Go through your guest list to determine how many plates and forks you’ll need. After counting, increase the number by 25 to 50 percent, as some guests may go back for a second plate of food or drop a fork they need to replace.
Take out your plates and forks. Go through them one by one to make sure they are all clean. If they have not been used lately and have gathered some dust or grime, wash and dry them before the event. Omit this step if you're using disposable plates or flatware.
Set up your tables and decide which direction the buffet line will travel. Stack your plates on the end of the table where the line begins.
Polish metal forks with a soft cotton cloth to remove fingerprints and make them shine.
Decide on a holder for the forks. One option is to lay them on a flat tray with the other cutlery. Another option that will save table space is to put them in a sturdy small vase or mug, like a bouquet of flowers. A final alternative is to bundle a fork with other flatware and cutlery and roll them up in a napkin. Tie a ribbon around the bundle.
Place forks, other flatware and napkins at the opposite end of the table from the plates, so guests can pick these up after filling their plates. This gives them less to carry while serving themselves.