OK to do a Christmas Buffet??

minniemomDecember 9, 2006

Hi everyone,

I am kind of new to this board and have been lurking a while. I wantd to know if you guys think its ok to do a Christmas buffet? I was going to do a sit down prime rib dinner for my family. I did it last year for 19 adults and 3 children. But the guest list has since grown. long story. I still want to do something nice, and would love to do a sit down, but don't have the room to accomodate as many as are coming - also, a prime rib for 25+ prople is going to cost me an arm and a leg and I just don't think I can pull it off again this year. Any ideas as to how to make this work. I am open to any and all suggestions. I really have my heart set on something really nice - know what I mean?



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I am doing prime rib this Christmas, but we are only 7 this particular year, so it is a little more affordable for us.

We don't have enough room to sit down comfortably at the dining room table family style. I also like doing buffet since it is usually easier to clean up since it is set up on the island of the kitchen.

I don't think there is anything wrong with it. You are having a group of people together to share the holiday and the focus should be on the gathering not how you are serving or what you are serving.

I like buffet also because it allows me to decorate the table we eat at as well as the buffet:))).

What are you planning for your meal? If you don't want to get into the pricey rib roast for so many people, maybe a pork roast? Much more affordable.

If you don't mind, please share your menu. I am still working on what to have. Have ordered the roast, but haven't gotten past that. LOL

    Bookmark   December 9, 2006 at 3:03PM
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I posted a reply on the holiday forum, so I'll just repost here with a couple of additions: I have the same guest list, plus 4 or 5! I found that carving the prime rib at the last minute was a major hassle. Two years ago, I did boneless legs of lamb (from Costco); it was cheaper than prime rib. I think that lamb is a love it or hate it meat; I was fortunate that my guests all liked it. I have the tables formally set before. A buffet is also hard, because with that many people, people are "always in line" and not everyone can eat together. Now, I pull a couple of people into the kitchen with me and we just plate for everyone; it's quick and easy. I set the salad out before for everyone. There is some wasted food, especially with the kids, because not everyone wants or eats everything, but the plusses outweigh the minuses. I hate making hors d'oeurves, so that's what I ask people to bring ( and I insist that they be ready to serve); I once asked someone to bring a salad and they brought everything to make it at my house. That sort of bringing and helping drives me crazy, so I make all of the main things. I have also found (I do a lot of large-scale entertaining) that dessert is the least popular course. So, I keep that very simple with just one or two main things and some biscotti. I don't do lots of variety: one salad (it's a crowd pleaser); one kind of meat; mashed potatoes, risotto, or polenta; and one vegetable. I swallowed my pride and use paper plates for the salad and dessert. It's expensive no matter how you do it.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2006 at 5:37PM
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Thanks so much for the responses. I so want everything to be perfect for the day, but I do have to remember that it IS Christmas and being together is the most important thing. Yea right, I want everyone to leave and say "she is the best hostess". LOL. I can't believe its this close to being here and I still don't know what I am doing. Last year I just fit everone at the table. But this year, I have new dining room furniture with a hutch and don't have the room to place two tables end to end. And 98% of those heads coming are adults, so I can't even cheat with a kiddie table. The only way that I can see to have a sit down is to have two separate tables. And that will even be tight. But if I can do it, at least everyone will be eating at the same time.

As far as menu - I am still stuck on the main course. I would like a prime rib, my butcher has it for $14.99 a lb. I can't remember what I paid for it last year - is that a good price?? I just figure that I can't screw it up. My hubby wants me to do a turkey or ham - Lamb is out - I'm the one who dosn't like it. I have a couple of people already bringing some sides.
So far, the confirmed dishes are : a broc dish, roasted potatoes, green bean caserole. I make a mean sweet potatoe souffle as well. I do need some ideas on apps though. Oh, and of course salad.
Dessert is ice cream cake - (Christmas is also my son's birthday), cheese cake and whatever else anyone happens to bring if they feel like it.

Maryanne, you set the salad out before for everyone, right? Is that before they arrive? Do you do dinner as soon as everyone gets there or do you set it out while they are mingling?

I appreciate everyone's input - thanks so much.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2006 at 9:48PM
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So sorry, I missed the part where you said that you couldn't seat everyone! I move the furniture out of my family room and set up buffet tables in there. My dining room is small, so I just use that table to set up dessert/coffee. I put out the salad at everyone's place setting right before we sit to dinner; we mingle over hors d'oeurves/drinks for a long time before we eat!

    Bookmark   December 10, 2006 at 12:53PM
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When you say you can't do sit down does that mean that people will be sitting about the house and eating on their lap?

That's perfectly OK, but it does dictate what type of food you should serve. Things requiring serious knife and fork action, as is the case with prime rib, are not easily eaten that way. Food needs to be, what I call, "fork friendly".

    Bookmark   December 10, 2006 at 1:00PM
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Though we do buffet, everyone eats at the same time. We just wait for the last person to finish filling their plate and be seated. We then say Grace.

The price you were quoted for the roast is good if it is a good piece of meat. I think a spiral ham would be easier for the number you are having and your sides would go well with a ham. A pork loin roast is another thing I do for a crowd. It's inexpensive and I season it well or stuff it with prunes, apricots and garlic, key is not to over cook it and park it for at least 30 minutes before carving. I have also done it stuffed with andoille sausage, dried cranberries and day old french baguette. Yummy and always a big hit for a crowd.

Can you all sit together if you don't put your food out family style. I find it difficult to do plating with a large number of guests. Also, like maryanne3 points out, there is waste if you plate everyone's food for them. I usually plate for a small dinner party when there aren't a large number of sides and choices.

