Monday, June 15, 2009

10 Yard Sale Entertaining Essentials

Sandy, the Reluctant Entertainer, and I love yard sales. No surprise--thrifty finds often inspire our hospitality. Today, we'll show you how to assemble entertaining essentials for pennies on the dollar.

Here's a list of the top 10 items I hunt on Saturday mornings.

1. Vases of all shapes and sizes add beauty to the table with whatever flowers or ferns you have hand.

I always buy a couple that fit in my car's cupholder so I can easily take some to a friend.

2. Mix and match dishes allow you to set an extra place (or five) without resorting to paper.

This $10 Meakin set encouraged me to pick up blue-and-white in every pattern. White, of course, is always classic.

3. Baskets can be lined with napkins to hold chips and buns, covered with lettuce for rustic vegetable platters, or filled with fruit and cheese for delivery.

I keep about 10 in various sizes. Shallow, open shapes prove most versatile.

4. Napkins make any meal feel nicer. White goes with everything, but prints add fun to a basic table.

I paid 5-cents each for these restaurant napkins. I also pick up unopened packages of paper napkins to tuck in food baskets and meal deliveries.

5. Large platters and bowls help even the simplest buffet look grand.

People give away jumbo serving pieces when they move or realize they never entertain. Their loss, your gain!

6. Oven-to-table serving pieces give me one less dirty dish to wash. I like Armetale because it keeps grilled foods hot and cold foods cold.

7. A variety of pitchers help you make drinks from scratch.

No storebought jugs required. I recommend 1 for water, 1 for tea, and 1 for lemonade or hot cider. Glass carafes are great for juice or wine.

8. Wicker plate holders cost 10-cents each or less.

Pop in a thin paper plate, a large doily, or a chess pie. Picnics and food gifts alike are improved by the straw texture.

9. Chairs are cheapest at yard sales. It's a luxury to seat your guests comfortably, indoors or out.

I painted these metal chairs black for my dining room. We moved the matching table under a tree, where another $5 set of chairs completed our outdoor dining area.

10. Throwaway containers help me take hospitality out of the home.

Brand new disposables can break your budget for funerals, new babies, and housewarming meals. At yard sales, scratched plastic trays cost almost nothing and won't need to be returned.

Hope this gives you ideas for your next yard sale day! Visit 4 Reluctant Entertainers to read Sandy's picks.

I'd love to know your favorite entertaining essentials in the comments below. We'll all learn something new!


Barb said...

This is a great list to keep with me while I'm yard saling and thrift shopping! My sil and I have been assembling a joint set of dishes and silverware for entertaining; we trade them back and forth for family gatherings.
I would add punch bowl and cups to the list. The punch bowl can be used for drinks or for a large salad or trifle (dessert).
I'm still working on the cup aspect since we have lots of little ones in the family. I found plastic cups on clearance at Ikea which we'll use until the littles get big enough to handle the glass ones at a party.

Unknown said...

I love the fact that so many of your choices are things that will help you to bless and help others. Sometimes I stay away from yard sales, thinking I'll just find things that will seem a good bargain but clutter up my home.
Your post provides new motivation to look for things that will encourage me to entertain more, give hot meals to others, etc.

Thanks for the post.

Catz said...

Thats a great list and would work well at our car boot sales here in the UK! I would add pretty plant pots ready for potting up cuttings from your own houseplants - make great gifts!

Suzanne said...

Great finds! I see in that second photo you have a creamer. I began to notice at yard sales that there were alot of creamers without their sugar bowls. it was at this point that I decided to start collecting all those orphan creamers. When I'm having a party I place one at each place setting, filled with water and some colorful flowers.

Thanks for all the inspiration, although I'm trying to stay away from yard sales.....too much stuff!

- Suzanne

An Adventurer in the World said...

Great list Meredith!

I also search for these:

real forks and knives, mismatched is fine. I really dislike eating with plastic utensils and assume my guests feel the same.

Service Utensils: never have enough large spoons, pie servers, seafood forks, butter knives.

Candles. I have tucked an odd taper or two into new home, new baby gift baskets. Even if the color is faded, tied with a pretty ribbon, voila! Adds a little sense of celebration.

paper doilies, drinking straws, cupcake liners.

deb meyers

An Adventurer in the World said...

p.s. what a gorgeous dahlia!

deb m

Kathleen Grace said...

