Don’t get us wrong: We love a family-style potluck as much as the next person. But we have to admit that there’s something a little bit special about breaking from the mold and trying something new. Enter the make-it-yourself station, perfect for literally any manner of food and drink your hosting heart desires. From doughnuts to mini blinis to mimosas and Bloody Marys, the sky is the limit here. Our favorite part? The DIY bar setup allows you to relieve yourself of some of the serving duties while creating a festive focal point. To inspire your next party, we’ve rounded up 16 delightfully delicious options. Scroll on!
A bowl of soba noodles is the perfect meal for a casual gathering of friends. Bonus: These make for seriously tasty work week leftovers.
You’ll Need: Pre-prepared pot of soba noodles, chopped veggie (radishes, carrots, scallions, avocado), nuts, soy ginger dipping sauce, and garnishes (basil, cilantro, black sesame seeds).
See complete instructions on Camille Styles.
An assortment of light and refreshing crudité is the perfect way to welcome guests and invite some low-key mingling.
You’ll Need: Jars filled with cleaned, peeled, and thinly chopped raw vegetables. Place small bowls of thick sea salt, hummus, and ranch dipping sauces in nearby bowls.
See how one couple used this setting at their wedding on Style Me Pretty.
A taco bar is one of the easiest ways to feed a large group of people and keep it super casual and fun. It works just as well for a daytime or dinnertime gathering!
You’ll Need: Taco shells, proteins (skirt steak, chicken, shrimp, etc.), vegetarian options (roasted veggies and beans), different salsas, queso, guacamole, chopped vegetables (lettuce, tomatoes, onions, jalapenos, radishes), sour cream, chopped cilantro, and sliced limes.
See complete instructions over on Waiting on Martha.
Gathering for brunch? A bagel bar with lots of options and all the fixings ensures everyone is a happy camper.
You’ll Need: Fresh, day-of bagels; a variety of cream cheeses; thinly sliced veggies (tomatoes, radishes, onions, cucumbers); capers; fresh herbs (dill, chives, basil); smoked salmon; and coarse sea salt (to sprinkle over the vegetables).
Find more instructions and recipes for the bagel bar on Bon Appétit.
A perfect Bloody is a thing of beauty. But it's also a very personal affair. Allow your guests to stir one up to their unique taste and liking.
You’ll Need: Bloody Mary mix (homemade, preferably), vodka and/or tequila for choice of liquor, fixings of every variety (olives, pickled green beans, peppers, celery stalks, pepperoncini, etc.), glasses, and straws or stirrers to mix it all up.
See more of this pretty party setup at Style Me Pretty.
Ideal for a ladylike affair like a bridal or baby shower, a yogurt parfait bar is simple to pull together, easy on the eyes, and health-conscious, to boot.
You’ll Need: Chilled yogurt (plain or Greek), fresh berries, a variety of different granolas, slivered almonds, shredded dried coconut, raw honey to drizzle, and small bowls and spoons.
Head to Style Me Pretty to see the sweet bridal shower where we found this yogurt parfait bar in action.
Lend a sophisticated vibe to your revelry with a martini bar outfitted with lots of crisp glass vessels.
You’ll Need: Vodka, gin, Lillet, dry vermouth, olive juice, cucumber slices, olives, lemon twists, ice, stirrers, and a strainer.
See how the Sunday Suppers team styled this rustic Italian martini bar.
OXO Steel Cocktail Strainer ($7)
The Hawthorne strainer, as this is called, features a disc or "rim" with two stabilizing prongs, and on its underside is a metal coil spring that fits snuggly into a mixing tin, filtering the ice out. Traditionally, this is used with a mixing tin, rather than a glass.
Okay, how fun is this? Ensure your churro bar feels elegant, rather than campy, by keeping the palate of decorations creamy and minimalist.
You’ll Need: Churros (store-bought or homemade), chocolate dipping sauces, and parchment paper cones to wrap the churros.
Head to Coco+Kelley for more instructions and a homemade churro recipe.
Yes, a doughnut station is totally a thing. Go wild with the topping options, and prepare for a sugar rush. Harmless enough, right?
You’ll Need: Plain or lightly glazed doughnuts (homemade or store-bought), a variety of toppings (sprinkles, chocolate slivers, shredded coconut, crushed Oreos, melted semisweet chocolate), cake stands, and platters.
Visit Kelsey Rae Designs for more details on getting the look of this garden-setting doughnut party.
Make your guests feel like culinary masters by outfitting them with everything they'll need to create a divine blini, caviar and all.
You’ll Need: Blinis (store-bought or homemade), caviar, crème fraîche, a variety of garnishes (chives and radishes), and small plates or cocktail napkins.
See more on Sunday Suppers.
Five sangrias are better than one, right? Right. Especially when the flavor combinations include guava and blood orange.
You’ll Need: Carafes of various sangrias with fruit already steeping, fresh fruit to mix and match in drinks, and glasses.
See more details of this sweet party setting on Style Me Pretty.
Though a sushi bar may sound intimidating, it's actually totally accessible: Good, fresh takeout sushi arranged beautifully will make everyone ooh and ah. Just make sure to keep it chilly (spoiled sushi does not a successful party make).
You’ll Need: A large vessel with lots of crushed ice, freshly made takeout sushi, small bowls for ginger, wasabi, soy sauce, palm leaves for displaying individual sushi bowls, and tongs.
See more from this party over at Style Me Pretty.
Want to make your spread seem utterly bountiful, without committing to hour-long preparations? Stock up on all sorts of bruschetta toppings, arrange in the manner of an Italian feast, and watch everyone go to town. Easy peasy.
You’ll Need: Grilled bread, lots of chopped vegetables (tomatoes, artichokes, arugula, sautéed mushrooms, caramelized onions, etc.), various meats (prosciutto and salami) and cheese (burrata, ricotta, goat cheese), a variety of sauces (basil vinaigrette, red pepper sauce, tomato confit, pea pesto, etc.), lots of small bowls, and small plates.
Head to What’s Gaby Cooking for the full instructions for assembling the bruschetta bar.
The perfect piece of toast needs the perfect cutting board to serve it on. I love this board from Heath Ceramics; it's simple, thick, and modern. Plus, it adds a little rusticity without compromising style.
Edward Wohl Edward Wohl Maple Cutting Board ($155)
No major news here: This is a pure summertime classic. Elevate the staple by throwing in a few ingredient additions, and light up that fire pit.
You’ll Need: Graham crackers, marshmallows, chocolate, dulce de leche, peaches, bananas, strawberries, peanut butter cups, a fire or flame of some sort, and skewers for roasting.
Visit What’s Gaby Cooking for more instructions.
Who doesn't like mac 'n' cheese? This crowd-pleasing comfort-food favorite will make any dinner party a smash hit.
You’ll Need: A pot of premade macaroni pasta (still piping hot!), a variety of toppings (sautéed mushrooms, green peas, fried onions, bacon bits, green onions), soft cheddars, white truffle oil, salt, and pepper.
See more of this mac 'n' cheese bar in action at Pearl Events Austin.
Guide your guests to the perfect pairing for that comté with this educational and totally pretty presentation.
You’ll Need: Every manner of cheese and pairing options (olives, jams and confitures, crackers, cured meats, bread, tapenades, etc.) and a slate cheese board to specify best suggestions for what goes great with what.
See more of this gorgeous setting over at Alchemy Fine Events.