When to Use the "Good Plates"
China patterns are tricky. For southern ladies, you have both a china pattern and an appropriate place (read: sideboard) to store them in. But when is a good time to pull out the good stuff? Over the holidays I hosted an impromptu brunch for my cousins. We get together for every major holiday and our mothers ALWAYS pull out the good china and real cloth napkins, regardless of the fact that we have no less than 30 people at every gathering. So when I suggested via our cousins group text that, "in the interest of time and dishwater" I would serve brunch on plastic plates, I was met with much-deserved consternation and judgment. One cousin even threatened to call my mother and report my break with tradition.
It's true, breaking out the good china can be a headache. If it's not used that often, it's dusty, must be hand-washed both before AND after use, and if you are hosting a larger group, you run the risk of serving a meal on non-matching dishware (clutch the pearls!). But here are five reasons why the aforementioned headache is a small inconvenience and why it is ALWAYS a great idea to serve a meal on real china.
1) It's the perfect homage to the past. If you're like me, you either have a set or have access to a set of your grandmother's china or flatware. At my mother's insistence, I used my grandmother's silver service while hosting Christmas Eve dinner and I swear the food tasted better. Not only that, but you usher in the spirit of your ancestors by taking the time to include them in this way. It makes the home feel warmer and fuller!
2) Presentation is everything. Plastic plates may match and they even come in some lovely patterns, but there is nothing like welcoming guests into the eating space by presenting beautiful china for their use. Presenting a well-made table sets the tone of the evening.
3) It honors your guests. There is definitely a time and place for using plastic plates (Super Bowl, BBQ dinners, pizza night). But there is something to be said about letting your guests know that you cared enough about them to pull out the good china.
4) It's a conversation starter. I have three sets of good china. One is a Christmas set that makes me immensely happy every time I pull it out to set my Christmas table! It never fails that when I use any one of the three sets, at some point during the meal the conversation will turn to a discussion about the china pattern which recalls excellent memories of our wedding, or that great find from Macy's, or my grandmother.
5) It makes the meal an event. Naturally, you and your guests will take more time to enjoy the meal when using the good dishes. By setting the tone that this is not a time to "eat" but is instead a time to "dine", regardless of what you are serving, it becomes an experience as opposed to just a time of day.
What great memories do you have from using the "good plates"? Happy dining!