Entertaining Ideas
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Cookout Set-Up


My H is hosting a graduation cookout for me next Saturday and I was wondering what would be the best way for the food to be set up. We do have a good size tent with sides closed in that we will use to hold all the food and it also has room for one or two long tables that people can sit at. Otherwise we have a deck and other tents for seating. My question is about how to display the food. How do you set up your buffet line?

Do you have all the meats first, then the sides, then the dessert? Do you use long tables or round tables? I am leaning towards using round tables and having all the meats on one table, all the sides on one table and dessert on the table with the drinks. Also I wanted to use menu signs so people will know what is on each table.

Please share your thoughts. TIA!

Re: Cookout Set-Up

  • Here's how I set up our tailgating tent. 

    <edited after the fact for privacy>

    Absolutely necessary: large trash cans outside. 

    I think round tables would create traffic jams with people trying to get at different things - the way I do the rectangles there's a clear order to the buffet line.  Sure, people have to line up, but it's orderly.

    The main thing is having everything within reach so people don't have to reach too far.

    I keep drinks in coolers in a different corner away from the food to ease congestion.

    I've found folks don't really need menus, even if they're the trendy thing to do.  People recognize picnic salads easily enough.

    Let me know if you need recipes of things that can sit outside for a couple hours - I obviously have dozens ;)

  • Love the photos, you had a great set-up. Thanks for mentioning the trash cans, we have one but we can use another. I will go back to the long tables because I do see how the round tables could create congestion.

    We have coolers so that is covered.

    I wanted the menus to hopefully keep people from unwrapping or uncovering something that they don't want to eat. Guess I am just being picky.

    Thanks for all your suggestions.

  • image jnorth90:

    I wanted the menus to hopefully keep people from unwrapping or uncovering something that they don't want to eat. Guess I am just being picky.

    If you're having more than 6-8 people, a lid / tin foil / plastic wrap isn't going to work well realistically.  The first person will lift off the lid to serve himself, and the second person will say, "oh, that looks good," so the first person will leave the lid off, and then the third person won't know that there was a lid, and your lid or tin foil or plastic wrap will end up goo-side-down on your table or littering your lawn.  It can also be hard to balance a plate and utensils while lifting off a lid and serving yourself.

    It's best just to uncover everything yourself right when the meal starts and then keep things covered before and after.
  • That's some snazzy tailgating!

    Defintely the long tables over round and several trash cans.  Put the drinks and desserts in a separate area.  Also ditto the lids.

  • Drinks and desserts in a separate area is a must- really helps with congestion.  I agree with TarHeels and 6fsn- the lids don't work when you have multiple people trying to get food. 

    We do two large garbage cans with bags.  1 for trash, 1 for bottles and cans (returnables).  We print signs to hang on them as well as signs for the coolers (we generally have 1 or 2 with adult beverages and 1 with nonalcoholic drinks). 

    image Baby Birthday Ticker Ticker
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