Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Dinner Party Series: Guidelines and Tips

As regular readers know, I love color! If you think that means only the bright reds, yellow ochres, deeply saturated blues, turquoises, and pale greens you’ve seen on this website, you’d be very wrong. I love color in every shade and hue, and am especially interested in color’s effect on perception and mood. That’s why today’s Dinner Party Guidelines and Tips focus on setting a beautiful table. I’ve done several other blogs on tablescaping, because it’s a subject close to my heart. You'll find them indexed under that heading.

I recently found these pretty, complementary plates at Cost Plus World Market in Oregon, and marveled at how inexpensively almost anyone can set an elegant table for a very small outlay. 

The traditional blue-and-white "Willow" pattern makes its mark in 
gray. Paired with a square plate, it takes on a contemporary look
This beautiful jug complements the gray
Willow-pattern china I sourced in Oregon

But wait ... There’s more! (as the TV pitchmen say) 

I went online in search of serving pieces that would tie in with these beautiful plates. Just look what I found on an auctioneers website - 
this beautifully shaped jug in the same classic design

Although it sold quickly, you can always search for another. Twelve inches high, it’s described as a “mulberry pitcher in the ‘Pelew’ pattern, made by E. Challinor.”  The opening bid? A mere $70. 

The plates above are $7.50 apiece. Each piece of matching cutlery (sigh!) was less than $2.00. 

The perfect match for the gracious dishes, above

Although you may be thinking bargain! I found the dishes above too expensive, and didnt buy them or the beautiful pitcher. But wait ... There really is more! I bought my Thanksgiving place settings in a California WalMart store at $2.50 a plate! You’ll see them next month, when I blog another in my Dinner Party series - this one titled Thanksgiving

What else didn’t I buy? I didn’t buy any ceramic pumpkins masquerading as soup bowls. They’re beautiful, but have only limited use (i.e., Autumn) and may present a storage problem.

Pumpkin-shaped soup bowls

Beautiful and trendy, but worth buying? You decide!

I’ve said it before and will say it again: If you see it, love it, and it fits your cupboard and your budget, buy it. If you aren’t sure, wait 24 hours before plunking down your dough. A well-considered purchase will give you, your family, and your guests years of pleasure. The satisfaction you feel from an impulse buy will probably be short-lived.

I check eBay and Craigslist for bargains when I search for interesting table settings. Many people no longer want Mom’s fine china. The seller wants to get rid of it, and I want to love it and use it and give it a good home. If the price is right, why not? One of my daughters-in-law even bought a collection of matched Waterford drinking glasses for the flat price of $50! 

Consignment stores, antique stores, and newspaper ads are other excellent sources for bargains in china and silver plate. Half the fun is in the hunt! 

I have one more tip: If you can’t find what you want, make it. I’d yearned for a nice red pitcher for years. I feel very, very proud of the serviceable, attractive pitcher I made in a ceramics studio last summer. On it, I wrote the word Believe.” If you believe you can do it, you can. My completed pitcher cost $25. Given the memories it already holds, it truly was a bargain.

When all else fails, DIY ... Do It Yourself!

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