Party Design Basics – Simple Ideas To Dress Up Food Presentation

Today we’re back to our Party Design Basics Series and this time we’re talking about food presentation. You can’t have a party without food, right! So why not make it more appetizing by adding a few extra embellishments to the buffet display.

It’s great to add some designer items to your selection, which are already beautifully decorated, but when you need to dress up homemade or store bought items it’s as easy as 1,2,3. I’ll show you some of the ways I’ve dressed up food in both sweet and savory offerings, in hopes that you’ll add some extra pizazz to your next celebration. Let’s start with the sweets….

  • Cookie cutters are available in a seemingly endless number of shapes and can add a lot of bang for your buck when you use them for more than just cutting cookies. Here I’ve used a flower shape to cut out sandwich pops for a kids princess party. Actually kids AND adults love these shaped sandwiches for birthdays, tea parties, baby or bridal showers, etc. Since I used peanut butter here {which is sticky} I was able to make “wands” by inserting a lollipop stick inside – even cuter! Other uses for shaped cutters: cut out fruit, cheese, brownies, or pie crust {see below}.
  • Cake pops are all the rage {Still!} and you can make them yourself and dress them up with melted chocolate. For this party I dipped them in blue chocolate and then drizzled with pink to coordinate with the party colors. It’s easy to create a zig-zag pattern using a squirt bottle filled with melted chocolate. You can also do swirls, dots, or simply sprinkle on edible pearls while the base chocolate is still soft.

  • Dressing up cupcakes seems to be the most classic and popular idea, with good reason – everyone loves cupcakes! Above I’ve used 2 different methods to add embellishments to simple frosted cupcakes. On the left I used chocolate molds to form keys and place on top. The cupcake on the right has a free form chocolate embellishment {see how to make them here}. I love this idea because it’s kind of like getting 2 desserts in one!


  • Some presentations are as simple as planning ahead and adding a flag! For this ice cream party all I did was pre-scoop the ice cream and top it off with diy ribbon flags. This sitting on the table is FAR more attractive than a commercial carton of ice cream.
  • For the mini pies I used tiny cookie cutters to cut out some of the crust. The shape of the cutout mimics the flavor of the pies and the dough can be attached to the pie itself or used as garnish. Once again, mini fabric flags top it all off.


  • When all else fails, go with individual portion sizes for a fun display and easy grabbing. Everything seems tastier when it’s in a smaller portion size – even salad and beans! Why not serve little ceasar salads in glass votive holders or shot glasses, or fill 4 oz canning jars with baked beans for a summer cookout. As guests move through the buffet line it’s easy to just pick up and keep moving.



The possibilities are endless when you use the tools that are readily available like cookie cutters, squirt bottles, piping supplies, sprinkles, etc. Get creative and have fun with your food. If you embellish those cupcakes, no one will ever know you bought them at the grocery store bakery!


For more inspiration, follow me on Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook. Cheers!


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  1. Beatriz says

    Chris, fantastic tips as usual. You opened up my mind as for cookie cutters. I have lots of them and I have been endlessly trying to bake the perfect cookie and to be true I am hopeless. My recipes are good tasting but as for the looks … forget about it. The reason that I keep trying to bake them myself is because I love healthy, fresh cookies) but since I read your previous post on party planning I decided I’ll find a great cookie baker and designer and I’ll by from her and as for my cookie cutters they’ll be useful for other purposes. They can even be a template for cutting paper :)

  2. says

    Great ideas! I particularly love the edible container ideas! One less thing to clean up and one more appetizer for guests to enjoy. Thanks for sharing!