We all know the infamous Christmas dinners. With foods so similar (or the same) to Thanksgiving’s, (and so relatively close to Thanksgiving,) don’t you think it’s time to shake things up with a new and better style of sharing food with family and loved ones during the holidays? Forgot the same old, same old, turkey or ham, stuffing, pie, potatoes, rolls, vegetables…you get the drill. Here are 10 excellent reasons why we’re highly recommending you spice it up by offering a Christmas or holiday buffet this year instead of the usual big Christmas dinner.
At Christmas and holiday parties or gatherings, the only thing better than sharing food, is sharing bringing the food. With a potluck aspect, the burden of the meal responsibility is shared among the entire family or friend group. You can count on all guests to bring some component for the festivities, whether it be a main hot dish, the selected beverages of the evening, or even something as overlooked as plates, cups, napkins, and silverware. You can even have different, specific, themed angles to potlucks. Themes such as a cookie swap where everyone brings a different flavor of holiday cookies to trade, bring their most famous traditional family recipe, a popular holiday recipe from their religion or nationality, or have everyone bring a side dish that has pumpkin in it, for just a few examples. If everyone who’s attending the gathering contributes bits and pieces towards the whole, there will be less work for each person involved. And the best thing is, in no time you’ll have an entire, varied spread ready for everyone to dive into together!
9. Share/split the costs
If, for example, people are flying or otherwise traveling from all over the country for visiting during the holidays, it would probably not be possible for them to bring ready-made food. If this is the case, you can still share the costs of the food for the party for its duration. Even if no one, not even the hosting house, physically cooks the food, you can still band together and split the cost accordingly for each person or family group for catering or other ready-made store-bought foods, for example. Yes, you could contribute to a traditional Christmas dinner cost, but that means the hosting location remains responsible for providing the work for the dinner. It’s also tricky to determine an exact budget for say, dinner rolls or mashed potatoes, since you’re not sure how much the group will eat and who will have what. With a buffet option, it is easier to break down the grocery list and split up costs into specific buffet-food categories, such as snacks, sweets, savory, veggies, drinks, etc.
8. Everyone can help themselves
Yet another advantage to a holiday buffet is that the host does not feel the need to wait on, take care of, or serve the guests in the house with dinner and any other meals for the duration. Friends and family won’t have to feel awkward navigating an unfamiliar kitchen or feel weird getting their own snacks themselves, if they think the host is preparing meals–it can definitely just turn into a confusing mess. With a buffet spread out, ready, and available to all guests, everyone can help themselves to lunch or a snack as they see needed. (Bonus points for having a cooler full of a bunch of different kinds of drinks everyone can grab!) Even young children are able to go by the table and snag some dinner or a cookie when they’re feeling hungry. With all the hustle and bustle of Christmas day, it’s easy to forget to eat (or, to only munch on candy canes and forget to eat anything substantial). This way, all have access to a wide variety of sustenance, making it so you can enjoy visiting, playing, and celebrating the day with a casual ease, knowing at least one of everyone’s basic needs is well taken care of.
7. Less work for only one dinner
Who wants to spend the day before (or on) Christmas sweating in the kitchen for hours and hours, slaving away over a huge and elaborate meal that will only be enjoyed for maybe an hour or less? And then to have it only followed by needing to deal with all the leftovers, table, mess, and mountain of dishes. (Just when everyone is oh-so-full and doesn’t feel like working.) The shopping, preparation, actual cooking–all to be done in such a short amount of time to last for an even shorter amount of time. There’s already enough going on, and even more to be done at Christmastime and the holidays. This should be a time of enjoying company and what the season brings, not dreading having to cook a complicated homemade meal for the family that will last the sliver of a single evening! So, who wants to spend a day that’s supposed to be for fun and relaxing worrying over one huge meal? (Here’s a hint to the answer: probably no one.) By curating and offering a buffet-style meal for any visitors during Christmas parties and visiting, it makes it so…
6. There is more time to enjoy Christmas
Without having to exclude anyone from merriment and banish them to the kitchen to prepare one big meal for the holidays, it frees up so much extra time to be spent visiting and having fun with each other. Once the many other preparations (wrapping, cleaning, decorating, etc.) are completed as Christmas comes closer and closer, now is the time to sit back, relax, and appreciate the fruits of working all month towards this big moment. With a buffet, any food prep and serving issue around Christmas is easy, ready, and informal. No one needs to work cooking all day, no one needs to miss out on any special moment or anything else together, and no one needs to work so hard when they should be having fun. Everyone can truly be there in the present moment to enjoy the special time of year. If there’s any time to spend leisuring during the month, it is Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and the day or two after at the least. Finishing all heavy work before the big day sweetens the time spent enjoying the holiday when it actually comes.
