The buffet meal is most commonly served at dinner time, when we usually call it a supper. There is no reason why the same menu cannot be served at the lunch hour. In the fall, a pre-game luncheon rather than an after-the-game supper may be chosen. Occasionally, the bridge club may be offered a buffet luncheon with a lighter menu than the one usually planned for a mixed group.
For the service of a buffet meal, the dining room table or a large table in the living room may be arranged. It should be spread with an attractive cloth. In general, it is better to omit large vases of flowers, although a few autumn leaves or greens may be laid on the table in such a way that they will not interfere with service. For a large group, if space permits, each side of the table should carry a supply of food in order that two lines may help themselves at once. The order of arrangement should be: first, dinner plates, then main dishes, the vegetable (if served), salad,breads, relishes, silver and napkins. If coffee is to be offered with the main course as well as with the dessert, it is usually more convenient to have a small separate table for its service.
There should always be plenty of small tables around the room in order that guests may eat comfortably without having to balance plates and coffee cups. If these arrangements are made, there will seldom be a criticism of buffet service, even from a conservative man. After the guests have helped themselves, the hostess should see that the serving dishes on the table are refilled or replaced by fresh hot dishes ready for second helpings. It is a convenience to have electric or alcohol warmers, or candle “stoves” where foods can be kept warm at the serving table.
When it is certain that there will be no more demands for the main course dishes, plates should be removed. It is a good idea to ask one of your friends to supervise removal so that plates will not be piled on the buffet table, nor taken to the kitchen individually by too helpful guests. The dessert with the plates and silver for its service are then placed on the buffet table. A friend may be asked to serve this as guests come to the table for it, while another friend may be asked to preside over the coffee table or service. If coffee is offered only at dessert time, there will be plenty of room on the buffet table. If paper napkins have been used, there should be a fresh supply. Guests will not criticize the use of paper, if napkins of the large soft type are supplied, although you may prefer to use linen napkins of lunch or dinner size.