6 Ways to Make the Gracious Lifestyle More Rewarding

You know that the gracious lifestyle is its own reward: a beautiful home, good times with friends and family, and the satisfaction of living life to its best.

And we want to be part of it!  So we set up a unique new program, Gracious Style Rewards to celebrate those special times with you.

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Guide to Choosing Flatware

There are so many exciting choices in flatware, you are probably asking yourself, “Where do I start? Which material should I select, and how many pieces will I need?”  We break down the basics for you, so your table will look fabulous in no time flat.

Understanding Flatware Materials

What are the different types of materials used to make dinnerware?

Sterling: Sterling silver flatware collections are true heirlooms. Sterling is made of at least 92.5% pure silver and an alloy (usually copper for added strength).  Any piece of flatware that meets these guidelines is stamped with the word “sterling” to ensure its authenticity. Sterling silver is very expensive, but it makes the most elegant and formal flatware.  Compared to stainless, sterling has a warmer glow and may require occasional polishing.  When not in use for prolonged periods, we advise keeping sterling in felt pouches to prevent scratches or tarnish.

 

Christofle Malmaison Sterling Silver Flatware

Silverplate: Silverplate is a dishwasher-safe, less-expensive alternative to sterling that can last nearly as long. A layer of 100% silver coats another metal, usually nickel or brass. Nickel is best, because it’s harder than brass and silver adheres to it well. The thicker the silver layer, the better the quality.

Couzon A Fleur De Peau Silverplate Flatware

Stainless Steel: Most everyday flatware is stainless steel, which doesn’t rust, tarnish, chip, or wear out. Stainless steel is commonly defined as a metal alloy that contains a minimum of 10.5% chromium. To make stainless steel flatware, chromium is added to steel for strength as well as rust and stain resistance. Nickel, another metal alloy, is also added to the steel for its brilliance and lasting finish.  The grades (18/10, 18/8, and 18/0) refer to the amount of nickel, which prevents corrosion. The best grade is 18/10, because it is the longest lasting.

Why is stainless steel “stainless”?

Compared to other metals, stainless steel is particularly resistant to rust and discoloration because the oxide film in the metal absorbs common forms of discoloration. Keep in mind, however, that while stainless steel certainly stains less, it is not completely stain proof.

 

Sambonet Twist Stainless Steel Flatware

Pewter: In colonial America, pewter was prized for its strength and durability. Today, pewter products are sought after by collectors for their rustic feel and beautiful patina. Pewter does not require polishing.

Match Pewter Sofia Flatware

PVD: Is a thin ceramic coating deposited on stainless steel pieces, resulting in colored implements. It is very hard and resists abrasion well.

Herdmar Oslo Black Flatware, Stainless Steel 18/10

Acrylic: Acrylic flatware with colored and patterned handles is sold in a rainbow of styles. Fashionable enough for formal events, it’s also great for everyday use. Q Squared’s London Chic collection, and Vietri’s best-selling Aladdin collection, are perfect for adding personality to your table setting.

Alain Saint Joanis Parme Tortoiseshell Flatware

 

Suggested quantities

What is included in a five-piece setting?

Five-piece place settings consist of the following: dinner knife, dinner fork, salad fork, tablespoon and teaspoon.

Can I order additional flatware pieces?

Yes. In addition to five-piece settings, additional pieces such as butter spreaders, fish forks and knives, demitasse spoons, salad servers, cake servers and gravy ladles are standard items in many collections.  Please write us at service@graciousstyle.com for further information on any of our collections.

How many flatware collections do I need?

Generally, most people have at least one casual collection for everyday use (usually stainless steel) and one formal collection for selected occasions (usually sterling or silverplated).

Christofle Jardin d’Eden Flatware

What serving pieces do I need?

– Twelve five-piece settings

– One serving set (serving knife and serving fork)

– One salad serving set

– One carving set

– One set of steak knives

– One cake server

Caring for Flatware

How do I care for stainless steel flatware?

Stainless steel flatware is dishwasher safe; it can also can be washed by hand.

How do I care for silverplated or sterling flatware?

The best way to keep sterling and silverplated lustrous is to use it regularly. For optimal care, wash silver flatware in hot water with mild soap and dry immediately afterward with a soft cloth. Do not wash sterling and stainless together, as the steel will scratch the silver. Use a small amount of detergent, and one with no lemon or citrus additives.

To clean individual pieces of silver, you can use a high-quality silver polish or foam (such as Christofle Cream Cleaner with Sponge). To view all our metal cleaning products and storage cases, click here.

