Hot breakfasts can present a logistical challenge, when you’re serving a crowd, but they aren’t always necessary. Often, a good continental breakfast is perfectly adequate and — if well executed — can make a superior impression. Avoid meat and heavy foods, such as bacon, sausage, pancakes and French toast, in favor of lighter, finger-friendly options. While this type of breakfast is simple to prepare and plan, it doesn’t have to look cheap. Create a luxurious ambiance with classical music, homemade baked goods and sophisticated place settings.

Things You'll Need

Skip the paper plates, plastic cups and sporks. Provide your breakfast guests with small, elegant dishes; silverware; tea cups; juice glasses and coffee mugs. Set out cloth napkins or heavy-duty white or patterned premium napkins.

Serve fresh-squeezed orange juice and gourmet coffee. Provide your guests with a selection of specialty breakfast teas, as well as plenty of hot water, sugar cubes, real cream, creamer and lemon wedges. Serve mimosas if you’re planning breakfast for your friends or family members.

Display your continental breakfast food on platters or in cloth-lined baskets. Use serving dishes of varying heights to add visual interest. Serve milk and juice in glass pitchers.

Serve sweet and savory items, such as muffins, pastries, donuts and fruit tarts. Provide sliced bagels in such flavors as plain, blueberry, whole grain and poppy seed. Display butter, jam and cream cheese in small glass dishes with butter knives or small spreaders.

Provide bite-size pieces of cut fruit. Prepare a fresh fruit salad or make an edible fruit arrangement. Serve apple slices with caramel sauce, chopped nuts and party picks. Display melon balls in a hollowed-out watermelon. Set out bowls of raspberries, blueberries and blackberries if they’re in season. Add chocolate-dipped strawberries for an indulgent treat.

Serve vanilla and strawberry yogurt with dishes of granola, dried banana chips, dried bing cherries and chopped nuts. Place small glass dishes next to your breakfast bar so your guests can prepare their own parfaits.

Set out a variety of cereals.

Provide plenty of seating for your guests. Display your breakfast spread on a long counter, bar or table covered with a white cotton or linen tablecloth.