When we first started catering in the 80's we would do the Martha Crudite table all the time. I still use it occasionally - call it spilling crudite.
Next morp was flowering crudite basket which is still lovely. Basically a huge basket filled with green curly kale or mustard greens (have even used picnic basket or the back of a wooden pickup truck) then layer veggies in like a flower display. Must have a photo somewhere.
In the 90's that was one of our signature catering items.
I had a client tell me once her only complaint was it was so pretty no one wanted to eat it LOL! the other great thing was that it never looks empty or sparse even if well eaten (and most crudite is just fluff and garnish but we once catered for 800 and 1200 showed up and there was NOTHING LEFT for sure!
Here's a photo of something similar to what Kevin is talking about.cuisinEtc - a culinary journey via catering: Lin's 40th - a catersource collaboration
scroll down to the second photo for the architectural crudite
It's been making the rounds at catersource for at least 4 or 5 years now so you will see variations of it coast to coast.
with some of the very tall vases we might put two veggies - a cheaper filler one in the bottom and then the one guests can get to on the top half or 2/3
we found this cool pillar candle holder last year and have used that for smaller parties with a similar effect.
go to the 12th photo the one with the hummous sunflower display in the front of the crudite to see how that looks. It's on a boat shaped wrought iron stand (set came with stand and glass hurricane holders - let's hope they don't break) In this case we mixed more than one color per vasecuisinEtc - a culinary journey via catering: service to city - New York City that is...
it is great as shroom mentioned to use other than the standard veggies.
and we have also done things like all white or all green or all red veggies
Love the look of the pale green cauliflower - forget the name for the moment but the one that spirals. It's a great garnish whole but also looks really pretty colorwise cut up.
The clear glass square and round vases in various heights highlights this type of presentation nicely.