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How to pick the right serving accessories

Linda Melone, CSCS, is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and certified personal trainer based in Orange County, CA. Visit her website at www.LindaMelone.com.

Keep serving simple

Imagine attending a black tie affair in a floor-length gown… while wearing a pair of combat boots. It’s not a good move if you’re trying to impress. The same holds true for preparing a nice meal. The serving accessories you choose can either complement or work against all your hard work. Here’s how to make the right choices.

woman setting table for dinner

Step 1: Consider the theme

If you're serving a particular type of ethnic food, such as sushi or Mexican, you'll want pieces that reflect that theme. Japanese food suggests minimalist pieces and simple lines such as beautiful bowls and chopsticks to go along with your simple food choices. Fiery Mexican food calls for bright colors that reflect the upbeat, fun energy of a festive taco night. Antiques and Depression glass would fit in with a traditional brunch or casual lunch.

Step 2: Take a head count

How many people will attend the gathering? If it's just you and your husband, you won't need large serving platters and can go with smaller plates. If it's you and 10 of your best girlfriends for drinks and finger food, make sure you have enough glasses, small bowls, plates and fun napkins. Special occasions with family call for large serving platters appropriate for containing larger amounts of food. Don't forget dessert plates for birthday cake.

Step 3: Family or buffet style

Family style service refers to placing dinner in the middle of the table and everyone helping themselves without getting up from their seats. Family style requires big serving platters and bowls, which must be able to fit in the center of the table and still allow room for guests' dinner place settings, which can include a dinner plate and soup bowl, up to three beverage glasses, a bread-and-butter plate and forks and spoons. Buffet style is more casual and works great when serving a large group of people. Buffet style requires large serving pieces with backup pieces waiting in the kitchen as refills. Simple, adaptable serving pieces work best.

Step 4: Coordinate with your home decor

Serving pieces should coordinate with your personal and home style. Unless you've chosen a themed party, go with a style that complements your surroundings. Metal, black and leather modern furniture calls for simple, modern plates and serving utensils. Traditional furnishings and dark woods go well with China and more formal settings. Natural wood and teak serving pieces coordinate well with a Tommy Bahama style home with casual furnishings.

Creating a visual feast with interesting serving pieces is guaranteed to enhance the food you serve!

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Fun accent pieces for spring place settings
8 Simple place card ideas

How to set an outdoor table

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