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Requested by:

Photo by *Sherri*

Cooking Level: Intermediate

Living In: Winter Springs, Florida, USA
*Sherri* is looking for: (3 recommendations)
How do you serve your holiday dinners for larger crowds? Sit down or buffet style? I'm just not sure which way to go this year, I've tried both, and maybe it is just my family but they seem to screw both up...I sure could use some tips on how to make it go more smoothly.

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Last updated: Nov. 20, 2012 9:56 am
Posted: Nov. 20, 2012 5:30 am
Commented by: Scotdog
Nov. 20, 2012 5:37 am
LOL! We are the same way. I like to entertain but we use our *dining room* as a computer room so we have to entertain in the eat in kitchen. Space is tight and both ways are hard, but it always ends up working & nobody seems to care, lol!
Nov. 20, 2012 5:39 am
I do think organization and having most of it done before people get there is key. My MIL and SIL always want to help, but that just bogs down my kitchen so I try to have most of it done.
Nov. 20, 2012 5:48 am
Scotdog, I'm the same way with help, I'd rather just do it myself. I do plan on having everything done, even the gravy. I have plenty of room for a table layout in the Florida room. I think since Mom's house didn't have room everyone is used to the buffet style, but seems like the first person is going for seconds before the last one gets their first serving. You're right though, no one seems to mind in the end. :)
Commented by: Baking Nana
Nov. 20, 2012 5:38 am
Our family is like yours, we cannot seem to make either method flow well. I usually have the parents make the small kids plates, then try to have the adults go through the line and the big kids last. It never goes smoothly. If we do sit down - I have to have two bowls of many things, so that the gravy doesn't all get hogged at one end of the table or the green beans never seem to make it all the way around. Again, with sit down, I try to have the parents make up their kids plates in the kitchen as we are dishing up the food.
Nov. 20, 2012 5:49 am
When I used to make Thanksgiving dinners it was always with my best linen tablecloth, crystal and china and we sat at the dining room table. It was the only time other than Christmas that I got to use it. I'd polish up my silverware and everything was beautiful. I miss it. Enjoy your day folks.
Nov. 20, 2012 5:52 am
Only the one small child but that is a good idea, have them go first. I like the two bowls of gravy idea at each end of the table. Maybe keep that off the buffet line and let that and butter and rolls be passed around at the table. I think it is hard for the older folks to hold and pass the platters also.
Nov. 20, 2012 5:55 am
We do it similar to BN. We always do buffet style, served in my inlaw's big kitchen. The mom's always make the kids plates first & get them all settled then we all line up. Typically there are always 3-4 people going the wrong way thru the line. No seconds for anyone until everyone's been thru once. Total chaos every month but we all get fed. Lol. Keep drinks & desserts separate from the dinner-makes the flow much smoother. Another thing my MIL always does is put names on cups. Kind of juvenile but when you have a lot of people it really does keep the drinks straight(& no kids swap germs that way either). She has real plastic cups that she puts masking tape on w/our names. She won't let us use disposable cups cuz they tip over :( Spoken out of anguish by the family dishwasher. Grrr.
Nov. 20, 2012 5:57 am
Rosebud I do use my good china, well it was my MIL's and the only set of dishes I have enough of for a large crowd. I do love setting a beautiful table. I'm lucky to have a husband that starts clearing things out for me so I have a chance to sit and visit.
Nov. 20, 2012 5:57 am
We do the buffet thing at our house. It is easier and nobody is hogging the food and doesn't have to set their fork down to pass the food around! LOL God forbid someone stick a hand in front of someone for something! Put two butter dishes on the table and two gravy boats, salt and pepper and two plates of rolls and then the rest is on the buffet.
Nov. 20, 2012 6:00 am
Lisa the cup thing is a problem, I use nice goblets but they all look the same. I tried the little ID rings around the bottom but no one could remember their color either...LOL. I could see me writing names on my good glasses with an erase pen. :)
Indiana Peggy
Nov. 20, 2012 6:02 am
I do buffet style but have the silverware and napkins on the table. No need to try to carry them while filling a plate. Also, totally separate areas for drinks, desserts and salads away from the main dishes. If you have separate areas, some can be getting drinks or salads while others are filling plates with turkey and veg. Make sure everything is precut into serving size and everything has it's own serving utensil. Salt and pepper, cranberry sauce, , butter and rolls on the table.
Nov. 20, 2012 6:11 am
We do buffet. Plates/dinnerware/napkins first, sides and entrees next. Desserts, butter,s&p, rolls on table and by coffee pot. No little ones anymore(yet). I hollar food is ready, the eager beavers go first, the rest eventually straggle in. Sit wherever there is room. Butter and s&p on foldup table/chairs in dining room. Some sit round the kitchen table. Drinks & ice outside on table in garage. Plastic cups with black marker for names. Not one of us has a table big enough to fit 20 or so people. We are all relaxed and just dig in. Works same at my SIL's houses.
Nov. 20, 2012 6:16 am
Our family has always done buffet style when there are large numbers of people. I think that always works best. Most people we know don't have a dining room large enough to seat everyone if you have all of your relatives attending a function. Trying to pass around food doesn't work with a very large group and then there is generally no room at the table to put everything. I don't think there is a right/wrong to do this, but do what works best for the space you have and how large of a gathering you are having. Even for smaller gatherings, it seems to go better bugget style where you can setup most dishes in the kitchen area and there is less coordination needed.
Nov. 20, 2012 6:31 am
Some great tips everyone. I'm going for the buffet style and actually have enjoyed reading how everybody serves it up. I do think the eager beavers speed up the line and might let them have at it. :-)
Nov. 20, 2012 7:24 am
You ar in good weather, use your back porch for extra chairs and table space to eat on.
Cindy in Pensacola
Nov. 20, 2012 9:37 am
I'm just commenting on your cute avitar :) Looks familiar! Good luck with your huge party!
Commented by: frenchgirl
Nov. 20, 2012 9:53 am
I do buffets when serving more than 12 people, otherwise, sit down. Totally up to you, though. Do you have a table large enough to accomodate everyone? Do you have an extra table or a bar /countertop to display your buffet? These are the most important /practical considerations. Sit down is more formal, buffet is more casual... it all depends on the mood you want to set. If you are having a small gathering strictly with family, I'd suggest a sit-down dinner : so much cosier and heart-warming!
Nov. 20, 2012 9:56 am
Ooops, I misread -it looks like you ARE having a larger crowd! I'd go with buffet, then :)
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