Great ideas! Why don't I have a go-to list like this? Now I will! My husband and I have discovered that picking up pyrex glass casseroles and pie plates for 25 - 50 cents each, allows us to bake for new moms, potlucks or people who need a meal without worry of whether we get the dish back. No plastics, no wobbly tinfoil pans to juggle and for a housewarming for young people just starting out it gives them a much needed piece of cookware. It costs less than the wobbly tinfoil baking dishes too!

Cyndi Lewis said...

I need to move to a place with a better assortment of sale stuff. I never find anything like that! Okay, done complaining. I'm very much inspired to go searching now. I love the chairs!

Joan said...

I keep an eye out for very small vases. They are great to fill with posies and place in the center of a cake baked in a bundt pan. Sometimes in lieu of a floral centerpiece, I like to put them at each place setting with a ribbon around the neck. I then give them to the guests as a party favor.

I love to line serving trays with vintage embroidered scarves, which can sometimes be picked up very inexpensively. If the tray of goodies is a gift, then the scarf is just a bonus for the recipient.

And, of course, always pick up good quality ribbon. A pretty ribbon dresses up almost anything from your daughter's hair to packages. Tie around serving pieces at a party, drape streamers from the chandelier - the possibilities for ribbon are endless!

Niki Jolene said...

I always look for dishes too. My original set I bought is basic white with a raised fruit pattern. It is pretty common so I am always searching for extra platters and serving bowls for it.


Nancy said...

Excellent list! Thanks so much for sharing and inspiring.

Vanessa said...

Great post! I'm not sure I ever thought of being so cohesive in my searches, but I like this idea a lot.

I collect hammered aluminum trays. They used to be the gift of choice for brides years ago because aluminum was hard to process back then. These are great for entertaining-as large chargers/placemats on the table or for buffets, to hold plate and cup at the same time. The silver color can be fancy enough for holidays or casual enough for a bbq.

We scrapped styrofoam cups at our church and have a large assortment of mismatched and novelty mugs. I can't even guess how much styrofoam we've avoided using and the mugs are great conversation starters for new people holding the "I LOVE MY BOYRFIREND" or "IF IT"S GOING TO BE, IT'S UP TO ME" mugs!

My Grandma had a huge collection of Fire King mugs (we had a huge family then). At family gatherings, their was always a mug to use not a paper cup. I collect Fire King mugs and my kids drink their hot and cold drinks out of them because they are small enough for them to hold onto.

Nicola said...

fabulous list. gorgeous scores you got there!

Leila said...

Ribbon, pie plates, dinner plates that are pretty but that I don't REALLY love (to give a plate of cookies on-- that way I don't mind if I don't get it back), baskets for scones and muffins.

Large enameled tin buckets and bowls for holding watermelon, beer on ice, or what have you.

I love finding somewhat battered old tablecloths. They look good outside on the tables, are not too good to get ketchup spilled on , and have a charming aspect when grouped together...

Nice post!

Sandy said...

Great, great list. I've forgotten about my 10-cent paper-plate holders!

I've always LOVED your blue/white dishes, too. So it made it even more fun when I got to eat off of them at your house!

Great list Meredith! It's been FUN!

Anonymous said...

I may very well let you come and clean out my attic, Meredith. I have some of this stuff galore, which I rarely (never) use. And I don't have the energy to have a yard sale!

Michelle @ Give a Girl a Fig said...

There is a running theme in your all has to do with blessing OTHERS. Feeding OTHERS. Taking gifts and food to OTHERS. Providing for OTHERS. Showing hospitality to OTHERS. You truly have a God given gift to BLESS OTHERS. And you are a good steward in how you make that possible. I know you hear it all the time...but truly, you ARE an inspiration. Thank you for continually sharing your thoughts and ideas with your readers.

Shannon said...

This is a great list. I've thought so many times that I should make a list of what to look for before I hit the yard sales instead of just seeing what I find. I am always on the lookout for girls clothes since we don't have any girls to pass along hand-me-downs. I also keep an eye out for notecards and stationary - I find packs of beauiful notecards for a quarter.

LynnMarie said...

Great list of items. Here is my question for you - how do you store them? My house is small and doesn't have a lot of storage so can you share how you store all the finds you have until you use them?

Meredith said...

Lynn Marie, you might find this from the archives helpful: this article shows how I store most of my big platters, bowls, etc

I have to confess, I've been throwing larger stuff like baskets into my pantry ever since John was born. I have an upcoming series later this week showing my pantry and how I'm organizing it for better utility.

Manuela@A Cultivated Nest said...

