We show you how to avoid some of the most common serve-yourself snafus.

From Thanksgiving to Christmas and all the potlucks in between, there’s no avoiding the buffet table during the holiday season. Not that we’re complaining! Though they’re more casual than a traditional sit-down meal, we love buffets because they’re simple to organize, easy to navigate, visually appealing, and, when they’re done right, less stress on both the hosts and their guests.

So, this holiday season make sure your buffet goes off without a hitch by avoiding four of the most common serve-yourself snafus.

Holiday Buffet Line
Credit: Getty Images / Erik Stromlund / EyeEm

1. Put Your Accessories in the Right Place

This one is a big one, so listen up. Plates go at the beginning of the table and napkins and silverware go at the end. It makes sense to want to keep all those things together, but nobody appreciates having to juggle their utensils while trying to maneuver a big slice of turkey onto their plate.

2. Float the Table

You might be inclined to push the buffet table against a wall to save space, but please don’t. Floating the table away from walls allows guests access to the dishes from both sides of the table, and helps the whole operation move a lot faster.

3. Designate Serving Spoons

Arriving at the green bean casserole only to find that it’s missing a designated serving utensil can be a frustrating experience for guests. Mistakes like this can interrupt the flow and lead guests to mix utensils—a big no-no if someone in the group has food allergies or sensitivities.

4. Make Space for Lids and Serving Utensils

Even when space is tight, it’s important to make room for lids and serving utensils to hang out when they’re not in use. A small plate or spoon rest nearby should do the trick. And always make sure they’re sufficient space for lids so guests don’t have to juggle them while they’re digging in.