How Do You Serve: Family Style or Buffet?

How Do You Serve: Family Style or Buffet?

Jason Loper
Nov 17, 2010

When it comes to a big holiday meal there are two ways of serving the food – family style, with every dish spread out on the table and diners passing the food around, and buffet style, with all the food set up on a table or counter and guests serving themselves. How do you roll in your house?

This Thanksgiving is shaping up to be a buffet year in my house. With seven place settings around our little table, it's going to be a tight fit with little room leftover for serving dishes. Which is unfortunate because I really enjoy serving the big meal family style. I enjoy the ritual of passing the dishes around the table, each person surveying how much room they have left on their plate to add a heaping spoonful of mashed potatoes. And, as the host, I take delight in the initial oohs and ahhs as the food is passed around.

There are advantages to serving buffet style, too. As each person moves down the buffet line they don't have to feel like they're insulting the host if they skip a dish they may not like. Plus, with the food relegated to its own table or counter top, there's more room on the dining table for drinks!

Even though I'm serving the food buffet style this year, I'll still set an inviting table. I want the guests to have something lovely to feast their eyes on when they first arrive. Then, while we're all enjoying pre-dinner cocktails, I'll be able to set all the food out on the buffet table. When meal time rolls around, each diner will grab his plate from his place at the table and make his way around the buffet table.

So how do you roll in your house – buffet or family style? Do you prefer one over the other? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Image: Jason Loper

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