Tips for Holiday Serving Dishes

Julie_MI_Z5October 15, 2005

Something made me think of holiday parties, and I thought I would post this while it was on my mind.

This is how I decided what to keep when I decluttered the party dishes last summer.

(1) All plastic platters are gone. Fake crystal all the way, LOL!

(2) No real silver. I don't enjoy silver polish and I always have enough other things to do to keep me busy.

(3) No holiday themes. All platters are multi-occasion. No more pictures of Tom Turkey on turkey platters (which I thought was kind of tacky anyway, given what HAPPENED to Tom Turkey). No more Santa plates we would only use once a year.

Things I need to buy before the next party:

(1) Ice bucket (I've never had one, and keep having to borrow one).

(2) Matching salt & pepper shakers. Believe it or not, I don't have those either.

(3) Extra serving utensils (note to self: check the dollar store).

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Julie, what good suggestions!

A few years ago in a similar lightbulb moment, with a holiday gift card from my boss, I bought 20 glass plates from someplace like Bed Bath & Beyond--they were a dollar each(!) and now I have ample plates for my holiday gatherings. I've got a relatively large local extended family so serving between a dozen and eighteen folks is not unusual. I have one set of nice Lenox china, but only a set of 8. So I was always fretting and feeling like things looked mismatched. Now I've got plenty of plates, and they work for my holiday parties, my occasional coworker gathering etc.

What I really want these days for holidays, and other dinners, is a nice classic gravy container, believe it or not. Long long ago my MIL gave me one but it's that Pfaltzgraf (sp?), very flowery and not my style at all. I rarely use it in fact, but in a pinch have to since it's my only one. The other day the ghost of Talley Sue whispered to me as I was putting it away 'why are you still using something you don't even LIKE?' and I decided to take the last of that gift card from my boss (yep still have some money left on the sucker) and go find something. Julie, your suggestion is a great one too; I really do not want anything holiday-ish in particular, but I need to find something simple and classic which is what I really like.


    Bookmark   October 16, 2005 at 7:25PM
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Ann, great idea on buying the plates and adding gravy container to your shopping list!

I'm giving serious thought to making a to-do list and figuring out how much needs to be done around the house to have a Christmas party this year, which we've skipped lately. If I figure on a small group of 50 people, we'll be eating off the "good Chinet". LOL


    Bookmark   October 17, 2005 at 6:01AM
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I have gotten a lot of use out of my ice bucket since I finally got one, BUT I need a good tool to pick the ice up with. Any suggestions? Tongs and other ideas have failed to work very well.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2005 at 8:23AM
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I have an ice tongs that's more like a scissors instead of being springy; it works pretty well. I got it at some discount or clearance store for $7 or something--maybe $12, but I don't think so; it's silverplate, but very CHEAP silverplate. It was boxes and was being sold next to a silverplate spaghetti server and a silverplate cake server.

But it works!

I have a couple of hard-to-store serving pieces (a Christmas gravy boat, for example) that I keep in their boxes so I can stack them.

Ann, so I'm haunting you? LOL!

You deserve a gravy boat you like!

I have gravy boats in 3 different sizes, plus that Christmas one, which I've never used for gravy; I pile Christmas candy or caramel corn in it.

Here is a link that might be useful: sort like this one but mine had more finger-y looking tines

    Bookmark   October 17, 2005 at 1:01PM
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The last ice bucket I borrowed had a silver scoop that hung from the side.

I liked it.

I would have preferred not to return it, but I did. ROFL

    Bookmark   October 17, 2005 at 4:57PM
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I need an ice bucket, but I do already have the tongs! I scrounged a couple of pairs of small heavy clear plastic tongs from the last catered work meeting. There were also some heavy white plastic rectangular platters that I am thinking of nabbing. I have no idea where I'd get these if I had to go out an buy them, but they are great and (will be) handy.

I am guilty of having 'christmas' plates, but I couldn't help myself. They were my grandmother's, and they were the greatest holiday-ware I'd ever seen. Otherwise, everything is non-denominational, so to speak.

We recently had a big housewarming party and took a tip from a terrific party we had been to this past summer - no utensils (finger food) and only paper and plastic plates and cups. For that matter, only a limited selection of beverages - everyone was happy and had a great time, including the hosts!

    Bookmark   October 27, 2005 at 3:00PM
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I was wandering around the thrift store the other day. My favorite way to escape the house.

There was a set of Christmas dishes (looked pretty complete)and I was sooo tempted to pick them up. So I went through my little mind game.

Do I have room to store them? Yes.
Do I really want to pack them up and haul them up and down those stairs? No.
Would I be willing to do it to have a more festive table? Yes.
Do I have room to keep them in the kitchen and use them all month? No.
Can I get a festive table with some holiday linen instead? Yes.

I came home empty handed. Three years ago, I would have bought them and not given any of that a thought.


    Bookmark   October 27, 2005 at 4:41PM
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Good for you! Hallmark sent me a flyer for a really cute snowman plate. I was tempted... then stuck to my plan for no holiday themed dishes.

But it was really cute.


    Bookmark   October 28, 2005 at 7:18PM
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I'm not trying to be tacky here....I just need to understand why it is important to do without something that you like, will make your table prettier and more festive, that you have space to store and that you can afford?? My greatest pleasure is the decoration of my family enjoys it, it is warm and always welcoming to friend and stranger. Heck, even my step kids and grandkids would rather come to our home for every holiday, than to stay in theirs! I'm sorry, I just don't understand why there is something wrong/disorganizational with having an item just because you will enjoy using it.
Most sincere thanks for any explanation.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2005 at 2:29PM
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Jaybird, maybe I can explain my reasoning.

