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Feb 3, 2009 07:52 AM

Why won't guests use coasters????

(Hopefully this is close enough to food that the whole post won't get deleted!)

We entertain a good bit and will always start with drinks and apps in the living room. I have coasters within plain sight and plenty of them. But I would guess 75% of the time, people ignore them and put their "sweating" drink glasses down on the wood furniture. It's even worse if it's a big party - almost 100% of the time. I'm not talking about people who were raised in a barn. These are generally people who otherwise know what they should do and do it. They have nice furniture in their own homes but don't use coasters there either. For small gatherings, I'll just position myself by them with coaster at the ready, and hand it to them with a little "here let me give you this." That works but then they're apt to "forget" it the next time they're here. At a big party we had a few years ago, one of our grown daughters was in town for it and I actually asked her to keep an eye out and just slip coasters under glasses. I know this isn't just a Left Coast thing because a friend in NYC complains loudly about the same thing. Do any of you have this problem and how do YOU deal with it? Thanks for letting me vent my spleen if nothing else :)

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  1. As much as I love entertaining at home, I cringe every time someone places their glasses without a coaster on my gorgeous coffee table. Some solutions I've used, place a runner cloth (the long rectangular cloth you place in the middle of the table). This doesn't quite work well since it's in the middle of the table and silly me thinking people will understand. I've also place table mats so there's more coverage on the table hoping guests will get the hint. Even then some will place it around the mat. My most extreme is to simply place a table cloth over my coffee table. Yes I admit it's ridiculous.

    1 Reply
    1. re: gourmet wife

      gw, I do the same with my coffee table. I have a specific runner that is the proper width for the table (both table and runner housemade!) and let it go at that. Dining table is clothed, so no worries there either. I think having linens for this sort of thing is better than fretting about the coasters. Still, would I like to see the wood? Yep. But then, the linens can be so beautiful and change with the party and season.

      I find table linens to be so civilized that I lose my perspective at times, but they do serve a wonderful purpose.


    2. C Oliver--I always look forward to your party posts!

      What we would do is slip the coasters under the drinks as discretely as possible, while leaving the coasters spread out across whatever surfaces are near the seated areas, knowing they would be ignored by most (seen the occurance on both coasts, the midwest, and across both major oceans). This happens whether there are tablecloths or bare wood or leather--anything something can be stowed on will be used, particularly at larger parties.

      In the event of marks, the oddest clean up I've found is rubbing Nivea dry skin lotion (pink flower) on the rings either on wood or leather, and rubbing it in until the ring disappears. It does lighten leather (husband's ottoman is a lot lighter than the chair, as it was used as a coffee table at a previous residence), but haven't noticed that much of a difference on lighter stained wood.

      I think it's similar to the idea of dragging one's fur across the floor--the idea that if you can afford it, you can afford to have it maintained, abused, neglected, or replaced. Not that it's in the least bit proper, however.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Caralien

        I will tell you what, the few times I have been at a party and had the Host or Hostess slip a coaster under my drink, I felt like the biggest a**hole, Oaf ever! I would be dumbfounded if someone didnt pick up on a clue of that magnitude!!

      2. I hand people drinks with a (cloth) cocktail napkin and that tends to work.

        1 Reply
        1. re: MMRuth

          old thread: bump

          this is what i do. cloth cocktail napkin underneath. i have antiques everywhere.

        2. All of our tables are glass top, so we don't have that issue. But Dh has a time keeping people from sitting on the arms of the sofa or chairs.

          1. Anyone ever tell you that your coasters look “too nice” to use? Dear guest...they’re not decorations! They’re functional!

            Having grown up in a house where there were coasters everywhere, using them is so deeply ingrained in my being. Some people just may not get it.

            17 Replies
            1. re: cuccubear

              yep. It's a silly thing. I guess it also has to do with the coasters. Some stick to the bottom of the glass, and it's annoying having the glass drop on your knee or bouncing off of the glass table top (more of a problem with sweating highballs than stemmed glasses).

              The best looking coasters don't prevent the glasses from sticking, while the ugly cork ones do. We have some wooden ones with circles carved into them which work fairly well.

              1. re: Caralien

                Well, don't even get me started on the decades-long search for a coaster that actually works! I've been buying packs (12?) of thin cork ones at Ikea for a while. Moisture will eventually soak through but they seem okay for an hour or so. I also have some that are made of glass beads that are somehow threaded together into squares. When alone, we'll generally put one of those on top of the cork ones. I have no concern about wine glasses as the moisture, if any, really doesn't make it from the bowl of the glass down the stem to the base and then the table. Some of our friends don't drink wine so at the dining table, I'll have a cork one at each place setting. I also rarely use tablecloths or placemats as I love the look of the wood. And I honestly don't care if it's a fine antique or a table I got from, I still don't want it ruined. Whew. I'm feeling better already :)

                1. re: c oliver

                  I have pretty ones which are stainless steel (cork or neoprene bottoms), wood (purchased to put under tiny casserole/crocks/mini cast iron bowls), some which look like mini oriental rugs (rubber bottomed)...the best I've found were actually the "plates" from the kids blue/white ceramic dinnerware sets from Ikea which also fit perfectly under most wine bottles.

