How to style an inviting canapes bar

In my previous post I shared some ideas around a cocktails and canapes menu. What’s also important is how your canapes are served and enjoyed. In this post I’d like to talk about styling a canapes table….or what I call a canapes bar! Here are just some general tips.

Table orientation

Charcuterie Board and Aperol Spritzer

Unless you have the luxury of service staff, or a couple of good friends to walk around with the platters, what I find works best is a stand alone table where guests can help themselves with the canapes from all sides. It’s also an effective way to get your guests to mingle. If it’s a small group of good friends more keen to sit than to stand, a long tapas board in the middle of the table is a great idea.

Serving dishes

Since table space is often limited, using dishes of varying heights will enable you to fit more on your table. It is also aesthetically pleasing. Plates or bowls with legs, and cake stands help to elevate your food and allow you to fit more dishes, taller ones in the middle. Wooden or bamboo boards, and white porcelain platters are great for showcasing your spread.

Party Themes

nasi lemak canapes
Asian canapes, Nasi Lemak, banana leaf

To make the party interesting, you can style the table according to themes: Colour themes such as the grand black and gold or a girly pink; Festive themes such as Christmas or Valentines; or according to the food that you serve…Asian small bites on a table dressed with Thai silk table runner, coconut bowls, and banana leaves in the plating, jam jars filled with jasmine flowers! ….the possibilities are endless!

The order of things

The flow of people around the canapes bar is quite different from that of a buffet table. Think about how your guests will serve themselves and set the table accordingly. Some will eat on the spot, while others may like a small plate on which to put a few canapes. So a few throw bowls around the table in which guests can bin their food picks; serviette holders conveniently located close by; small plates at the head of the table. If you have help to walk around and serve the canapes, they should also have with them the throw bowls and serviettes.


Wine glasses
White wine glasses on table

Always set out all the things you need the night before so that you can see how much space you’ll need and how many platters you can fit on the table. Remember to bring out the table cloths, plates, cutlery, glasses, throw bowls & serviettes, don’t leave them to the last minute. Any table decorations should be done the day before too, from flowers in a vase, to candle holders and other baubles. This way you’ll have the chance to buy anything you’re missing, focus on preparing the food on event day, and still have time to dress up and look fabulous!….Most importantly, remember to chill the drinks!…no drinks no party…Enjoy!!

Champagne, Chilled


Charcuterie board picture from , there’s an interesting post there which talks about organizing an impromptu happy hour with good friends.

The Nasi Lemak on banana leaf is a canape I made for one of my supper club dinners. Picture taken on my iPhone5.

Other pictures from pixabay


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