Turn a lunch or dinner into a fun activity with a sandwich bar which guarantees everyone gets to eat what they like. Whether you’re hosting relatives for the holidays, or looking for something to do at a birthday party, bridal or baby shower, Sunday brunch, or just having friends over, a sandwich bar is a meal everyone will love—and there’s no cooking involved!

All you have to do is set out some sliced bread, rolls, or baguettes, along with cheeses, cold cuts, and toppings so guests can mix and match ingredients to customize subs. Then, you’re free to join the party!

You can pick a theme, filling the bar with seasonal, local, or regional specialties—like mozzarella slices and prosciutto for an Italian-themed bar. Or, pre-make a few sandwiches so hungry guests can grab one they like and those who want to customize can make their own.

For extra excitement, turn sandwich-making into a game! See who can stack theirs the highest or make the most unusual combination.

Let everyone dream up names for their creations, and share the names and ingredient lists over lunch. Names can reflect what’s inside: The Garden of Eden for a vegetarian dream, for example. Or, name your sandwich for the character it makes you think of—Pepe Le Pew for brie on a baguette, or The Dagwood for a foot-high stack.

For a fun finishing touch, download our printable sandwich toppers, cut out, write the sandwich name on them and tape to a toothpick or skewer. Stick it through the sandwich to show off and admire each other’s creations before digging in!

You can get as much or as little food as you need depending on the size of your gathering—one or two options in each category for a family of four, several options for a sandwich bar party. As you set out your fixings and utensils, consider having separate areas for:

Breads: Sliced options to suit different tastes (wheat, white, pumpernickel), along with rolls and baguettes

Cheeses: Along with sliced options (like Swiss and Cheddar), you can put out small bowls of crumbled feta or goat cheese. You can also place soft cheeses, like cream cheese, near the spreads.

Meats: Go for sliced deli options like roast beef, turkey, ham, sausage, and bacon. Keep condiments like mustard and ketchup near the meat.

Sliced Veggies: Double down on these; vegetarians will make an entire sandwich out of them, and meat eaters will add them to their stack, too. Think tomatoes, onions, peppers, mushrooms, and fun extras like avocado or radishes. And don’t forget a bowl of crisp lettuce!

Spreads: Place these in bowls near the food items they go best with; hummus, baba ganoush, pesto, olive tapenade—there’s so much to choose from.

Garnishes: Fun extras really make this seem like a party. Pick whatever you like; olives, gherkins, a fried egg to top a sandwich, and salt and pepper for sprinkling. And don’t forget a bowl of potato chips as a side or to add crunch inside a sandwich!

Put ingredients on any platters, plates, or cutting boards you have; if you’re using decorative trays, line them with food-safe parchment paper first. Set out the mouth-watering display and prove that everyone’s go-to lunch is anything but boring!

What You’ll Need

  • Breads
  • Cold Cuts
  • Sliced Cheeses
  • Sliced Vegetables
  • Dips, Spreads, Condiments
  • Platters, trays, cutting boards, and bowls for display
  • Parchment or other food-safe paper (optional)
  • Knives and forks for serving
  • Printable Sandwich Toppers (optional)
  • Pen, pencil, marker or crayon for writing


Step 1: Make Sandwich Topper skewers, if using, and set aside.
Step 2: Slice vegetables, along with any bread, meat or cheese that is not pre-sliced
Step 3: Place parchment paper or food-safe wrap on platters if using, and arrange sliced items on top.
Step 4: Spoon spreads and condiments into small bowls.
Step 5: Arrange serving pieces, and bowls on the table along with plates for serving and sandwich topper skewers. Invite guests to start stacking their sandwiches!