Whether you’re throwing a backyard barbeque or an old-school movie night, build-your-own food bars are guaranteed crowd-pleasers. Simply set up food stations a la carte, and let party-goers build their own bites. Not only will it get guests involved—they can fix their plates based on dietary restrictions and preferences—but it takes the pressure off you as the hostess, too. Need some inspo? From bruschetta to s’mores, these do-it-yourself food stations are sure to impress at your next party.
Build-Your-Own Bruschetta Bar
Brimming with seasonal produce, cured meats, and cheeses, this build-your-own bruschetta bar from Olivia’s Cuisine is the perfect appetizer for laid-back summer gatherings.
DIY Taco Bar
DIY Popcorn Bar
Movie night made easy. Featuring sweet and savory toppings, this do-it-yourself popcorn bar from Family Fresh Meals is sure to appeal to kids and adults alike. Planning a grown-ups only evening? Opt for elevated flavors like buttered sriracha or rosemary parmesan.
DIY Dip Bar
This DIY dip bar from What’s Gaby Cooking is a snap to put together and feeds a crowd (even the most picky eaters) with ease. All you need are a handful of store-bought spreads—like guacamole, salsa, tzatziki, and hummus—plus veggies, pita chips, and crostini for dipping.
Build-Your-Own Burger Bar
Burgers are a backyard cookout staple. Save yourself some time, and let guests assemble their own. Take inspo from Completely Delicious, and fill your table with with freshly grilled patties, buns, toppings, and condiments.
DIY Donut Hole Bar
Donut holes are the penultimate pop ‘em and eat ‘em treat. Have some fun with your food (sorry, mom) by decorating them yourself. Brit + Co suggests filling ramekins with vanilla frosting, chocolate sauce, caramel, and sprinkles (we’d add chopped nuts and crushed candy, too). Then, simply dip and decorate.
DIY Bagel Bar
Take your brunch game to the next level with a DIY bagel bar. Camille Styles suggests a buffet-style setup with fresh mini bagels and traditional accompaniments like cream cheeses, smoked salmon, capers, herbs, tomatoes, and cucumbers.
DIY Trail Mix Bar
Get guests of all ages in on the fun with a kid-friendly trail mix station. Pro tip: Bless This Mess fills cupcake tins with dried fruit, seeds, nuts, and candies, so party-goers can create their own combinations.
Make-Your-Own Salad Bar
Summertime often calls for lighter fare. For your next ladies luncheon, consider a make-your-own salad bar, like this one from A Couple Cooks, starring seasonal veggies, chopped egg, and homemade dressing.
DIY S’mores Bar
Nothing says summer like s’mores. This do-it-yourself bar from What’s Gaby Cooking puts a creative spin on the campfire classic by adding bananas, strawberries, peaches, dulce de leche, and peanut butter cups. How sweet is that?