Serving Yourself at a Thanksgiving Buffet

Thanksgiving Buffet, courtesy Dave & Margie Hill / Flickr

In advance of next week’s Thanksgiving holiday, O&M teachers have been talking about buffets and big family dinners with their students. We’ve begun assembling a list of ideas, and we are eagerly awaiting your ideas, too. Please post them in the comments below.

Here are a few ideas:

Remember that this may be different for you and for your family.
If you aren’t used to asserting your independence, remember that your family may not be sure how to react. On the one hand, they may not help you at all, knowing that you want to figure it out; or, they may over-help you (even for the kindest reasons) which can upset you. You’re likely looking to strike a balance between independence and help, so stay calm and friendly. You don’t want to berate them to the point that they don’t want to help you at all…even when you ask!
You don’t have to be first in line for the buffet.
Yesterday, my wife reminded me about something she learned at the Louisiana Center for the Blind: if you don’t go first, there’s far less pressure on you to move quickly. That doesn’t mean you have to wait for everybody to sit down and eat, but it may mean that you should wait for the hungriest people to go ahead!
Make a few trips to the buffet line.
At our church, where we go to dinner on most Wednesday nights, I’m used to making several trips. I get my food, find a table, and then go back to pour drinks. Sure, some of the sighted folks can do this in one trip, but I don’t have enough hands to carry a plate, drink, and my cane without a tray. Making two trips is much better than running over a small child or dropping my glassware!
Rotate your plate and target your thumb.
James Mays, one of my instructors at the Louisiana Center, told me about the trick he uses when serving himself at a buffet or serving line. He puts his thumb at about the six o’clock position, and targets the spoon to empty near his thumb. Then, he spins his plate about 45 degrees, and again targets his thumb. This way, the food is sure to stay on the plate and not all land atop each other!
Don’t be shy about asking what foods are on the table.
There’s nothing worse than watching somebody else—even with the cleanest hands—touch every piece of food on the buffet before you get it on your plate. Reassure your students that it’s okay, and even a good idea, to ask what’s on the serving line. Just ask the person ahead of you to say what foods are next.

What tips do you give to your students? What ideas have been most useful to you? Post below in the comments!

Photo courtesy Dave & Margie Hill, on Flickr.

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Corbb O'Connor
Corbb, a blind entrepreneur, coordinates the outreach and marketing efforts for the Institute on Blindness at Louisiana Tech University as an independent consultant.

2 thoughts on “Serving Yourself at a Thanksgiving Buffet

  1. I think this is one time where I’d just get help. I don’t want to drop, to splash, to make a mess or spill food on someone’s floor. I did the buffet at the Center several times. Each must find what works.

  2. My family sometimes calls me “The Nose” because The Nose always Knows. I wouldn’t recommend this particular tip if you’re at a public buffet and people around you may get germ-sensitive, but if you’re in a relaxed situation, using your sniffer has always helped me. I can spot food a mile away.

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