What are we supposed to do with all this fine china?

Ok, this table setting might just make the storage locker fee worth it. Photo via @anniespratt on Unsplash

(Mostly) gone are the days where brides-to-be would head to the store, pick out their new china pattern, and receive a set of upscale dinnerware for her new home. Here in Birmingham, many of us have at least one set of china that’s been passed down, so I wanted to know—what do we do with it now?

A Longstanding Tradition

If I ever have a home with a formal dining room (unlikely), I’ll definitely fill it with a gorgeous vintage china cabinet. Photo via @anniespratt on Unsplash

I remember going to my grandmother’s house for the holidays and knowing which set of dishes we were supposed to use when. She had the Christmas china, the Thanksgiving china, and the Easter china that she kept on display in a cabinet.

We had a china cabinet in our dining room at my parents’ house that was filled with my mother’s mother’s china, and her mother’s china. It’s the kind of thing that’s passed down from generation to generation, but let’s be honest—while it’s beautiful, it’s not exactly the most useful (or space-efficient) heirloom.

As a 20-something woman who loves hosting, even I don’t see myself breaking out the fine antique china for my friends anytime soon. Plus, moving it from one apartment or city to another seems a bit cumbersome and risky.

If you’re like me and enjoy deep-diving on subjects like this, here are some interesting articles I found on the subject:

Is China Going Out of Style?

It’s stunning, of course, but plenty of apartments and first homes don’t even have enough counter space for a toaster. Photo via @david113 on Unsplash

Well, if I could ask my grandmother, she’d probably say that gracious hosting never goes out of style, and serving up a home-cooked meal on beautiful dinnerware is part of being a great hostess.

The fact remains that newlyweds and new homeowners aren’t ranking fine china high on their list of priorities. Think about it—when’s the last time you saw a fine china pattern on a wedding registry?

Even though there are china collectors today, our once-valuable familial troves of porcelain and silver simply aren’t worth that much these days. Sets that retailed at over $500 decades ago might be snagged for $75, and that’s even in perfect condition.

So What Do We Do With It?

One option is turning it into something you can wear. Photo via DinnerWearJewelry on Etsy

Well, it all depends on what your goal is. Are you just trying to get rid of it to save some space? Do you want to maintain the sentimental value without finding room for a whole china cabinet? Do you want it to go to good use? Here are a few of your options.

Donate it.

Birmingham has no shortage of awesome vintage, thrift and antique shops. You can donate your china to many of them, or, if you have a good bit, try your hand at renting out a booth and selling it yourself.

Check out where you can donate unwanted goods in Birmingham or look into these 5 antique + consignment shops.

Make something with it.

One thing I’ve considered is taking a couple of pieces from the different sets I’ll inherit and making some sort of upcycled display. I went to one of my favorite websites to find some inspiration: Etsy. People are making everything from jewelry to succulent planters and more.

Re-home it online.

There are several different Facebook groups around the Birmingham area in which you could post your china. You might be able to trade it, sell it or give it to an artist. Here are a few to check out:

The Alternative

Be honest—does anyone ever look at a teacup like this and not think of Chip from Beauty and the Beast? Just me? Photo via @rodolfomarques on Unsplash

Of course, our increasingly casual society could take the formality out of fine china. Imagine—you bring takeout to a friend’s house for movie night and they get out gorgeous patterned dishes to load up with Pad Thai.

I’m not saying it’s going to become a new trend, but I’m not saying I’d be mad if it did.

Do you have alternatives of what to do with your fine china? Let us know on social @BhamNow

  • A Birmingham transplant who can usually be found hitting a new hiking trail or restaurant opening when she's not writing stories and snapping photos for Bham Now.