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Why won't guests use coasters????

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(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.

      Cay

    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. 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 Target.com, 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 later...glass 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:

                              http://www.alessi.com/en/2/4247/glass...

                              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.

                                  Hunt

                              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.

                                  Hunt

                            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)

                          2. This is not just a left coast problem, it is also a East coast and Midwest problem as well. I also try to spread coasters around on every possible surface, but unfortunately not everyone gets the hint. I am in my first house so I only own one piece of furniture that I would be terribly upset if someone put a sweating drink down and left a ring. Other than keeping a watchful eye on your guests, I'm not sure how else to solve the problem.

                            1. I have to say I haven't really experienced this problem. Our guests are usually pretty good about using coasters.

                              But DH bought me this great new thing (to us) anyway ... They are like little slippers for stemware. Made of linen, round, with a little slit in the middle so that they slip right over the foot of a wine glass. So the person carries around the "coaster" right with the glass. And each one of the set DH got for me also has a funny splotch on it -- different shades of deep red -- with different wine names (cabernet, pinot noir, etc.). So they also act like "wine charms" in terms of keeping each guest's glass personally identifiable. They were a big hit the last time I had people over.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: LNG212

                                Off topic, but this reminded me of using (clean) knee highs over lucite goblets when in the windy desert for a campout, with a piercing for the straw!

                                1. re: Caralien

                                  Clever!

                              2. I have mosaic coasters that I leave in stacks around the living room when we have guests. Just in case someone doesn't get the hint, my husband walks around with a drink in one hand and a coaster in the other to teach his guests how to be respectful of someone else's home. He once told a friend there would be no more drinks for him tonight b/c this guy refused to use a coaster. Now everyone has pretty much figured it out- if you want a drink, you also want a coaster.

                                1. serve drinks in glasses with stems, which minimize sweating on the bottom of the glass.

                                  or perhaps assign everyone a coaster with their name on it as a party favor and ask them to use it?

                                  7 Replies
                                  1. re: cimui

                                    Exactly what I do - serve drinks in stemmed glasses. I have friends who are clueless about fine wood surfaces, but they are loveable nonetheless.
                                    I have an equal concern when a guest asks for a coaster for their red wine glass. Totally unnecessary, and increases the tip-over risk with those off-center placements by 30%. And we all know about red wine and light carpets...
                                    A quick wipedown with Scotts Liquid Gold on sensitive surfaces is a good idea the day you are entertaining.

                                    1. re: Veggo

                                      So do you have stemmed glasses that aren't wine glasses? That's a thought. I agree that wine glass on a coaster is an accident waiting to happen. No carpetting though so that helps. But as you say, if they weren't loveable they wouldn't get invited back a second time so yeah I just follow them around with coasters. And not just dining/coffee tables. Side tables, side board, book cases. Sooo many hiding places :)

                                      1. re: c oliver

                                        A funny (true) story:
                                        At an annual party, a guest accidentally spilled red wine onto the oriental carpet. The host replied--"Oh, no worries! This carpet was pure white when we first got it, and has developed this amazing pattern over the years from our wonderful guests!"

                                        1. re: Caralien

                                          Love it!

                                        2. re: c oliver

                                          And stereo speakers, even potted plants. Guests will leave glasses anywhere. My main dining table I had made from mesquite from Guanajuato when I lived in D.F. and I got so paranoid about food /wine stains that I refinished the original oiled surface with polyurethane. I have a mexican mesquite side table circa 1850, that I simply won't let anyone get near. It takes 100 years for mesquite to turn color from caramel to chocolate.

                                          1. re: Veggo

                                            So, a chocolate fountain sounds in order ;) Adam

                                            1. re: adamshoe

                                              I am only a guardian of art for the next generation. Especially I will donate to the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum in Boston.

                                    2. For casual occasions, especially in our summer cottage, I have these great "coasters" that we had at home when I was a kid. They are terry cloth, stretchy tubes that you slip over the bottom of the glass. The cover the bottom and about 2 inches up the sides. People love them. They absorb moisture, protect your furniture and make it more comfortable to hold a very cold glass.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: emilief

                                        I remember those very well from my childhood too! Now, 30 odd years later, I still have them, but the elastic is shot and the fabric is getting brittle. Any idea if they still make them and if so where to get them?

