Setting the table

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Vaikeasti
Posts: 84
Joined: Fri Aug 30, 2019 3:02 pm

Setting the table

Post by Vaikeasti »

I have people over for dinner around once a month and host bigger parties (birthdays etc) 2-5 times a year typically.

To this day I've been using my normal spoons, plates and cups etc, and added paper plates if we need more tableware than we have.
We have quite a lot of tableware because we kept a lot of non-mint condition stuff that we've inherited. And we have a box full of paper plates so I don't need to buy them for a few years yet. (We have difficulties throwing useful stuff away just because we have no need for them and they have no resale value.)
I wonder if renting the missing plates 2-3 times a year would be better than buying paper plates? What is the best economical and or ecological solution in your opinion? How do you deal with guests over and hosting parties?

I've actually gravitated towards splitting the parties in to multiple smaller ones. Saves me the trouble of thinking about the plates, gets me to see and actually engage with people more. And smaller parties are also easier for my introvert SO to deal with because they give SO the option to choose which guests to meet and which to avoid.

Also my kitchen tables oilcloth is soon coming to the end of its lifespan so I've been thinking of options of how to replace it. It serves to hide the rugged table below and make it easy to clean after the kids especially when they paint or do play-doh or something.

I've thought of a few solutions:

1) Obviously I could just go and by a new one, but it feels wrong thinking that I'd be just throwing money at the problem and creating plastic waste.

2) I could get a few used cotton table cloths and just wash them often. We wash linen laundry once a week so that would mean the cloth is dirty most of the time or buying something like five cloths. And it would not protect the table from wet paint. And I wonder how long the cloth would last in every day use.

3) Cotton cloth + a glass on top would protect the cloth and make it easy to clean. But acquiring a glass that size would cost a lot, and it would be huge hassle to replace it if it would brake.

4) I could paint the table to make it pretty and easy to clean to skip the whole table cloth. But that would mean stains from the paint and maybe the table lasting less long? Or maybe the increased wear on the table is not significant? And of course we'd go without a table for a few days/weeks when I'm working on it. That's a minor inconvenience.

From these the painting and doing with out the cloth seems like the best option. But am I missing something? How do you, especially people with kids, deal with your kitchen table? What's the logic behind it? How is the kitchen table part of your bigger picture?

I've been thinking about how would jacob would do it. I only remember from the book that you just shouldn't invite anyone over ever so you don't need extra tableware or pretty furniture. :lol:

Thank you for reading and I apologize for such obviously low Wheaton level question. I would very much appreciate seeing how you think about this!

ertyu
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Re: Setting the table

Post by ertyu »

i vote pain table + keep old oilcloth except for parties

Chris
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Re: Setting the table

Post by Chris »

Vaikeasti wrote:
Mon Jan 13, 2020 1:50 am
I wonder if renting the missing plates 2-3 times a year would be better than buying paper plates? What is the best economical and or ecological solution in your opinion?
I actually had a frugal friend who, for her wedding, bought plates at thrift shops instead of renting them. It was the cheaper option.

Just found a stack of 16 plates for $2 on Craigslist. That's the equivalent price of 50 or so paper plates though, so if storage and cleanup is a concern, paper plates might still have their place.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Setting the table

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

Buy more plates at thrift store or garage sales. You should be able to pick them up for less than .50/each. Store them away from your everyday use plates so your kids won't be tempted to use too many. Keep the decrepit oil cloth for messy crafts ( or you could cut it up into mats so the kids could put them down more easily -weight two corners to avoid slippage) , otherwise use the plain wooden table top. In my neck of the woods, very pretty old tablecloths are also quite inexpensively obtained at thrift, garage, or estate sales, so you could obtain one of these to reserve for party use.

Scott 2
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Re: Setting the table

Post by Scott 2 »

Another thrift store diner checking in.

Well, half of the plates. The others were from the "free" table in our last apartment. It's not uncommon for someone to replace their entire set of perfectly fine dishware, giving away the old. You could put the word out and wait for plates to come to you.

basuragomi
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Re: Setting the table

Post by basuragomi »

If it's a small party, ask your guests to bring their own dishes, especially if you're serving something that requires unusual dishware. Wash and return them at the end of the party. It works for me.

For the table, how rough is it? Is sanding and sealing the surface with a durable finish not an option? If it's good-quality wood it should be able to withstand decades of use.

jacob
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Re: Setting the table

Post by jacob »

Vaikeasti wrote:
Mon Jan 13, 2020 1:50 am
I've been thinking about how would jacob would do it. I only remember from the book that you just shouldn't invite anyone over ever so you don't need extra tableware or pretty furniture. :lol:
I don't think I wrote it like that (and I tend to be consistent). Probably more along the lines of "don't buy a bigger house because you need the room to entertain, instead go to a restaurant when you need to".

