Large quantities of plates and glasses for open house?

sue36December 9, 2007

How do you all manage the plates, glasses, etc., for parties where you expect a lot of people, like an open house? We invited about 80 people and I expect about 50 will attend. How do I manage dinner plates, dessert plates, drinking glasses, wine glasses, champagne glasses, bowls (for fish chowder) and flatware for that many?

Do most of you rent? Do you use paper? Do you use a mix of paper and china/glass?

I was considering buying glass dinner plates and using paper for everything else. But wine and champagne is not the greatest in plastic...

I know many of you have open house parties, how do you do it?

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I have easily 80 dinner plates in 2 different patterns...and a similar number of dessert plates, silverware and drinking glasses. I rent or borrow champagnes from the Club.
Sometimes I have used those clear plastic drink glasses, mainly because they will stack easily on the bar and take less space than real glasses.
I have never served soup to that number of people...I usually plan my menu with a thought to what I will use to serve and where I will put all those dishes and glasses.
I really hate paper plates at a nice party.
Linda C

    Bookmark   December 10, 2007 at 12:21AM
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For a nice party (or even a casual one) I think "real" plates, flatware and glasses are always nicer to use and classier than paper (and better for the environment). Unless you are going to use that number of pieces many times, and have room to store them all, you're better off renting.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2007 at 11:12AM
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I also rent when entertaining a group larger than about a dozen. It's easy, inexpensive, & I don't risk breakage of my own china. The rental stuff can all be run through the dishwasher & all of my china/stemware/sterling is hand washed. That alone is enough to make my decision.

We once had an "Up To Your A** In Alligators" costume party. It was difficult times at my DH's place of employment & he wanted to loosen everybody up & get some fun/laughter going. We had nearly 200 people. My highschool age son & several of his friends were valets parking cars as far away as half a mile. The kids also helped with the clean-up & the house was good as new by 5:00 a.m. when we all fell into bed exhausted but still laughing from the funny costumes.

For that party, I rented 600 stemmed glasses because people always use more than one & I didn't want to be washing during the party. Good thing too because we only had about 50 clean glasses after the last person left! There was a large amount of food so I rented 800 plates & ran out...had to run a couple loads through the dishwasher during the evening.

If it hadn't been for my son & his friends I never could have managed a crowd of that size alone. They kept the food flowing, dishes stacked, dirty stuff cleared, organized all of the coats, purses, etc., & handled their valet duties. Oh, they also kept the music going from our jukebox.

With the size crowd you're expecting, I'd try to line up some help. Fifty people is a large group even arriving at different times as is the case with an Open House. I know I couldn't be a good hostess & still attend to kitchen duties for that size group without help.

Have fun!


    Bookmark   December 10, 2007 at 1:00PM
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I would not use plastic or paper. Unfriendly to the food, guests and the environment. Besides which decent disposables can get pricey and it's all in the garbage!

Beyond 20, I rent, easy and cheap and they do all the washing up.

However buying cheap glasses and dishes at the dollar store can be a good option. Some of the "better" dollar stores have seriously cheap plain white china and decent wine glasses, as do some of the discount warehouse stores.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2007 at 1:26PM
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I have been lucky enough to find stacks of Haviland or Bavarian white Ranson plates at auction a few years ago. They go into the dishwasher and go well with the more formal setting and equally well with red checked tablecloths. I put my sterling in the dishwasher....have for 50 probably has more "patina" than if I had handwashed it, but I use it every day and wouldn't have done that if I had had to hand wash it.
I can't even imagine where you pould put 800 plates and 600 stemmed glasses and still have room for 200 people! The largest party I ever had was about 115 people....and I expected about 75 to actually come...It was a cast party after a community theater musical...and everyone came..techs, actors chorus and spouses! People were hanging from the rafters....and it was winter and everyone had boots and a coat....what a zoo!
Linda C

    Bookmark   December 10, 2007 at 4:34PM
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Another vote for using real dishes and glasses, and renting.

I also put my china, sterling, and crystal in the dw. It may not be the best thing in the world for them, but that way I USE them. And after 25 years, they still look fine.

Actually, the crystal isn't fancy crystal -- I broke too many of my wedding crystal to serve parties, so I bought a bunch of inexpensive Mikasa. The old, nicer crystal didn't fit in the dw, so I always washed it by hand. In truth, you break more that way than in the dw. But anyway, the Mikasa does fine in the dw.

My mom has been putting her sterling, crystal, and china (and hers has a gold rim) in the dw for over FIFTY years, and it all still looks fine. So go ahead!

    Bookmark   December 10, 2007 at 10:57PM
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Thanks everyone. Responses are due on the 17th, so I'll know more by then on how many to expect. I went to a bunch of stores and couldn't find any decent cheap dinner plates, so I'll likely rent those. But I think I might buy the glasses.

I don't even want to think about parking. We have a 250' driveway, but if cars park on it the cars near the house are trapped and everyone behind them would have to back up (there is a turn around near the house). We are on a dead end street, on the cul de sac. Our neighbors had a large party a few years ago and had someone parking cars (it was summer and they have a short driveway). But I have no idea on WHO I could get to do this. There don't seem to be any services like that here (they used a teenage relative). People can easily park in the street, but it is a LONG walk to the house. Especially during the winter, in the dark. We will get the driveway salted and sanded the day before (we have a gravel driveway), and we will set up a light in the woods, but I can't do anything about the length of the walk.

So much to think about!

    Bookmark   December 11, 2007 at 12:06AM
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Do you have a club like the Lions, Rotary, Boy Scouts etc, who might be interested in fundraising by acting as parking valets?

    Bookmark   December 11, 2007 at 8:53AM
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All Mikasa outlets are closing out and offering great sales. If you have one near you, that might be the place to stock your party supplies.
Linda C

    Bookmark   December 11, 2007 at 10:12AM
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YES! Thank you Linac. I live about 3 miles from a Mikasa outlet. I called in sick today, but I think I might feel well enough to head over there...

    Bookmark   December 11, 2007 at 12:24PM
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