Passing down china and beautiful table wares through the family is a wonderful Southern tradition. But, we're not all so lucky as to have those kinds of things in our families, though, so it can be intimidating to host something as big as Thanksgiving without an arsenal of tableware.
I personally didn't have much to start with either, so I have been slowly gathering items over the year as I've started to host our gatherings more. Here are a few of the "building blocks" I try to look for when I'm out shopping to create a "library" of sorts to pull from when I want to host a nice dinner.
These are easy and inexpensive usually (especially if you catch them on sale or have a coupon). I have a simple set of round gold that I got on clearance at World Market years ago. Colors are fun, but if you're starting from scratch, go for ones that work for pretty much any occasion.
2. Table linens
When we got our "real dining room table" - you know, the one that you will make your kids take one day because it is solid, real, furniture - we purchased a table pad and white table cloth that fit it perfectly (from Pottery Barn). I will say I still have not figured out how to get the wrinkles out of the table pad and that makes me bonkers, but it also would probably make me cry if I took the linens off to find the table top ruined by a hot dish.
I love to buy runners in a variety of looks because they are a little less expensive, and add another layer to the decor. My table cloth is white so pretty much any runner works. I am also THRILLED because Target finally started carrying "extended length" runners which I needed for our table. Otherwise, Marshalls is usually my favorite spot for place mats and runners. It's easier / less expensive to make the runner, place mat, and cloth napkins the festive, holiday-specific element.
3. Tea Towels
Selfish plug! I love festive holiday tea towels. They dress up the kitchen and bring in a little holiday cheer for the cooks. They also make fabulous hostess gifts for when you're attending instead of hosting a lovely dinner.
4. Salt and Pepper Shakers
My family will tell you that I have always had kind of a funny thing about salt and pepper shakers. I just like them for some reason. And why not have a cute little Santa Claus or something roaming around the table? Again, an inexpensive way to add some holiday-specific decor.
5. Plates, Silverware, Etc.
This part is the more expensive part, of course. I don't have anywhere to keep a bunch of fine china and I don't have a ton of use for it either, so I like to buy mostly things I can use for all occasions - weeknight dinners and festive occasions alike. What I do is just add in some fancier (read: probably hand wash only, haha) elements to go with them. I have some gorgeous smaller plates that all look pretty stacked on top of my normal, pretty basic white plates. Most of those I've actually found at Hobby Lobby of all places!
6. Serving Dishes
I felt extremely grown up once I finally owned a gravy boat. I find these are things that are great to pick up on sale / clearance a lot of times and just slowly add to my collection. I did get quite a few pieces at Homegoods one year - all white - on a great buy and haven't really needed to add to the collection since. And since they're white, they work for Easter, Christmas, birthdays and more!
7. Place Cards
Our last note and another selfish plug - place cards! A tiny, easy, inexpensive detail that adds such a level of polish. If you're on our email list, you received our November freebie (a printable Thanksgiving placecard). If you didn't, join now to get yours - it's not too late!