                                        1. re: cuccubear

                                          I believe that I ordered them from the Vermont Country Store- they have all kinds of things that used to be and are nolonger except at their store.

                                          1. re: emilief

                                            Thanks, I've ordered from them before. I'm sure I have an old catalog somewhere.

                                      2. I think you answered your own "why won't they?" question: These are people who don't use coasters at home, so they don't have the habit. It's just not something they think about. Actually, that explains why they "don't" use coasters at your house. As for "why won't they?", I think they will, if you mention it to them specifically when you first invite them, remind them firmly when they walk in the door, and make periodic loud announcements throughout the evening. And for good measure, make an example of the worst offenders: ostentatiously take away their dripping cocktail glass and give them warm milk in a sippy cup.

                                        1. Sweating glasses are a huge problem here in Bermuda. We have absorbent stone coasters that are heavy and absorb the moisture. They'll never stick to the bottom of the glass and are great. Not sure what kind of stone they're made of but they're attractive as they come in different styles. I just tend to stick them under if I see an offender but with parties, table cloths are good but I can't say that our coffee table is that nice so am not so fussed most of the time.

                                          6 Replies
                                          1. re: bdachow

                                            Soapstone? I know that marble coasters are completely useless (and can hurt ones toes as well as furniture).

                                            1. re: Caralien

                                              I think they're sandstone. They have a cork backing on them and have never stuck to the bottom of the glass.

                                            2. re: bdachow

                                              The stone coasters I've had and used did stick to glasses and then kaboom, crashed onto the table.

                                              1. re: bdachow

                                                We have these too. Bought them at Wal-Mart and they are very effective. They are called "thirsty" coasters and they actually absorb the moisture from sweating glasses. They are covered with cork on the bottom so they will not harm furniture. And they do not stick to glasses either.

                                                My husband is a coaster freak, but I am one of those people who will put my glass down on the table right next to the coaster, instead of on it. Drives my hub crazy. But I don't use ice, so my glasses don't sweat....

                                                1. re: dexters

                                                  We have some of the stone ones and, yes, they protect the furniture but ours will stick after a while.

                                                  I hope you don't put your hot drink down on wood as the heat can do more harm than the moisture.

                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                    I've had the same problem with the sandstone coasters sticking to the bottom of glasses after a while. the problem is that when you get the painted or printed sandstone coasters, I think whatever the ink is starts to get sticky after a while. But if you buy the unprinted ones like they have at http://coasters.pebblez.com then they don't end up sticking. As long as you keep them clean, and those can usually just be tossed in the sink or whatever

                                              2. Always a problem. I found online and my apologies but don't have the original package. It was from a restaurant supply house. They are cork but have some kind of silicone coating on the bottom. You can soak them and they still don't soak through. I bought the whole package 250. I bought them for catering but liked them so much I keep them for me. They are amazing. I will try to find them again but haven't looked since I still have some left and it was about a year ago I found them. Will post if I can find anything on them.

                                                And you are not alone. I cringe when someone puts a wet glass on my nice hand refinished antique furniture.

                                                12 Replies
                                                1. re: kchurchill5

                                                  If you can find the source, that would be great. We have a beautiful, antique, library table that has a "nice" ring on it. Didn't discover til too late to do anything about it.

                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                    My mother swore by cigarette ash to get out water marks.

                                                    1. re: MMRuth

                                                      Way after the fact? Guess I could bum a cig from someone. Although where we live, everyone's so obsessively healthy.... :)

                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                        I believe so - I'll get details for you. You could just buy some and let them burn in a dish ....

                                                        1. re: MMRuth

                                                          I wonder if fireplace ash would work the same as cigarette ash?

                                                          Also, I've heard that mayonnaise removes water marks (although the sooner it's used after discovering the mark, the better).

