Category Archives: Stocking Up For Guests

Break Out The Cloth Napkins

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In my second post of my spring series, Entertaining 101: Stoking Up For Guests, I’d like toss out the idea of using cloth napkins… Here’s the first post on Water Goblets, in case you missed it!

I love cloth napkins. To me, they are like a special accessory you add to a party dress. Something pretty and colorful to set off the ensemble, making it unique and noteworthy. They come in prints, fancy colors, weaves, Jacquards… they even have beads and tasselled edges. They brighten up the table like flowers do. They are so cheerful!

Do I use cloth napkins every day? No. I’m not crazy! We eat tacos, spaghetti and sauce, BBQ … MESSY STUFF. And, I have a CHILD who likes to spill, smear and wipe stuff. No, we use regular, “Bounty brand” paper napkins every day. I even toss in some paper towels when we eat ribs and buttery corn on the cob. I do not like to be a slave to laundry and ironing. I know our environment could use a deep breath and deserves the dedicated people who do use cloth napkins every day, and I applaud them loudly — but honestly, I just don’t have it in me.  (The following are from Target — Set of four under $10.00)

But on special occasions, when we have company over, or when we eat in the dining room, I break out my favorite table cloths and pretty cloth napkins. I love how they make the occasion a little bit more fancy, and I get to play with colors and pattern.  Even if I don’t break out my fancy china, and we are just eating in the kitchen with my plain white dishes, I can still use my cloth napkins and place mats or chargers for  special guests like the pastor, my in-laws, close friends, or for a special birthday. I actually even have some of the napkins I’ve pictured in this post, love them, and use them not only frequently but over and over again — even if it’s just to line a chip basket or a bread basket.

Cloth napkins aren’t as intimidating as they sound, if you purchase the right kind of fabric. Polyester is NOT the right fabric. It is very difficult to keep clean. Oils and grease stain easily and when you wipe your mouth with them, they really don’t absorb well. Liquids don’t absorb into the fabric, and just bead up and roll right off. It’s annoying and I just want to ball them up and throw them across the room whenever I use them at restaurants. They are not a nice napkin to use.

On the other hand, 100% cotton is a wonderful fabric to use for napkins. They absorb beautifully, and they come in beautiful prints and colors. And, while not my favorite, Cotton/Poly blend works well, too. They actually wash up nicely and easily with all the modern cleaning products we have. More on that later. (The following are from Wal-Mart — Set of eight under $10.00, set of 4 under $5.00)

In general, cloth napkins make your invited guests feel special, like you actually went out of your way to make the dinner table fancy for them… even though you didn’t. They fold nicely under the fork, or you can fold them into a fancy shape and place them on the dish or fan them out in a water goblet. Either way, they just say: You are special enough to bring out the best, and you will get “oohs,” “ahhhs,” and “oh you shouldn’t have,” and “everything is so beautiful” whenever you put them out, and THAT ALONE should make you feel good about yourself (even if you burn dinner)!

Cloth napkins aren’t only pretty and functional, they save money. You’re not constantly running out to buy colored paper napkins for special occasions. Sure, there is a place and time for colored paper napkins… say, a large graduation or other large celebration party, where you need 100 napkins. Yes, paper napkins always have their place (you can see I’m trying hard to convince myself). Actually, I do love to get pretty cocktail napkins, and I pass them out with the water goblets or with dessert. I also get colorful paper napkins for my little boy’s birthday parties. See? They do have their place. Keep in mind he was born in 2005. He’s a child that has child-sized friends that make child-sized messes. I however, am an adult, and I like to adult with other adults in the dining room on occasion. So when you have small, intimate parties, don’t be afraid to bring out the cloth napkins. Challenge yourself. I double-dawg-dare-you-to. As an adult, that is. Ehem. Spit shake on that? (The following are from Pier 1 — from $3.68 to $4.95 each)

Purchasing tips for cloth napkins: Always look for heavy cotton and woven cotton napkins. They wear better, and wash and dry better. They will come out of a hot dryer less wrinkled, and will only need a quick press of an iron. Lighter cotton and linen will need heavier ironing and possibly some light starching. Remember… just because it’s more expensive doesn’t mean it’s better!!

