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How to Set Your Thanksgiving Buffet Table

I have had all kinds of set-ups for festive dinners and I find that when you want to keep an informal and fun atmosphere, the buffet set up does work the best.

Not only will you be able to accommodate a good number of people that way, I would compare the atmosphere to “Cocktail party mingle” – people find it easier to have a conversation with other than those seated directly beside them and to go for seconds without trying to find out just where the dish they like is located.

Just in case you decided that the best way to serve your Thanksgiving feast will be to go the buffet way – I am sharing some good tips on how to do that and to have an efficiently organized table.

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How to Set Your Thanksgiving Buffet Table:

  • Plan to arrange your serving dishes and platters at different shapes and heights – that will make it easier for your guest to access the food as well.
  • Nice touch is to make labels for each dish – that way, your guests will know what each dish is. And that will also give you the opportunity to make little notes is you need to – i.e. – Caution for a dish that contains nuts.
  • Set your table away from walls and doorways – it is a good idea to have it accessible form all sides.
  • It you at all can, set up a separate table for desserts, coffee and tea as well as a separate serving table for drinks.
  • As much as it nice to have floral arrangements as a part of your display, be aware of heavily scented ones. You will be better off to use unscented candles, adorned with artificial flowers or seasonal decor – or just use effective dinnerware to provide for the decorating display needs.
  • Remember to place your plates and bowl at the beginning of the table – your silverware can be rolled into napkins and placed in a box style holder of a basket – that way nobody will forget and fork, knife or any other utensil. You may want to consider to make more sets than you need and place “spares” on the table as well – that’s for those who go for seconds and need additional utensils.
  • Slice only half of your turkey – then slice more as needed. That will prevent meat drying out and get cold fast.
  • Keep a portion of all hot foods in your kitchen – when you replenish serving platters and bowl, you will be adding nice hot foods.
  • Remember to place small plates or bowl next to the serving dishes – your guest will use them to place serving utensil on – instead of putting them on your tablecloth!


Your Thanksgiving Buffet Table List:

  1. Suitable Size Tables
  2. Tablecloths and Runners
  3. Decorations -( i.e. centerpiece,candles,etc)
  4. Serving Platters
  5. Serving Bowls
  6. Trivets
  7. Gravy Boats
  8. Bread Baskets
  9. Serving Utensils
  10. Dinnerware (plates, bowls, small plates)
  11. Dessert Plates
  12. Silverware Sets
  13. Coffee and tea Cups
  14. Salt and Pepper Shakers
  15. Milk, Cream and Sugar
  16. Butter dish
  17. Drinking Glasses (Water,Wine,Mixed Drinks)

Hope these tips were helpful to you – please send in your comments, suggestions and experiences – your input is always very much welcomed and appreciated!

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About the author

Hanna Trafford

Hanna is the mother of two grown sons Dan and Dusan Nedelko, and is also the Grandmother to Jax, Cohen and Mila. She is the lead editor of Mama Knows and is hoping to create an exchange of communications with other grandmothers, mothers and daughters - giving everyone the opportunity to learn and share about everything that is "Mama"

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