating.  I love when menu items are identified.

Ultimate Dessert Buffet Table

This is a two tiered tray that I purchased from Magnolia Market {similar tray here} a few months back which is a fun mix of both metal and wood.   There is something about the simplicity of Chocolate Dipped Strawberries {they are definitely on the “must have” list}…I love the way they look and taste. 

Serving items in cupcake liners is both cute and functional.  The caramels on the top tier are from Costco and they were a huge hit.

Tales only menu request was my Raspberry Linzer cookies and so how could her mama deny that?  I served them on my Pioneer Woman cake plate that I purchased at Walmart and I used my Cream Cheese Sugar Cookie recipe because it is the best!  The pop of green on this side of the table was the same color as the dessert plates the guest used.

Adding Special Touches 

This print was a special touch to the food table.  I found it months before the event for less than $8.00 and am so glad that I picked it up.  I loved it framed and I especially love the girl it represented. 

It really was the inspiration for the entire event.  The print wasn’t too busy and didn’t take away from the desserts but it reminded you of who we were celebrating and the theme.

This is an angle from the other side of the table.  Same fun desserts, just a different view.

How to Plan a Dessert Buffet

I borrowed this cute little metal tiered tray {similar tray here} from my friend and the mini {a little larger than a quarter} Chocolate Chip Cookies nestled into it perfectly.  I made my favorite Soft Chocolate Chunk Cookie recipe only in a MUCH smaller version {using a .5 tbsp scoop}, decreasing my baking time by about 2 minutes.

These mini cheese cakes are always a hit.  I use store bought pie crust and a small cookie cutter to get the rounds.  Then I bake the crusts in a mini muffin pan for about 8 minutes.  I waited until about an hour before the party to fill them because I wanted to be sure that the crust didn’t get soggy. 

I used this same no bake cheesecake filling recipe {minus the sprinkles} and put it in a Ziploc bag.  To fill them, I just snipped a corner of the bag and squeezed filling inside the shell.  I served a few with and without strawberries.  Stacking a couple of cake plates {similar plates here}  on each other gave height and allowed me to separate the flavors, yet keep the pies together.

Don’t forget the Drink Table

We can’t forget the drink table when we talk about how to plan a dessert buffet.   It  was located on the other side of the room because I like to be sure that people move around & mingle.  Serving iced tea, water and lemonade in large jars gave a good variety without a lot of expense.  The large mason jar like jugs {similar jars here} worked so well with the mason jars we used for the flower arrangements and kept with the rustic theme.  I like guests to be able to serve themselves because that allows the host to enjoy the party too.

Buffet Drink Table

Here is one last photo of an arrangement I made in a mason jar and put on the gift table.  I have to give the Costco flower department a huge shout out.  We ordered 50 of these roses online for $39.99 and they were delivered to our door step for no additional charge.  They were absolutely gorgeous and every single rose was usable.  I will definitely be using them again for other parties and highly recommend them to you.

As far as logistics go, I took the day before the party off work to finish things but I had been baking and freezing items for a couple of weeks.  I made the Mini Chocolate Chip Cookies, Cheesecake shells, mini cupcakes {how did I not get a photo?} and linzer cookies {unfilled} at least one week in advance and froze them. 

The day before the party I took them out of the freezer and all of the desserts tasted fresh.  I also had my sister make the brownies {I frosted them} and my sweet aunt Paula brought the Lemon Bars.  A handful of other tasty items were purchased.

Top 10 tips for How to Plan the Ultimate Dessert Buffet:

  1.  Plan a menu with a variety of desserts that are both chocolate and non-chocolate.
  2. Bake ahead and freeze desserts if possible.
  3. Serve smaller items so that guests can taste many different bites.
  4. Take help from the store and friends/family, don’t try and make everything yourself.
  5. Use a table that is big enough to display all of the desserts without being too cluttered.
  6. Have a variety of items to serve desserts on and be creative {i.e. turn over a wooden crate}.
  7. Be sure to have varying heights of serving dishes to create dimension.
  8. Add a framed print or photo to bring the theme of the party to the food table.
  9. Serve drinks on the other side of the room, so that guest will move around and mingle.
  10. Make yourself a list of things to do a month before, week before, day before and day of the party.  Go through and check them off as you go.

I hope this advice on how to plan a dessert buffet is helpful.  Overall, the buffet was a great mix of both homemade and store bought desserts.   I will admit that even though I worked ahead and had a good plan there was a lot of last minute finishing touches. 

Overall it was such a great day spent celebrating my best girl with all of our favorite family, friends and of course food.  Congratulations Taylea Pearl, mama loves you!