                  1. re: Caralien

                    The best functioning coasters I have were the cheapest: I bought a full pack of Rolling Rock beer coasters, those paper felt things, 100 of them for a dollar at a flea market. I still have almost half of them. Yes, they're not pretty, nor do they exactly fit in with the decor, but people do notice them, and the rather aggressive way I blanket every table surface with them leaves no doubt that I expect them to be used. And they work very well, especially in our dry climate; in Nashville, they occasionally did soak through, and I'd slide the person another one.

                    1. re: Will Owen

                      I agree W.O. I have those kind of coasters scattered throughout. I picked up many traveling across the country and have a good supply. They're unique and someone always asks where the heck I got this one or that one. Cheap too.

                  2. re: c oliver

                    We have a couple of sets that are about 4" square with a decoratively-printed hard plastic layer on top (my favorites feature excerpts from Hieronymous Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights), and a layer of cork on the bottom. They work perfectly and last nearly forever.

                    I also find that at most parties, despite distributing these on the coffee table in advance, after the first round of drinks is poured I need to go around and move several people's glasses onto them. That's usually all it takes.

                    I think a lot of people just weren't raised with fine furniture and have no idea of the concept of coasters.

                    1. re: c oliver

                      Sandstone Coasters. I'll find them on sale and snatch them up. They really work great, they soak up all the condensation and rarely break. I like the unpainted kind, they seem to absorb best. I have a package of the thick cardboardy paper kind, they work fantastic also but once soaked I toss them because they curl up and look..used! (Well of course!)

                      I have glass tables , most people don't use a coaster on glass but I have them out because I don't like to see moisture rings on the table and it irritates the pussy cats..

                      1. re: Boccone Dolce

                        Hi, years scratches glass which is why you can't use Corning pots on a glass stove top. For those who still prefer beer out of the bottle, they are the worst. but I find it annoying to put a coaster under someones glass and they take a sip and put the glass beside the coaster, or pooh pooh the idea of needing a coaster. If it matters to me, it should matter to them out of respect.

                      2. re: c oliver

                        Almost all of our friends drink wine, and I love the pretty slip-on coasters I get for the stemmed glasses - instant coaster. Wish they'd make them for regular glasses. It's also handy to print their name or initials on the coaster so no mixups happen.

                        1. re: bayoucook

                          I actually find that wine glasses (with stems) don't need coasters. It's water/soda/liquor glasses with no stems that cause problems.

                          1. re: MMRuth

                            Right-o. The stem "insulates" the cold glass from the dry base and therefore the furniture. My water glasses have stems (small ones) so no coasters for those either.

                            1. re: c oliver

                              Someone just gave me some stemless flutes and red wine glasses that have little glass "stands" in which they rest. Not something I would have bought for myself, but v. good looking:


                              1. re: MMRuth

                                Stemless are okay for red wine, but for white and champagne that you don't want to get warm from body heat? That's what the stems are for. A silly design. Sorry your friends saddled you with them.

                                We received some stemless Riedel red wine glasses, which are lovely, but I hate using them because they're so large that my hand can barely hold them. And DH hates washing them because they feel like they're going to pop out of his soapy hands. Definitely not what I would have chosen.

                                1. re: MMRuth

                                  I have been gifted several sets of the Riedel "O" glasses (cannot call them "stems"), and I am not a fan. I find them more difficult to drink from, the heat of my hand, if I do not need it (in my house, I do not need it, even for all my whites), plus they are a tad clumsey to wash. I end up doing maybe 120 wine glasses after a big party, so I have to handle them for the washing. These give me shivers.


                              2. re: MMRuth

                                We have had condensation drips or some such thing, but the point I meant to make was I wish they'd make them for standard bar glasses. They stay on the glass when you lift it.

                                1. re: MMRuth

                                  I do agree, even in more humid climes. Still, we normally hand out either mini-trays with indentations for wine glasses, or "clippies," those little plastic U's, that clip onto a plate, and allow one to insert the stem of a wine glass. Makes shaking hands, or actually eating the passed appetizers much easier.


                            2. re: Caralien

                              I actually once accidentally caused a much larger mess than I ever could have managed w/o a coaster due to a terrible "nice" coaster, for just the sort of reason you mention. The glass stuck to the coaster, and the coaster had something on the base to help keep it in place. Well, this led to me fumbling the drink and it spilling everywhere, really making a mess of the table (it had a glass top, but the liquid got under the glass, etc etc)