As any Gracious Hostess knows, having the right basic home entertaining essentials to depend on makes having guests over a hassle-free “affair”.

gracious hostess basic entertaining essentials


Building a home entertaining essentials capsule is pretty much the same process as when using the technique with your wardrobe.  I can’t help but see the clear analogy between the two “building” methods.

One entails building a group of clothing that can easily mix and match, and the other does the same exact thing, but with platters, bowls and dishes!  Today we’ll dive into the absolute “basics” that are needed for efficient, stress-free and enjoyable entertaining at home.


Conventional entertaining wisdom tells us that all our home entertaining essentials should be white.  Just white?  Well, yeah, mostly anyway.

But, white doesn’t have to be boring.  Try to keep an eye out for unusual shapes and sizes of platters, bowls and basic home entertaining essential capsule white serving bowlglassware.

That way you’ll end up with a fabulous “mix-and-match” selection of basic home entertaining essentials that give you tons of options.

There are different ways you can acquire these home entertaining basics, and I’ve used most of them at one time or another. 

I’ve shamelessly asked for specific birthday and Hannukah gifts that helped complete my more advanced home entertaining essentials capsules.  Like my specialty asparagus pot with insert, or the creme brulee torch and dishes I just had to have. 

Keep in mind I’ve long since acquired and replaced most of my “basic home entertaining essentials” decades ago!

Here’s a few alternatives to buying everything you need for your basic home entertaining essentials:

  • Like I mentioned, ask for what you want for a special occasion gift
  • If you’re a bride-to-be, make sure you print the PDF to take with you when registering and you’ll start off on the right foot
  • Prowl thrift shops for depression glass or vintage pottery finds, you’ll be amazed at what you can find
  • Keep an eye out for new merchandise at consignment shops too, as they usually have a higher quality of items for sale
  • Use major seasonal sales like Black Friday or Cyber Monday to pick up specialty items on sale for the holidays
  • Say “yes” when a friend or family member asks if you’d like to take a few things “off their hands” when downsizing their belongings


GRACIOUS HOSTESS – Basic Home Entertaining Essentials List PDF

Here’s what you need to help build or complete your Basic Home Entertaining Essentials Capsule.gracious hostess basic home entertaining esssentials list

My 5-PAGE Basic Home Entertaining Essentials List will keep your purchases on track to ensure you acquire a complete basic “home entertaining essentials” capsule.  I’ve grouped the items needed to flesh out a basic home entertaining essentials capsule to help give you a plan of action as you look towards your future purchases and acquisitions.  

  • Table Top Essentials
  • Serving Piece Essentials
  • Bar & Beverage Essentials
  • Serving Utensils
  • Dining Essentials
  • The Hostess
  • Table Linens
  • Table Cloth Size Chart


I’ll tell you how to get your own copy of my FREE PDF a little later in this article. 


gracious hostess table top home entertaining essentials

GRACIOUS HOSTESS – Basic Home Entertaining Essentials

  1.  Chantal © White Mini Butter Dish – CRATE AND BARREL

  • Darling dish adds charm to the table, serves up a half-stick of buttermarble butter dish gracious hostess basic home entertaining essentials
  • Made of stoneware glazed in white
  • Place multiples down the center of long table so every diner has a butter dish within reach
  • Width: 3.25″  /  Depth: 5″  /  Height: 2.625″

This is another beautiful and stylish way to store butter.  Try this marble butter keeper from Crate and Barrel to safely keep butter at room temperature and ready for spreading.

Simply pack the keeper with ½ cup softened butter, add ¼ cup water to the base and invert to create an airtight seal of water that protects flavor and freshness. For best results, change water every three days.  

2. BergHOFF, Essentials Pyramid Salt & Pepper Set, Satin Finish – OVERSTOCK

  • Straight Line’s Pyramid shape Salt & Pepper mill is made of durable 18/10 stainless steel
  • Choose to grind pepper or salt by turning the body clockwise or counterclockwise
  • Set includes: (7″) salt cellar and (7″) pepper mill


3.  Signature White Ruffle Cream and Sugar Set – COTON COLORS

It doesn’t get more darling than this Signature White Ruffle Cream and Sugar Set. coton colors logo

  • Earthenware
  • Dimensions: Cream
  • Care Instructions: Hand Wash

gracious hostess basic home entertaining essentials salt and pepper shakersTalk about white not being boring, check out the matching salt and pepper shakers that Laura Johnson designed.

Even if your table is set entirely with white serving pieces and table top essentials, they’ll still pack tons of style with this  salt-and-pepper set.

