Outdoor Buffet Entertaining Idea: Serving Guests

When using paper plates when entertaining, try this easy idea that will help guests when serving food buffet style.

Are you planning to host family and friends for a BBQ or two over the summer? 

I am planning exactly that, along with millions of other Americans on the 4th of July.  I love to entertain outdoors – it is much more casual and carefree and always buffet style.

No formal tables to set or china to wash afterwards – just easy, fun, summertime living.

4th-of-July-Decorating-Ideas when serving guests at a backyard BBQ buffet style.

My go-to outdoor entertaining idea to help guests coordinate all the items on the buffet table is to tie the utensils to the plate.

This is practical as well as pretty and makes one “easy-to-carry” package instead of guests fumbling for each utensil, plate, and napkin and then a drink.

Easy-Outdoor-Entertaining Ideas

I found the gingham plates and napkins at The Dollar Tree. I decided to add a bit of contrast and use red and white polka dot napkins with the plates instead of all gingham.


To assemble: 

Using a hole punch, punch a hole on one side of a plate.


Then run a piece of ribbon through to tie the flatware and napkin on.

Fourth-of-July-Entertainng Ideas

Place them upright in a large basket or box to hold them so that…

Outdoor-Tablesetting-Ideas using Paper Plates

…it is easy for your guests to grab one thing at the start of the buffet table instead of five.


Now I am almost ready for the 4th – which is only 2 weeks away.  I have to get the grill clean. Anybody have an easy trick to do that messy task?

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  1. What a lovely idea. I often hate trying to carry the fork? , ?spoon, napkins while carrying a plate of food. Thank you for this fabulous idea

  2. Smarty Pants LOL Great idea, as usual!

  3. Su Portsmore says:

    Well depending on the bbq size, putting oven or grill pans in the dishwasher on max really gets rid and loosens the stubborn stuff so one can easily remove it. I don’t put other things in with it though. If they don’t fit, a couple of hours soaking in either soda crystals or if the states have it, Vanish Gold powder.

  4. Liked this so much that I made my version and linked back here.

  5. hello! Congratulations for this wonderful blog… Just a note to say that I borrowed a photo from this post, I put it on a post about parties. If you want that I remove it, just tell me.
    Steffy from Italy

    1. Hi Steffy – No problem with using one photo along with a link back to my post. Thanks for telling me. :)

  6. This is a wonderful idea -Thanks

  7. I love this idea! Thanks for the inspiration. I shared a link to this post on my “favorite finds” for this week.

  8. Lynn Wood says:

    What a smart idea! Although it is kinda fun to watch people juggling a handful of items….you are a very thoughtful hostess!


  9. Another grill cleaning trick: 1 part white vinegar plus 1 part water. Less vinegar works well too. Once the grill is heated up – dip your brush in the mixture and scrub the grill. It cleans your grill good as new! Thx to Martha Stewart for this little nugget!

  10. Love this idea! I love the dollar store even more. Can’t wait to try this at our annual family picnic. Thanks!

  11. Heather - Chickabug says:

    This is SUCH a great idea!! So simple but SO smart and original. Thank you for sharing! : )

  12. The Glamorous Housewife says:

    Are you kidding me? That might be the best idea anyone every had in the history of idea. Well, except maybe the internet. Found you through Pinterest and I am looking forward to perusing the rest of your blog.

    Thanks doll,
    The Glamorous Housewife

  13. Brilliant! I never get tired of your clever ideas.

  14. Designed Decor says:

    What an awesome idea! This makes it so much easier for those trying to make a plate and hold the plastic utensils. This is great for a small party of friends! Also, why is it that we put the utensils at the start? We should put them at the end once the plate is made and the person has a free hand. Just thinking out loud!

  15. LOVE this idea. We do lots of outdoor entertaining here in Australia and this is practical and gorgeous. I’ll definitely be trying this one.

  16. Donna McBroom-Theriot says:

    Darling idea. So glad you shared! Thanks.

  17. Louise in NE OK says:

    Pinned that one…That is most clever idea I’ve seen in a long time!

  18. Angie Simonsen says:

    Now that is a great idea!!! Pinned!
    For the grill – I don’t. My husband handles all things grill related and it’s a perfect arrangement. :)

  19. Christianne says:

    As usual, I love your ideas Diane. So smart looking & sensible!

  20. What a great idea! You always have the best/easiest ideas! Thanks for sharing!

  21. Interior Design Cork says:

    This is a great explanation for the topic “Outdoor Entertaining Idea”.
    Although i am regular visitor of this website and often get unique post for my use.


  22. What a very cute and cleaver idea! Love it! Looks like I will be paying a visit to the dollar store!

  23. Another grill cleaning trick: Soak a Sunday paper in water till its good and wet. Lay it on a hot grill, close the lid and let it be. The paper soaks up a lot of the grease and gunk, and no toxic cleaners.

    Love this idea, wondering why I’ve never done it before!

  24. So cute and so smart. Can’t wait to reuse your wonderful idea!

  25. love you site but HATE the pop up when I first visit it
    would be great not to have to endure that ~ I would rethink it, revenue or no revenue just anoying

    1. I don’t see the pop up, so I guess it’s because I have pop ups turned off except for certain sites, such as catalogues I regularly frequent. You might try that and see if it works.

      1. Hi Martha – thanks for taking the time to reply to this comment XO. My site went wonky when pbcal left the comment. It happened for about 12 hours and only on my home page – the page would disappear after it loaded and an ad would take its place. My tech guy fixed it – back end HTML gobbily gook gone wonky. When I tried to reply by email to the comment – there was no email associated with the name so I have to assume it was a SPAM comment that just got through my SPAM filter. I will never know – but the problem was fixed.

  26. Theresa @DearCreatives says:

    This is perfect for having all your needs together. So many times I have the utensils in the separate container next to the napkins & paper plates! Its nice to have it easily together like this for grabbing & moving on to get your food! Plus it looks so darn cute!! Thanks for sharing!

  27. How Brilliant!!!! I hate when you sit down & then realize you forgot your napkin or utensils. I am sitting here jst shaking my head…having a “well ~duh!!!” moment :0) I am totally doing this this summer for our family reunion!!!! Thanks for sharing!!

  28. Laura @ Laura's Crafty Life says:

    This is so clever! Thanks for sharing this idea. It is definitely one of those ‘why didn’t I think of that?’ kind of ideas! Just one more reason I love your blog. :)

  29. For cleaning the grill, put the racks and any other parts that come out in a big garbage bag, spray with oven cleaner. Let them sit overnight and then spray them off with a hose. Most of the gunk should come off with little or no scrubbing!

    1. Thanks Lorianne – what a easy to do idea that will make cleaning the grungy racks almost clean themselves. Thanks for taking the time to share the trick. XO

    2. Sheryll & Critters. says:

      Oh I so love Diane….. she is just genius…… I mean really.

      I wanted to thank you for answering my question I was going to ask Diane.

      I am still curious as to how this works on the body of the charcoal grill I have…….. please understand that I have been planning this… just scared it will take the enamel off…….. guess not?

      Anyway, I am a coward and I already have the oven cleaner to to this…… say go?

  30. Love this idea! We are having the family over for a cook-out on the 4th and I’m definitely doing this! Thanks!

  31. Great idea Diane. I am helping with grandchildren graduation open houses the next two weekends. I am going to suggest this. We could use school colors for the ties. Now . . . just to find the time to put them together?

    1. Hi Lynne-

      Making them goes fast. Just punch out the holes first, then cut all the ribbon pieces and thread it into the plates. Once you have all that completed – tie the utensils and napkins on. Goes much quicker this way then completing one at a time.