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Christmas Dinner Buffet Style

If your dining room table just won't hold all the yummy dishes you plan to prepare for Christmas this year, consider spreading those courses around on separate tables. Buffet tables set up for the main course, side dishes, and desserts can free up some valuable space on your table. Maybe your guests can actually spend more time eating and chatting and less time passing the Green Bean Casserole around!

How To Serve A Great Buffet Style Christmas Dinner

Food is typically the center of most family gatherings at Christmastime. Oftentimes, however, our family and friends outnumber our table space! Having a sit-down dinner may be out of the question at your house, but you still want to serve dinner to your guests. Maybe it's time to consider serving dinner buffet style.

Even though a sit-down dinner has been a tradition in many homes at Christmas, with everyone gathered around a table or two, this may no longer be an option. Either you have decided that it's just too much work to try and get everyone served in one seating, or you have decided that you'd like to have a more casual atmosphere during dinner. Whatever the reason, enjoying your Christmas meal in a buffet style is more appealing to you. You still may want to have places available at the table for your guests to sit and enjoy their meal, but does every dish being served absolutely have to be on that table?

There are some definite benefits to serving a buffet style dinner at Christmastime and during other holidays where a large gathering is the tradition. Here's a few reasons I like to set up a buffet for my holiday get-together.

1) Easier removal of dishes for cleanup
2) Everyone can help themselves easily to a dish they want without awkward passing
3) It’s more friendly and mingling is a natural at the buffet table

You'll want to rethink your rooms, but even a small space can hold a buffet if you are clever. Your main course dishes can be positioned on tables in the dining area that is most accessible to the guests. Consider cleaning off a counter in the kitchen to arrange the desserts. You'll want pitchers of water, milk, and other drinks kept on the table your guests are seated at just to avoid walking around the room with full glasses waiting for an accident to occur.

Think about the flow of traffic around your buffet tables, then decide how you want people to proceed to fill their plates. If you have a meal with specific portions, like so many Cornish hens or servings of chicken kiev, for instance, you may want to position yourself at the beginning of the buffet in order to serve your guests their portion. You don't want someone to miss out on the entree because someone else didn't realize that the portions were figured closely.

As host, you may want to dish up your plate in the kitchen before your guests begin to serve themselves. Just cover your plate and keep it in the warm oven. That way, when everyone is seated, you can take your plate and simply join your guests company, instead of bringing up the rear! It's a bit friendlier that way. Your guests want to enjoy their meal with you, and most people won't start eating until the host sits down.

What exactly do you need to set up a good food buffet? You can arrange a simple buffet with very little special equipment, or you can go all out. It depends on how big your guest list is and what types of food you are serving. Most items for a buffet service can be found inexpensively at a party store. You will want to consider the following items when you plan your buffet.

Heated buffet serving pans with liquid fuel (Sterno)
Serving utensils for each food
Paper or linen napkins
Dessert plates

If you are using a heated buffet serving dish, you want to light the liquid fuel about half an hour before the meal is to be served, especially if your food is added while it is at room temperature. To avoid burning the food, place a serving pan with about an inch of water underneath the pan that holds the food.

If guests are to be seated at a big table or two once they've loaded up their plates, have all the silverware arranged on one end of that table, or a table nearby. Extra napkins should be provided at the place settings or on the silverware table. Beverage glasses should be arranged at each place setting for convenience. At least one water goblet should be at each place, then wine glasses, or other suitable glassware according to the beverages you are serving. And just a reminder that the beverages themselves should be in pitchers, carafes, or bottles on the table. Along with these items, you should have plenty of salt and pepper shakers to go around the table, plus butter dishes, and other condiments if required.

When you serve your Christmas dinner buffet style, encourage your guests to return to the buffet as often as they want. This eliminates some of the leftovers and everyone feels welcome in your home, and at your table, when you ask them to please eat up! Depending on the situation, you may even want to offer “to go” boxes when your guests leave.

A Christmas buffet can be as formal or as casual as you want to make it. No matter what, a buffet is a wonderful way to serve a nice meal with relative ease. Your guests will enjoy the atmosphere and the food, but most of all, they'll be able to enjoy your company!

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