5. Provide food and leftovers for many days
Buffet leftovers are perfect to have day after day since there is not only variety of foods but a variety of things to heat up and things to not, of sweet, savory, salty, snacky, and substantial. With Christmas dinner leftovers, there are only so many options, and most if not all require the tedious task of reheating before re-eating, which, we can all admit, does not ever quite make the leftovers taste the same. Buffet style lets eaters mix and match their meals, keeping appetites fresh and happy with not having to eat the same Christmas dinner leftovers night after night. Further, you will not have to continue to prepare whole meals for company the days following the big Christmas dinner, in addition to the Christmas dinner itself. Plus, if you, for example, run out of mashed potatoes you’re out of mashed potatoes. If, in your buffet, you run out of carrots, there’s celery to have, if there isn’t any more french dip there could be more cheese dip, or if you run out of one type of crackers or cheese, there’s another flavor available. It’s like having breakfast, lunch, and dinner available at all times over the span of a few days!
4. Something for everyone
It’s always tough trying to figure out a single meal that can meet everyone’s preferences, allergies, and dietary restrictions. Say, for example, you have a friend who’s vegetarian, a friend who’s allergic to eggs, someone who’s diabetic, someone else who hates cooked vegetables (or is just plain picky,) another family member who can’t eat gluten, a toddler just beginning to eat solid foods, and a relative who is currently on one fad diet or another. It would take a genius mathematician to ever figure out just one meal that would duly satisfy every single guest’s likes, dislikes, and requirements. With the buffet option, there should be many diverse dishes and ample choices to fulfill everyone’s needs. If someone has a highly specific dietary need, picky eaters, young kids, or a very recent change in diet, you can see if they can offer to bring a version or two of something to add to the buffet selection they can eat to make doubly sure there’s something for everyone, no matter what.
3. Get to try a variety of foods
Because you may have a group of people with diverse tastes, you’ll be bound to, in turn, have a wide range and fresh variety of different dishes and treats to sample. Now is the chance to branch out with food choices, away from the usual holiday eats, and try making and tasting new things every year. As mentioned, enough with the same old Thanksgiving-style foods of traditional Christmas dinners long ago. Buffets let you experiment with different hors d’oeuvre, unique snacks, baked bites, cocktail cuisine, and new recipes. Sure, you can experiment a bit with a couple new side dishes, new ways to cook or flavor a turkey or ham, or new potato recipes, but you can really only experiment to a certain extent. Making smaller batches of more food allows true culinary freedom in testing new things you haven’t tried before!
2. Good for a big group of people
Buffet style meals are the perfect thing when you’re expecting a huge group of people, whether it be for a big friend get-together, office party, or huge family reunion. Having all the food totally ready and laid out, with a wide selection of options for all is an ideal way to accommodate an extra-large gathering. Especially when it compares to the alternate: a Christmas dinner where you have to set the table, (and have enough dishes/cutlery/glasses to do so,) find enough chairs to accommodate everyone, add leaves or otherwise find a way to extend a table, and have to elbow in around a too-small table regardless. (Additionally, it completely excludes the awkward exile of the infamous “kid’s table” many families do, as well as eliminating any question of who should or shouldn’t still be stuck there, trying to place additional table and chairs, etc.) It’s so easy to have everyone line up, grab a plate, and get their dinner in turn order.
1. Keep it casual
Finally, probably one of the best of the many reasons why you should participate in a Christmas buffet instead of a traditional dinner this year is the fact you can take away the drudgery of needing to be formal and introduce a warm and casual, unceremonious atmosphere for friends and family company alike. You can eat anywhere, (also solving the “too many people, not enough seats at the table” dilemma) and even wear what you like! (Christmas pajama or cozy sweater party, anyone?!) Visitors, guests, and loved ones will be free to roam, to play, to visit, to especially sit comfortably, and experience all the excitement and entertainment that the holidays bring. No real set time, (perfect for those who want to eat at different times,) no real dress code, little to no rules. Eating a lunch or dinner plate of chips and dip, nuts, crisp veggies, crackers and cheese, cocktail meatballs, and Christmas cookies while looking fondly over gifts sounds like a perfect way to spend Christmas day or a holiday vacation to us. Kick back, relax, enjoy some snacks, and happy holidays!