I’ve been in the grocery store a lot lately, and seen ladies with their lists, checking off the items they need for their holiday party menus.
(Sorry guys. I know some of you plan, too.)
They are planning for the food they’ll serve for special days coming soon: Thanksgiving and Christmas among them. I wonder if they are planning for their dinnerware and serving pieces as much as the cooking.
I’ll bet many of them are.
Having the right dinnerware and serving pieces is all part of pulling off an enjoyable holiday dinner. (Planners know the benefits of forethought. Some say picky. I say wise.)
Deviled egg plate. Check. Casserole for that green bean dish. Got it. Pie dishes. Ready to go.
In my case, it’s a handcrafted pottery baking dish, about one quart size. This can be used for clam dip, oyster dressing, or serving scallops. I got it years ago at a ceramics sale at the local community college. I don’t use it often, but when I do, it’s a conversation starter.
This charming dish is out of storage, in time for the winter season.
Plan Your Menu - And Your Dishes
It’s easy to take your party planning one more step (if you haven’t already) and check to make sure you have the serving pieces you need for all the wonderful food that you’ll be serving.
- Make a shopping list for dishes. I have my “permanent shopping list” for vintage goods. It helps me keep track of what I’m looking for, and especially like those occasional pieces like jam jars, pickle dishes, gravy boats, serving bowls in my favorite patterns, and small platters. You don’t use them every day, but when you need them, you need them.
- Set your table or buffet ahead of time, including the serving pieces. Then go down your menu and decide where you will place each item. This helps expose any holes in your dinnerware collection, while there are a few days left to remedy those gaps.
- Remember the flatware serving pieces. Have enough pie servers, slotted spoons or small ladles for sauces, pickle forks, spreaders for cheese balls? The right flatware makes it so much easier for guests to help themselves when it’s time to eat.
Small or large, using the right serving pieces will make it easy to bring your food that last step, from the serving dish to the plate.
Happy guests, relaxed hostess. Part of the recipe for a successful holiday party!
The simple beauty of white dinnerware is classic. You cannot go wrong with a table setting based on this elegant color.
Some tones are creamy, some are bright, but no matter the specific white shade, the impression is understated and refined. The differences in the white tones give texture to your table setting, when you mix different wares together.
I also like the way that food looks on white and light-colored dinnerware, because I enjoy how tasty it looks, as a prelude to eating!
Monochromatic color schemes are calming, too, whether on your dinner table or elsewhere in your home.
White dinnerware patterns in sleek and modern shapes coordinate well with each other, as do those that feature traditional shapes. I’ve got a mix of shapes in the photo. Some of the most modern shapes are vintage, with Mid-Century Modern influences.
I pulled this collection of dinnerware together in just 5 minutes. If I dip into my china storage, I know there are other examples of white dishes tucked away.
Clockwise from the top left:
- Dinner plate in the Winter Frost White pattern by Corelle (made for more than 40 years)
- Small oval plate by Homer Laughlin, restaurant ware
- Grab It bowl with nubby handle by Corning Ware
- Small oval casserole in the French White pattern by Corning
- Jam jar in the Heritage pattern by Pfaltzgraff (made for more than 50 years)
- Salad plate and lugged cereal bowl in the Savoy pattern by Noritake (vintage 1950s-1970s)
The longevity of these patterns demonstrates that white dinnerware is popular and timeless.
The plain white Corelle is a workhorse at our house. It’s easy care, sturdy, and goes in dishwasher and microwave. For quick, everyday meals, this dinnerware works well for us.
A basic white color palette makes it easy to add some sparkle with crystal and flatware, to tailor your table setting to any particular event and menu, as you wish.
A white theme also makes it easy to mix vintage and new pieces, to help make all the place settings you might need for a special dinner with extra guests.
I’ve written about other white dishes before, in particular:
Whether you cook for a few or a crowd, prefer formal or casual meals, or need specialized piece types to suit your menu, there are white dinnerware patterns that will help you create the table setting that will need your needs, and your style.
And if you have special, colorful serving pieces, or a spectacular centerpiece, the white look will help you show them to fullest effect.
When you're choosing your next dinnerware pattern, you cannot go wrong with white!
Time to bring out the Thanksgiving dishes, like vintage amber glassware.
This Tiara amber honey box is from the 1970s, when Harvest Gold was a popular fashion color, in glassware, cookware and even appliances.
In a modern table setting, the warm color complements more contemporary dinnerware patterns.
And we love the bee motif, too.
One or a few pieces can add to your centerpiece or buffet decoration, for Thanksgiving or other winter holidays.
