If you're like many people, you probably grew up with the idea that your parents' wedding china, crystal, and sterling silver were too precious to be used on any but the most special occasions. Well, were here to give you permission to enjoy your gifts on a daily basis. With a little bit of TLC, you can upgrade your tabletop without fear, whether you're serving up a gourmet meal or a large pepperoni pizza. Here's how to handle your shiny new gifts.
Sterling silver is elegant and highly affordable, making it the best flatware investment a couple can make. Think sterling is too formal for your fast-paced lifestyle? Au contraire—by practicing some basic maintenance, your sterling can fit the bill for everyday use.
In fact, maintaining sterling flatware is easier if it's used every day. Frequent handling, washing and drying reduces tarnish, helping the pieces develop the rich glow known as patina.
Silverware should be rinsed immediately after use, especially after contact with any acidic or corrosive foods such as salt, mayonnaise or eggs. Sterling can actually go in the dishwasher—with these precautions:
- Keep detergent to a minimum
- Remove the flatware before the drying cycle and hand dry it with a soft cloth
- Never put stainless steel flatware and sterling in the same basket because direct contact of the two metals can permanently damage the silver.
You can wash sterling by hand if you prefer.
To remove tarnish, polish silverware with a soft cotton or flannel cloth and use a brand-name liquid or paste silver polish. If you use your silverware regularly, expect to polish it just once or twice a year.
If it's not in regular use, store silverware in an airtight chest. If you register for sterling, register for a silver chest as well, or protective bags made of tarnish-proof cloth, as silvers worst enemies are sunlight and moisture.
To prevent scratching, always be gentle with your silver. Dont store silverware loose in drawers where pieces can jostle against each other. And never wrap your silver in plastic, aluminum foil or newspaper, or bind it with rubber bands.
Although porcelain and bone china are lightweight and delicate-looking, they are actually quite durable. Follow these tips to get years of use out of your china.
For safe washing:
- It's fine to put china in the dishwasher, but be careful not to stack pieces too close together to avoid chipping. The same goes for stoneware and earthenware (provided that their glazes are waterproof).
- If handwashing china, place a rubber mat in the bottom of the sink to cushion against breakage.
- Keep china out of the oven and the refrigerator, as temperature extremes may cause it to crack.
For safe storage:
- Stack pieces carefully in like-sized piles, with protective felt pads or paper towels in between.
- Avoid sliding plates over one another—instead, lift each one to remove it from a stack.
- Never nest cups, and only use cup hooks if theyre coated with rubber or plastic.
Follow those simple guidelines, and there's no reason to save the "good china" for special occasions.
The finishing touch to a table, crystal needs a bit of extra attention to stay sparkling.
You should never put crystal in the dishwasher, as the detergent used may react with the lead and give the glassware a bluish cast. Instead, wash crystal by hand in hot soapy water (use a mild dish soap), and clean intricate patterns with a soft brush. To avoid water spots, dry immediately with a linen or cotton towel. Adding a drop of ammonia to the dishwater will give glassware extra sparkle; just be sure to rinse thoroughly.
Never store crystal upside down—the rim is the most fragile portion of the glass. Instead, stand glassware straight up in a safe place, such as a china cabinet, or repack it in its original box.