Today is the last installment of my Kitchen Essentials series. The point of having a kitchen well-stocked with good quality tools is to enable the homemaker to prepare nourishing meals for the family. Now let's talk about the presentation of that meal.
The family table is an important place to not only eat but fellowship with each other. Numerous studies suggest that eating together as a family helps children as they grow up. I really like a slogan that Leanne Ely, the Dinner Diva, uses, "You're feeding souls, not holes."
Keeping that in mind, I think it is important to set an attractive table when serving meals. I think you need the following:
1. Placemats - I like to have an assortment of placements. You can change the look of a table setting drastically with different placemats. Wal-Mart sells them cheap! Of course, you can find them at yard sales and thrift stores, but it may be difficult to find matching sets.
2. Dishes - If you're just setting up a kitchen, I recommend getting a good plain white set of dishes. You can vary the look by using different placemats and glassware. My favorite brand of dishes? Hands down, it's Corelle! They last forever and clean up well. My first set of Corelle looks as good as the day I got it - 33 years ago!
Now, I love dishes and I have several sets that I have collected over the years. Out of the 6 sets I currently own, four of them are Corelle. I have had stoneware sets before, but for day in and day out use, I just think they're too heavy. If you have your kids unload them out of the dishwasher for you, stoneware is too heavy for them to bang around. My Corelle holds up to what the kids can dish out!
3. Napkins - I do have paper napkins, but when I want my table to look nice, I like to use cloth. It's very green to have cloth napkins and you can make them out of all sorts of materials. Here is a post I wrote earlier about making them out of sheets.
4. Glassware - again, if you are just setting up a kitchen, get clear glasses that will go with everything. Later on, if you have room you can collect different sets to vary the look of your table.
5. Serving bowls and platters - The other day, my 22 year old said, "Mom, you're the only one I know that puts the meal in serving bowls. All my friends just leave the food in pots on the stove and have everyone go get their own food on their plate." I think serving the food on the table makes for a nice presentation, plus it requires manners for the children to learn to pass the bowls and to ask for what they need.
6. Candles! I have used candles for years to make my table look nice; however, I have been challenged recently to step up on my candle use. Here is a post by Jen at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam explaining the importance of candles and the ambiance they create.
If you want the family mealtime to be memorable, then work on having a pleasing presentation. It will add so much to the wonderful food you slaved over to feed your loved ones.
Here are some examples of simple every day dinner settings. (I didn't include the accessories for when you are having a seven course meal!)
My first set of Corelle!
My favorite set of Corelle!
Here are examples using white plates:
Every day place setting.
Fall place setting.
Christmas place setting.
Winter place setting. (Set for my leftie)
A beautifully set table works for me!
For other great ideas, visit Kristen at We are THAT Family!