My 5 Tips To An Effortless Thanksgiving Buffet

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I feel like every year Thanksgiving creeps up out of nowhere. But this year it definitely feels MUCH quicker. Thanksgiving is definitely a little earlier this year than normal making the year feel like it flew by even more so. With next week being the big Turkey Day, I wanted to share the easiest spread to recreate for your Thanksgiving table. I’ve got lots of Thanksgiving  (and Christmas!) recipes and ideas coming your way this week and throughout the season. I’ll be sharing our family stuffing recipe, a fun spin on sweet potatoes and the prettiest cranberry dessert. To make sure you don’t miss a thing, you’ll want to sign up for my newsletter here. You’ll get an email with new posts straight to your inbox!

I wanted to kick it all off with my 5 easy tips on creating the perfect Thanksgiving buffet. From prep week, to menu planning, I know you’ve got this, friends! I teamed up with the incredible Jaime Roberts to help me create this gorgeous table and buffet. I was in charge of the food, and she was in charge of the decor. Honestly, I still can’t believe how easy it was for her to transform my space. You can see the before of this buffet area here. It’s where I hang my hats, and keep a few plants, books and photos. We took it all down to transform the area for the holidays and the before and after is insane!

All it took was swapping out the hats for a stunning starburst mirror (this one is almost identical and just a bit over $100) then draped in the most gorgeous garland that Jaime made. Okay, so it wasn’t THAT easy. The garland takes some time, but it’s actually fairly simple. A really great DIY that we’ll be sharing soon. Personally, I love that she went off-centered with it. It’s a bit more of a modern, cool twist to keeping everything centered and equal.  Throughout the buffet, we added a few orange pomanders, and mini Christmas trees to add some texture and round it all out.  With some pretty dishes, florals and a few more sprigs of greenery, the buffet was complete.

I’ll be sharing all the details on the DIY garland, orange pomanders and this table setting soon, but first, let’s chat prepping and executing for your big Thanksgiving buffet next week.

5 Tips To An Effortless Thanksgiving Buffet

Prep The Right Way

Since Thanksgiving is next week, you should begin prepping now. Figure out how much food you’ll need, which dishes you want to make and what platters you’ll be putting them on.  By making a big list of the ingredients you need, what needs to be made when and where dishes need to go, you’ll be able to more easily visualize your Thanksgiving Day. It’ll feel SO much less overwhelming.

TIP : Set up your buffet ahead of time and place post it notes on the platters for where everything is going. This way you can visualize the space and see if you have too much, too little or need to utilize another area of your kitchen or table to serve. It will also allow you to decorate your space ahead of time without taking up your valuable space for dishes!

Simple Dishes

I really don’t think you have to fuss a ton for Thanksgiving. I know we all want to and go above and beyond. But you really don’t HAVE to. Having a few standout dishes that are simple will make life so much easier. For today’s menu, we did roasted sweet potatoes with maple and walnut syrup. Simple sauteed green beans topped with lemon and parmesan cheese. And my Mom’s classic stuffing with Italian sausage. A few other simple dishes you can add are obviously my warm autumn salad, macaroni and cheese and mashed potatoes which are always easy to whip up.

Have A Few Easy Dessert Options

Dessert is always a favorite part of the holidays. I’ll also be sharing a full dessert buffet next week, so keep an eye out for that! While a pumpkin pie is easy to make, so is a trifle and it’s a little unexpected.  I love this cranberry trifle because it brings in fall flavors and is so easy to make. Plus, the cranberry compote for the layers made SO much that we used it as our cranberry sauce for turkey knocking out two dishes at once. Also, be sure to make a double batch of the whipped cream and use it as a whipped topping to top all of your desserts and fruit for the holiday. So much easier than making or buying all separate items

Shop & Cook Early

My mom is the absolute queen of this. I remember leading up to holidays that there was always a ton of stuff in our fridge and it was always off limits. She was always super prepared and had a giant list of things to do which made it all so much easier. The great news is that a lot of these recipes can be made ahead of time. The cranberry trifle is easy to make a day or two in advance and just assemble the night before. Sweet potatoes can be prepped and ready to bake before T-Day. Stuffing is easily made a couple days before and popped into the oven to cook through.