But since you asked... we have enough plates for about 5 people which is also about the number of people I can handle. If I know we'll be out of something (e.g. not enough chop sticks), I'll ask some guests to bring their own. In general, we only associate with people who can mentally handle/process such requests :mrgreen:

For ERE meetups, we're working through a stack of paper/plastic cups our neighbor gave us a few years ago.

However, seeing as you're hosting regularly, your situation is different. I'd just buy some plates, etc. from a thrift store and keep it in a "party box" so it doesn't clutter up the regular living/kitchen situation. That's a one-time expense that's easily amortized. (As opposed to someone buying a set of 12 because they "need" it approximately three times in their entire life.)

Alternatively, since we're known to many as someone who doesn't say no to other people's cast offs ("If it's free, it's for me"), I could probably just wait a few years and end up with a donated set. In fact, we just got rid of a spare set of plates last year. Many consumers like to replace their dinner wares on a regular basis so we benefit from that ... but usually find that we already have the set we prefer. Actually coffee and tea mugs are the worst in that regard. They're like free logo t-shirts :x

horsewoman
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Re: Setting the table

Post by horsewoman »

All of my plates, bowls, glasses ect come from the thrift store or are cast-offs from friends and family. I started this custom years ago because I figured it was better to have all dishes consistently mismatched instead of constantly buying new stuff if anything from a set breaks. It serves me well so far and if done with some deliberation it even looks charming on the table. Like others mentioned above I have additional plates and cups in an out of the way cupboard for entertaining. But asking guests to bring their own is great, too!

Regarding the table, I have the same problem. Our table is old and ugly (but comfortable and sturdy) and my family wants oilcloth - because I tend to scold them more when they soil a cloth.
So for a while longer I'll stick to oilcloth. One of those lasts around 6-8 months and afterwards I reuse the intact parts around the house (under pet bowls, to cover stuff, shelf liners, for messy crafts... sewn up they are great for zipper bags, lunch pails, or linings.)

Peanut
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Re: Setting the table

Post by Peanut »

A few options.

I don't know what oilcloth is exactly but from online it looks like a laminated tablecloth? It seems practical but I would also recommend cotton or blend tablecloths. I spot treat with oxy and almost everything comes out. I use a dustbuster for crumbs if there are too many. Come to think of it one of those restaurant scooper things would be cool. I only wash every two to three weeks. Over several years I have now four tablecloths, a couple of which are seasonal (Halloween, Christmas), very fun. For a long time I just used one to two though and it was fine.

My parents had a glass top made for our kitchen table and they put a world map under it. It looked nice and was easy to clean. It never broke, I wouldn't really worry about that I suppose.

For painting I have an easel that the kids use. IKEA sells these dirt cheap and they are a lot of fun.
Play-doh I make from time to time and the kids just play with it on the wood floor. Broom cleanup is easy afterwards.
--

Renting dishes doesn't make sense to me. You can buy a set of four at any thrift store for the same cost probably.

Have to say, asking guests to bring anything to a dinner or party you are hosting--unless it is a potluck, in which case a dish is expected--is so out of the realm of hospitality in my view. You are asking people to transport breakable objects for your own convenience?

jacob
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Re: Setting the table

Post by jacob »

@Peanut - As an expat Scandinavian, I'm almost sure V_ is talking about a vinyl tablecloth, not oilcloth. Almost sure, that is. In terms of choices and in my mind, vinyl is standard (for the children) whereas actual oilcloth would be arcane/superfancy/weird. I could be wrong.

horsewoman
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Re: Setting the table

Post by horsewoman »

It is definitely a table cloth made of vinyl or similar plastic. In crafting circles or on websites to order fabric this is often called "oilcloth".

Regarding the BYO - this is totally normal in Germany. For example when there are get-togethers at my daughters kindergarten or school we are always asked to bring their own plates and cutlery. Or for barbecue with friends. Eating from paper plates is considered somewhat tacky here (apart from colorful/themed ones for children's birthday partys maybe). I would not feel hospitable at all feeding my guests from paper plates, and I was amazed to learn that in the States some people use them for every meal to avoid doing the dishes. So it probably depends on where you are.

Vaikeasti
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Joined: Fri Aug 30, 2019 3:02 pm

Re: Setting the table

Post by Vaikeasti »

Thank you all for the considerate replies!

I do mean a table cloth made of vinyl aka plastic. I did a short dictionary and google search and the word oilcloth turned out so I used that. Sorry for causing confusion.

@jacob, yeah my oversimplified version of what you wrote did not align with reality. It was an attempt at joking. I meant no critique or insult with that. Thank you for the actual quote.

Now I actually started thinking about how nice it would be to have party room to rent out and use for my own needs. The difference of introverts and extroverts I suppose. :D

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