However, to clean many pieces simultaneously, we suggest the following quick-clean method:

1) Boil a pot of medium pot of water.

2) Line a pan with aluminum foil.

3) Place your flatware pieces inside the pan, one next to each other.

4) Pour boiling water over the flatware.

5) Add a few tablespoons of baking soda to your pan.  While the solution bubbles up, watch the tarnish disappear from your flatware and onto the aluminum foil.  Try this, it really works!

How do I store my flatware?

We recommend that you enjoy your flatware as much as possible. However, when not in use, flatware can be stored in a kitchen drawer (designated for this use) or kept inside felt bags. Do not wrap in plastic or paper, and do not crowd pieces to avoid scratching.

Anti-tarnish Cloth Bag

Miscellaneous

What is the difference between standard and continental sizes?

Standard refers the sizes of flatware commonly used with American table settings. However, for a more formal look, there are “continental” flatware sizes (also referred to as “dinner” sizes) that are larger and heavier than the standard.  These are usually found in European flatware collections.

What is the proper placement of flatware on the table?

A basic five-piece setting is laid out on the table in order of use, in an even line, one inch from the edge of the table. The knife is placed to the right of the plate with the sharp edge pointed in towards the plate. The spoons are placed to the right of the knife. Forks are placed to the left of the plate. In France the fork is placed with the prongs facing down towards the table (the spoons are also placed facing downward); in the United Kingdom and the United States they face upwards.

tablewareSettingErcuis

Courtesy Ercuis

 

 To view all our collections of flatware, click here.

 

Registry Checklist: Getting Yourself Organized

Congratulations on your engagement! It’s time to pick a date, spread the word and celebrate with the biggest party of your life.  To help keep you on track and save you some stress, we look to Martha Stewart for the perfect wedding calendar checklist. From setting your budget to packing for your honeymoon, this list will help you breeze through your wedding plans, all the way up to “I do”!

Image via tucsonweddingphotographer.biz

 

Click here to print Martha’s checklist!

What is Your Registry Personality?

When planning your big day, you want to be sure that everything is a reflection of who you two are. Why should your registry be any different? With so many options to choose, we help you hone in on the type of registry that’s right for your new married life together. Take our quiz to find out your registry personality, and start shopping!

 

1. Your wedding ceremony is taking place…

A. at the church where your parents got married

B. at a rooftop garden with sweeping views of the city

C. in a small, quiet park or inn close to home

D. at the beach

 

2. The perfect weekend activity together would be…

A. golfing at the country club

B. clubbing at the new hip spot

C. taking the kids to the movies

D. camping

 

3. When you two throw an evening soiree, your guests should expect…

A. pressed linen napkins

B. kale, quinoa, and craft beers

C. potluck with neighbors and friends

D. tapas, tagines, and Tandoori

 

4. Your dream vacation would be…

A. in the Hamptons or Palmetto Bluff

B. in London

C.  a stay-cation at a Victorian B&B nearby

D.  Marrakech

 

5. Your dream home would be a…

A. Georgian colonial with antiques

B. brick, metal, and glass loft

C. nice house with a yard for the pets and kids

D. great place for that prayer wheel from Bhutan

 

6. If you got an unexpected inheritance, you would…

A. donate it to the Metropolitan Opera

B. start the next Intelligentsia Cafe

C. save it for retirement and the kids’ college funds

D. go see Antarctica

 

7. A color you two can both agree on is…

A. classic ivory

B. sleek silver

C. garden green

D. do we have to choose just one?

 

8. One meal you can’t live without is…

A. Thanksgiving dinner

B. street tacos from a food truck

C. pot pie

D. sushi

 

9. When you return from your honeymoon, the first thing you will do together is…

A. sit down and relax with an aged bottle of wine

B. see who is in town for a night out

C. spend time with the family

D. plan your next getaway

 

10. One thing you’ve always wanted to do is…

A. hosting a gala for the Symphony

B. meeting Zaha Hadid

C. cooking every recipe in your grandma’s cookbook

D. Capetown to Cairo

 

Mostly A’s: The Traditionals. You two both have an appreciation and deep respect for tradition. Whether you love the refined beauty of French porcelain or prefer the warm hues of English bone china, formal dinnerware is a necessity for your registry. Even if you have inherited a beautiful set already, now is the perfect time to select a pattern you both love and will use time and time again. If your home is draped in the luxury of tradition, you will likely want to share this with friends and family, so remember to register for items like guest bedroom sheets and plenty of extra towels.

