Want to up your game for your next party or get together with friends and family? How about a themed event with one of these amazing snack bar ideas! They’re perfect for creating an informal atmosphere, easy to prepare in advance, and giving your guests lots of options. Check out the best 16 food bar ideas and pick your favorite for your next party.
I love planning parties! I love hosting parties! Over the years I’ve found that people really enjoy themed parties. And it’s easier for me too. All I do is look for some fun food party ideas and then put my favorite into action.
Snack and food bars work great for parties of all sizes and budgets too! If you don’t want to spend a fortune or have a rather large guest list, check out these budget-friendly options you can serve.
If you prefer a more intimate gathering and plan to serve dinner, you can choose from a variety of themes such as Greek food, an authentic Italian dinner or a menu of Golf Masters Menu items for your favorite golf enthusiasts.
These dinner parties can even before served up as a food bar or buffet as well to let your guest create their own plate!
Why You Will Love These Snack Bar Ideas
- Innovative and fun themes to implement for a party everyone will remember and be talking about months later!
- These food bar ideas are perfect to make in advance so you can relax and enjoy the time with your guests!
- An easy way to offer a variety of foods to fit different diets and preferences of everyone in attendance.
How to Plan Food Party Ideas
Building a food bar can be simple, or you can let your creative side go wild.
- Theme: Start by picking a theme for the food bar.
- Menu: Plan the menu and make a grocery list.
- Plan setup: Shop your house for serving pieces, decorations or anything that might fit into that theme. Look for items to tier up the food in different heights. It looks great but you can also place more items on the bar a bit easier. Think of things such as simple, sturdy boxes that I cover with a tablecloth, wooden crates or wine boxes.
- Shop: Make a trip to my favorite stores such as the party store, Goodwill, or craft store for more cute supplies.
- Groceries: Get the grocery shopping done at least the day before you plan to start cooking.
- Cooking plan: Think about what you can get done the day before or even further out if possible and write it all down.
- The day before: Plan to get as much cooking and setup done in order to make party day easier. I like to gather all my serving dishes, silverware, plates, and such placing them on the bar so they’re ready to go for setup.
- Party day: When party day arrives, finish cooking the food and put the finishing touches on the bar before guests arrive.
- Enjoy: Have fun with your guests!
I promise, choose one of these Fun Build Your Own Food Bar Ideas and your friends will be talking about your party for weeks to come.
Get Your Free Party Planner Checklist
Get this Free Printable Party Planner to help you easily throw a fun and memorable party. This planner will keep the process of planning a party easy.
- Brainstorming and party details sheet
- Day of the party schedule
- Count down to-do checklist
- Party space grid planner sheet
- Free printable banner with letters
Print out the pages, punch them with holes, and place them in a notebook. This party binder makes it easier to keep everything in one place!
Fun Build Your Own Food Bar Ideas
Now let's get to the fun part...picking the theme! Don't feel limited by just these snack bar ideas on the list, you can let your imagination go wild and simply use these as a little inspiration for planning the best snack food bar for your party!
Build Your Own Burger Bar
A build your own burger bar is perfect for a casual outdoor summertime party! You can even cook the burgers out on a grill or make them ahead of time so you can enjoy the party too.
Keep the toppings simple and include lettuce, tomato, onions, and pickles or add on more gourmet toppings such as sauteed mushrooms, flavored mayonnaise, savory and spicy sauces, cheese or cheese sauce, and anything else you want.
Build Your Own Appetizer Bar
Finger foods and appetizers are the absolute best for parties! They’re easy to eat and work perfectly when you don’t have enough seating for everyone.
Offer a variety of them so your guests have lots of different things to choose from to eat.
I recommend a combination of hot and cold items plus don’t forget to include items such as hummus, guacamole, or other dips which can easily be made in larger batches.
If your party is taking place around dinnertime and people will be expecting a meal you should plan on including at least 10-12 different appetizers.
Make sure at least a few are more substantial such as meatballs, chicken wings, and sliced meats for mini sandwiches. You might even want to include some vegan party foods for your guests who don’t eat meat.
Build A Mac and Cheese Bar
I love this as a party for adults, kids or mixed ages! Plan on a few different types of macaroni and cheese such as a traditional one and then maybe two more with different flavors.
