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Food, glorious food! It can make or break an event. We all know it needs to taste amazing, but then there’s the concept that we eat with our eyes. When it comes to food, presentation matters! In fact, studies show that people report that food actually tastes better with a visually appealing presentation.

Whether you’re working with a party planner or hosting an event yourself, don’t forget to put effort into making sure your food displays are unique and beautiful.

Here are nine tips for displaying food at your event.

1. Make it Instagram Worthy

This is a good rule of thumb when displaying food because food bloggers are masters at posting well-presented dishes that get mouths watering and followers liking and commenting. A great way to gain inspiration is to search hashtags on Instagram and see how professional chefs and caterers are displaying food in creative ways. When looking at your food ask yourself, “Is this Instagram worthy?”

2. Match Presentation to Event Theme

Everything at your event should be cohesive and flow well, including the food. One way to wow your guests with presentation is to make sure your food displays match your event theme in some way. Having a beach-themed wedding? Perhaps you’d consider a food tower that resembles a sandcastle and a cake with seashells on it instead of flowers. Having an all-white event? Very light-colored plates and foods could flow best with your theme. Planning a whimsical fairytale party? Floral plates and lots of green foods might be the best choice.

3. Think 5-Star Restaurant

Five-star restaurant chefs usually have their entrée presentation down to a science. Channel their creativity when creating your meals or working with a caterer. They have certain rules that result in decadent displays such as: creating height on the plate, cutting meat horizontally, playing with textures and using contrasting colors. Think of every meal as a masterpiece.

4. Choose Proper Dinnerware

Part of creating a beautiful meal display is choosing the right plates and utensils. This includes the right plate size, color and style. The plate serves as the canvas for your masterpiece. Something with vibrant colors might look most appetizing on a white plate. Choosing plates and foods that are similar in color can help accomplish a monochromatic look.

5. Do Food Buffets Right

Food buffets can look extremely beautiful or extremely messy. If you decide to have a food, dessert or treat buffet at your event, make sure everything is thoughtfully placed or else it will look messy and disheveled. Vary the height of the food/desserts, have a clear beginning, identify the dishes in an artistic way, save utensils for last, position everything strategically and have Instagram-worthy decorations and backdrops.

6. Think Small Portions

Smaller portion sizes are much easier to style and arrange on a plate and give an overall fancier feel to the dish. You’ll notice this concept playing out at almost every elite restaurant. A good rule of thumb is to have no more than six elements on a dish to prevent it from looking overcrowded or messy.

7. Decorate with Edible Garnishes

Garnishing dishes with part of the meal is the perfect way to elevate the taste and look at the same time. Be careful not to over garnish. Some popular garnishes include herbs and leaves, roots and greens, edible flowers, fruits and veggies, purees and sauces. Garnishes can make all the difference in your food presentation.

8. Keep it Simple

Nothing ruins a plate display like a clutter of food. Less is more in this case. Try to focus on one ingredient and leave enough “white space” for a simple, yet elegant look. This will also make your dishes more photogenic and social media-worthy, which we all know is of high importance these days.

9. Don’t Forget About Taste

Food presenting and plating is elevated to “artistic craft status” because it’s all about creating the perfect balance that looks right and tastes delicious. It’s important not to focus so much on one of these elements that you forget about the other. The food should be arranged in a way that looks beautiful and tastes even better. Maintain balance!

When you look back at photos and videos of your big event, you’ll be glad you took the food presentation seriously. It will be satisfying to see your guests’ reactions as they see the food displays and start snapping pictures. It will be even more satisfying to see their reaction after that first bite.

Whether you’re planning a corporate conference, micro wedding, or birthday event in DC, Dallas, or Los Angeles, contact our event planning team to help make your event—and food–positively unforgettable.