4.  Blown Glass Candlesticks – POTTERY BARN

Crafted of clear glass, these candlesticks beautifully reflect light. They have a classic and sophisticated look that easily complement other pieces in a display.

  • Made of pressed and blown glass
  • Small holds a 3×3.5″ pillar candle; sold separately
  • Medium holds a 4×8″ pillar candle; sold separately
  • Tall holds a 4×8″ pillar candle; sold separately


5.  Diamond Square Tall Glass Vase – AMAZON

bubble style glass vase basic home entertaining essentials

  • Hand-brown Clear Square Glassware
  • Size: 4″×4″×10″(L×W×H). Weight: 3.1 lb


You’ll want to build a selection of vases to create different types of floral arrangements, but this is a perfect “starter” vase.  The tall square profile is a favorite of florists because of its versatility and classic lines.  

If you’re fond of low-profile arrangements, you might want to opt for a low slung bubble-style vase that features a wide-mouth.  They’re especially fabulous for centerpieces featuring bundles of the same blooms, such as roses or peonies. 

6.  Five Ply Design of Seattle, WA Table Trivet – AMAZON

  • Composite wood core with American White Oak Hardwood on one side and 100% Post-Consumer recycled natural wool felt (75% recycled wool and 25% recycled carpet scraps) on the other
  • 1/4″ thick wood has been sealed with a LOW-VOC natural oil and the 1/16″ thick felt is raw and unfinished
  • Table Trivets are heat tolerant and water resistant but not water-proof
  • In addition, all packaging has been designed to be 100% recyclable


oak trivets in woven patternI couldn’t show just one of the lovely trivets I ferreted out for this article.  There were plenty of stylish and functional choices to be found, but these two were my favorites, especially because both are bio-friendly options.

These are made by the craftsmen at Oak Hill Wood Creations, and are a fabulous way to oak hill wood trivetsprotect your surfaces from hot pans and pots. 

They come in a few different colors/woods, and all of them would make a lovely addition to your basic home entertaining essentials capsule.

GRACIOUS HOSTESS – Serving Utensils Are Essential!

What serving utensils will you need to make your home entertaining go smoothly?

Let’s look at the VERY SHORT, BASIC LIST of serving utensil necessary to start entertaining at home: 

  • Meat fork/Knife
  • Serrated bread knife
  • Tongs
  • 2-3 Large serving spoons
  • Salad fork/spoon set


GRACIOUS HOSTESS – What Kind of Serving Pieces Do You Need?

gracious hostess basic home entertaining essentials serving pieces

Here’s where you can get really creative with your choices of Serving Piece Essentials!

If you want to stray from the “all white” motif, here’s a great category to do it.  You can add a splash of color or pattern, and because you have mostly white, they’ll match everything!

A quick color change to turquoise napkins and candle tapers to match your salad bowl, can give your table a whole different vibe.  Now it’s gone “island” and will match your Caribbean BBQ menu! 

It’s a simple, inexpensive and creative method of building a basic (or more advanced) home entertaining essentials capsule.  

1.  Artesia Woven Bread Baskets – CRATE AND BARREL

Handcrafted of 100% rattan, the Artesia serving collection is woven in a pattern known as hapao. Originating in a remote village in northern Luzon, the largest island in the Philippines, hapao is a traditional pattern used for bags and baskets.

Each piece in the Artesia collection is finished in beautiful honey brown, and ear handles with braid detailing on the rim.

  • Handcrafted with 100% rattan
  • Non-toxic, food-safe coating
  • Clean with dry or damp cloth
  • Made in The Philippines


2. Red Vanilla, Vanilla Fare Wave Serving Bowls (Set of 2) – OVERSTOCK

Prep for a family dinner with this set of two Vanilla Fare serving bowls. With their low sides and long, leaf-shaped basins, these pieces hold everything from side dishes to pasta. 

  • Color:  White      
  • Dimensions: 15.5″ x 7″ x 2.75″
  • Capacity: 36oz
  • Capacity: 48oz
  • Materials: Porcelain
  • Care instructions: Dishwasher, microwave and warm-oven up to 200ºF 


3.   Euro Ceramica Chloe 16″ Rectangular Platter/Tray – OVERSTOCK

Isn’t this platter fabulous?  I told you white doesn’t have to be boring!  Here’s another great example of how you can express your individuality on your dining room table, even if it’s in white.

It has a modern take on the classical shapes of European ceramics and is crafted of high temperature fired earthenware for durability.

The Euro Ceramica Chloe Rectangular Platter matches their Chloe Dinnerware sets and accessories. white rectangular platter with handles

  • High Quality Earthenware 
  • Handmade in Portugal
  • Dishwasher, Microwave Safe
  • Available in White, Turquoise, Taupe


And take a look at this lovely platter from American Atelier. It’s their Bianca Beads Rectangular Platter offered at Overstock.