These Tiara glass serving pieces are not terribly common, but if you shop year round for your vintage dinnerware and glassware, they are available in thrift shops and secondary marketplaces. Online, this glass is always available, though some piece types or colors are scarce.
As with all vintage glassware, watch for chips and cracks when you buy.
The comb honey that fits into this honey box is also harder to find. We have good farmer’s markets around here, as well as honey producers and specialty grocers – all sources to shop when we want our honey in the comb.
Or, the honey box also serves as a charming candy dish if you prefer.
Our honey server was part of the Tiara line, made by Indiana Glass. It was made in quite a few colors, including amber gold, milk white, black, blue, clear and others.
Tiara glassware was sold through home parties, from 1970 until 2000. It has a devoted group of collectors.
When I find Tiara in my travels, the quality makes a good first impression, even if the original foil stickers are gone (they usually are). In particular, look for these honey boxes, and pieces in the Ponderosa Pine pattern.
As for this golden amber honey box, what a centerpiece for Thanksgiving, and other winter holidays at home!
Halloween is near, and it’s time to raid the cupboards for some dishes to use as the “bones” of your table setting, whether for a dinner, a party, or a casual snack.
The bulk of your table setting - the plates, cups and bowls - can be as close as your kitchen.
One of our dinnerware patterns is the graphic, black and white City Lines or City Block by Corelle. It’s dinnerware we use every day.
This pattern was introduced about 10 years ago, and is still available. We like it for its versatility and clean lines.
Black, white, or black and white can be the basic color palette of many table settings.
In addition to new Corelle dinnerware in this pattern, we have found pieces in the secondary marketplace that are like new.
I found some bread plates recently, for example. You just cannot beat the price, and they looked like they'd never been used, and never visited the dish washer (in a good way, no dullness to the finish).
We’ve also added plain white Corelle to our collection, which mixes with it just fine for a lot of different event or menu needs. (If you're searching online, try Winter Frost White.)
At our house, the white and black dinnerware set is an easy starting place for a casual Halloween color palette. Black or white are a fine basis for Halloween, and we have plenty of pieces and piece types, to use them for our Halloween snacks.
The bright white stands out on the traditional orange and black tablecloth. They will work with just about any special Halloween pieces we can conjure up, whether any ghosts visit us that night or not.
Witches and goblins, vampires and zombies - any of these visitors can bring some extra dark colors to the table setting, and to the party, too.
Wicked Cool Tableware Accents
Mix and match works great for a Halloween party.
The basic table setting morphs into Halloween style with my favorite Poultrygeist mug (which has made an appearance for many years on this blog around October 31).
This year includes another special piece: a glass candy dish in cobalt blue, pumpkin shaped. Sorry, I don’t have one for every guest to take home, but this one will fit nicely into the centerpiece.
By planning for Halloween all year round, I continue to add more pieces to my dinnerware collection as the opportunities arise.
Meanwhile, the dinnerware that lives in the kitchen all year round can come out to play for Halloween, or any other special dates, just about any time.
I'm a dish flipper, no doubt about it. Dinnerware is my weakness. My collection of plates, glasses and mugs has outgrown the kitchen cabinet space, moved into other rooms, and headed off toward the hoarders end of the spectrum.
Since you’re here, you know that I've been writing about, and for a few years selling, vintage dinnerware online.
After a few years, a Facebook friend, who is also in the dish business, put up a private photo challenge group. Photo of the week, various topics, usually esoteric, like” love” or “trust,” vs. a tangible, like “bridge” or “boat.”
The weekly challenge was to illustrate the concept, and post a photo.
It became a running joke, not long after I put up the jazz mug for “music” (shown below).
After the first one, I threw down the gauntlet (for better or worse) and said I could satisfy all the challenges with a photo of dinnerware or glassware. Like the one in this photo.
The challenge word was “paisley” and I submitted this picture of a salad plate in the vintage Oriental Charm pattern by Mikasa, from the late 1970s. (Yes, they put paisley on dishes in the heyday of Rock ‘n Roll.)
Normal people don't flip the dishes in a restaurant or at a party, to look at the maker's marks on the back.
I don't think it's weird, but it IS to other people. I can tell by the way they react.
It was a fun challenge. My large library of dinnerware photos came in handy, for a complete dish nerd like me...
Are you curious enough to flip your dishes?
Here's the Jazz mug, along with a champagne glass to illustrate “smoke.”
Then there were the Michigan cooler glasses, for a travel theme. And the 1973 mug to help illustrate a class reunion page on Facebook.
