Wednesday, May 5, 2010

36 Things: Throw a Dinner Party for 20

I love having people over for dinner. I like to plan guest lists, I like to plan menus and figure out decorations, and make pretty invitations. (Maybe I should have started a career as a wedding planner.)

One of my absolute favorite items I set as a goal on my 36 Things I Want to Do Before I Turn 37 is to throw a dinner party for 20.

Now I have not done this item yet; I am just in the planning stages. I am thinking sometime at the end of July. I need to plan for sunshine in the garden since I cannot seat 20 people in my house! I am thinking about gazpacho and grilled shrimp and cheese toasts. And Sangria.

However, the very first logistical problem that came to mind was not the food itself: I know I can cook for 20 people, I have a friend I can twist an arm or two to help, and I plan on hiring at least one waiter for the event. What I am most worried about is tableware.

My dishes are old. And ugly. My black dishes are what my sister gave to me when I was 17, so that's some 19 year old plates. My other plates are cheap ones from IKEA and badly chipped. I know it is time to buy new dishes. I am an adult, damn it, I want nice dishes. Only I would like to buy nice dishes to serve 10, not 20. So, while my desire for new dishes is strong, I thought I should try and be economical about this party. I could always rent dishes, but that is not so economical either, so I am starting to think I should turn to fancy plastic for the dinner party.

Plastic? Not gross throw away Chinet. You know, pretty melamine plates that are all the rage. They can go in the dishwasher, but not in the microwave. I thought I had brilliant brainstorm. I could have pretty dishes at a minimal cost.


Melamine dishes, it turns out, are pretty darned expensive. Oooh, but they are gorgeous.

These are probably the best priced I have seen. They are from Crate and Barrel and $19.95 if you buy a set of 4 different colors. They look a little too Luau themed for my taste.

I really like this Tangiers line from Bongenre that comes in a lot of gorgeous colors, but they are $54.00 per set of 4. (Remember, I need 20!)

This Eden Floral dinner plate from Zak Designs is not bad, coming in at $7.47 per plate.
Also gorgeous are all the plates from French Bull. The Splendida plate at the top of this post along with the Mosaic one below are both $11.00 each.
My hands down favorite are from Freddy&Ma. You can chose your own pattern out of dozens and dozens. I immediately found a bird pattern I want, but these dishes come in at $15 a piece. You can also customize your own totes or pillows or even upload your own artwork! I could go crazy at a shop like that.

Now I am starting to think regular dishes might just be more economical than melamine. I need to make a decision soon since I could spend days just looking at all of the beautiful patterns and I need to move on to important things like invitations and menus.


  1. Could you maybe borrow from a good friend or neighbor? So many of us seem to have plain white dishes these days that you might be able to round up a 'matching' set quite easily...

  2. You can always borrow too. I have a box of 10 HUGE dinner plates we have never used and 11 more salad plates (11" diameter) that are even too big for us to use as dinner plates. They would be easy to part with for however long you wanted them.

  3. You two seem to be in the same frame of mind! I was considering borrowing, but honestly, we always have so many potlucks and wine group parties at our house that we always seem to run out of plates. I thought plastic would be a nice way of providing for potlucks and keep the nicer stuff for day to day. I may change my mind and call you, Shari!

  4. perhaps looking into a restaurant supply store like: (or warehouse store like Big Lots!) for sheer quantity. Then for style, looking into ceramic decals (if you have access to a kiln)??? I don't know if you can eat off of it, but they also have the paint that you can bake on glazed ceramic in the oven. Good luck! Or having the fabulous plates as chargers and using transparent plastic for the actual food?