Specialty Serving Pieces Every Southern Hostess Needs
The first time I invited friends over to my first apartment for wine and cheese, I felt very grown up. I’d carefully selected a few bottles of wine, picked out a nice sampling of cheeses, and grabbed a couple sleeves of crackers that paired well with them. But the moment I went to arrange them nicely on a cheese board was the moment I realized that I was hardly a grown up: I didn’t have a cheese board on which to arrange my thoughtful selections. Thankfully, my friends were gracious guests, and nobody minded that the cheese was served on a beat-up cutting board and that the crackers were in a cereal bowl. But it was certainly a memorable lesson in entertaining. When it comes to presentation, a hostess is only as good as the tools she has at her disposal. Here, the serving pieces every hostess needs in her entertaining arsenal.
A Cake Stand
An Ice Bucket
Buy It: $35; markandgraham.com
A good-looking ice bucket is essential for keeping lemonade cold and cocktails fresh. We like acrylic and plastic options, as they’re durable enough for backyard barbecues and parch parties, but still look polished on a kitchen counter for spring brunches or as a decorative element on a dining room bar cart.
A Chips-and-Dip Bowl
Buy It: $50; bloomingdales.com
Even the humblest party snacks deserve cute dishes! Dress up your straight-from-the-grocery-store chips and dip with a colorful two-in-one serving set. Make sure to choose bowls made of melamine so that they’re tough enough to stand up to picnics in the park and pool parties.
A Cheese Board
Buy It: $50; surlatable.com
Whether it’s made from marble or wood (or both!), a pretty cheese board is the quick ticket for dressing up cocktail hour and making even a motley crew of small bites look photo-ready. Next-level your wine-and-cheese setup with an accompanying set of cheese knives and small matching dishes for nuts and olives.
A Dressy Tray
Buy It: $171; amazon.com
When it comes time to host special celebrations, like engagement parties or baby showers, it’s important to bring out your finest for your honored guests. If you’re lucky enough to have inherited a silver tray or two from Mama, by all means, use those! Otherwise, a shiny lookalike will do just fine and give your table a pretty focal point.
A Punch Bowl
Buy It: $49.95; crateandbarrel.com
A punch bowl is a Southern hostess’s best friend. You can serve a big-batch cocktail to the crowd (or a non-alcoholic drink for the kids) without standing up playing bartender all night, and it will look beautiful. Plus, if you buy a set like this one, you don’t have to pull out more glasses or a random kitchen ladle that doesn’t match the punch bowl!
A Cake Dome
Buy It: $59; dillards.com
A cake plate or stand is necessary to showcase your sweets, but what’s going to protect them from bugs at an outdoor party or little hands before dinner is finished? A glass cake dome is a hostess must for keeping your desserts safe, while still putting them on display. Plus, you don’t have to deal with messy frosting-covered plastic wrap if you happen to have leftovers.
A Deviled Egg Platter
Buy It: $78; neimanmarcus.com
Every Southern hostess has a go-to deviled egg recipe for parties. It just wouldn’t feel right to attend a gathering without a plate of deviled eggs. This beautiful Juliska tray will last you a lifetime, and its simple pattern won’t clash with your current china and serving pieces.
A Trifle Bowl
Buy It: from $17.60; amazon.com
Trifles are a go-to dessert for Southern hostesses because they’re super easy, super pretty, and can serve a super large crowd. With a flat bottom and wide, even circumference, trifle bowls are the only way to go when layering your beautiful dessert. Plus, trifle bowls make amazing centerpiece vessels when you’re not serving from them.
A Cream and Sugar Set
Buy It: $69.95; bloomingdales.com
How else are you supposed to serve afternoon tea to guests than accompanied by a beautiful creamer and sugar bowl? It’s the little things that make us smile, and a precious cream and sugar set is definitely one of them. This would make a sweet shower gift or sentimental birthday gift for the coffee or tea lover in your life.
A Butter Dish
A Pretty Pie Plate
A Company Pitcher
Buy It: $54; food52.com
You probably have a plastic pitcher you use for the kids’ lemonade stands and outdoor parties, but do you have a dressier one to serve water at dinner parties? Even if you’re having the neighbors over for an afternoon glass of iced tea on the porch, serving it in a pretty pitcher adds a personal, good-hostess touch.
An Oyster Plate
Buy It: $62.76 per set of two; amazon.com
This might only be an essential for our coastal hostesses, but a pretty painted oyster plate is one of our favorite serving pieces. Whether you’re hosting a dressy dinner party and want to serve classic Oysters Rockefeller as an appetizer or you’re throwing a casual crab boil on the wharf, a unique oyster plate will never go unnoticed by guests. While you’re at it, go ahead and pick up some oyster forks, too.