Donning a baseball cap and an apron embroidered with "Gabby" on the front, Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, appeared at the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base midday Thursday in Giffords' hometown of Tucson, Ariz.
Giffords worked the turkey station and served food with only her left hand, signaling physical damage from the gunshot wound to the head she sustained during a supermarket shooting earlier this year.
Meanwhile, Kelly served ham and supported Giffords from her left side.
Base officials originally requested to have a member of Giffords' staff serve the meal. But once Giffords heard about the event, she decided she wanted to attend herself.
Many service members were reverential of Giffords' appearance. Airman 1st Class Millie Gray planned to simply grab a plate and eat in her dorm, but decided to stick around when she caught wind of Giffords' appearance.
"She's such an inspiration and her story is so inspirational, it really made me proud. I felt very proud and very humble," Gray said. "It just feels really good to see that she is out here supporting the troops, and just continuing to be an inspiration and a strong role model for Americans in general."
Giffords and Kelly left after less than an hour, but didn't part without acknowledging the service members.
"It's always special to have a member of Congress come and spend time with the troops and show support," said Brig Gen Jon Norman, acting commander of the Acting commander of the 12th Air Forces, Southern. "But after everything that she's been through, it's a little bit more special."
Giffords continues to undergo intensive rehabilitation after she and 19 others were shot Jan. 8 outside a Tucson supermarket. There were six fatalities that day.
Other holidays Giffords celebrated in Tucson included Father's Day and Labor Day.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.