Thanksgiving may be a very American meal, but it is often enjoyed in a very European way, in that it is a meal that lasts for a long span of time. Having the food rest on your table may compromise its quality. If you and your family are people who enjoy table chatter, you may actually want to consider buffet style since keeping food off the table means keeping second servings nice and warm.
Speaking of second servings, if you are really trying to emphasize "family time" at the table, serving buffet style will absolutely interfere. Guests will constantly be getting up to get more food, breaking the flow of conversation, which could become slightly annoying when you're trying to settle in for dinner. Family style allows everyone to stay seated throughout the meal and keeps everyone together.
When you picture a Thanksgiving table, you don’t just see the plates and the centerpieces: you envision the entire delicious spread. One benefit of serving dinner family style is getting that traditional look. If you take it off the table, your visual spread goes from grandma’s platter to uncle Joe’s tailgating Sterno.
A table that is not cluttered by food, however, gives hosts a chance to really play with their decorative side. You can create huge centerpieces and keep linens free of gravy drippings. Buffet style also gives you more room for drinks, and a buzzed Thanksgiving is a happy one, after all!
Family style is the most classic way to enjoy Thanksgiving. Sure, it is hectic for a few moments with everyone grabbing at plates and rushing for more scoops, but that is the stuff that makes it more fun! It also definitely helps that the elderly people at the table will be happy with the tradition and won’t feel like a burden if they have trouble getting up for their own food.
When you aren’t confined to a space, you can really let your creativity flow. If you have a diverse group of guests, you can play with your food options by serving your meal buffet style. Because of the space, you can spread the meals out and make sections for easy flow and organization.
If you are hosting a huge Thanksgiving, chances are you are making a variety of dishes — some familiar and some daring. A buffet style meal gives guests the opportunity to pass over the less-favored dishes and load up on the loved ones without hurting your feelings. It also allows guests to move at their own pace and feel comfortable to enjoy their holiday in a relaxed environment.
No matter what, Thanksgiving is always going to require a major amount of cleanup. However, reducing the amount of actual plates by serving buffet style will definitely help keep cleanup at a manageable level.