VERY Smart Thanksgiving Feast Ideas!

How about doing something a little out of the ordinary for your Thanksgiving feast this year, or approaching the meal with more ease and organization? Here are some great ideas on Thanksgiving table settings and savvy ways to hold a buffet that you might want to consider.

Table Setting Ideas

Apples make inexpensive and pretty candle holders. Find the color and size you like, then core each one to the width of your candles.

Apples also make clever name card holders, as do small pumpkins.

Or if you’re crafty and have the time, simple items such as twigs, twine, and a bay leaf can make a pretty place card holder.

And a large hollowed-out pumpkin also makes a unique ice bowl for bottled drinks.

And a large pumpkin or winter squash can also make a lovely container for your table floral arrangement.

Or perhaps just cluster oranges and green leaves around your candle holders.

And follow up with an individual piece of fruit at each plate, labeled with either a simple “give thanks” message or a guest’s name.

Buffet Table How-Tos

With holiday feasts looming, you're probably gearing up to jam the dining table with both guests and food. But savvy hosts know to resist that urge, and instead create a separate, organized buffet line. The result: Folks can serve themselves rather than struggle to pass hot, heavy casserole dishes to one another. If a buffet approach to Thanksgiving is what you’re planning, you’ll appreciate these how-tos from

1. Set up a separate drinks station. And when dinner is finished, the same spot can be used to display your desserts.

  1. Also, arrange napkins and appetizers in a separate area away from the main buffet table, if space permits. You and your guests will appreciate how this frees up the buffet line.

  2. Move the buffet out of the kitchen. To keep the hordes from dipping their fingers in the cranberry sauce while you're cooking it, arrange the buffet on one side of your dining room, far from the kitchen, and cover the food until you're ready to serve. Depending on your home's layout, you may prefer to appropriate part of the living room, or perhaps even the foyer, with a long folding table.

    If you're moving foods out of the kitchen, consider picking up a warming tray (or two) and/or a portable burner. Keep casseroles from cooling by putting them in heatproof dishes on the tray, and then place another pot to simmer on the burner.

    4. Create a clear starting point. Friends and family need obvious cues, so help your crowd—and discourage them from jumping into the middle of the buffet—by placing a stack of plates at the head of the table. People usually pick up a plate with their left hand and serve with their right, so arrange your buffet accordingly.

  1. End the buffet with flatware rolled up inside a dinner napkin. This way, guests don't have to hold a plate and cutlery as they serve themselves.

  2. To avoid crowding of the table, elevate some of your dishes. Use the space above your buffet table by interspersing elevated platforms, like cake plates and three-tiered servers. Tiered displays take up less room, and they're appealing to the eye. If you don't own any, try this clever hack: Place small platters on upturned bowls or pots covered with dish towels.

    And make use of narrow openings between casseroles by inserting slender bread baskets, small dishes of cranberry sauce, and gravy boats.

  3. Since spills do happen, you’ll want to protect your surfaces. So spread a waterproof covering under your runner or tablecloth. Use heavy rattan mats and trivets to keep hot dishes from marking the buffet's surface. And add a saucer or two next to condiments so people won't be tempted lay down used spoons on your clean fabric.


    Alice Osborne
    Weekly Newsletter Contributor since 2006
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