Washing tips: As soon as your guests leave, pick up your napkins and table cloths, shake the crumbs off of them, and squirt them with my special Stain Removing spray recipe: in a spray bottle, combine 1 cup of blue Dawn dishwashing detergent, and one cup of hydrogen peroxide. Shake well until combined. Spray any stains you see on the napkins and table cloths. Let them sit while you put leftovers away in the refrigerator and load the dishwasher (or at least 30 minutes). Load your washing machine with your detergent and a capful of OxyClean. Allow your washing machine to fill with water. Toss in your table-cloth and napkins and allow them to soak over night in the water with the lid open (if you can). Close the lid to your washing machine the next morning and let the machine run. Dry them in the dryer, and take them out as soon as the dry cycle ends. Run the iron over them immediately and fold them neatly and put them neatly away so they are ready to use the next time you need them.

And really, that’s all … According to Giselle!

Water Goblets For Entertaining

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Here is post number one on my series of Entertaining 101: Stocking Up for Guests. I hope you take notes on how to fill your cabinets with versatile and useful items that you will be able to reach for when ever you have a planned party or a surprise guest pop in. Whether you are a seasoned hostess, a newly wed, a bride to be, or a person that wants to step out of their comfort zone and start entertaining… I hope this series helps you discover A Mind Set For Entertaining!

One of the best investments you can make is in a set of sturdy glass water goblets. Yes! Glass! Don’t be afraid to put out glass goblets when your guests come over. Why put out plastic? Plastic is wasteful, and can get costly. Glass is beautiful, sturdy, and a good, heavy glass goblet with a cold, delicious drink in it feels good in the hand!’

Besides, you can use them over and over and over again, and not just for water.  I serve lemonade, tea, soft drinks, or any other drink you can imagine in them. They are lovely for sangria, beer, and generous margaritas. I’ve even served a generous portion of dessert in them. I use them for buffets, casual meals, Superbowl celebrations, cookouts, Bible studies, or any gathering where I have a crowd coming over.

They can be dressed up in the dining room, or dressed down on the picnic table with a beverage dispenser and a cooler of ice next to them. If you purchase a sturdy set, they can be tossed in the dish washer, and placed back in the box for storage until your next party. Trust me. I DO NOT hand wash them. No delicate crystal here! I highly recommend you purchase all clear goblets, because they will go with any color dishes, napkins and table cloths you decide to use — you won’t be limited.

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My mom always drilled in my head to have a place for everything, and put everything in its place. When you take care of your things, they last longer, and she is right!  As you can see … my boxes look yellowed, but I have kept my glasses in their original boxes because they are packaged in sturdy cardboard, and they are divided nicely and well protected.

I purchased my two sets of 8 all clear goblets from Wal-Mart about 15 years ago, and I’ve only broken one in all that time. I paid $12.99 for one set of 8, and I got two boxes of them. Of course, the same set has gone up to $37.99 now, but that’s still under $5.00 per goblet.

Amazon.com has a beautiful set of water goblets by Libbey, 12 16-1/4 ounce goblets for51r5crqhaAL._SL1170_ $30.40 Prime (as of the date of this post – see or click on single glass to right) and they look sturdy and lovely. I might even bump my set up by another 12… you see … they don’t all need to match perfectly! That’s the beauty of clear goblets.

If you are great at scouring the dollar stores, you can find beautiful water goblets for $1.00 each. I recommend you purchase at least 12 goblets, and if you’re getting them at the dollar store, get them at the same time, because sometimes, they come and go quickly. You can even find restaurant and hotel buyouts on eBay for great prices!! My only suggestion with eBay is that you get all clear glasses, and make sure you’re getting sturdy stems (as opposed to very thin stems, which break easily).

Brides to be… Put them on your registry! Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want, because you just might get it! Tip: chosing more expensive brands for your registry don’t always mean better quality or durability. Remember: if you want your friends and family to purchase your items, be sure to make a diverse selection of items and prices on your registry! Make the selections do-able.

This recipe of Sparkling Pineapple Punch reminds me of a drink they have in Peru which I think you will enjoy. It looks very pretty served over ice in the glass water goblets. And, wherever you decide to purchase your goblets, you won’t regret it. You will find yourself using them over and over again as they are so versatile and neutral, and will save you money time and time again. They truly are an investment worth making! And that’s… According To Giselle!

Sparkling Pineapple Punch

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 4 cinnamon sticks, about 3″ long
  • 12 whole cloves
  • 1 can (46 ounces) pineapple juice
  • 1-1/2 cups orange juice
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 12-ounce can ginger ale, chilled (more if desired)
  • Ice cubes

Directions

  1. In a small saucepan, bring the water, sugar, cinnamon sticks and cloves to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain and cool to room temperature.
  2. Pour into a large pitcher; stir in juices. Refrigerate until chilled. Just before serving, stir in ginger ale. Serve over ice.