Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thrift Store Conventions: Entertain, $4.61 per placesetting

When most Americans think of entertaining, they think of racking up purchases at department stores or discount retailers. To put on a full spread for twelve guests for one swank occasion could spend $500 on the china alone!

But there is an alternative that few consider. The thrift store is the smart entertainer’s choice. Thrift stores routinely have all the accoutrements: punch bowls, domes and pedestals, linens. The host can save hundreds of dollars buying these items thrift.

The above photo features one of my treasured finds, an L. Bernardaud $ Co. Limoges antique covered dish bought at Goodwill for $5. LIMOGES at Goodwill! Well not so surprising, I found a sage Wedgwood cake stand for $4 at ARC Thrift. You can ask my grandmother about that. She loves it. The photos in this post have been added to the Thrifty Chicks Thrift Catalog featuring well over 200 items purchased from thrift stores; some new, others gently-used, some antique, all unique.

My favorite spot to save big is the $0.49 per item shelves a la Goodwill stacked with plates, bowls and glasses; both tumblers and stemware. That’s right $0.49 per item. Sure some of its Corelle, but some of it can be Alfred Meakin Tea Leaf Ironstone, or crystal.

The above photo serves testimony. Not certain if it’s apparent in the photo but the water goblets are new, with sticker still affixed. They were $0.49 apiece, the heavy crystal tumblers $0.49 per item too. When buying china from the $0.49 shelves, stick with a simple dinner plate for the foundation of the pacesetting. These $.0.49 apiece plates have a simple gold rim and fit well with most china patterns. Now, I confess my grandmother pulled the green glass salad plates and gold bread plates (I think) out of her giant grandmother’s purse that also serves as a weapon in a pinch. But similar items can easily be found on Goodwill’s $0.49 shelves. Okay, my grandmother found them at estate sales and they didn’t put a dent into her checking account. But they could fit in that purse.

Wait. It gets even better. Silver plate flatware shows up in thrift stores for $0.10 apiece. The flatware in this setting is a mix of estate sale and thrift. We use it daily. Sure, it’s not sterling but I prefer the vintage patina that silver-plate earns. Sterling can be 100 years old and polish up looking new. There are advantages to that, but I don’t want to pay the price for a set of sterling flatware.

Adding this up per place setting we have:
three plates $1.50,
two glasses $1.00,
seven pieces of silver-plate flatware $0.70,
individual salt and pepper shakers $0.41,
tea cup and saucer (not in photo) $1.
The entire placesetting totals $4.61.

That’s a tiny fraction of one plate in the conventional retail market. There is but one catch, place settings as such are built over time. A few months should do it.

Add simple glass votives and candles purchased at thrift stores and moss terrariums will save on fresh flowers and won’t be obstacles to conversation.
Mix and match silver-plate flatware with wild abandon, just about any combination looks cool. The more patterns, the more eclectic the look.

Buffets can be arranged with thrift. The silver covered dish was purchased at Denver La Cache’s annual sidewalk sale for $5. One would never know it based on the quality of merchandise but La Cache is the white elephant for Denver’s Children’s Hospital. The crystal jars with silver lids and footed bases were $15 for the three. All candles and candle holders are thrift. The runner was $3 at Goodwill.

Punch bowls are easy finds at thrift stores and can usually be purchased with cups for about $7. Always wise to buy two, one for virgin and one for alcohol. All candles and candle holders came from Goodwill for pennies on the dollar. Vintage books, for one to two dollars a piece, are a lovely way to raise items. The buffet was purchased at a yard sale for $80. I refinished it and transformed it entirely.

This B Rogers silver, footed ice bucket has an attached lid that swivels back, purchased at Goodwill for $4. This product sells for $20 minimum online. The Six Baccarat Tumblers I wrote of from my great grandmother rest nicely on this mirrored tray from Goodwill, $7. The decanter was purchased at a 50% off Saturday at Goodwill, $3.50. Champagne is served on an aluminum pedestal, $4. French lemonade bottles may be reused to serve water or purchased at thrift stores for around a dollar. Marbles can be purchased for about a dollar a bag and to ensure you never lose your marbles, store them in apothecary jars for a dollar apiece and lift them on a pedestal for $4. Don’t want to lose those marbles, especially after a glass of champagne. Thriftfully Modern Mommie and I prefer, Gosset Champagne Grand Rose.

