40 Ideas for Build Your Own {Food} Bars - great for party planning!

The other day Mark and I were discussing cupcakes. As in – why did they become such a THING? They’re messy, no matter how you eat them. (Seriously, don’t even tell me about the break it in half and stick the frosting in the middle of your cupcake sandwich method. Still. Messy.)

The only justification I could come up with was that cupcakes are cute. Because they’re little cakes. And little things are cute.

Still, I think it’s time we move past this trendiest of party foods. And onto build your own {food/meal/snack} bars!

Obviously I’m kidding about the cupcakes. (Scroll on down and you’ll see that a Build Your Own Cupcake Bar is first under the dessert category.) But I do love build your own bars for a party!

Build Your Own Bars are an easy, but fun, way to display and serve food to guests. They’re especially suited for parties that aren’t exactly sit-down meals with several courses. You know, fancy dinners? Probably not your best choice then. But for pretty much every other kind of get-together – picnic, BBQ, casual meal, baby shower, reunion, Cinco de Mayo party, New Year’s Eve party, birthday party, any gathering when you invite more people than you have dining room chairs – they’re perfect.

You set up a table, put out all the ingredients for your meal or food item (or beverage), and voila! Your friends and family get a customized meal made with their favorite foods. And it’s fun! And looks cuter than cupcakes! (Especially if you Pinterest it up with Mason jars, burlap and paper straws.)

By the way, Build Your Own Bars are often called party bars or food stations. That’s helpful to know if you want to search for various ideas on Pinterest. But you don’t really have to, because I’ve done all the searching for you. (ALL. The. Searching.) I’ve got 40 of the best party bar slash food station slash build your own bar ideas for you right here!

Build Your Own Lemonade Bar


Build Your Own Oatmeal Bar


Build Your Own Chili Bar

Sandwiches & Meals

Build Your Own Nacho Bar


Build Your Own Salad Bar

Sides & Snacks & Apps

Build Your Own Trail Mix Bar

Desserts & Fruits & Fruity Desserts

What’s your favorite kind of meal (or food) to serve in a build-your-own bar?

This post may be linked to these amazing carnivals and link parties.

What should you watch next?


Every month, we are bombarded with new TV series and movies—and it can be overwhelming to figure out what to watch! (I know, I know, what a problem to have!) I'm here to help. My monthly Watch Guides list out all the returning series, new series, and new movies, along with premiere dates and where to watch them. Plus, I tell you my personal picks for the month to help you narrow it all down.

Drop your name and email here, and I'll send you this month's Watch Guide right away!

(Signing up gives me permission to email you. But I will never, ever send you spam or junk. Who has time for that?!)

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This