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all in the presentation how to pretty up your party food table by Yee-Fan Sun | 1 2 3
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7 Higher and higher. Sure, that table might be flat (and, er, really should be) but there's no reason all your food has to sit on the same plane. Think vertical as you're setting out your party spread and you'll end up with a far more attractive table. Sturdy hors-d'oeuvres and sweets can be mounded up on their plates, but to get even more height out of your food, keep an eye out for tiered servers and footed platters at thrift stores, yard sales and flea markets. No luck there? Fake it. One of my favorite tricks is to make a pedestal by popping a plate on an upside-down cereal-type bowl; use a little poster-gum to keep things from slipping and sliding too much, and make sure the bowl provides enough of a base to support the plate. Use the same technique by pairing a small plate with a small bowl or cup -- heck, I've even used a white plastic container before -- and popping the whole shebang on a big plate, again making judicious use of poster-gum to keep the elements together.

8 Pitcher this. If you're serving juice at your shindig, it's a nice touch to transfer the juice to a pitcher rather than setting the carton directly out on the table; the carton always gets kind of sticky and gross after a few pours, and it's generally not all that attractive to begin with. I also like to include a water pitcher -- toss in some sliced lemons, limes, maybe even some strawberries if you're feeling extra schmancy.

9 Cloth beats paper. Set out cloth napkins instead of paper. This might not be practical if you're doing a cocktail party for 40, but for smaller fetes, fabric napkins just look so much more elegant than their disposable paper cousins. For extra brownie points, use napkin rings. Start collecting them when you're out thrift store shopping, or go makeshift with ribbon.

o o o

Garnishes, cloth napkins, tiered serving plates -- all this might seem like an awful fuss over things that are so teeny that most of your friends won't even notice. But trust me, when it comes to presentation, all those little details will add up. They're the difference between just another ho-hum gathering, and something kinda special.


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