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3 Tips for the perfect holiday buffet

November 22, 2011

The countdown to the holidays is on, bringing with it the challenge of how to serve a large gathering fast and easy. Fear not! There's a simple solution. Forego the traditional, full-service, sit-down meal and opt instead for a buffet-style serving. Follow these three steps and yours will be a gathering remembered with fondness by both your guests and you.

1. Divide and Conquer: No more waiting in lines as Uncle Fred peruses the spread so slowly other guests nearly faint from hunger! Set up multiple food stations. This idea will save your sanity. A few days before your gathering, clear most items off your kitchen countertops, table, island and dining room buffet and move contents to the laundry room or garage. Convert each area into a serving station where foods will be grouped by category. Label each area with a sticky note so that when the big day arrives, the stations can quickly assembled.

At each serving station, stack plates so diners needn't traipse off to the table for one. Pre-fill glasses with ice and beverages for quick pick-up. Remember, it's hard to carry more than a plate and glass so preset the table with napkins and flatware.

2. Control the Crowd: Don't think twice about placing tables in multiple rooms. That's better than crowding everyone together or asking guests to balance plates on laps while sitting on your sofa. To seat people quickly (and without a fuss), the use of place cards helps dramatically.

3. Keep It Simple: Flowers in a vase are so last year. Instead, style up the buffet with an eye-catching "Gratitude Tree," a sculptural tabletop tree with ribboned tree tags. Guests write what they're thankful for on tags and after dinner's done, take turns reading. This is a unique way to remind guests about the true meaning of the day and.

Remember -- every minute saved adds up to extra time you can spending enjoying the day with your friends and family, and after all that is what this glorious holiday is really all about anyway.

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