Ultimate Family Style Dinner Guide

One of the biggest decisions to make while planning an event is whether the main meal should be plated or buffet. Each has its own pros and cons, but there is another service style that is making a big comeback and is very trendy in events both large and small: the family-style service.

During a family-style service, food is brought to the tables in serving bowls, platters, and baskets, where guests are invited to pass them around, helping themselves as they go.  Mimicking the feel of a large family gathering, family-style is perfect for encouraging guests to mingle with their neighbors and creating a sense of intimacy.  It’s also a great opportunity for guests to try as much or as little of the menu as they’d like.

Family-style is a unique alternative to traditional buffets and plated-style service, where guests get the best of both worlds — the social, casual self-service of a buffet mixed with the elegance and comfort of plated service. Because of this casual elegance, family-style can work well for a variety of events, from the backyard to the ballroom and everything in between.  The style especially lends itself to ultra-popular Farm-to-Table menus, really enhancing the authentic dining experience.

Ready to start planning your next family-style gathering but not sure where to start?  We curated a collection of bowls, platters, plates, baskets and serving pieces that are perfect for passing. 


To help the family-style meal run smoothly, try using bowls, platters, and baskets that are large enough to hold the right amount of food but light enough that guests can pass them with ease.  Our Melamine and Tin collections are especially great for this!  

Since the platters and bowls will be on the table throughout the course or meal, you’ll want to make sure you have enough room for all of the serving pieces on the table in addition to the place settings and any decor.  Clients will often use larger-width tables for this, but you could also opt for smaller pieces of decor or even by creatively incorporating some food items right into the design.  

Lastly, don’t forget to have enough of the correct serving utensils for each each dish.  It sounds obvious, but it’s always worth a second look!

For more information please contact our Event Rental Specialists.