In my last blog post, I addressed why I think it’s a good idea to have formal dinner dishes. Today, I want to talk about actually using those dishes. So let me introduce you to a tradition in my family: Fancy Dishes Dinner.

Every Sunday, as often as possible, we break out the china and the fancy crystal glasses and use them for dinner. No matter what is being served.

Note that the adjective “fancy” is used to describe the dishes, and not the dinner. We try to use the dishes no matter what is on the menu. That means that we have eaten pizza and tacos on our china. Honestly, one of the most memorable meals we had on the formal china was fish tacos. It was memorable because I put each and every topping into a little bowl. Salsa, guacamole and grated cheese have never been as artfully presented in my house as they were that day!

We do occasionally make the meal a little fancier. (What did we ever do before Pinterest taught us that we could use cookie cutters to create star-shaped watermelon pieces?) We also sometimes serve a separate salad course just so we can use our salad plates. And of course, needing to use the dessert/bread plates is a great way to justify having a dessert!




Don’t just lock away and look at your formal dishes. Take them out and use them – even if you’re just having take out for dinner. If you have young children, tell them you think they’re ready to be trusted with the fancy dishes and watch how they respond.

This tradition only goes back a few years, but it’s one we hope to continue. It really does seem to make mealtime more special, and we tend to linger more over the meal than normal. With busy lives, and children growing up faster than we want them to, this time has become very precious to us. I love that we’re creating these memories, and I hope that someday my children will bring their children to my house for a “fancy dishes dinner.”

The downside of “fancy dishes dinner” is that since we picked a pattern of china that’s been around longer than dishwashers, my husband and I have to hand wash the dishes. When we started this tradition, we were fairly confident our children weren’t going to break any of the dishes just by eating off of them. But we weren’t so sure that they could be trusted to wash the dishes without dropping them! Even though they’re old enough to be trusted with the washing duties now, we’ve continued to wash the dishes together, telling ourselves that we need to get used to it because it won’t be too long before it’s just the two of us in the house anyways.

If you’re reading this, I would encourage you to try a “fancy dishes dinner” with your family, friends, or even just for yourself.  Pick a date and then pull out the china and use it. Can’t get everyone together for dinner? Then try brunch on the weekend instead. Let your children drink water or milk from a wine glass. See if it makes the food look nicer, or taste better, or if it encourages a little more conversation. (Even if it is just “Why are we using the fancy dishes tonight? Is it a special occasion I forgot about?”)

Who knows. Maybe you’ll even start your own fancy dishes dinner tradition.

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