Home Entertaining, Tabletop
How Many Plates do I Really Need?
4 is not a number no matter how many chairs are in your dining room!
My kitchen table seats only 3 and my dining room table has only 6 chairs. So, how many plates do I really need? I need a lot more than 6! I can honestly say that I get asked that question by almost every client I have. The answer is that everyone needs at least 10 even if you only seat 6 at your table and here’s why:
First, you will sometimes choose to use some regular plates (not serving pieces) just for serving the food that you’ve made. Perhaps the meal is more casual and you don’t feel the need to pull out your platters and, whatever you’ve created will fit just fine on a dinner plate. That’s why if your table is like mine and you’re serving 6 you will need more plates.
Second, you might be having a casual dinner and somehow a plate or two gets cleared into the kitchen but your guests aren’t quite finished with the meal – you need more plates!
Third, for some holidays you might add a folding table or two with folding chairs to seat 12 and you need more plates.
Or, maybe you’re serving a buffet and a guest wants a clean plate – all of a sudden you need more plates.
Then there’s always the dreaded and unexpected ‘plus one’ that wasn’t on the original guest list but someone brings to the party. You can scramble for another chair that you pull up to your table but, if you don’t have extra plates, how are they going to eat their dinner?
And, what if you’re being very careful with cleanup but a plate slips through your fingers and goes crashing to the floor? Or, the garbage disposal decides to eat a spoon? Or any number of other mishaps and disasters that could descend on your evening?
You can see where this is headed. The number of chairs at your table is only the start of how many plates, bowls, glasses, spoons, forks, etc. that you need to have on hand. My rule of thumb is an additional 4 of everything. This holds true no matter what shape or size your plates, bowls or flatware are. Extras are always the answer.
I used to throw an annual New Year’s Eve party for all of my friends. The last several years the number of guests grew to 100. After I pushed back all of the furniture in my living room I squeezed in 10 tables for dinner. But, you can imagine how many dishes etc. I had for those parties – service for 115!!! I just never knew if someone was bringing an ‘extra’ and I always needed to be prepared.
Count your plates and be ready for anything!