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A case for serving Thanksgiving dinner buffet-style

Thanksgiving is mere weeks away and along with figuring out your shopping list, day-of planning schedule and decorations, you're often stuck with considering how you're going to serve your meal. Traditionally Thanksgiving dinner is served family-style around the dining table where every guest has his or her own place setting. 

However, with all the things you have to consider this year, serving dinner buffet style is a totally viable (and chic) way to serve an unforgettable holiday meal. 

Napkins, cutlery, dinner plates — oh my!
Unlike a family-style dinner where plates are placed out at specific seats ahead of time, a buffet dinner frees you up from all of that extra work. (And there's even less of a worry about things matching.) Instead, gather up the plates everyone will be eating off of and set them at the beginning of the buffet line. Make sure forks, knives, spoons and napkins are all accessible as well. 

Table, schmable
Another thing you don't need to worry about? Setting the perfect table. Since you're serving buffet-style, feel free to be more casual with your table settings and decor; place table decorations in multiple locations throughout your entertaining area and let your guests choose where they'd like to sit. 

Set expectations
When you're setting out the buffet table make sure you make it clear exactly how you want dinner to flow and set food out accordingly. Southern Kitchen staff suggestion? Try setting out lighter dishes first (think green beans, mashed potatoes, and mac and cheese) and easing guests into the heavier dishes such as stuffing, glazed ham and turkey. Place your desserts at the very end or give them their own separate table. Doing this will let folks fill up on the dishes that you most likely have more of and give people a chance to be selective with loading up on proteins. 

Batch your booze
If you're serving buffet-style, make sure not to overload the food table with beverages. In fact, consider having a completely different table or section devoted to wine, cocktails and soft drinks. This way your guests won't feel pressure to grab everything at once and you're more easily able to control the flow of the people grabbing food and beverages. Also, consider offering one or two batched cocktails that guests can access whenever they'd like a refill. Not only are you off the hook from making one-on-one cocktails, but you're also able to do more valuable things with your time, like you know, eat. 

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Photo (casual buffet): Christiann Koepke/Unsplash


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Ryan Hughley is an associate editor at Southern Kitchen. Though originally from Los Angeles, she has lived in Atlanta since early 2017 and cannot imagine calling any other city home (except maybe New Orleans). Before joining Southern Kitchen's staff, Ryan worked on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on public policy issues. When she's not at work, she enjoys hunting down the best Mexican food in the city and drinking whiskey, obviously. 

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