                                                          http://interiordec.about.com/od/clean...

                                                          (ETA: I see mayo was recommended below - sorry!

                                                          )

                                                          Some other suggestions: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/remo...

                                                      2. re: MMRuth

                                                        My mom gave me similar advice, only she swears by cigar ash. And instead of water marks it was for rubbing alcohol spilled on my antique sleigh bed :( I've had a hard time tracking down ashes (darn public health friends!) so haven't tried it yet.

                                                        All of the surfaces that could even remotely serve as drink holders in my apartment are pretty water proof, so no coasters for me. I also grew up in a relatively coaster-free household, lots of rustic looking furniture so water rings weren't an issue. Despite my coaster-free lifestyle, I am aware of their existence and the expectations for their use in the homes of others...

                                                      3. re: c oliver

                                                        have you tried oiling the ring (olive or mineral oil)?

                                                        1. re: Caralien

                                                          I used to work with a wood restorer... mayonnaise is the best cure for water rings. Mix in ash if it's dark/black stained wood.

                                                          1. re: irishnyc

                                                            I actually remember someone telling me that. I have all antique furniture and refinished most of it myself. I completely forgot that. Thanks! I don't think I ever used it but did hear it. I will have to remember that.

                                                            1. re: irishnyc

                                                              Now that you mention it, the mayonnaise sounds familiar as well.

                                                              1. re: irishnyc

                                                                We were staying in a house on Cape Cod last week and wound up inflicting a wet ring on an already messed up table. But felt bad anyway. The mayo worked great! I'm glad I remember this thread. thanks.

                                                            2. re: c oliver

                                                              I love them, I'll see if I can find something. I love them. I'd be lost without them.

                                                          2. I've found it best to scatter coasters where guests are likely to put drinks, instead of having stack of coasters around. The first time we had a party we had baskets of coasters where the food and drinks were. No one used them. Since then I spread a few on the coffee table and end tables, as well as anywhere else I've found drinks, and it seems to work.

                                                            1. jfood agrees as well, so many coasters so littlle time. jfodd spends time cooking serving and slipping coasters under glasses all during pre-dinner.

                                                              The the fear really kicks in. Ten years ago work colleagues over for dinner, husband leans back, yes leans back on 200+ year old dining chairs. Crack.

                                                              Some guests are just clueless

                                                              1. Though most of our tables are glass, I spread coasters all around. It is difficult for people to place their glasses on table surfaces. Also, in AZ, glasses usually do not sweat, but I still spread the coaster all around.

                                                                When a guest, I refuse to put a glass down, without one, unless there are none, and I have a glass surface to place it on. For this purpose, I always carry "clippies," little plastic wineglass holders that clip onto my plate, and hold my wineglass.

                                                                Hunt

                                                                Hunt

                                                                1. C oliver, I thought of you last night. after I had read this thread, I was at my SOs home and was dying to watch young and the restless ( guilty pleasure) and you can watch it online, so I went to his computer table with my cocktail to watch it. Dont ya know, SO came over and said, "Heres a coaster for your cocktail hunny, enjoy your silly show" and handed me a coaster- for his ratty computer table no less!!! I used it of course. I thought you would be pleased to hear this.

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: cassoulady

                                                                    I'm VERY pleased :) Congrats. Although I mostly use my laptop, when I use the desktop I also use a coaster on the "ratty computer table." We're talking a habit of over 50 years so they don't die easily. BTW, Days of Our Lives is my guilty pleasure.

                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                      hey we all need our stories!! too funny. The funny thing out of curiosity, I asked him "why exactly do you use a coaster?" he did not mention watermarks, but rather, "so the drink is less apt to spill" he wandered off at that point, but I thought, how bizarre, all his life he has been using coasters thinking it prevented spillage. Well at least he uses coasters, so I cant complain. too funny.

                                                                  2. You can buy this material at the craft or sewing store or shop. It has a foam back and a semi absorbent front. I have bought it before. I will link later when I get home. Traveling today. I bought a yard and took 10 minutes and cut with and exacto in strips and then squares. Made 50 or so for dirt cheap. They worked great they I threw them out. Maybe 5 bucks if that. Buy lots of different colors which is fun. I completely forgot I did this. I was probably 6 years ago or less.