The platter’s got a fabulous shape and detailing that lend incredible style to any meal.

It’s about 16 inches long with the handles, so it’s the perfect size for desserts, side dishes or appetizers.


4. Del Sol Collection – POTTERY BARN

With its intricate patterns, bright colors and fun shapes, the Del Sol Collection resembles authentic hand-painted earthenware.

Festive and versatile, it dresses up your table or buffet for both casual meals or more formal gatherings.  Don’t you just love the footed bowl pictured above?  And who wouldn’t love those salad utensils?

  • made of melamine with a decal overlay
  • dishwasher safe
  • utensil set – one fork and one spoon
  • collection has 4 different coordinating patterns
  • serving bowls and platters are included in the Del Sol Collection


5. Palace Granite Round Tray – BED, BATH & BEYOND

Add a chic touch to your outdoor entertaining with these simply sophisticated granite-look trays crafted from granite look platter stylish entertaining at homedurable melamine.

Since the set comes with four pieces, why not make individual cheese plates for an appetizer?  Or how about  laying them down the center of your table with candles and flowers?  Instant table scape!

  • two color choices – black or white
  • set of four trays
  • chip and break resistant
  • dishwasher safe
  • not recommended for microwave use
  • measures 13″ diameter


6. Lucerne 1-Quart Casserole Dish – CRATE AND BARREL

All-purpose lidded casserole in durable white porcelain goes from oven to table in style.  You can choose from the one or three-quart baking dish sizes.  They’ve got looped handles on the dish and lid adding playful detail and make carrying and serving safe and easy.

  • Safe in the oven, freezer, microwave and dishwasher
  • With Handles – Height: 3.5″  Diameter: 8.5″
  • Without Handles – Height: 2.5″  Diameter: 6.75″


GRACIOUS HOSTESS – Basic Home Entertaining Essentials List PDF

We’re about half way through the Gracious Hostess Basic Home Entertaining Essentials List.  Now I bet you can see how valuable this printable list will be while building your basic home entertaining essentials capsule.

gracious hostess basic home entertaining esssentials list

Just download the FREE PDF, and you’re in business. 

I’ll tell you how to get your own copy of my Basic Home Entertaining Essentials List at the bottom of this article.


GRACIOUS HOSTESS – The Most Basic Dining Essentials 


white set of dishesHave you “seen the light” and are convinced of the wisdom that comes from basing your home entertaining essentials capsule on white?  If so, then I want you to hunt, scour and find a white set of dishes that you absolutely love.

Not one that’s just “okay”.  Not one that you can get on sale. No.  Just No.  

You’ve already foregone getting a fabulous pattern or color.  And now you’re supposed to “settle” for a plain old set of “basic white” dishes?  Well, NO!  Heck no!

I really like this set from Kohl’s pictured, it has a lovely scalloped edge and the shape of the cups and bowls aren’t huge like many available today.  My personal set has a beaded edge that keeps it from being boring, but gives it a sophisticated vibe.  See, I follow my own advice!

Why 12 placesettings?  There are several reasons to purchase 12 matching placesettings of your basic home entertaining essential dishes.

  • Most dish patterns, styles and colors go out-of-stock sooner or later, and that makes replacing broken or missing pieces very tough.  So it’s wise to acquire enough for most of your home entertaining needs. 
  • You can use the bowls to serve side dishes, and plates can serve as small platters and serving dishes
  • It allows for multiple course “plating” at sit-down dinners without washing between courses
  • You won’t spend half your life washing dishes for personal daily meals!



Purchasing 8-12 individual-sized portion bowls gives you a ton of flexibility and versatility when entertaining at home.  Here’s a small round white bowlsfew ways they can be used:

  • Dips and spreads 
  • Dry snacks
  • Salad bowls
  • Sauces
  • Soups 
  • Side dishes


Needless to say, having 12 placesettings of your flatware is just common sense.  Why should you constantly be washing flatware between meals every day?

Now, you don’t necessarily have to buy 12 of the same pattern.  You can mix and match two complementary sets if you’re so inclined.  

There’s nothing wrong with expressing your creativity in fabulously different ways when entertaining at home!  In fact, I strongly encourage it!

gracious hostess bar and beverage essentials

1.  LUNA Handblown 5 Piece Carafe Set – WAYFAIR

Every moment is crafted by the scene you set.  Check out the incredible detailing on the rims of the glasses!  Just fab!

