Solutions: ‘Giving plates’ a hostess gift with meaning

Jeanine Matlow
Special to The Detroit News

If you’re not sure what to get someone for a hostess gift, a giving plate just might fit the bill. Though styles may vary, they share the same message and intent to be passed from one house to another when bringing food to a gathering.

When Katie Kiyo, who owns Big Hug, a Bloomfield Hills-based online remembrance gift company, first encountered a giving plate in a gift shop, it reminded her how hard it can be to find a meaningful hostess gift.

Though her company doesn’t sell giving plates at this time, Kiyo is sold on the concept. “When I take a dish to pass, sometimes I forget to bring the dish itself home, creating a headache for the hostess,” she says. “A giving plate solves both problems and more importantly speaks to the essence of family, food and friendship.”

“I have a group of friends from Dearborn who regularly get together for epicurean delights…we rotate homes,” says Kiyo. “The husband of one couple passed away last year. We have a special crystal bowl of his that is passed from home to home, our own form of giving plate, which has become a gentle, monthly reminder of the joy of friendship and laughter that he brought to the many meals he shared with us.”

As she explains, something similar can be found at an antique store or flea market. “Finding unusual, beautiful single plates at these places is easy,” Kiyo says.

For the best selection, Kiyo relies on places like Treasure Mart in Ann Arbor. “You can find a single piece and you won’t pay much for it. Just give it to your friend with the idea to pass it on and pass it back,” she says. “It’s always so annoying when you forget to take your dish. This lets you pass the hospitality on.”

Elaine Johns, who owns Treasure Mart, a consignment store specializing in antique and vintage pieces, says they have many affordable and beautiful hand-painted plates, as well as Waterford crystal bowls that sell for around $35-$45.

Anything from bread baskets to slate cheeseboards can act as a giving plate. “A lot of people don’t want big round platters and serving plates anymore because they’re hard to store,” says Johns.

Gently used newer pieces, like sushi plates, can also be found at Treasure Mart. “Contemporary-style plates seem to be more popular, like the ones with simple lines,” she says. Many are done in bright colors reminiscent of Fiestaware.

White is a safe bet, especially when visiting someone’s home for the first time, before you get a feel for their taste.

Because people often bring an appetizer or dessert to a gathering, the idea of a giving plate makes it easier on the guest and the host. In the end, any piece that gets passed around might encourage everyone to get together more often.

For information, go to for the giving plate shown and other options. For Treasure Mart, go to or call (734) 662-1363.

Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her at