                                                                    1. Just tell them, "Please use the coasters."

                                                                      Usually works.

                                                                      1. i moved two years ago and bought furniture that does not require coasters. i had my friends so well trained they were asking me for a year 'are you sure we don't need coasters?' ha ha...

                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                        1. re: njchowgal

                                                                          I'm curious, what kind of furniture doesn't need coasters? Even glass I don't like the rings.

                                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                                            Laminated table tops. Aside from burns and deep cuts, nothing will make them permanently damaged (we have 3 Victorian/Edwardian bistro tables with newish-->20 year old--laminated wooden tops; stored outside at our current abode; nothing--not even spilled red Koolaid left for a few days--has made a permanent mark).

                                                                            Melamine will stain eventually (I still miss that coffee table built by my grandfather--it was the size of a child's bed), as will marble.

                                                                            1. re: Caralien

                                                                              I use them because I hate drips on ME. But I would never think about not asking if one is needed at somebody else's house or TELLING somebody to use one at mine. Just hand it to them.

                                                                            2. re: c oliver

                                                                              Yes and if you go with the "spillage theory" they are always needed.

                                                                              1. re: cassoulady

                                                                                well, as it happens, I AM THE SPILLING *CHAMP*!

                                                                          2. Hello... I'm betting the slippery slope of gradual inebriation may dictate, in many instances, why coaster usage goes by the wayside at cocktail and dinner parties. And why 'aim' eventually veers off kilter in the guest restroom...

                                                                            1. I do have this problem and I have it daily because my husband loves to put a hot coffee cup or wet glass down on wood. I have tons of coasters around but he usually grabs a book, pad of paper, magazine, and uses that. If I can, with him and others, I just lift up their glass and put the napkin or coaster. And WHY do people do this you ask, well, I regret to say it's because i think that they are not as well mannered or considerate as you suggest., but that is just my pesonal opinion.

                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                              1. re: Bite Me

                                                                                *I* as OP did suggest that they're well mannered or considerate. Far from it. And we're in our 60s and a lot of the people we entertain are also. So even if they weren't raised that way, they should have had plenty of time to figure it out. I guess my frustration is that, unlike some things, this is intuitive. Wood furniture and moisture don't make a good marriage. This isn't rocket science. There are many *etiquette* rules that you just have to learn it whether it makes complete sense or not. This isn't one of those things. Having said that, our SIL was here for a couple of days with a friend, both in their early 30s and used coasters religiously. Now they do both come from the South and I do, so maybe there are those things that are emphasized more.

                                                                                I'm surprised that my little question continues to inspire comments :)

                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                  Ain't this fun! Replied to a few and did my own complaining about guests who lack respect, in the main, if I offer a coaster to a guest, they say "thank you" without the odd look but then you get those that get annoyed at your nerve. Tough, I can't afford to replace furniture on a whim and I try to take care of it, once scratched, guess who has to live with it. Interesting feedback you're getting and a few laughs.

                                                                              2. Best cool, hip, and FUNCTIONAL coasters I've ever found can be ordered here:

                                                                                http://www.fleurdestone.com

                                                                                My wife found these at a boutique in Chicago, but they can be ordered directly from the manufacturer. A set of 4 with shipping anywhere in the US is $36. We constantly order and have them shipped to friends b/c they make such great gifts. They are handmade, and are very well done. And since they are made from stone, they will last forever.

                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                1. re: airphotodave

                                                                                  These are fabulous!!! Thanks. I've bookmarked them.

                                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                                    considering this, would unglazed stone table tops not need coasters?

                                                                                    1. re: Caralien

                                                                                      Oh, are they unglazed tiles? I didn't do much more than look at the purty pitchers :) I'd think unglazed at the least could stain or get "water" spots.

