Once you’ve decided what to serve, you need to decide how you are going to serve it. Once again you will be governed by how many people are attending and how much room and equipment you have available. If you are just having a few friends over, you will probably be quite happy to hand round the food yourself (or perhaps enlist a couple of friends to help). For a larger gathering you might decide to set up a buffet table, or even to hire waiting staff – either of these options obviously gives you much more freedom on the day.

If you are handing food round, whether you are providing plates or not, make sure to always have plenty of napkins handy. If you aren’t providing plates, make sure there’s somewhere for people to get rid of used cocktail sticks etc.

If you are using buffet table, you will need to give its layout some thought. For a large gathering, if you have the space and tables, it is a good idea to set up two tables so that everyone isn’t together queuing together. If this isn’t possible, set up your one table with duplicate dishes starting from each end so people work from both sides. Have plates, forks, napkins etc. available at each end and, if you are serving food, set it up on a separate table.

The whole idea is not to create a traffic jam. So don’t set the buffet table right next to the drinks table or people will get under each other’s feet. And, rather than making a general announcement that the food is served, you might want to gradually invite people over to the table in smaller groups.

Once again, make sure there is somewhere for people to leave their dirty plates.