How to Create a Grazing Station like a Catering Pro

Grazing stations are a modern alternative to traditional buffets and are a great option for both large and small events.  One of the best things about grazing stations is their versatility. We’ve created hundreds of grazing stations over the years for both social and corporate catered  events.  A fun part is creating specific looks to match the occasion. 

If you’re thinking about setting up a grazing table for your next gathering you’re going to want to check out our TOP TIPS for creating a professional looking grazing station.

1. Pick a Sturdy Base

Picking a base for your grazing station might not be the first concern that comes to mind, but it’s really important when preparing grazing stations!

You should be sure that the table or countertop you pick is strong enough to support the weight of food-laden platters and won’t shift easily when bumped by guests; and that the size of the table won’t make the food look lost (too big of a table) or over-crowded (too small of a table).

Also consider a water-resistant finish if you plan on using the tables outdoors so you don’t have to worry about them getting damaged in wet weather and for easy clean-up. With these sturdy tables, your grazing stations will look great and provide a safe and secure spot for guests to help themselves.

2. Set up the Room with Intention

Traffic flow is a must for a grazing station, so be sure to set up your table with intention. Choose an area of a room with a view and plenty of room around it to allow for mingling.

When preparing for a event, traffic flow is key to ensure that guests have a smooth and enjoyable experience, so be sure to set up your table with intention. 

Think of ways to create pathways for guests to move around the event space easily, especially if there are areas with limited seating. This will ensure that guests can move freely and enjoy the party without feeling crowded.

3. Find a Connecting Theme for the Menu

Choosing a connecting theme for your menu is a fun part of the whole experience.

When selecting a theme, think about the type of grazing station you would like to offer as well as the types of colors, ingredients and flavors that will work best with the theme.

For example, a rustic Mediterranean theme can have grazing stations tailored with cheeses, meats, and fruits that match the flavors and bright flavors of the coast. 

Using wooden boards and utensils, and colorful glassware would also add to the fresh and bright feel.

4. Play with Dimension

Larger setups can be hard to navigate for guests. Accessibility is a crucial point in figuring out your grazing station setup!

Here’s a tip: Add varying heights for dimension. You can use things like cake stands, risers, tiered stands and crates to do this. Not only is this more pleasing to the eye, but it makes it possible to fit more platters on the station which will give your guests access to all of the finger foods. 

5. Decorate your Grazing Station

A great way to create a wow factor and professional look is by decorating your grazing station Adding candles, flowers and plants is an easy way to create a beautiful atmosphere for your guests. For example, if the event has a Spring into Summer theme, use flowers that are in bloom like tulips, daffodils, and peonies. Find candles with matching colors and scents, and the whole event will tie together! For an extra touch of luxury, you could use edible flowers or fresh herbs for garnishing the boards.

6. Menus & Signs

Grazing stations, while beautiful and decorative, can also be overwhelming to guests if the foods aren’t labeled. It’s never a fun moment grabbing what you think is one type of cheese, and realizing it’s something else.

So to alleviate any confusion (and avoid food allergies), you can dress up the presentation of your grazing station by using stylish menus and small signs that indicate what each item is. You can use picture frames to hold the menu, or toothpick labels to place on top of different cheeses, fruits, etc.

This makes it easy for guests to identify their favorite hors d’oeuvres without having to ask. 

7. Stick to Bite-Sized Food

Grazing stations are designed for serving finger foods. They’re meant for mingling, socializing, and snacking. So you should stick to hors d’oeuvres and bite sized foods that are easy to eat. 

Larger dishes should be served separately, location-wise, as anything larger will be difficult for guests to manage and eat while milling about the event.  It’s best to cut cheeses and fruits into bite-sized pieces so they’re easy to eat. 

8. There’s Always Time for Dessert!

After noshing on savory foods, most guests want something sweet; and adding desserts to your grazing station is a great way to add variety.

You can pick out one or two desserts or chocolates for your grazing station that will complement the savory finger foods.  Whether you’re looking for something sweet and simple like mini tarts and cookies–or decadent like truffles and caramels, you can find something to satisfy everyone looking for something sweet.

Grazing stations are such a great choice to add to your next gathering. They’re accessible, full of variety, a great focal point, and are always crowd-pleasers.  And now you are ready to plan your next event with these tips and tricks!

Buuut…If you don’t have the  time or mojo to set up your own grazing station we’re here to help. 

When it comes to providing beautiful and delicious stations, we’ve got your back!

Contact us to bring your catered event to life. 


Sweet Basil Catering