                                                                                      1. re: Caralien

                                                                                        For condensation, no problem. But for spills, even the highest quality, most dense granite and marble has porosity that will absorb liquid, and red wine can be a problem. I am fascinated by the beauty of stone, and visit quarries and wholesalers of slabs often. The common suggestion: periodically wipe it with Scotts Liquid Gold.

                                                                                  2. Because their mothers didn't raise them right.
                                                                                    I grew in a house with lots of antique furniture and Momma drilled it in my head - USE A COASTER.
                                                                                    Since you are dealing people who could not possibly care less about your wooden surfaces, remember this: real mayo will fix a ring.
                                                                                    When you find the evidence of an oaf, take your Dukes (I am a Southerner, after all) and rub mayo on the ring. The oil from the mayo will repair all but the worst rings.
                                                                                    Trust me, it works.
                                                                                    As far as teaching manners to the great unwashed, good luck!

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: Tee

                                                                                      Love it! got that right, can't get through to some people that think "what's her problem". Like dbl dipping, eating with a knife, no serving spoon, taking leftovers off your plate and refrigerating it (and not for the dog) and flushing without closing the seat. I ended up buying restaurant jam,butter servings etc. When I visit, make sure there's a fork for each person and serving spoons, getting back to glass tables, banging bottles and glasses loud enough for me to hear in back room but hubby didn't hear a thing sitting right there as I suggested he also give them a coaster if I'm not in the room, went over like a ton of bricks, his side of the family.

                                                                                    2. I honestly believe that some people avoid setting drinks on coaster because some part of their brain has been programmed not to set drinks on objects (like books or other objects that might be on a table). So they're just working on autopilot, not thinking that, duh, that's what the coaster (or placemat) is FOR.

                                                                                      One time I looked over at dinner and both my father and DH had placed their water and wine glasses off of ther placemats onto the tablecloth. It's not actually a big deal given our table and tablecloths, but I was curious so I called their attention to it and asked why. They both stared in consternation at their glasses and couldn't explain why. "Um, to make room?" one of them offered feebly. So really, just autopilot sometimes! They're both guys who use coasters religiously, so it was pretty funny.

                                                                                      Regarding coasters at parties, we go with the spread lots of coasters around and most people will get the hint. Given that our typical party crowd is the techie/science fiction crew, who are not known for their social adeptness, they're actually really good about using them. (That's one of the upsides of this group -- they're usually happy to follow rules once they're brought to their attention.)

                                                                                      1. Now...I have a couple of sets of coasters. They are a pretty, enamel painted ceramic on one side and cork on the other. They have a little caddy which holds them. I recently had friends over and my significant other was the first to sit down in our living room and utilize one of the coasters...cork side down. She set her drink on the coaster's ceramic side. The friends each followed suit, using the coaster's ceramic side to set their drinks on. I told them that the cork side shoud be up and that the glass should sit on the cork. They all argued that the pretty side should be visible and that the cork side should be down to protect the table from being scratched. I tried to tell them that a coaster is to protect the wood table from the glass leaving a water ring (from it sweating) and that the cork aids in absorbing the condensation. And, that the ceramic side would not only allow the condensation to puddle on its surface but that it would drip off the sides leaving a water mark and possibly cause the glass to suction from the moisture and stick to the coaster as you lift it and it might fall off in mid sip...crashing to the table. I tried to explain that the pretty side was to face out while in the caddy so to camoflage that it's a coaster and so the cork (which eventually starts to look, not so great, after a lot of use) isn't showing. Can I get some feed back on this?

                                                                                        10 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: dlpappalardo

                                                                                          Hmm, I see your point about the cork being absorbant. Yet I always thought the cork backing was there to protect the table from the ceramic potentially scratching it. I'll be curious what others say.

                                                                                          1. re: Karen_Schaffer

                                                                                            I'm with your friends and Karen on this one - I thought that the cork protected the table from scratching caused by the ceramic tile.

                                                                                            But I am not in the category of people who feel that coasters are a key and mandatory component of etiquette. I have some that I think are cute, though.

