Flexible Entertaining With Serve Yourself Bars

 Flexible Entertaining With Serve Yourself Bars

We love to entertain. Having guests over is such a privilege, but as the host you don’t want to spend all of your time in the kitchen preparing dishes.

We find that a serve yourself bar is a big hit. It takes the worry out of guests with food allergies, picky eaters and guests not liking something that you have prepared.

The beauty of the serve yourself bar is the clean-up afterward. Leftovers can be immediately transferred into storage containers or jars and put aside to make meals out of later that day or the next. Leftover vegetables can be used for soups or stir-fry’s, meat can be used in sandwiches, or you can just do it all again with your family and this time use ingredients you didn’t the first time around.   The other fabulous thing is that you don’t need to put all of the food out at once.  Bowls can be re-filled as they begin to run low, this ensures that food stays fresher for longer before serving.  Warm dishes can be kept in the oven to stay warm and refrigerator items can be kept cooler longer.

Here are a few ideas on hosting a serve yourself bar:

The Brunch Bar

Set up a parfait station with yogurt, assorted fresh fruit and granola. Also put out a selection of muffins, scrambled eggs, bacon, grilled vegetables, and toast or English muffins.

The Pizza Bar

We all know that most people are very set in their ways when it comes to pizza toppings. Some like plain pepperoni or cheese, others (like me) love a gourmet pizza with lots of vegetables. Serve toppings in individual bowls and let your guests decide how they want theirs.

The Salad Bar


Last weekend we had friends over for a barbecue. I didn’t want to dish up an assortment of salads and then run the risk of a lot of leftovers. Salad doesn’t keep very well once pre-made, especially if you have added a dressing to it. So instead I set out a bowl of gourmet lettuce, and smaller bowls of toppings: champagne vinegar dressing, grilled pears, crumbled blue cheese and candied walnuts.  We also had grilled corn on the side. It was a big hit.

Next time you are entertaining guests give this a try.  You could also make it a pot-luck.  Let your guests know what the theme will be and have each bring a bowl of their favorite toppings, be sure to get a list though, or offer a list of suggested items so you don’t end up with 10 bowls of pepperoni.

Some of our favorite serve yourself bars have been:

  • Brunch bar
  • Taco bar
  • Pasta bar
  • Slider bar
  • Salad bar
  • Ice cream bar
  • Pizza bar

Have you entertained with a serve yourself bar? Tell us in the comments!

More Content You will Enjoy

About Tonya Staab

Tonya Staab is a freelance writer and the creative mind behind Create-Celebrate-Explore, a lifestyle blog that inspires parents to craft, cook, travel, and celebrate every day with their children.

What do you think?