Studio 5 Party, Holiday and Ideas Contributor Alisa Bangerter explains how.
Mix and Match Items
• You don’t need to have all dishes and serving pieces match. Combine styles and colors of dishes to create fun, whimsical or elegant place settings. A set of white dishware is a good investment that can be used in many ways and easily combined with other items.
• Stack several flat trays together before adding food. Add a round plate to an oblong tray and then add food. You can create some very hip looks this way.
• Stack several bowls together for a layered look before adding food.
Focus on Color
• Using a color theme can help you create great table décor and serving displays for holidays without having to invest in specialty holiday dishes.
• Look through your cupboards for dishes and items of a certain color(s). Even combining one or two colored dishes with white or clear can make a catchy display. Add in other touches of color with ribbons, cloths, flowers, etc. to help coordinate if necessary.
• Charger plates can add color under items as well as work for a base for centerpieces. Instead of placing them under dinner plates, place them under all the serving bowls.
• Use printed scrapbook paper on trays as you would doilies to add quick color and themes.
Use Dishes in Creative Ways
• Turn a wide based pedestal plate over and use it as a chip/vegetable/dip tray. If the plate has a wide base it will work great to hold dip while the vegetables/chips are placed around the bottom. Other types of dishes might make creative serving pieces when turned over as well.
• Use pedestal plates as a base for other bowls.
• Look around your home for interesting home décor items that serving bowls can be nestled in to add interest to a table. Items such as wood or metal trays, baskets, decorative boxes, metal pails, etc. This can often be the centerpiece itself.
• Serve food in unusual ways. For example place salad in a tall tiered wide vase, rolls can be placed in a drink jar, corn on the cob can be served out of a vintage milk can, etc. This can add charm with little expense.
• Create a two or three tiered serving tray. Simply stack pedestal plates combining different styles, sizes and colors.
• Turn goblets or parfait glasses over and place plates on them to create your own tiered serving dishes (see below).
• Serve your main meal on smaller salad plates instead of large dinner plates if it is a casual dinner or buffet.
• Use a pitcher or food safe vase to serve breadsticks out of. A pitcher or vase would also be a great container to place silverware in for a buffet.
• Use clear goblets as parfait glasses or individual trifle dishes.
• Place several teacups or mugs on a tray close together (tie with a ribbon if it fits the theme) and fill with condiments.
• Use small teacups at each place setting and use to serve gravy, sauces, butter, etc.
• Cloth napkins, scarves, or pieces of fabric can be draped over old dishes or boxes to create raised platforms and dimension for serving dishes and trays.
• Serve soups in mugs or pureed type soups in goblets.
• Use a metal sugar/flour/ice scoop to serve salad or something similar. This is a unique alternative to salad tongs.
• Use a fork as a placecard holder. Simply add the placecard in the tines of the fork.
• Use a decorative or clear bowl as a cover for a cheese plate or cake plate.
• Use silverware as part of your centerpiece. Place silverware in unique containers wrapped with ribbon down the center of the table.
Alter Dishes for New Uses
• Make your own tiered dishes by adhering candlesticks (metal, glass or decorative), vintage cans, jars, flower pots, vases, parfait glasses, etc. to the bottom of plates or platters. The type of adhesive you use will depend on the strength and permanency of your dishes. Use a glue or adhesive such as E6000, Gorilla Glue, clear caulking or adhesive type putty. These can turn out amazing and can be a very unique one of a kind serving pieces. Look for items at yard sales or thrift stores.
• Turn a teacup over and adhere a saucer to the top (the bottom of the teacup). Use to serve smaller items or as a butter or sugar dish. These also make cute candle holders on a table.
• Glue the bottoms of two bowls together and use as a serving dish.
• Place decorative rub-ons on the underside of clear serving dishes. Most rub-ons can be scraped off after use. This would be a fun way to add a name for use as a placecard, under a plate, on a goblet, etc.
• Use spray adhesive to spray the front of items such as die cuts, photos, pressed leaves or flowers, etc. and place on the underside of clear plates. These come off easily and allow you to create personalized dishes for events or parties.
• Decoupage paper, napkins, photos, etc. on the underside of clear plates. (This will be permanent and the back should not get wet.)
• Alter glassware with glass spray paints. Make sure to keep area that food will be touching from coming in contact with the paint.
• Use etching cream to alter your dishware. This can create a fun new look.
• Use washable markers to color the underside of glass plates. This will wash off but can create a pretty table and would work great for a roll or bread plate. Make sure the marker will not come in contact with food or get wet.
• Use scrapbooking glue dots to adhere lace, ribbons, rhinestones or trims around the edge of a pedestal plate to create a lovely serving item.