                                                                                            1. re: Karen_Schaffer

                                                                                              Me too. I have coasters that are like the ones you describe and before I read your post I had not considered using them any other way than cork side down. Interesting and I see your point as well but I am like Karen above and thought that the cork protected the table from being scratched by the ceramic and also keeps the coaster from moving around. I've had my ceramic, cork-backed coasters for 15 years and have been using them cork side down all this time.

                                                                                              1. re: Boudleaux

                                                                                                Back when I was a kid, my Grandmother had cork coasters. Plain old cork shaped discs. They had no cute caddy to store them, she simply kept them in a drawer and pulled them out as she needed. Then...later on, my Step-Mother purchased a set of plastic coasters which were square in shape but inside the square was a round section of cork (big enough to sit a normal sized glass). These coasters aslo had no caddy but were stackable. The underside of this particular coaster was molded plastic (and corkless) to be able to stack. So you couldn't use that side to set a drink on because it wasn't a flat surface. Coasters have come a long way since my Grandma's plain old cork coasters but the one thing remains in its evolution and that is that the cork side has always been the side to set the drink on. The reason for a coaster is to protect the wood table from water stains from a perspiring glass. I think I need to write to Martha Stewart. :)

                                                                                                1. re: dlpappalardo

                                                                                                  Okay, I see your point but I won't use them this way because I don't want the ceramic to scratch my table. My Grandmother had glass coasters with little rims that she used on a tablecloth-covered table. No cork involved. :)

                                                                                                  1. re: Boudleaux

                                                                                                    I agree - often, the ceramic side isn't perfectly flat and the drink could slide around and damage the table. Also, the paintings/designs being on the ceramic side to me say they 100% go up. If there was just ONE with a design, I could see saying well, that's how you store them, but if they all have a design, it seems obvious to me they wouldn't go design-side down on the table. I think the cork side goes down.

                                                                                                    1. re: rockandroller1

                                                                                                      Anther voice for cork side down. No way is a product designed with a decorative side and a plain cork side meant to be used with the decorative side face down. You might as well argue that painted tiles used as trivets should go painted side down and terra cotta side up. Will they work? Yes. Is that what the designer intended? No.

                                                                                                      But hey, it's your house, you have the right to use 'em however you see fit.

                                                                                                      1. re: BobB

                                                                                                        This reminds me of the crew of blondes sodding a lawn. Green side up!

                                                                                            2. re: dlpappalardo

                                                                                              I'm pretty sure cork side down is standard. We bought some on our honeymoon that are cork on one side, pretty printed vinyl on the other. I can't imagine that it is meant to go pretty picture down.

                                                                                              1. re: dlpappalardo

                                                                                                I also have some stone type coasters with cork bottom but I'm afraid the cork is meant to be on the bottom, you wouldn't be able to use mine on glass table as it would scratch. They do begin to look crappy, if you really like the coasters, no biggy to recork.

                                                                                              2. This is why I have a $25 coffee table. I don't care what happens to it.

                                                                                                1. A view from the other side:

                                                                                                  I don't use coasters automatically because, as a previous poster suggested, they're small enough they make me think semi-consciously they would make the glass unstable. When I raise a glass I have to worry about the coaster sticking to it and dropping in my lap or on the floor, and it's small enough I have to pull my attention away from my conversation or the party and "target shoot" the glass to the coaster when I set the glass down. All in all, most are coasters are inconvenient and awkward.

                                                                                                  If I see coasters scattered out by the handful, I'll twig to the fact hosts want me to use them and I will; otherwise, it doesn't occur to me to do so since I don't use coasters in my home (I deliberately bought distressed furniture) nor did I grow up with them being used at home (all our surfaces were laminate.)

                                                                                                  Jfood: Using antique furniture at parties is asking for trouble! Some people won't recognize their chair is an antique and will treat it as they would their own chair at home. Why not just put the chair away for the party and save it?

