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When you have guests coming over for cocktails or you're preparing a big holiday spread, you want to present your food in the best, most appetizing, way possible. But does that always mean serving it with simple bowls and platters? Food looks great when it's presented in a unique way which makes it so much more appealing.

Rethink your table by using a variety of serving ideas for your next soiree or creating your own one-of-a-kind serving pieces.

Elevate

Caterers know that one of the keys to making food look more appealing is the raise it up. Elevating your food helps to break up the horizontal plane of your dinner table, buffet or island and makes the food look even more tempting. Take cheeses, tortes or quiches to new heights by placing on a fruit stand or footed cake plate. If you have crackers or breadsticks, place them in a tall vase to raise their service standards. Adding in some height adds interest, making your dish more appealing once it's off the level service field.

If you just love a certain platter, purchase bun furniture feet from your local home center, spray paint to match your platter and then add adhesive glue dots before placing your platter on top. You won't be able to pick the platter up, but it will be elevated and the glue dots will keep it from sliding. For the handy types, make simple boxes with feet at varying heights, stain and you have a pedestal for bowls, platters, or dinner plates that make your meal service a standout.

Be natural

Food is a part of nature and nature offers a variety of ways to serve it. Rather than the same old wooden cutting board, place breads or foods on a large banana leaf. If you have a downed tree in the yard, use an inch-plus thick sawn piece of tree stump for a rustic plate stand. Have an interesting piece of drift wood? Give it a shot of gold or silver paint and find a bowl that fits in it to serve dips or sauces. Small appetizer bites go well on artichoke leaves that stand in for serving spoons and are biodegradable. Or, serve small salads on leaves; just make sure that they're safe and non-toxic, such endive or romaine leaves, banana or artichoke.

Improvise

If you're serving punch or other drinks, use a glass canister instead of a punch bowl. It not only looks great, it also has a lid which is perfect for using outdoors and keeping bugs away. Salads and dips can also be served in glass canisters.

For pourable snack or nut mixes, ditch the bowl and use a narrow necked clear flower vase instead. The neck makes for easy grabbing and pouring but stops fingers from reaching in.

For a true surprise, put your glass candle hurricanes to work as serving pieces. Hurricanes on pedestals look especially good when food is served in them. Take out the candle and use the glass portion to serve up dips or sauces with panache.

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