And of course, I flip while shopping, if I don't know the pattern and maker already.
If you’re into dishes, you already know that many dinnerware patterns include the manufacturer name, and the country of manufacture, on the mark underneath. Some include the pattern name as well. Glassware is more challenging, as most pieces are not marked.
Finding more of that special pattern you collect, or something new and unexpected, all part of the thrill of the hunt. And it continues when you use the pieces you bring home.
Loving dinnerware, that’s no challenge.
Vintage dinnerware mixes with new china just fine, when it comes to setting your table for the fall season.
Homecoming by Noritake is one of my favorite vintage patterns, and the new pumpkin plate by Better Homes & Gardens works so well with it.
I could bring in some colorful leaves, to add to a table setting in the fall, to go along with dinnerware sets that have the colors and motifs of the season.
Autumn color palettes and motifs are the ideal ingredients for a beautiful, seasonal table setting.
Bold and warm fall colors are popular, and the height of the season is a good time to add to your dinnerware collection, to make sure that you have everything you'll need for the menu you are planning, the number of guests, and the holiday dinners coming soon!
New or vintage, the colors you need are out there. Start with rustic reds, burnished oranges, muted greens, golden yellows or earthy browns -- whether in solid colors, or decorated with fall motifs like leaves and pumpkins -- are perfect.
The beautiful colors of fall flowers, trees and other natural objects can inspire your dinnerware, glassware and other table setting elements
Make Your Fall Dinnerware Set Pop With Style
Warm tones in dinnerware sets create the basis for an autumn theme table setting. Keep it subtle with more brown tones, like cream, ivory and gold. Or add splashes of red, orange or yellow to make it sassy.
Give your fall dinnerware set a retro vibe with Little Hoot dinnerware by Rachael Ray in charming fall colors. Look for the owl. He's is cute, too!
Just made for mix and match, Fiesta dinnerware in Scarlet by Homer Laughlin coordinates with more of the same, or with other Fiesta colors like Paprika, Tangerine, Sunflower, or Ivory -- even Lemongrass and Chocolate, depending on the table setting you want to create. Fiesta can go modern or retro, as you wish.
When you have your dinnerware sets, you’ll be ready to enjoy beautiful fall dinnerware sets all season long.
When I see a glass pickle dish on the shelf, in a thrift store or perhaps at a sale, I have to look at it. I'm three-quarters of the way to buying it before I even pick it up.
I love these things, because I love to use them to serve pickles – for holiday parties, buffet dinners and other celebrations through the year.
Pickles take me back to times gone by. We would always have a relish tray for special events. Besides pickles, these would include some combination of deviled eggs, carrot and celery sticks, olives, radishes or other finger foods.
Aunt Gertie liked pickled watermelon rind, and the only time I remember having that is when she was coming, or brought it.
There is a candied sweet pickle mix that we get in a jar at the grocery store, or sometimes in the deli. It has small gherkins and chunk sweet pickles, cauliflower, red bell pepper and small onions, too. We like the Sechler’s brand, which is local in the Midwest and available online.
The pickle dishes that attract my attention are often vintage, though there are some new examples, made and sold to reflect subtle changes in our holiday menus, which as all olive dishes.
Dishes made for nuts, mints and candy are a cousin to the pickle dishes I’m partial to. (And I like those, too.)
I’ve got both china and glass pickle dishes, but the glass ones catch my eye quickly, whenever I’m out shopping.
What To Look For In Glass Pickle Dishes
I presume all glass has a defect, if it’s coming from a secondary marketplace, such as an estate sale or thrift store. Until proved otherwise.
So I carefully look it over and feel all over. I want to find any chips or cracks, and not cut myself. I may or may not purchase an imperfect piece, but I want to know its condition before I decide.
I also favor the retro examples. I determine this by color, shape and size.
The pickle dish in this picture, which I have yet to identify, is among those, because of the color of the glass, and the over-the-top oval shape, it’s almost a boat.
At 9 inches long, it could also be used for celery.
The indents around the sides are intended to be leaves, because of the creases in the center of each, vs. flower petals or thumbprints, which would not have this detail.
I’ve found other examples in the secondary markets, but those sellers did not know the pattern name or a maker, either. It’s not marked, one of the ongoing challenges of glassware.
When I round up all my pickle dishes – round, square, oval and rectangular – I’ll display them. It makes quite a collection.
And I’ll continue to rescue them when I see them in my travels. (We all know what happens to items that stay on the thrift store shelf too long.)
So much better to bring them home, enjoy looking at them in the light, and using them when the occasion calls for some favorite pickles on the side.