Saturday, June 09, 2007

Frugal Alternative to Registering For Niceties

Registering for china and silver used to be standard practice when a couple married. This has sort of fallen by the wayside of late, as fewer and fewer couples opt for traditional china and silver, instead choosing casual ware or more modern alternatives.

Well, I'm a traditionalist, so I still really like the idea of a household having a good set of china and silver. Adrian and I both hold a rather Puritan view of the Sabbath, but we'd like to celebrate it like a wedding, not a funeral. My mom grew up having a big Sunday noontime meal with china and silver every week, and that's the sort of tradition Adrian and I would like to establish as well.

Well guess what? China is expensive! And silver is more expensive! I would have been open to registering for china, even though about $80 per place setting is a really good price ($135 is a much more common price per setting), but I choked when I saw silver prices. New silver plated flatware easily can cost in excess of $300, per setting. And solid sterling silver is even more. *gulp* So I decided silver was a luxury we would pass by ;-). Multiply by 8, and that's a lot! Plus, considering Adrian and I would (a) like a lot of children and (b) like to be regularly hospitable to both couples and families with children, we figure 8 settings may not be very helpful in the long run.

Well, I'm a thrift store and garage sale nut. Two years ago I found a set of china at a thrift store for $20. It had 8 place settings (missing teacups) and a few serving pieces, and was in very good condition. (I might add here that buying used china and silverware is only really a good deal if it is in good condition! If your china is forming cracks under the glaze of the pattern - I forget what that is called - getting it for cheap is not a deal!) Anyway, so Adrian and I figured we could just find additional pieces of the same china pattern on E-bay or

In addition, last Saturday I was out garage sale-ing with Mother Dear and Ashley, and I found a set of silver plate flatware, 8 place settings and several serving pieces, for $20! This was Oneida Nobility Plate, which is good stuff! A woman was selling off her grandmother's silver for a song, so I jumped on it. Then I headed to E-bay and to look at adding to the original 8 place settings.

I've discovered, by the way, that may often have a better selection (and it's an invaluable resource for finding the name of your pattern), but usually E-bay is way cheaper. Including my garage sale finds, I've bought (approximately) 16 place settings of my china pattern and 19 place settings of my silver plate flatware pattern for a total of only $300. That is an incredible savings! And that includes shipping and a silver-storing anti-tarnish box.

Now, the china place settings do not all have teacups and I am missing one soup bowl. But I do have 16 dinner plates, 16 salad plates, and 15 bowls. I would eventually like teacups and saucers (and a tea/coffepot), but it's really not on my list of high priorities. My original set of china came with 8 saucers, and I've since found 2 teacups on E-bay, so to get a true complete 16 settings, I would need 14 more teacups, 8 saucers, and 1 bowl, but as far as strict dinner china is concerned, I have pretty much 16 settings. And Jessie surprised me for Christmas with the sugar bowl and creamer for my pattern :-).

Anyway, that's my frugal rambling for the moment :-). Anyone else like to share thoughts along similar lines?


Tammy C said...

I was just reading an article called How to have a Green Wedding and thought of you.Little did I know that you would be writin gon how you got an expensive china set.Funny how I don't know you personally but through your blog have already thinking about when I come across wedding ideas.

By the way I have been married 22 years and do NOT own china or silver.I do own some some crystal that I inherited from my parents and my Aunt Clarice gave the water glass set that my parents gave her 61 years ago when she got married.

Mrs.B. said...

One thing I learned the hard way about silver plated cutlery....It doesn't do well in the dishwasher. It's fine the first few times but I ruined my silver plate because of too many dishwasher washings. Just thought I'd let you know of my experience so that you can avoid my mistake. (o:

I tell you something else that is very expensive is good stainless steel flatware. My husband and I just purchased our first new set of it and it wasn't cheap but oh boy it is a luxury to eat with. (o:

Your china pattern is lovely! (o:

ashley@twentysixcats said...

Another really frugal way of getting china is to inherit it from your great-grandmother. Of course, you can get some patterns that aren't quite your taste but...

I love your idea of having china and silver on Sundays! Perhaps one of these days we'll do that too. And I'll keep my eye out for some china for us. By the time I find some and collect a whole set, then I'll probably have learned to cook too. ;-)

Anna Naomi said...

How fun! I've always thought that having a nice set of china would be wonderful for a new house. Great job on finding it frugally!

Jessie said...

Cracks under the glaze in china is called "crazing."

My Gramma had a set of silver silverware, and boy I wish it had come to me! She always used it, every day. I picked up one lonely silver spoon at Goodwill one time, and I use it when I drink tea. But it always makes me think of her!

Susan said...

Oh, that's sad that you ruined your silver plate that way, Mrs. B :-(. I've been reading up on how not to care for silver and china, so I don't make similar errors. One thing I've heard, is that silver used regularly (even daily, which is not my plan) needs little to no polishing. Regular use helps prevent tarnish and such.