  • lid / stopper / carafe / glasses included
  • lead-free glasses and pitcher
  • hand-wash to help preserve your products
  • lift and carry carafe by sides and bottom, never lift from the rim
  • not safe for dishwasher use 


Stylish entertaining at home is a breeze with a fabulous carafe set to serve your signature cocktails in all Summer long!

2. Calphalon Barware 3 Piece Ice Bucket Set –  WAYFAIR

Featuring a modern, curved design, this set is ideal for entertaining and includes a handsome ice bucket, glass cover with stainless steel rim, and perforated steel scoop. The double-walled bucket effectively insulates ice and keeps the exterior dry, which helps protect your furniture from unwanted moisture. In addition, the generously-sized scoop is designed to drain away melted ice.

  • Cover  9.75” H x 9” W x 8.75” D
  • Double-walled construction keeps prevents moisture from forming on exterior.
  • Perforated scoop drains melted water from ice


3. Waiters Corkscrew by HiCoup – Professional Ebony Wood All-in-one Corkscrew & Bottle Opener

This is the ONLY corkscrew tool that I had my staff use when professionally catering throughout the years.  I found it early in my career and kept it as a staple for all our parties and functions.

  • The double-hinged corkscrew allows a smooth two-stage operation to quickly remove even the longest of corks. Folded, the corkscrew slips easily into your pocket.
  • The worm of the corkscrew has a precision-cut groove along its entire length. This allows it to drill more easily through the cork, then grip it securely for clean removal every time.
  • Features a built-in bottle opener and expert serrated foil cutter that cleanly slices through foil or plastic. It’s the only tool you’ll need.


4.  Laurel Foundry Modern Farmhouse Mertz Mango Wood and Galvanized Iron Serving Tray – WAYFAIR

Crafted from a blend of mango wood and iron, this piece features a galvanized metal finish and two metal handles. Measuring 3.75” H x 18” W x 18” D, it’s perfect for appetizers or serving up your latest home bar concoction. 

  • Great for entertaining and gift giving
  • 2 Handles on either side and edged
  • Safe to use with moisture and sweating drink glasses
  • Material: Wood; Iron
  • Dishwasher Safe: No


5.  Assorted Bar & Beverage Glassware from WAYFAIRfrosty Summer adult treats popsicles in a trio of martini glasses

I advise choosing 8-12 all-purpose glasses as your first “basic” bar/beverage service choice.

Choose a tall “collins” glass or perhaps a chunky goblet that can be used for water,  juices or wine.   This way you’ll have enough matching glasses to serve a small gathering, even if they’re drinking different beverages.

The ultimate plan being to slowly accumulate the various glassware you’ll need for both your dining and bar service needs.  That’s when it gets really fun!

Martini glasses are one of my all-time favorites to own. I use them for beverages, specialty appetizers and even these “fruity potent pops”.  They’re made with a sweet dessert wine and fresh fruit, you’ll love them!


GRACIOUS HOSTESS TABLE LINENS – Absolute Minimum Requirements!

  • White or neutral colored tablecloth to fit your dining table (SIZE CHART IS INCLUDED in the Gracious Hostess Basic Home white tablecloth basic home entertaining essentialEntertaining Essentials List PDF
  • Matching napkins for the number of seats at your table (this is the minimum – I’d get at least 8, maybe 12)
  • 2 Coordinating/Matching Oven Mitts or Hot Pads (especially for carrying foods to the table)
  • 8 large white linen napkins


The table linens are self-explanatory. Although, I will say that I favor a “tone-on-tone” pattern like the one pictured here for a bit of extra style.

But I do want to give you the reasoning for why you’ll want to have the large white napkins tucked away in your linen closet.  Until I started to cater professionally, I didn’t own any that weren’t matched to a table linen.

Once I saw how useful these little scraps of fabric can be, I was sold on their value for entertaining at home. 

  • Tie around the handles of hot chafer lids for guests’ comfort
  • Line your bread basket to keep your biscuits and rolls warm 
  • Use as a champagne/wine bottle wrapper when circulating a room filling glasses
  • Accordion pleat lengthwise, fold in half and stuff in a wine glass for some stylish bar cart “decor”
  • They make great makeshift placemats for picnics or lunches in the park




GRACIOUS HOSTESS – Basic Home Entertaining Essentials List

gracious hostess basic home entertaining esssentials listNow you’ve got the whole picture of what basic home entertaining essentials a good hostess should own.  Keep in mind, this is the most basic of lists.

I’ve also created two additional “tiers” of home entertaining essentials that build upon the basics listed here.

I’ll be sharing those with you in future installments in the Gracious Hostess Home Entertaining Series, along with some of my professional catering tips.


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