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Smart Solutions: Spring offers a chance to freshen up your serveware

By Jeanine Matlow
Special to The Detroit News

March marks a good time to stock up on entertaining staples before the warmer weather leads to the frequent gatherings that happen during the milder seasons.

Though I take pleasure in many of the mismatched pieces that make up my personal stash, like the coffee mugs that have special meaning and the vintage dishes that were passed down to me, sometimes I prefer more coordinated collections.  

For instance, I’d like to replace the champagne glasses that went from matching sets to a random assortment due to breakage through the years. Since a little consistency with my glassware helps to balance disparate objects like dishes, I’m currently on the hunt for a new set.

Beverage dispensers make a lovely display for refreshments when entertaining.

It’s also time to upgrade some of my small appliances, such as the toaster and coffeemaker I use each day that come in handy when hosting a Sunday brunch.

Some of my smaller bowls are looking a bit worn, so I’m trying to find the right replacements. One of my serving spoons seems to have gone missing, which means I may have left it behind at a potluck party.

 After an unsuccessful search for a new napkin holder, I fell for one at a friend’s house that her daughter got long ago. Still, I was able to find similar styles online that had the same cutout patterns featuring a fork, knife and spoon.

Taking inventory of your entertaining supplies can also extend to other parts of the home, like the powder room where a new soap dispenser, hand towel or tissue box can make the space feel extra special.

Basic tabletop staples can be examined to see if they still meet your standards, from salt and pepper shakers to sugar bowls.

Get your guests’ attention with visual surprises like a vintage drawer lined with wax paper for appetizers. Pitchers and teacups can hold floral arrangements instead of your regular vases.

A glass canister filled with sugar cubes makes a pretty presentation as does a trifle bowl for popcorn or pretzels. Wicker baskets lend texture to the table while mirrored trays reflect the light.

Though the wear and tear on our dining table doesn’t bother me much, having a colorful tablecloth on hand for hosting would brighten our environment a bit.

Beverage dispensers turn refreshments into a distinctive display when entertaining on a hot summer day. A wood pedestal can be topped with a cluster of grapes for an edible arrangement that looks especially appetizing.

Plastic squeeze bottles for salad dressing and other condiments also top my list. I might even donate a few of my mismatched coffee cups in favor of the glass varieties I’ve always admired.

In the meantime, my serving pieces for chips and salsa need to come out of hiding along with my cutting boards that can hold an array of olives, cheese and nuts.

When a friend presented me with a dish towel that says: my safe word is takeout; I pictured it as a pillow cover to be prominently displayed when entertaining. Once you have all the right supplies in place, the only part left for you and your guests is laughter.

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