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Discussion Starter #1
Below is my artist rendering of my problem. I due a buffet style for our H-ween party. When we put things out in bowls (chips, cheese puffs, etc), the shape of the bowls creates "Dead Space" between them (distinguished by the red arrows). If you're like me, space on a buffet is at a premium and I can't afford to waste any space. Does any body have a remedy for this or experienced this prob before?

I was thinking of a bowl or container with sides that are straight up and down but I'm not trying to spend much more money than needed.

Criteria for a solution should be affordable , and easy, but any and all suggestion welcome.

Thanks, Marc V.

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Cardboard boxes, covered in red-and-white striped paper -- make it yourself with white paper and paint bloody stripes. Line the insides with tin foil. If you spend a little time, it won't look cheesy at all.
Other paper ideas: Dollar store gift wrap in solid colors (it's a carnival, after all). Print out scary clowns, etc., and paste to the boxes.
Glue a plastic lei to the edges if you want to make it ruffly (is that a word?), or trim with paper tape for a finished look.
 

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U can also grab popcorn bags (dollar tree has them like 8 or 10 per bag) or just grab white lunch bags at Walmart (they have them where they keep the zip lock baggies)...u can use a carnival fonts and run them through the printer...popcorn, peanuts...u can even make some plastic baggies with cotton candy. I've seen on pinterest how you can drape some string on the wall above your table and then use clothes pins to hold the cotton candy bags, very cute.

U could also use the box idea mentioned above as risers for your bowls so everything is at different levels
 

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I think you are primarily asking how to maximize the space lost over the bowls for the buffet. You got some great ideas on décor already. Are you set on having all the things on the buffet lined up straight like a restaurant buffet? We just set bowls haphazardly on the table and let people reach over things. that way I am able to put smaller bowls and containers in the extra space. I have lots of Halloween theme bowls and containers in various colors.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Are you set on having all the things on the buffet lined up straight like a restaurant buffet? .
Not really. We tend to put out several types of chips (plain, BBQ, Sour Cream & Onion, Salt & Vinegar ETC) to give folks a choice. I think the biggest prob is the shape of the bowls and them being all round and all the same size. I may try to go square with straight sides and that way I can use several sizes...kida like a big Tetris puzzle.
 

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Giving height to some things makes extra space. Bowls turned over to create a base for height thus giving room to utilize space between the bowls. I've found some metal candle holders (mine has 5 "trays" at different heights) and I use smaller bowls stuck on with tacky putty to secure them to the holders to serve dips.
You can also use wooden crates to give height, even laying them on the side so you can utilize the space inside too.
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A multi-tiered plate rack server can provide several levels for items like cupcakes, appetizers, etc. They are usually made to fit a plate securely using a ring support. When it needs refilling you just pull out the empty plate and load the next plate of food on it. It also serves to give visual height to the table display making it look more interesting. There are also cheap Wilton multi-tiered servers done up in halloween designs like a haunted house for a more disposable version.
 

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Same as Ghost of Spookie, my wife has multi-tier plate and cupcake holders that saves a lot of space on the dessert table.
I like the decorated square box idea that was mewntioned - can't get any more space efficient than that!
With some hardware drawer handles and a bit of lumber you could make a small casket and divied it inside for the snacks. Handy for storage afterwards as well.
Thinking outside the box, here...how about some stackable vertical laundry/toy bins? They have lips to prevent things from falling out and aren't that deep, maybe get three tiers high and still see what's inside and easy to scoop snacks out.
 

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Bethany's idea (above) is great. We do 2 tiers of food as well. I have the weirdest Halloween bowls/serving dishes (nothing messes up a buffet table like an oval serving dish) and because of that we use tiers to off-set our bowls. Try different levels, that way you don't have to switch your bowls out.
 

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Hello Ravenswork69,

First of all talk about some great ideas! Wow . . . I agree with Bethany about adding height to your buffet table and I've even used heavy duty cardboard boxes covered with cloth to raise up my dishes. Like some of the other's pointed out--go to Dollar Tree and you'll be amazed at the containers you'll find. But here are my two suggestions:

1. Put any veggies and even the dip in pretty or holiday glasses and you'll be amazed at how much room you'll gain on your table. Plus try a few different sizes of glasses to see which ones are good for getting carrot sticks out easily.

2. I've done catered meals for a lot of groups and church dinners and the one thing that always seems to work for me--make your table accessible to both sides if you can. Place your easy to grab items in tall or raised up containers (chips, crackers, popcorn) and build outwards with your dips, hot foods and other smaller containers. People will think they've gone to a feast and you'll look like a pro!

Play around with your table and see if the position or placement will give you more options. Don't forget to borrow dishes and serving stands from friends or family. It saves you tons of money and storage!! Lol.

Giggleingghost or GG
 
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