How to Style Sideboard Buffet for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is all about friends and family coming together and spending quality time with one another-typically over an incredible an...

Thanksgiving is all about friends and family coming together and spending quality time with one another-typically over an incredible and large meal. Feeding groups of people is task enough, but then there is the question of, "WHERE DO I PUT EVERYTHING?" Enter the sideboard: every hostess' best friend during the holidays. Whether you have a formal one or have to get creative (extra table, desk, etc) this hardworking set up is the unsung hero of the holidays. While everyone is 'gramming the table setting and its napkin rings this side table generously allows you to clear up space on the table, create order, and store your dining room goods. All this work and it is sometimes neglected when it comes to decor. Here are some tips on how to style and set up your sideboard buffet for Thanksgiving. 

Tell a "Story": Are you bright, bold, and festive? Glamorous, sparkly, and fun? Or natural, minimal, and subtle? Pick a color scheme and incorporate seasonal elements that shows what story you are trying to tell. I chose to heirloom pumpkins' muted oranges, grays, and yellows as my color scheme and incorporated organic wood tones, clean whites, and copper. I repeated my "story" with in the serveware, food, and flowers.

Variety in Height: Think vertical as well as horizontal! Tiered serveware conserves space while moving the eye easily around the sideboard. Cake stands show off elegant desserts while allowing shallower dishes park below. Keep the eye moving across the table with variation.

Practical(ish): While it might be tempting to go all out, think [somewhat] practically. For example-I prefer to use flameless candles, if any, where serving food. I hate anyone to have to worry about catching their sleeve on fire or knocking it over while grabbing seconds of mashed potatoes. Additionally, allowing your serveware to step up as part of your decor saves room and makes it festive. I love my ceramic pumpkins that serve as decor AND soup or casserole dishes.

Decor: Know your theme and stick with it! If it's plaid and bright colors then go all out and sprinkle in festive orange pumpkins everywhere. If you're glamorous and sparkly put a glittered table cloth over your sideboard and cover the stop with dark, dramatic dishes. I chose a more muted, subtle scheme and wanted organic elements such as pinecones, antlers, and heirloom pumpkins. Also: it never hurts to add some flowers if you have the room. It instantly makes a space feel celebratory.

Planning: Round up your serveware, dishes, utensils, and little kitchen goods the day before or morning of. Lay out your sideboard's plan early in the day before guests arrive. Make sure you have enough space for all the dishes. If someone is bringing a dish always think about where you will save them a spot on the buffet.

Create Order: While life is short and I never object to eating dessert first, not everyone agrees. Think about the natural progression of making a plate of food and the flow of traffic. Which side should the buffet line start? Do you start with salads and work you way to the main course? etc...

Labels: While not necessary for small groups, if you have a large group you can save the trouble of answering "What is this?" thirty times with dish labels. This is also really considerate for people with food allergies / concerns.

How do you plan for serving your Thanksgiving food? 
What would be the "story" you'd like to tell with your color scheme and decor? 
How would you describe your Thanksgiving style? 
Do you prefer buffet style, pre-plated, or on the table? 

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