Imagine yourself on Thanksgiving morning: You’ve got dishes on the stove, rolls in the oven, and a table to set. As dinnertime looms, you’re trying to remember which cousin likes dark meat and which one likes white, who hates Brussels sprouts, which of your nieces is vegan, and how to serve the gravy. Whew! You probably need a glass of wine.
To ensure maximum happiness all around, consider serving your meal buffet-style. Here are five reasons why:
1. No plating. When you’ve spent the better part of a day cooking, you don’t need an extra task to worry about. At a buffet, everyone can serve themselves, so you’re free to tend to the last-minute details in the kitchen.
2. No waiting. At a buffet-style meal, guests can get up and refill whenever they like. You don’t have to pass dishes around the table all night, and no one has to wait for seconds.
3. More room for wine! Just kidding! (Kind of). Setting up a buffet on a side table or in the kitchen frees up space on the table for your centerpiece, place settings, and drinks of all kinds. No more overcrowded holiday tables!
4. Personalized meals. With allergies and general likes and dislikes to contend with, Thanksgiving can be a minefield for a host. It’s nearly impossible to plan a single three-course holiday meal to please an entire crowd. A buffet allows you to serve a variety of dishes that might not otherwise fit together. A vegetarian can double up on sides and skip turkey, a vegan can bypass the creamed corn, and so on. This is particularly useful when it comes to dessert: No shouting of individual pie requests -- just set out your pecan pie, pumpkin pie, and whipped cream and let them at it.
5. No duplicates. A meal for a crowd usually spans a large table or multiple tables, which often means duplicates of every dish; this is both more time-consuming to prep and requires you to own lots of serving dishes. For a buffet, you can set out one of everything and not worry about anyone missing out.
Buffet or not, Thanksgiving is a lot of work. Here are some tips to keep yourself calm in the kitchen -- and at the end of the night, give thanks for family members who are willing to wash the dishes.
We want to know how to you serve your Thanksgiving meal! In a buffet? Family-style on the table? Individually plated?
Photos by James Ransom