Glass pedestals and domes are musts for entertaining and are easy finds that run from $7 to $12. We don’t need bother to compare these prices to conventional retail the difference is laughable.

To the left, decanter $3.50 and cordials off that wonderful $0.49 shelf again that mirrored tray comes in handy, $7. Total ensemble, not including brandy was $13.50.

Entertaining doesn't need to hurt. And, my guests do not flip a dinner plate over to see what they are dining off of. Golightly's guests are not that rude.

If you are a new visitor to this blog, be certain to scroll back up and pull up the Thrift Catalog slide show featuring over 200 items from thrift stores to give you an idea of what could be waiting for you.

Please see the addendum to this post.


Elizabeth B said...

Amazing and beautiful.

And yes, Limoges at Goodwill! I found teacups and saucers from the 1880s for $0.99 each. Not a complete set, but we don't really entertain... so I get to drink my morning tea from antique cups that cost practically nothing. That eggshell porcelain is a joy to use, and I could never in a million years afford to buy it new.

BTW, I love your blog. ^_^

Saver Queen said...

Love this! All the beautiful pictures are candy for the eyes.

Apron Thrift Girl said...

everything looks just so darn beautiful. I so wish we were coming over to your house for dinner. I love everything in every single photo. Just lovely.

Audra said...

I purchased a complete set of Noritake china Maya pattern for $7.50. Yes, you read that right, got it on 50% off day and while shopping another aisle another shopper told me where she saw the serving pieces for my pattern. Got those 8 pieces for 10.00. 8 place setting with serving pieces for 17.50. It pays to thrift!

Kim said...

I love the 69 cent pieces at Salvation Army. My everyday set is Pfaltzgraff Heritage and I often find bowls and mugs in my pattern. It sure beats spending $6 for one bowl!

The Elegant Thrifter said...

Wow! And this is so gorgeous. You know, I always stay away form paper plates at any get-together and thrift plates are often perfect and quite inexpensive. I always keep odd dinner and salad plates on hand to give a guest a little something to take home. That way, they don't have to worry about returning the plate. They are also great for baked-goods gifts for the same reason. I love to say to someone who wants to return a plate, "Why, just keep it!"

Nan said...

Found your site through Frugalbabe. I can really identify with your post about setting a table from thrift stores. All the family will be here for Thanksgiving. In the last two years, using Goodwill (love the 49 cent dishes), Savers (love 99 cent day), ARC, and Habitat, I have acquired: maple table that seats 12 ($1 plus elbow grease); 15 lovely dining chairs ($2 each); three sets of Pfaltzgraff with service for at least 12 each, serving dishes, etc. (total of about $50), a china hutch to store the dishes ($2), and more table linen than I need. And I feel much more successful than if I had gone to the mall.


Bee Balm Gal said...

Lovely, indeed. Well done. And I, too, like The Elegant Thrifter, like to have a supply of pretty odds and ends of plates that I don't mind "losing". For pot luck luncheons at work or "Can I bring something?" parties, thrifted plates and platters are perfect. The last thing I want to do is worry about retrieving a plate if I leave a shindig early.

Mimi said...

I ♥♥♥ your blog! Thrift shops are a gal's best friend. I have found fabulous buys recently, a set of Royal China Co. Sebring, Ohio hostess set (white with blue winter scene) which sells for around $55...I paid 50¢ for the set! A silver coffee pot, cream/sugar for less than $15, 4-piece place settings service for 4 Arcopal 'Provence' made in France for a few dollars, lots of silverplated flatware for 10¢ apiece....the list goes on and on.

Daisy said...

Love the placesettings! I finally talked my husband into the idea that the dishes could coordinate rather than match, and it's been so much easier to buy dishes.
My latest thrift find; a like-new electric steamer! Mine was still going strong (15 years and counting!) but I bought it anyway. For $2.50, now I have two. What a deal!

Becki said...

Your blog, and specifically this post, inspired me so much that I went to my Goodwill today and really looked. I brought home an American Brilliance cut glass punch bowl with 8 cups for $7.50 and a silver plated serving tray for $2. Thank you for the inspiration!!

mark.pearlman said...


Do you have any info on the second fork from the top in the photo of the silver plate flatware? (The one with the twisted neck)

Thanks. :o)

Fashion Suit said...

My girlfriend been fantasizing about this!.. thumbs up for the blogger!

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