Wednesday, May 13, 2009

WFMW-Kitchen Essentials-Tableware

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!


{ L } said...

What a FUN post! Thank you for sharing, enjoyed seeing your table settings too. :)

Realmomma said...

Hey, Jerri, you recently commented on a daybook of mine. Now I'm tagging you for a meme. Hope you will play along.

BTW, I love your picture in your header. It reminds me of roads we used to drive on when we lived in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains.

Holly said...

Very nice post. My mom always put the food into serving bowls, but I almost never do. I do put the pot/dish on the table. I was just thinking about that the other day. Serving dishes would certainly be nicer. For me right now, it's a matter of washing fewer dishes :/

Sharon said...

Love your post! We used to set our table up just so nicely, many times just for the decoration of it. However, with two little active men in the is often used more for folding laundry these days! Thanks for visiting my blog! We do love our pantry and I even got some pics up this afternoon!

Christy at FrugalCrunchyChristy said...

I love your post and totally agree! My mom always set the table with either a tablecloth (what I use) or placemats, pretty white dishes, and always always puts the food in serving dishes. I do too. I have 8 siblings and have 8 children - it is possible with little kids - I think they learn to respect the food when we show it a little respect. Beautifully set table can have less than gourmet food on it and still seem special.

Mama Said said...

Very cool post! The placemats really change things up and would be a cinch to store! I really like the whole thoughts of creating the ambiance for my family. Thank you for the ideas!

Thanks for visiting, too! Nice to meet you!

Mrs. C said...

"You're feeding souls, not" I'll have to remember tht one.

I enjoyed your kitchen essentials posts. I'm kind of sad to see them end. I get teased all the time by my family for using serving bowls, too, but I just think it's worth the little extra work to have the table nice.

Jenny said...

those are pretty settings.

Toni said...

Hey! Love the table settings. I do both - most days I put bowls, etc. on the table to serve but sometimes it's buffet on the stove. I have white Corelle too but since the kids are older I do have a set of green Pfatzgraft (sp?) that I love even if they are heavy - so heavy in fact that one night, in the wee hours of the morning, we heard a huge crash and many of my new dishes hit the floor. What a horrible sound to wake up by - and the dishes are on the discontinued list! Thankfully I was able to replace some of them from e-bay. I also have my fine china which gets used only 2-3 times a year... Are you left-handed? I noticed you put the napkins on the right instead of the left so I wondered... Have fun with your blog!

Becky said...

Thanks for your comment. Dutch Babies are also known as oven pancakes. Here's the link to the post I made for my son so he could make them at college:

I loved your ideas about setting a nice table. We do the placemats and serving dishes, but I really ought to add the candles. We have a lot lying around!