How to display food names at a party

Written by nan kimberling
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How to display food names at a party
Labelling dishes on a buffet table can help those with food allergies make appropriate dining choices. (some appetizing food image by Ricardo Verde Costa from

Displaying food and dish name information at a dinner or buffet party is a helpful convenience for diners. Options are available to the host for ordering reusable table signage or creating their own, through computer templates or by hand, and then displaying on themed or traditional food safe holders.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Choice of laminated or paper name cards
  • Signage display holders or anchors
  • Food safe marker if hand printing
  • Dishes name and ingredient information

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  1. 1

    Decide on the buffet table menu and the positioning of the offered party or buffet food. Consider grouping into categories such as entrées, salads or casseroles. Display a large card holder or table sign with the food dish group information centrally located within each area to designate it clearly.

  2. 2

    Take into account the necessary characteristics of the dish to be named when choosing the placard or table sign type desired for each individual dish. Paper place cards work fine for display near salads or cold entrées, however, they might shrivel and become unreadable from condensation on a buffet steam table of hot dishes. Small laminated signage displayed on a dish itself or on an anchored display fork or hanging holder is best choice for steam table choices.

  3. 3

    Choose the method of printing once the type of signage has been decided upon. Online companies such as Imprint Plus can fill small or large orders for single use or reusable buffet signs. Computer programs such as Microsoft Office and its Word program offer templates for party table signage if the self-producing of paper stock signage is desired. Handwritten signage can also work.

  4. 4

    Set up the signage throughout the buffet display table so that no hazards are created. Keep signage away from direct contact with heating elements, ice structures or ice-filled displays to prevent melting or damage. If anchoring signage onto a dish vessel directly, ensure that the anchor is food-grade-safe plastic or metal which will not react adversely with acidic foods or high heat.

  5. 5

    Place table stand signage directly in front of the item it is specifying and keep it shorter than the serving vessel height. Center it to not be in the path of either a left handed or right handed diner serving themselves. If anchoring signage, place the sign at the rear of the serving vessel for best viewing or anchor a hanging sign to the front of the serving vessel to hang down outside of the dish and out of serving way. This will keep the sign from being knocked over repeatedly into the food itself.

  6. 6

    Wash and sterilise all reusable buffet signage before using them again.

Tips and warnings

  • Ingredients that can commonly be allergens, such as nuts, gluten and seafood, and that are not easily detected by sight within the dish are ideal candidates to be pointed out on buffet signage beneath the food name information. Information concerning food preparations, such as sugar-free items and kosher items, should be added to the signage for the diner's knowledge as well.
  • Use a food-safe marker to print the buffet card signage if hand printing is to be done.

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