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Asking your guests to bring their own plates and silverware for large/r dinner parties...

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This should be fun. Etiquette & sustainability all wrapped into one juicy package....

For the last two major parties (20+ people) we have hosted -- one of which was a potluck, another one we catered -- I asked people to bring their own plates & silverware. Two reasons, really -- bear with me.

a) we don't own plates/silverware for that amount of people
b) using paper plates & plastic utensils doesn't strike me as particularly 'green'

The reactions I got were mixed, but not unexpected. Some folks thought it was the best idea ever (the more, um, environmentally conscious perhaps?), others thought it was tacky and ridiculous (one of our best friends - that's why we love him). Or maybe some were just more honest than others, who knows.

There are logistic issues, of course. As we also don't own a Camelot-sized table that can seat more than 8 people, our guests generally disburse throughout the two living rooms and the tiny kitchen (of course) and find a place to sit down. The food 'served' is set up on the dining room table we do own.

So there isn't really any place to put your plates & silverware until the eatings begin. Some folks solved this by keeping their plates & silverware (maybe I'll abbreviate that as p&s from now on) in a bag which they placed under said table. Others put them on smaller tables we have around.

In the end, all plates and most of the silverware were taken back home, with some people rinsing their stuff off and putting it back in bags. We still have a few homeless serving bowls (from the potluck) and some silverware we'll be able to return to the rightful owners eventually.

How would you feel about this request? Do you think it's ridiculous? Tacky? Awesome? What about using paper plates & people just bringing silverware? I REALLY dislike the idea of having to use disposable plastic forks, knives & spoons.

I suppose another option would be to buy cheap-ass stuff @Goodwill and just have enough to go around... matching or not.

So -- let 'em rip. This is the NAF board, after all. Just make sure you don't get deleted, because I actually am interested in what you have to say :-)

  1. Yes, tacky, IMHO. You can easily get cheap re-usable dinnerware, you don't need to get a full set, just dinner plates and flatware. Go to Ross or Big Lots or some other similar place and you can find new stuff for almost as cheap as the disposable.
    As for green... well, it does take energy to wash dishes, rinsing them to take home, then washing them when they get home.
    I'm sure you can find disposable stuff made from recycled materials.
    It doesn't take much space to put a stack of plates and a bowl or washed out cans, decorated, to put the flatware.

    1. Sorry to say but yes, it is tacky. And, I have to disagree with you about Goodwill (or any other thriftstore). I have a closet full of Corelle (enough for a dinner party of 30) that I have collected over two years and it is perfect for large parties. I have several different patterns but the pattern if against a white plate so they all work well together. I found a complete service for 4 (16 pieces) for $10 among my many finds..

      I have also supplemented my everyday silverware from thriftstores over the years (the same pattern) that was discontinued by the manufacturer.

      Give it a try, you will be surprised at the good bargains to be found as far as dishware and silverware are concerned.

      1. Yes, it is tacky. Just don't invite that many people. You can't. If you are going to invite people then be truly hospitable. Otherwise, know your own limitations.

        1. Tacky with a capital "T". Visit Goodwill and Freecycle......matching or not. Macy's even has sets with plates and silverware for cheap or even Walmart. Asking guests to bring their own plates and silverware truly offputting. Sorry :(

          1 Reply
          1. re: Sydneyeats

            Definately tacky. I would be insulted if I was asked to bring my over silver and dinnerware. It you can't accommoddate your guests have several smaller parties. Liking to be "green" is not an excuse for poor manners.

          2. Add me to the Tacky camp. When I've done big parties and needed extra place-settings, I head to the Goodwill and spent got glassware, plates, and more for cheap...