                                                                                                  13 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: KenWritez

                                                                                                    Do you drive a car? If so, then hopefully you're able to pay attention to the other cars on the road, hold onto the steering wheel, press the gas or brake when needed, etc. If so, then I think you can "target shoot" your glass and not pull too much attention away from your friends. You think coasters are "inconvenient and awkward"? Well, I think having slobs ruin my furniture is WAY, WAY beyond caring about your minor inconveniences and awkwardness. I'm also pretty sure that you've overcome other shortcomings of being a child --- potty training is the first thing that popped into my mind! --- and I'm sure you're capable of learning to use a coaster automatically.

                                                                                                    I'm sure jfood will weigh in on the final paragraph but I'm on a roll here, aren't I?! :) You want us to PUT AWAY our furniture. I have antiques, fine new furniture, free furniture, distressed furniture. I want coasters used on ALL of those surfaces. Oh, yeah, even glass topped furniture.

                                                                                                    Rant over. Whew. I'm exhausted. It's way easier discussing the giving or not of medical advice that coaster protocol :)

                                                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                      "You want us to PUT AWAY our furniture."
                                                                                                      "So to take your analysis to the extreme, are you recommending not allowing people to sit on the furniture or cover it in plastic, not use the good china and glasses, hide the silver, roll up the persians and serve on paper plates on the patio?"

                                                                                                      Please let me expand my point and perhaps help clear the air: *Some* people won't recognize antique furniture as such and so will treat it as more sturdily-built contemporary furniture, vis-a-vis Mr. Lean Back In His Chair. Unless you tell your guests a piece of furniture is antique and to be treated gently, you run the risk of a guest harming it out of ignorance. Even if you make such an annoucement, a guest may simply forget, especially if he or she has had a few drinks. Putting out valuable antiques at a gathering exposes them to a greater risk of accidental damage--that's all I'm saying.

                                                                                                      As for coasters? I don't use them at my home because they're unnecessary there; my furniture--tho valuable--doesn't need that level of protection. When I'm at your house, I'll use coasters if I see you using them or if you ask me to use them. I'll respect whatever house rules there are, or whatever requests the host makes of me. But coasters have never been, are not, and likely never will be an automatic thing for me. As I said previously, coasters make me think I'm about to spill my drink because it's not centered on the coaster, so I'm always fiddling with my drink, re-centering it on the coaster.

                                                                                                      "but when you are a guest in someone's house you respect EVERYTHING"

                                                                                                      You know this, I know this, but to some people "respect" means different things: Not leaning back in the chair all the way to simply not setting it on fire.

                                                                                                      1. re: KenWritez

                                                                                                        I'll chime in. I have nice furniture. All antiques. I have nice quality sofas and chairs. I had henredon, now I have rooms to go. cost cutting an a apartment. I have very fine china and stemware and flatware. My antiques tables are worth a fortune. But I don't care. I they set down a wet glass, which they will, oh well. Sand paper, oil and steel wool and it will live. My thought. My friends are way more important to me than any piece of furniture, sofa or table or carpet. when I entertain it is for my friends. Yes I would no better to use a coaster, but I am certainly not going to get bent out of shape if the table gets a ring or they don't use a coaster. Sorry, their friend means more than some stupid piece of furniture.

                                                                                                        1. re: kchurchill5

                                                                                                          "My antiques tables are worth a fortune. But I don't care. I they set down a wet glass, which they will, oh well."
                                                                                                          ~~~~~~~~~
                                                                                                          So now I'm confused...earlier this year (upthread) you said that you cringe when people put a wet glass on your antique furniture?

                                                                                                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5931...

                                                                                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                            You are right, I do cringe, and my antiques are worth a fortune, and I do put out coasters. However I know that a little sand paper, elbow grease, tounge oil and they can be repaired. My good leather furniture is all in storage but I still have my antiques in the apt.

                                                                                                            I do hate it and I do go around and put coasters down lifting their glass up at times. Sometimes I just give up and let it go. All my antiques I have restored myself so I am very familiar with what to do. Some people just don't care and I just give up. Ever year I usually end up refinishing 2 or 3 of my table tops and putting another coat of tounge oil and sanding it down. I don't mind.