Then you can lay out a bunch of different toppings that everyone can add to make their own delicious bowl of mac and cheese. Crispy bacon bits, pickled jalapenos, chopped broccoli, sliced green onion, blue cheese crumbles, cooked seasoned ground beef, and shredded chicken are just a few quick ideas for toppings.
A breakfast omelette bar party is perfect for a morning or brunchtime party but it could also be used as a breakfast for dinner theme as well.
Round it out with some delicious breakfast side dishes such as roasted potatoes, hashbrowns, fresh fruit, biscuits, and grits.
Cozy Breakfast Bar Party Ideas
A waffle bar can work as a breakfast bar or dessert bar depending on the time of day.
Set up a griddle for someone making the waffles during the event or make them in advance and simply reheat them in the oven.
Set out a ton of different toppings for the guests to add on top of their plate of waffles.
Build Your Own Brownie Bar
Dessert bars like this brownie bar make a great afternoon party idea or evening snack bar food idea when you don’t want to feed everyone a meal.
Serve up a variety of different flavored brownies, ice cream, and assorted toppings such as sauces, nuts, whipped cream, chocolate chips, fruit, and more for a sweet treat your guests will love!
The make your own pizza party is a kid’s party favorite but it can definitely work for adult parties too.
Use premade pizza disks to make it easier and then line out a variety of pizza sauces and toppings for everyone to build their pizza just the way they like it!
This fun instructional food bar works great for smaller groups. It’s pretty easy to execute and a fun activity to do with a group of friends.
Prepare the sushi rice in advance and have all the ingredients such as shrimp, salmon or tuna, avocado, cucumber, and more all sliced and ready to go. A quick demo by you and then let everyone roll their own rolls.
Serve up a tasty sake on the side or white wine and don’t forget some delicious sauces for dipping.
Ramen Noodle Bar
Serve up a bowl of hot ramen for your next themed party!
Another of my favorite snack bar ideas that works easily for a variety of different types of eaters including vegetarians, vegans, and omnivores.
Make the tasty broth and offer a variety of toppings for everyone to add to the bowl.
A couple of different types of noodles, sliced tofu, beef or chicken, egg, sesame seeds, soy sauce, chilies, vegetables, and more!
Baked Potato Bar
A baked potato bar is a hearty snack bar food idea that’s perfect for game day events or any fun gathering that calls out for a filing yet easy dish to make.
Start by baking the potatoes in the air fryer or oven - you can even do this ahead of time.
For toppings, I love to have shredded cheese, vegan cheese sauce, homemade chili (meat and/or vegan), sour cream, and much more.
A pasta bar is the perfect answer to a dinner time food party idea! All you need to do is cook a couple different types of pasta, have 2-3 different sauces and lots of toppings to add on top.
Personally I like to offer at least one long thin pasta like spaghetti or fettucini and then at least one short pasta.
Don’t forget some cheesy pull apart bread so everyone can sop up all the delicious pasta sauce.
Taco Bar for a Mexican Dinner Party
A taco bar is a tasty snack bar idea to set up for Taco Tuesday or Cinco de Mayo celebrations but it also works any time of year for game day events and parties for all ages.
Provide all the items for your guest to make the perfect taco! Shredded chicken or beef taco meat, shredded cheese, veggies, sour cream, and red salsa and salsa verde. Add on some easy-to-eat snacks such as chicken taquitos or quesadillas.
Mexican Fiesta Bar
For a more casual event for Cinco de Mayo create a Mexican fiesta bar with all your favorite Mexican appetizers and finger foods.
The possibilities are endless and work great for groups of mixed ages or adults, or when you expect a variety of different eaters.
Cheese Fondue Bar
Cheese lovers will line up at the party to dip into this ooey-gooey treat!
It works great for game day events or casual gatherings with friends!
You can even use this as an appetizer bar for a dinner party!
Keep it simple with one flavor of fondue or offer a few and let your guests try them all!
Chocolate Fountain Bar
This party food bar idea is perfect for chocolate lovers!!
It's an easy idea that you can prepare in advance and requires very little cooking.
Serve up melted chocolate with all types of dippers such as fruits, pretzels, angel food cake, Oreos, and just about anything you can skewer or easily dip into the chocolate.
Did you pick your favorite from this list of snack bar ideas yet? I hope these delicious food bar ideas help you with your planning your next memorable party event! Don't forget to download a copy of my FREE party planner guide!