Thanksgiving is traditionally celebrated at home with loved ones gathered round a sumptuous meal. As the hosts, though, you’d want to enjoy the occasion, too, rather than be burdened with a fancy setup, serving duties, and clean up. Thank goodness, there’s the Thanksgiving buffet option to the rescue! The trick, though, is how to assemble a truly inviting food, drinks, and desserts display using spaces in your home. Come and see how others have done it!
Thanksgiving Buffet Display Ideas
Choosing your buffet location – Your kitchen would be a top choice, since last-minute food prep, heating of dishes, or chilling of drinks and desserts will all be within reach. Plus, with the movement of so many guests, any spills or mishaps can be cleaned up in a snap.
If kitchen space is tight, you may also consider setting up the buffet in the dining room, a breakfast nook, or even your living room.
Providing guest seating – Keep in mind to allow for table space for everyone to enjoy the Thanksgiving feast comfortably. So the buffet service area may be in the kitchen or on a sideboard in the dining or living room. Then, the main dining table (plus an extra table or two if needed) can seat the guests for the meal.
Thanksgiving Buffet Inspiration for the Kitchen
Our first 4 finds for Thanksgiving buffets all use the kitchen for their setup. And what lovely and practical arrangements they offer!
1 – Why we love this buffet set up: Spotted via Trip Advisor, this is an alternative you might find tempting: renting a vacation place for Thanksgiving and using the fully-equipped kitchen for the whole family to prep the meal together! The post even mentions that some rentals include a cleanup service afterwards. Hhhmmm…what do you think?
2- Why we love this buffet set up: Your kitchen island is the ideal spot for setting up a family-style buffet. The granite or tiled counter top stands up well to hot dishes and the inevitable food spills. And, as we see in this actual Thanksgiving party from Nancy and Fred, decorating with fall leaves and pumpkins plus a handy chalkboard menu completes the display beautifully!
3 – Why we love this buffet set up: Themed dinnerware and serve ware designed specially for Thanksgiving make such a heartwarming presentation. Here, Pier1 Imports shows how it’s done with items from their collections. Note the use of wood boxes and a metal bowl stand for height, then a turkey carving tray, a chalkboard menu, and plaid runners in fall colors.
4 – Why we love this buffet set up: Whether you go all home-cooked or opt for a potluck Thanksgiving, the entire spread will look well planned and pulled together if you present all dishes in white serve ware (or any single color of your choice). In this lovely buffet styled by Kim of The TomKat Studio, the all-white dishes and platters continue the clean look of the soft gray granite counter. (The full post is a treasure trove of fantastic Thanksgiving hosting ideas, too!)
Thanksgiving Buffet Inspiration for the Dining or Living Room
In a pinch, you can assemble your buffet on a side table or console in your dining or living room. Then, your drinks can be displayed on a separate bar cart and the desserts on a trolley that can move amongst the guests. See how these next 4 finds made it work!
1 – Why we love this buffet set up: Having a table set up in the dining or living room allows guests more room to go entirely around the buffet to serve themselves. Plus you’re more likely to have surface space to decorate, as in this example from Jessica Ralph, with a poinsettia garland border in fall colors and sheaves of wheat tied with ribbon. This pin is attributed to this blog: http://jessicaralph.blogspot.com/.
2 – Why we love this buffet set up: This display of obviously lovingly home-cooked dishes, sides, and desserts was found via Annie’s Chamorro Kitchen. Clever idea to set up two tables back to back to form more of a square island. This way, guests aren’t waiting in a single line, but can approach from whichever side of the buffet they wish and load up their plates more quickly!
3 – Why we love this buffet set up: This is actually a post from Bi-Rite Market promoting free-range turkeys and other farm-direct ingredients for festivities like Thanksgiving. But what caught our eye was the appealing earth tones used for the food display. From the wooden carving tray for the turkey, to the serve ware in shades of green, yellow gold, and ivory—all set against a brown linen table cloth. A small arrangement of autumn-hued flowers adds a pop of pretty color.
4 – Why we love this buffet set up: A rustic-style sideboard with gorgeous wood grain creates a farmhouse feel or even a vineyard cottage look for your Thanksgiving. So for a more intimate gathering, this setup we discovered via the Williams-Sonoma blog shows how the staple dishes of the holiday can be beautifully presented in vintage china serveware, an earthenware casserole dish, and a pretty cake stand. (The focus of this post is actually tips on keeping your buffet dishes warm throughout the meal. Check them out!)
As you can see, Thanksgiving hosting can be less of a chore when you take the buffet approach to serving the meal. Which setup style above would work in your home?