I personally never eat the turkey on Thanksgiving (except for picking pieces off of it while my grandfather carves it, it’s tradition) and prefer a ham. Honey Baked Ham is one of my favorite things to enjoy around the holidays and it’s an easy thing to add to your spread. They also have turkey breasts that you can buy which are TO DIE FOR. If you’re not one to roast a turkey, I highly recommend trying this option. Plus, Honey Baked Ham makes for the best eggs and ham the next morning.

Ask For Help!

I’m guilty of NOT asking for help. But sometimes you just need to. I’m not great at decorating and putting together a tablescape. I never do it so I’m not good at it. Plus, with all the other cooking and baking I had to do, who has time for that!? I enlisted the help of Jaime of Jaime Roberts Designs to help style this space and make it feel festive. With a few easy DIY’s like this garland and beautiful table settings (coming soon to the blog this week!), she transformed my space for the holidays.

Okay, so we don’t ALL have design friends to lean on for the holidays. But the same goes for anything else on your massive to-do list. Guests always (or at least hopefully) ask if they can bring anything. Don’t be shy to specify! Need more alcohol for your party? Tell friends to bring over wine, not dessert. Not much of a baker? Ask friends to bring their favorite sweet treat over to share with friends for an epic dessert spread. Everyone ALWAYS asks what to bring, so when they do, recommend something that will benefit your menu instead of work against it.

Stay tuned this week for more recipes, ideas and tips!

Photos by Hannah Michelle // Florals by ATL Petal Peddler // Styling by Jaime Roberts Designs

Get The Recipes

Cranberry Ginger TrifleItalian Thanksgiving StuffingSautéed Garlic Green BeansSweet Potatoes With Walnut Maple Syrup

shop the post

West Elm Buffet • Mirror (similar) • Table • Chairs (on sale) • Garland (DIY but similar here) • Navy Plates (similar) • Gold Flatware

Leave a Comment


  1. Looks gorgeous, although I’m slightly pissed I wasn’t invited over to enjoy the food post-shoot!

    Cathy, your Poor Little It Girl

    Posted 11.13.18 Reply
    • Jessica wrote:

      Sorry friend, next time!

      Posted 11.13.18 Reply
  2. Laura Leigh wrote:

    Looks absolutely amazing and everything looks so yummy! Also, that garland really is to die for!

    xo Laura Leigh
    Louella Reese

    Posted 11.13.18 Reply
    • Jessica wrote:

      The diy for it is so easy. Coming next week!!

      Posted 11.13.18 Reply
  3. Jenn Loyd wrote:

    Your feast looks delicious and I love how easy you’ve made it!

    Posted 11.13.18 Reply
  4. Kileen wrote:

    Thanksgiving goals! These are awesome tips babe and I am loving your setup. Totally agree with asking for help, it can be so overwhelming taking on all the tasks by yourself!

    cute & little

    Posted 11.14.18 Reply
    • Jessica wrote:

      Even just a little help with dessert or drinks can make all the difference. One less thing on your to do list!

      Posted 11.14.18 Reply
  5. Liz wrote:

    This looks amazing!! Both the food and the decor are just perfect!

    Posted 11.14.18 Reply
  6. ashley hargrove wrote:

    This looks AMAZING!! Seriously, goals. I am so awful when it comes to Thanksgiving and I totally got that from my mom who refused to cook or decorate! I need to change that!

    Posted 11.14.18 Reply
    • Jessica wrote:

      Well we can change that! I’ve never really done it before besides a few Friendsgivings so it’s good practice!

      Posted 11.14.18 Reply
  7. Steph wrote:

    All of the details are beautiful and I love the center pieces!


    Posted 11.14.18 Reply
    • Jessica wrote:

      The flowers were beautiful. ATL Petal Peddler did a great job!

      Posted 11.14.18 Reply
  8. Kate wrote:

    Omg your West Elm buffet is giving me life! ?

    Posted 11.15.18 Reply
    • Jessica wrote:

      One of my favorite purchases for my home. Thanks for stopping by!

      Posted 11.19.18 Reply
  9. Oh this looks like a great spread! My mouth is watering, YUM. I also don’t ask for help, I’ve learned that it makes my life easier when I do.

    Posted 11.18.18 Reply
  10. Lindsay wrote:

    My mom sounds just like yours! She is so good at prepping ahead of time. Your spread looks absolutely delicious!

    Posted 11.20.18 Reply


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