For me, the emotional INCOME of pleasure from dealing with activities or objects must equal or be MORE than the emotional OUTGO and pleasure from those activities or objects.

No one is saying there is anything wrong with having tons of decorations or stuff, if it gives you pleasure. Most of us here are dealing with the concept that the disorganization has reached a point it is NOT pleasureable. The work associated with cleaning, packing, storing, keeping and putting the stuff back out again is not pleasurable.

I'm middle aged, but my youngest child is only 5. I only have so much energy to go around and I have to make sure I'm not running on empty. I'm trying to be more thoughtful in what I bring into our environment to make sure I keep that balance between the work involved and the pleasure I receive.

I would bet my next paycheck that your friends and family like to come to your house because YOU are a warm and inviting person. Therefore, your home is warm and inviting, especially over the holidays.

There are many things which would give me pleasure but I am no longer willing to do the work associated with the pleasure. I have very few clothes, even though I like and can afford trendy stuff. Keeping them clean and pressed is too much work for me now. I love pots and pots of flowers around my patio, but again, the work level has become something which is unbalanced. Now, all of my ratty, vintage quilts? That's a different story!

If a magic genie could come and decorate the house for the holidays with a poof! (and take it down) I would really like a super decorated home. But, for me, being realistic means after the first time or two of lugging and packing holiday dishes, they will just sit in the box. It means I'm the one who will spend days putting the stuff up and days taking it down and packing it away. By coming up with an easy care substitute like a couple of pretty tablecloths, I can achieve my goal of a festive table with much less work.

I am also trying to get away from some of the messages from society, that if we don't go all out, then our family won't have a nice holiday. We don't even put up the tree until the 15th of December because I feel that it keeps the build-up or anticipation level too high for my kids.

The one thing I have really appreciated since finding this board, is the support and encouragement for whatever someone is trying to achieve. We all have really different lives and challenges. It's not important that I understand Marie's stuggle with her paper clutter. I don't have to make sense of Julie's desire to have her wardrobe a certain way. I can encourage and try to help them reach their goal.

For me personally, it's been a quest to stop looking at the short-term pleasure, but see a bigger picture of what comes and goes in my life. How do I balance that for me?


    Bookmark   November 2, 2005 at 6:25PM
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why it is important to do without something that you like, will make your table prettier and more festive, that you have space to store and that you can afford?? My greatest pleasure is the decoration of my home...

Here's how it goes for me:
Decorating is not my greatest pleasure, and a pretty table is not important to my family. It comes down to keeping it simple and fussing less over insignificant things. Even though holiday dishes SOUND wonderful to me, and I can afford to go out and buy them tomorrow, they're not important and don't show up on the priority list.

For example, I work full time and we have a busy family calendar (I won't be home one night this week until Friday). Is it more important to me to drag out the holiday dishes this weekend, or drive the youth group around to rake leaves for senior citizens? (the kids win) Next weekend, is it more important to drag out the holiday dishes, or work with the Boy Scouts on the food drive? (the boys win) Every week and weekend is like this from now until Christmas.

There came a time when I had to decide FOR ME what was more work than it was worth. I know from experience that eventually those holiday dishes (that I would love so much!) would become more of a burden than a blessing.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2005 at 5:55AM
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I can see both sides of the holiday decorating situation, it all comes down how much time you have and what makes you happy. I use my wedding china for all holiday events (it sees the light of day maybe three times a year, and I'm happy with it that way), but I also have special decor and serving pieces for Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween and Easter. I love decorating, and I enjoy pulling this stuff out and having it around me, and I don't mind putting it away when the season is over. I have organized and pared back what I use each season, and each season's special items are stored in a separate Rubbermaid container (except for Christmas -- that takes up boxes and boxes and boxes, my DH still gets twitchy when I pull all the Christmas boxes out, lol, but I can do the whole house in one afternoon, not including the tree). I've come to find my own balance with it all, and after years of collecting, I've learned to cull. Now when I buy something new (and I'm a total sucker for Christmas ornaments), I TRY to discard something old. "Try" being the operative word :)

What it comes down to for me is that this kind of seasonal decorating is my play-time, I look forward to doing it, and my family enjoys the results, too.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2005 at 9:45AM
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Sheri, I agree completely. If you enjoy it, and you can manage it reasonably on your own, then decorate as you please.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2005 at 12:03PM
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I enjoy decorating my home and have two-12 large boxes for each seaon/holiday but as I just posted else where I did not get out my Fall stuff this year... but did take down the Summer stuff so things are a bit bare right now but things have been so busy that it was my compromise. I did use to have "winter" dishes until an accident with them a few years ago. Everyone enjoyed the fact that the day after Thanksgiving I would get them was a sort of signal that the holiday had begun... we used them every day through New Years then as they washed up they were loaded back up and put away for another year.

My whole family misses this small thing so I am now the look out for a new set of holiday dishes but do understand those who donot have the time, money or inclination towards such things. I mean I own three purses.. a warm weather purse (violet colored Dooney and Burke) and a cold weather (red Coach tote) plus a small black beaded bag for going out. That works for me...but I know others who would never have holiday dishes who have bunches of purses... it's all in what works for you and makes you feel good.


    Bookmark   November 4, 2005 at 8:26AM
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Thank you ladies for not thinking badly of me.....I just wanted to hear your viewpoints, and I even agree with all of you about differing comments :^) I appreciate your time to answer and give me your thoughts!! Decorated or not :^), I hope you all have a wonderful Holiday season, and enjoy every moment!
Blessings to you all,

    Bookmark   November 4, 2005 at 12:25PM
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