I think I remember you telling me (or showing me?) your silver tea spoon. That's fun, Jessie :-). It's so much more fun to drink tea with pretty things :-). I'd like to eventually have a teacup shadow box to display my teacups (for aesthetic and practical purposes.

And yes, I mean one like yours, Ashley.

Becky Miller said...

That's amazing! Good work.

I didn't register for china or silver, either. My grandma (a military wife) gave me one of her "extra" sets of china from one of the places they lived overseas. I have a full 12 place settings of EVERYTHING...dinner plates, salad plates, bowls, dessert plates, saucers, tea cups, plus cream and sugar and three serving platters and a bowl. And a teapot.

I really enjoy using the china when we have people over for dinner. Most people never bring out their good china, and I think that's sad!

I have a few pieces of silverware inherited from my other grandmother, but not many complete place settings. I just use my everyday utensils.

I collected my crystal while I lived in Germany when I was 15. It's SO much cheaper over there! I have 12 (well, now 11) wine glasses, a vase, a pitcher, cream and sugar, salt and pepper shakers, and a serving bowl in my crystal pattern. I didn't have to register for crystal, either.

But we DO have a $900 espresso machine, purchased with wedding money. : )

Samara said...

That's impressive, Susan! All of our china and utensils are hand-me-downs, but we love them- our stainless flatware is the set that my parents received for their wedding 37 years ago & it's great.
Another nice thing to have is a set of fancy babyware that can be used by each child in turn- my in-laws gave us the silver cup & bowl set that my husband and his siblings grew up using in India (complete with dents from when the baby Mr used to fling it to the floor!), with a new silver spoon just for our son, and my parents gave him my set of stainless baby utensils. I really enjoy feeding him his rice cereal and puree with things that have history and are really nice, not the usual plastic/tupperware.
It's true that frequently used silver needs little to no polishing- just don't mix stainless with silver or the silver will get marked up quickly.

Susan said...

That's so neat that you found your crystal in Germany, Becky. You can probably find your crystal pattern online, at, if you'd like a replacement for your wine glass.

I think that's so neat to have a silver cup and bowl set like that, with family history, Samara. I have found some neat baby sets like that online, during other searches.

Jessie said...

Hey Susan! luv ya! : )

Lydia said...

Wow! What a remarkable blessing to find your china and silver flatware for such a reasonable price! I am not a "formal" sort of person. I doubt I would use china or real silver often enough to warrant having a large collection. I do think a silver punch bowl and cups would be nice. My grandmother has a lovely set that we borrow sometimes for special occasions.

Several years ago I did receive several very nice pieces of Princess House crystal from a dear lady whose three children I routinely babysat. She just had it in her heart to give it to me since she never used it. I used many of those pieces as serving dishes at the bridal shower I hosted last summer.

For other dishes I have begun collecting Fiesta ware dishes. I love the simple design and cheery colors. I have six full place settings and several serving pieces. I enjoy how they can be used for casual or more formal gatherings and the colors can be mixed and matched with ease. So far all my colors are different for the place settings. They are incredibly reasonable in price as well. Around here at the local department store a five-piece place setting is $20 and most of the serving bowls or pieces are under $20.

I splurged on a new set of Cutco cutlery last year. My family owns a set we have had for several years. I love the way they perform and hold up well in the dishwasher. They are not for the tight budget but I thought the design and performance was worth the money. I did get a slight discount since my parents were prior customers. My set has most of the main knives and six table knives.
They cut incredibly well and have a lifetime warranty for sharpening and damage to the blade or handle. We use them nearly every day around our house.

That is most of my houseware items. I would love to find a quality set of flatware to go with my Fiesta ware dishes. Everything I have looked at is either too weird or too plain. Do you know of a good company from which to purchase flatware?

I enjoyed this post. Thanks for sharing of your amazing finds. What a great blessing from the Lord!

Susan said...

I like the Fiesta ware, Lydia :-). Very simple, but nice. I also think it's fun to mix and match colors for place settings, as you've done :-). Ashley and Paul's dinnerware is like that; it's a Mexican theme with bright colors that go well together.

I would say Oneida is a wonderful company for flatware. You can get all different price ranges and qualities. It's one of the best-known and most-established flatware companies, also. And they have a whole range of patterns, including several nice ones that aren't too fancy, without being boring.

Eltinwe said...

My strategy for china was essentially to wait until I inherited a set from my grandmother. She'd willed it to me YEARS ago when I was young and apparently asked for that, when she asked what I wanted. It was her "secondary" china set and I never remember using it, but it's such a nicer pattern than her "primary" set was, I was just overjoyed to have it.

Silver I hope to inherit at least some of my parents' silver collection. It's sterling, and they use it day-to-day and never have to polish anything but the serving pieces which don't get used as often. The trouble with plate is as you use it, the plate wears off. But my parents got it cheap at an auction, and have supplemented gradually from e-bay to the point where they have a huge service, and even if both my siblings want a part, we could probably ALL have a set!

ANY and ALL silver and china ought never to be put in a dishwasher under any circumstances.