I like the buffet because the table that we eat at looks so nice and stays that way from dinner through dessert. I use my tea cart for beverages (self serve).

Desserts are set up ahead on a three plate tiered thing. I just bring it out of the kitchen at dessert time with the coffee - that is served at the table, but you could put a card table or something for the desserts if you aren't planning on clearing and cleaning buffet table before dessert. This year for Christmas we are having coconut custard pie, apple carmel pie and a peppermint chocolate tart.

As for the starters, I usually try to do something that I can move to the buffet table when space is an issue.

I am doing a Italian dinner (lasagne, ceasar salad and garlic bread) for DH birthday on Sunday and we will have an antipasta tray for starters and that can be easily moved to the buffet from the coffee table since it ties in with the meal. We will have several more people at this occasion than we will be having on Christmas, that's why I move the starter to the buffet.

For Christmas, I am doing a Hot Crab Dip and french bread toasts spread with goat cheese, toppped with chopped toasted walnuts then drizzled with honey to start. I will clear them from the coffee table before I serve dinner.

I am not sure of the sides since SIL is doing Christmas Eve, and she will be serving prime rib as well, so I want to do different sides on Christmas day. I am thinking of doing some roasted halved plum tomatoes with Stilton and a green veggie. Rolls of course. May do some roasted beets as well. I am a nut about the color thing. I like my buffet to look as good as it tastes!

I totally understand how you feeling about how you want your guests to feel, I am the same way ;).

    Bookmark   December 10, 2006 at 2:30PM
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Do you have trays?

Where I live everyone has these rattan trays. They are about $2 to $3 each at a home good shop. They are so nice to have.

If I can't seat people I use them. It allows everyone to have a place for their silverware, glass and plate. Then they balance it on their laps.

It's the best investment I ever made. We use them for family dinners. Bridge party dinners. Holiday parties. You name it.

I even preset them with napkins and silverware. So ppl get their plates first. Then go thru the buffet. Pick the tray up at the end of the buffet.


For food:

I'd look into renting chafing dishes if you don't have any. I would do a big pork roast. I get mine from Sam's. It's cheaper and easier to feed a big crowd. Stuff it with a fruit and nut mixture. It's gorgeous.

I'd do three or four veggies on the side.

If you really want to do a beef dish then do that for an appetizer. Not only will it be cheaper but it will not be as heavy for your guests. Do a sliced beef on mini rolls. Like a baby hot brown. Another big hit during the holidays.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2006 at 4:51PM
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I have a friend who made some "lap trays".

She went Home Depot and had them cut 1/2" plywood into rectangles - not sure what the dimensions are, you could figure out what size you would like to use. Covered the plywood with batting from the sewing store, and covered with decorator's cotton fabric.

They are beautiful and very functional for serving buffet if you can't do everyone at the table. It took her very little time to put them together. She used one of those big staple guns and the really looked wonderful.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2006 at 1:57PM
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ilovepink - what exactly is a baby hot brown?? Abd can you tell me a little more aboue that stuffed pork roast please. It sounds intresting..

    Bookmark   December 11, 2006 at 1:57PM
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If I'm reading you right, the lap trays are used with the soft side on the lap...makes it easy to balance, cut, etc, w/o the tray slipping off one's lap. I remember an embarrassing incident at a large dinner party where we all balanced plates on our laps. The entree was stewish- Beef burgundy on noodles, easy for lap eating, but very liquid. My plate tipped slightly, and the warmish feeling I got either meant I had wet my pants or I had the liquid from my meal on my lap. It was the latter, of course, and no amount of restroom repair disguised the fact that I had a 3' blob of wet on my dress.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2006 at 2:23PM
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Yes, soft side down much the same way as a computer lap table. It does make it easier to eat a meal that has to be cut, you can put your silverware down, napkin, etc. Its a great alternative if you can't accommodate seating all at one table, yet want to serve an elegant meal.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2006 at 3:14PM
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Baby Hot Browns are popular in my house for Derby parties and the holiday parties. Here is the recipe. Very yummy.

Very different too.

24 pumpernickel party rye bread slices
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cups (4 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups diced cooked turkey
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
6 bacon slices, cooked, crumbled, and divided
5 plum tomatoes, thinly sliced

Arrange bread slices on a lightly greased baking sheet. Broil 6 inches from heat for 3 to 4 minutes.
Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat; add flour, and cook, whisking constantly, until smooth. Gradually whisk in milk; cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until mixture is thickened and bubbly. Add Cheddar cheese, whisking until cheese melts. Stir in diced turkey, salt, and ground red pepper.

Top bread evenly with warm cheese-turkey mixture. Sprinkle evenly with Parmesan cheese and half of bacon.

Bake at 500° for 2 minutes or until Parmesan is melted. Top with tomato slices, and sprinkle evenly with remaining bacon.

To make ahead: Prepare the cheese-turkey mixture, cook the bacon, and grate the Parmesan the day before the party. To reheat cheese mixture, place pan over low heat, stirring constantly, until smooth and warm. Assemble and proceed as directed.

Yield: Makes 2 dozen

I've made them with beef before and they were good. But, the turkey is much better.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2006 at 10:09PM
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We do a lot of entertaining that often involves dinner. We have no problem seating 20. We set a buffet where people can serve themselves. This eliminates the continual passing of plates some of which are very hot. Some items are held in chafing dishes. I have been at some affairs where the host/hostess has every one pass there plates to him/her so they can serve items too hot to pass. Now, if you have a small group this might be pratical but not with 15-20 people.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2006 at 8:57AM
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I don't understand. Why WOULDN'T it be Ok to do a Christmas buffet?

    Bookmark   December 15, 2006 at 10:07PM
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