That's a wonderful list Meredith! I love mixing and matching dishes and real napkins are so easy to find. I always find them for pennies on clearance at Target and most of the time they're so much nicer to use than paper.


Sarah @ Fiddledeedee said...

What a wonderful list! Such good ideas and enjoyable to read as well :)

I just picked up a beautiful silver serving platter and ice bucket at a yard sale this past weekend. It's amazing what you can find isn't it?

Workin' MAMA! said...

As always, YOU ROCK!

You have posted several items that are right up my alley: Yard Sales and DISHES -

I got very lucky this weekend at the good will - I scored a roller 3-tiered cart for all my canned veggies in the pantry - THEY HAVE A PLACE NOW! My husband actually made a nice favorable comment about how neat it looks in there b/c of the rolling cart that was 4.99... I'm up for a bargain these days -

Meredith - what I am about to say I trust will not leave our company and will be kept top secret:
Every color under the sun - Sets to mix and match - I have no faves. They are all my faves.

Being a daughter of the south, my mama taught me to never serve on a paper plate - "What message are you trying to send your guests? Do you want them to feel welcome?" she'd say -

It's been Ceramic stoneware/China/whatever's pretty on my table always - The wicker plate thing looks classy for outdoors, but if I tried that, I wouldn't be able to sleep at night I bet... You always have the best ideas - thanks for always being a blessed inspiration -
PS - I just scored hotel table cloths/linens and napkins at a hotel laundry surplus place here-
8 -120 inch round white ones for 2 bucks a piece - brand new -
I'm having a southern tea party next spring and I'm scoring deals along the way -

You are invited - :)


Workin' MAMA! said...

Oh, and you always 'work' the cobalt girl - Loving your vases sister Meredith!

You'd lose your mind in the goodwills 'round here - There must be at least 40. Estate Sales/garage sales galore here - People are reducing like never before - and I'll do my best to try and catch the best from their stash that I can USE!!!

The Damsel In Dis Dress said...

At yard sales, I love to find old china and silverplate--teacups--etc.

I love the idea of grabbing inexpensive things for taking food in. Why didn't I think of that?

Laura said...

Those chairs are wonderful! You have much more patience than I...

Robin's Nesting Place said...

Just discovered your wonderful blog today! I love it!

Tubo Family said...

Getting ready to serve dinner to my family and friends at a concert at our local park, I found six matched and three mismatched Corelle salad plates at the St Vincent de Paul--on 10 for $1.07 day no less! They worked great for kid portions at the picnic and were light & easy to pack there & back in our bike trailer. And now all of them are added to the "kids' dish shelf" for daily use and will supplement my Fiestaware for cake plates at parties.

Rhoda @ Southern Hospitality said...

Meredith, oh you know I love this subject too. Just recently I've picked up some melamine plates & glasses to use outdoors & in the past, lots of linens and tablecloths for just a few dollars. So much fun to see what all you can find out there for next to nothing to add to the entertaining stash. I hope to do more of it this year! Loved both yours and Sandy's lists.

Brenda said...

Love your finds! My favorite thrift store find for outdoor dining is four enamelware divided plates, two green, rimmed in black, and 2 light yellow, rimmed in black. I always enjoy these plates, and I think I only gave ten cents, or perhaps twenty-five cents, each.

Unknown said...

What great advice, I've got some new ideas to add to my garage sale list! Thanks!

Kristyn Knits said...

L O V E this post!!
you've given new life to my old thoughts on garage sales. I tend to avoid them thinking that more stuff = an unhappy me. I don't know that I would have thought of using garage sale finds to bless others. I tend to use the disposable containers to deliver my meals. now I can make good use of other's castoffs. thanks for the inspiration!!

Melissa @ The Inspired Room said...

Love all the things you have found at garage sales and that you can use them for entertaining and bringing meals to others!

Lylah Ledner said...

Fabulous. Simply fabulous. I'm crazy about the blue AND sad that I gave away (Goodwill) my silver pieces similar to what you've pictured...:-(

Anonymous said...

Great ideas - I love tag sales, but haven't visited too many recently. I was thinking of keeping a little notebook in my purse with a list of all kinds of things that are good to be on the lookout for. (Include sizes of clothing for people in your family, the model name and # of certain appliances, etc.) My #1 thing to look out for is books, but of course that's for me to keep. A friend used to pick up odds & ends, mismatched plates so that when she made cookies, she didn't care about having to get the plate back. Silverware is sometimes a good thing to keep an eye out for too.

Angel Funk said...

I love all of these ideas!