                                                                                                            It is aggravating and people should know better but they just don't. I just let it go and do the best I can.

                                                                                                            So yes, to your question, I do cringe, but I don't care and it can be fixed. My friends mean more to me than my antiques. Antiques can be repaired.

                                                                                                    2. re: KenWritez

                                                                                                      A dinner for four people is not what one would characterize as "a party" but more of another couple over for dinner. So to take your analysis to the extreme, are you recommending not allowing people to sit on the furniture or cover it in plastic, not use the good china and glasses, hide the silver, roll up the persians and serve on paper plates on the patio?

                                                                                                      Sorry, but when you are a guest in someone's house you respect EVERYTHING from the Chinet to the Lalique, the plastic forks to the Wedgewood and the bridge chairs to the antique chairs.

                                                                                                      1. re: jfood

                                                                                                        Remind me to avoid your house for parties! When I entertain of course I want to show of the beautiful things in my home, and create a festive and most importantly, welcoming environment for guests. My home is full of beautiful, functional items.I wouldn't put a carpet on the floor that can't be walked on, or a chair that can't be sat in. If you can't put something on it, it is not a table, but an object, and everyone should be warned.

                                                                                                        1. re: dvsndvs

                                                                                                          I had a fair sized group for Easter dinner, and I issued the house rules beforehand: no red wine in carpeted rooms, smoking in lanai only, (there were 3 smokers), the 1850 table was for looks only. A leg of lamb and 6 bottles of red later: no spills, no broken anything, no missing silver. A complete success, including the finish of the dining table, and of the Masters. Phew!

                                                                                                          1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                            I just wish Tiger had won. I have two extra tickets to the US Open I want to sell. He'd have raised the interest.

                                                                                                            We once had a holiday open house and had new carpetting in the LR/DR. I had food set up in the kitchen and dining room. But no "food of color" in the DR.

                                                                                                            1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                              Kudos. I honestly would much rather have the rules spelled out. I once spilled red wine on the carpet at a party. The entire event came to a grinding halt, while the hostess and her husband huddled over the stain in a frantic discussion of how to clean it. This went on an on and on. I have never been so mortified. Red wine and white carpet just don't mix. I think you should choose ONE. I choose the wine. :)

                                                                                                              1. re: dvsndvs

                                                                                                                Interesting in the very same set of circumstances, jfood's cousin asked for a glass of red wine while jfood only had whites being offered. Jfood told her he was out of reds.

                                                                                                            2. re: dvsndvs

                                                                                                              umm dvsndvs, please read jfood's post again. He is advocating using his stuff, not hiding them. He was responding to another poster who suggested moving stuff away for parties.

                                                                                                              Sorry for the confusion but you and jfood are on the same page on this.

                                                                                                          2. re: KenWritez

                                                                                                            Philosophy is, treat your $10 table as though it were $1,000, children don't know the difference for sure, so growing up to respect other persons' property, regardless of price is what I aimed for. I have the same problem with people slamming car doors, whether it's a beat up piece of junk, to someone else it's their's and I expect it to be treated the same as a new upscale vehicle and vs vs, don't slam my car door as though it won't shut otherwise, I've had people rock the car the way they slam it, if it's someone who won't be needing a lift again, I keep my mouth shut but if it's going to be a repeat offender, well, I try to let them know diplomatically that it will shut easily.

                                                                                                          3. it's the price of poker. no point in child proofing the house. get better guests.

                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                            1. re: steve h.

                                                                                                              As the OP, I've actually used this thread as a teaching tool, telling guests that *someone* posted something about guests AMAZINGLY not using posters. Can you believe anyone would be so gauche? Blah, blah, blah. Trained some of the regulars anyway :)

                                                                                                            2. If I make someone a cocktail that is liable to sweat (like a mixed drink) I always give it to them with a thick napkin cupped beneath it. I have tried laying linen down, bought cute coasters and set them down everywhere... people just get engrossed in conversation and forget. It brings a smile to my fave when I see someone with a couple napkins under their glass. They are having a good time and so am I knowing that my tables are not getting ruined!