Image courtesy of weddingbells.com

 

Royal Crown Derby Darley Abbey Dinnerware

Image courtesy of sfxit.com

Mariposa Pearled Collection

Christofle Albi Wine Carafe

Sferra Capri Bedding

 

Mostly B’s: The City Slickers. You two love the hustle and bustle of the big city. You understand the importance of classic pieces, but also value the practicality of more casual items. While many couples still opt for a set of fine china, also consider selecting a less formal option that fits with your modern lifestyle. Look for a collection that is microwave and dishwasher safe, and don’t forget to pick out some great glassware that coordinates well. If you love a nightcap after an evening on the town, choose barware that also offers a matching decanter to complete your home bar.

Natural Curiosities

Image courtesy of brides.com

Juliska

Jars

Moser Whisky Collection

Image Courtesy of hillzoo.com

 

Mostly C’s: The Hometown Household. Whether snuggled up by the fire with a great book, or sitting around the family dining table, to you, there’s no place like home. You may already have children in the mix, or expect to expand your family in the years to come, but no matter what, you love the friendly atmosphere of a small town. If you are concerned about the wear and tear of a busy house, be sure to register for a few additional place settings when selecting dinnerware. If you prefer to splurge on something that guarantees longevity, you may also want to consider a formal set of flatware. While some finishes may require occasional maintenance, it is a pretty safe bet that these items will not break, even with kids and pets in the house!

Dash & Albert

Gien Pont Aux Choux Vert Dinnerware

Image courtesy of tlxtransport.com

Screen shot 2014-06-06 at 5.50.51 PM

Ercuis Flatware

Libeco Sahara Linen Duvet

Vietri

 

Mostly D’s: The Global Gurus. While you may still register for some traditional home items, you two love to get out of the house and explore. You see every new adventure as an opportunity to grow together and experience new horizons as a married couple. This is not a time to completely throw practicality out the window, but remember that your registry should be a reflection of you, so have a little fun! Some great registry items that are often overlooked are art or luggage, and might be perfect choices for you. Consider also setting up an option for guests to contribute to your honeymoon expenses. While more traditional guests may shy away from this gift, let them know that they can purchase an event or excursion for you two to do together. If it can be associated with a particular activity, your guests will still feel like they are giving you a thoughtful and unique gift.

Image courtesy of flyuia.com

Image courtesy of idiva.com

Raynaud Hommage Dinnerware

Image courtesy of hollyshelpings.com

Natural Curiosities International Stamp Collection

Image courtesy of benepatton.com

Registry Etiquette

Image via Wed Savvy

Planning a wedding is a wonderfully joyous process, but one that can seem overwhelming at times. Luckily, the registry can be one of the most enjoyable parts of starting your lives together.  If you’ve never thought about registering, or are nervous you’ve committed a registry faux pas, read below for some insight.

Image via Pinterest

Why Register

Some couples shy away from registries. However, guests generally want to celebrate special 0ccasions with a  gift, so the registry is a really helpful tool. Also, registries are organized so that gifts are not duplicated and they allow the registrants to keep track of all the items coming their way. If you would prefer to not receive any presents, many couples now register for events on their honeymoon, or even a charity to donate to.

Image via Pinterest

Registry Do’s & Don’ts 

Do register ahead of time.  Complete your registry at least six months ahead of the event.  This will give guests plenty of time to select a gift for the wedding, as well as engagement parties and showers.

Do mix it up. While registering for formal items is a special tradition, there are so many unconventional items that can be fun to request. This makes the registry much more accessible for guests with a range of budgets and interests.

Do register for enough gifts. Register for more gifts than you have guests, so there will be plenty of items to choose from.

Do think about your future needs. For example, registering for a serving platter for your first Thanksgiving as a married couple is a wonderful way to include loved ones in special occasions.

Do write thank-you notes right away. In the best-case scenario, thank-you notes are sent promptly after receiving a gift. Aim to have all of your thank-you notes sent within one month of returning from your honeymoon.  Thank-you notes don’t have to be very long, but they should identify the gift, explain why you appreciate it, and how you plan to use it.

Don’t have too many registries.  While it’s okay to have more than one registry, draw the line at three. You want to be helpful by offering your guests variety, but you shouldn’t come across as self-indulgent.  Also, it is thoughtful to register at a national store so guests who don’t live nearby can easily find your registry.

Don’t advertise your registry. Registry information should never be included with wedding invitations.  Let your family and wedding party know where you are registered, and let them spread the word.

Don’t forget about your fiancé.  Be sure to include your future spouse when you are registering for gifts. You two will both be enjoying these items, so be sure to make selections that will work for you as a couple.

Don’t ask for money.

And most importantly, have fun!