Want to stock up on tableware essentials? In the long run, if you entertain frequently it’s much more economical to buy than rent.
We’ve sourced new-season tableware pieces that are versatile, durable and accessible – low-maintenance classics that are good enough for the fanciest dinner party but tough enough for everyday. Buy stacks of dinner plates in bulk: 20 is better than 12, and 10 is better than 6. Forget fads, especially when it comes to plates. That means nothing square, oval or boat-shaped.
A plain white round plate always works but there are some great stone, ecru and grey options worth investigating, too. If you crave pattern, keep it subtle. Never let the colour or design detract from the food.
Check chains like Pottery Barn for pieces like its new antique-style Seoul blue and white dinner plates, at $20 each, and white bone china designs; plus Robert Gordon’s Mason Stepping Stones handmade stoneware collection in stone, grey, blue or black that look like art gallery pieces.Pottery Barn, 1800 232 914, www.potterybarn.com.au, www.robertgordon.com.au
Kmart, H&M Home and Zara are great sources for everything you could possibly need on the bargain dinnerware front with H & M Home porcelain dinner plates, from $4.99. We use Ikea’s plates in our own home. Ikea, (02) 8020 6641, www.ikea.com.au.
All your glasses should be good enough to use everyday and when guests visit. They don’t have to be expensive. A practical, elegant glass can cost a few dollars. Forget snobbery and go for style and enjoyment.
Glasses break: recognise the fact. When you find a style you like, buy in generous quantities. If you have twenty glasses, you’ll feel little pain when the number dwindles to fifteen, twelve, eight, six.
Clear glass is a classic, but don’t flinch from decorative styles, etched designs or colours. Beware of thin stems that feel as though they could snap between your fingers. Beware thin rims that feel as though they could crumble in your mouth. And no glasses that narrow at the top, induce claustrophobia and could be a trap for big-nosed friends. Hit Zara and H&M for their fab wine glasses that replicate high-end stuff; and Ikea sells Rattvik wine glasses, which resemble Georgian rummers, $2.99 each, www.ikea.com.au
Sniff out cutlery with classic shapes that feels good in the hand and on the lip. You’ll find great options at antique shops, chain stores and sales. Our favourites include Ikea’s Mogen 24-piece cutlery set, $29.99, or Dragon 24-piece cutlery set, $49.99. Ikea, (02) 8020 664, www.ikea.com.au
And don’t forget the napkins, which have to be generous enough to do their job: 50cm squares are OK, but the best are even bigger. Try nipping down to your local chain and grabbing a stack of bargain tea towels in something smart like some latte-look linen which can double as napkins. Just smile as oil or red wine sloshes all over them, when the party’s over, bundle them up, and chuck in the washing machine.
Chainstores are good hunting ground for pieces like Ikea’s Tekla tea towel, 49 cents, (02) 8020 6641; www.ikea.com.au. Or there’s great options like Hotel Luxury Collections ‘Modern Classic’ Set of 6 Linen Napkins, $100, www.hotelluxurycollection.com.