10 Tips for Setting Up an Easy + Elegant Thanksgiving Buffet

Serving Thanksgiving dinner in style doesn't require a long formally set table. Our tips will help you pull off a memorable meal with less pre-party prep.

Photo By: Marian Parsons

Photo By: Marian Parsons

Photo By: Marian Parsons

Photo By: Marian Parsons

Photo By: Marian Parsons

Photo By: Marian Parsons

Photo By: Marian Parsons

Photo By: Marian Parsons

Photo By: Marian Parsons

Photo By: Marian Parsons

Maximize Your Space

Setting up a buffet when hosting Thanksgiving dinner is a great way to make the most of the space you have in a small room or home. Use a buffet or sideboard to set up the meal and, if extra space is needed, set up beverages, plates, desserts, etc. on a nearby table.

Plan Ahead

There can be a lot of dishes to accommodate when setting up a buffet and that can be tricky when dealing with limited space. Set up the buffet the day before with the serving dishes that will be used and label each dish. This will ensure there's enough room for everything and a logical flow is planned.

Add Height

Most serving dishes sit low to the table, creating a visually boring buffet spread. Add varying heights with cake stands, pedestals or even items found around the house like stacked books and wooden boxes. Even a mixing bowl can be turned upside down to act as a pedestal for a serving plate in a pinch.

Level Up

In addition to adding visual interest through height, using tiered stands can provide additional serving surfaces. Tiered stands are ideal for appetizers, rolls and bite-sized desserts.

Limit Decor

If space is at a premium, keep flower arrangements and centerpieces small and to a minimum. One pretty bouquet, some scattered greens, and a few candles are all that is required to set a festive mood.

Hit the Thrift

Thrift stores and yard sales are a fantastic place to pick up bargain serving pieces. Many people don’t want to be bothered with polishing silver, ironing linen, and handwashing crystal, so beautiful pieces often end up being donated. These water goblets and a silver plate turkey platter were both picked up for under $10!

Drink Labels

Place cards aren’t required when serving dinner buffet-style, but they are a fun way to make guests feel like a place was set just for them. Retain that gesture of hospitality and prevent water goblets from being mixed up by making and tying a small name tag to the stem of each glass.

Thoughtful Food Labels

While making tags for beverages, create a few cards labeling food, so guests don’t have to inquire about a dish. This is also an ideal way to label ingredients in food for guests who have food intolerances or allergies. It’s a thoughtful touch that guests with special nutritional requirements are likely to appreciate.

Silverware Bundles

A sense of formality doesn’t have to be completely lost just because food is being served buffet-style. Bundle together linen napkins and fine flatware with a pretty ribbon. These bundles are easy to grab once a plate is loaded with food, and they also look like small gifts for each guest.

Mix + Match

When mixing different serving pieces, stick to a set color palette or theme. Mismatched pieces can have a unified aesthetic if there is a design element that connects them, like color, texture, material or style. In the case of this buffet, white, wood and silver pieces were used for a harmonious look.

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