Easy and affordable ways to class up a dinner party. Whether you’ve grown weary of your dinnerware or are looking to establish a collection of entertaining staples for the first time, setting an Instagram-worthy dinner table doesn’t have to be stressful or expensive.
We’ve sourced tableware pieces that are versatile, durable and accessible – low-maintenance classics that add effortless elegance to any meal.
UPGRADE YOUR GLASSWARE
Choosing a complete set of water glasses is an affordable and easy way to add a unifying element to any table. Restaurants around the world — from casual street cafes to Michelin-starred establishments — rely on $5-a-pop Duralex Picardie glasses because they’re as tough as they are good-looking. Their tempered-glass construction allowed them to survive multiple drops onto commercial kitchen floors, and they should last for many years of regular use in your home.
We like a good all-purpose wine glass that will suit both red and white wines and don’t think you need to buy into the marketing hype to invest in specific glasses for different varieties of wine. We like basics from Ikea because we like to buy lots – 20 is better than 12, and 10 is better than 6. If you have twenty glasses, you’ll feel little pain when the number dwindles to fifteen, twelve, eight, six…
Beware of thin stems that feel as though they could snap between your fingers.
Our favourite wine glasses are narrow enough to preserve the delicate nuances of most whites, while its capacity makes it big enough for swirling reds. Its lip is thinner than those of most other glasses in its price range, making it easy to sip from. And its narrow, seamless stem and wide base make it pleasant to hold and stable when you set it down.
DON’T FRET OVER PLATES
Unlike glasses, matching plates and bowls have little appeal outside of a formal dining room setting. Formal dinners are largely a thing of the past, but plain china can be helpful for adding contrast. When we throw parties, we supplement our Portuguese cabbageware green plates with white IKEA Arv pieces. Alternating between the two styles gives the table a vibrant look overall that’s still anchored by elegance.
Our top picks for dinnerware include Wedgwood Gio and Wedgwood Vera Wang Vera Jardin each piece is made of bone china that’s thinner, lighter, and more delicate looking than porcelain, yet is surprisingly durable and chip resistant for daily use, Vera Jardin 4-Piece Place Setting, $129.
UPDATE YOUR SILVERWARE
Hosting a crowd may mean you need extra forks, knives, and spoons. The idea is to find a general style that appeals to you, then compare materials, which can differ between even similar cutlery designs. You won’t go wrong with Ikea’s classic Mogen 24-piece cutlery set, $29.99, or Dragon 24-piece cutlery set, $49.99 set is a classic, that borrows heavily from a 1950s famous Scandi design. Ikea, www.ikea.com.au
Or seek out David Mellor’s sleek, and enduring English cutlery, in production since the 1950s, is the architect’s choice. Try Classic, or Provencal, 6-Piece black handle set, $186, Hub Furniture, www.hubfurniture.com.au
Keep your table clean and serene with Stanley Rogers Albany and Clarendon contemporary cutlery in stainless steel, www.templeandwebster.com.au
We tend to avoid black or rose-gold colouring as they are less durable, and may not be dishwasher-safe.
LINENS WITH LABOUR
Even though they’re referred to as linens, most restaurants use plain cotton for napkins and tablecloths, simply because cotton is easier to clean and less wrinkle-prone than linen, and less expensive too. We like Williams Sonoma’s napkins which are made from 100 percent tight-weave cotton, and great for the price. They’re available in the widest assortment of sizes and sets.
The napkins are soft and absorbent. After dinner parties, we just chuck them in a bucket of water with stain remover, leaving the washing for the next day. When you do wash, use the cold cycle, and inspect the items for remaining stains before drying them — the dryer’s heat will set anything that’s left.