Do you long to have a table filled with shiny flatware, gleaming platters, and candelabras? Concerns about upkeep, expense, or using your household silver holding you back? Check out these 7 Myths about Household Silver.

Myth 1 – Silver is expensive

Well, sure. There’s lots of expensive silver out there. Would I love to have the set of Tiffany sterling flatware ($4589) that I saw in an antique shop a few years ago? Yes, definitely. Do I? No. Or at least not yet.

Does that matter to me? No. Because there are tons of gorgeous, inexpensive (even cheap, if you know where to look) pieces of silver items out there just waiting for a home where someone will love them and use them.

Consider these trays – I’m firmly of the camp that says anything looks better if you put it on a silver tray. But trays are expensive! Some of them are, but lots of them are not. I bought all of these trays at consignment stores and local antique shops. Not one of them cost over $25 and some cost quite a bit less.

Silver trays

Myth 2 – Silver is hard to care for

Is caring for silver, whether plate or sterling, more work than stainless steel or ceramic? Somewhat,  sure. But it’s work that can be minimized with a little preparation and strategy. Is it worth taking a bit of extra time to clean and polish silver in order to enjoy it all the time? Well, I definitely think it is, and if you’re reading this, you probably think so, too.

Be realistic about how much time you really will give to caring for pieces, and then decide what that means for you. It might mean you enjoy using silver flatware once or twice a week, but you’re not interested in having to clean, polish, and store serving dishes and platters. Or vice versa. It might mean you’re not willing to take extra time on a weeknight but that you ARE willing to put in some extra time for Sunday dinner.

In our house, we use our china whenever we eat at the dining room table, which is 4-6 nights a week (because as much as I adore my dining room, I also LOVE eating pizza on the couch in my pajamas!). That wasn’t always the case. I hate washing dishes so I confined our china use to Sunday nights. But I’ve found it’s very quick to handwash two plates and two sets of silver cutlery each night. It doesn’t take any more time than scraping and rinsing plates to put them in the dishwasher. Once I realized that I made the switch to weeknight china.

Start small with something that appeals to you, and see how you feel about it after a few weeks. Are you finding the upkeep burdensome? That’s ok, time to reevaluate what you’re using and/or how often and find a new option. The goal of slowing down and working in some splendor isn’t to turn your life into an endless drudge of cleaning and polishing, it’s to find ways to fit some sparkle and fuss into your life in a way that enhances and enriches.

I have some silver plate serving dishes that I enjoy. But I don’t enjoy having to clean and polish them all the time, so I only break them out when I’m feeling a bit more festive. I have them, and I use them but I don’t force myself to get out every bit of finery I have every time I set the table, either. It’s ok to pick and choose.

Myth 3 – I need a whole set of matching pieces

Is caring for silver, whether plate or sterling, more work than stainless steel or ceramic? Somewhat,  sure. But it’s work that can be minimized with a little preparation and strategy. Is it worth taking a bit of extra time to clean and polish silver in order to enjoy it all the time? Well, I definitely think it is, and if you’re reading this, you probably think so, too.

Be realistic about how much time you really will give to caring for pieces, and then decide what that means for you. It might mean you enjoy using silver flatware once or twice a week, but you’re not interested in having to clean, polish, and store serving dishes and platters. Or vice versa. It might mean you’re not willing to take extra time on a weeknight but that you ARE willing to put in some extra time for Sunday dinner.

In our house, we use our china whenever we eat at the dining room table, which is 4-6 nights a week (because as much as I adore my dining room, I also LOVE eating pizza on the couch in my pajamas!). That wasn’t always the case. I hate washing dishes so I confined our china use to Sunday nights. But I’ve found it’s very quick to handwash two plates and two sets of silver cutlery each night. It doesn’t take any more time than scraping and rinsing plates to put them in the dishwasher. Once I realized that I made the switch to weeknight china.

Start small with something that appeals to you, and see how you feel about it after a few weeks. Are you finding the upkeep burdensome? That’s ok, time to reevaluate what you’re using and/or how often and find a new option. The goal of slowing down and working in some splendor isn’t to turn your life into an endless drudge of cleaning and polishing, it’s to find ways to fit some sparkle and fuss into your life in a way that enhances and enriches.

I have some silver plate serving dishes that I enjoy. But I don’t enjoy having to clean and polish them all the time, so I only break them out when I’m feeling a bit more festive. I have them, and I use them but I don’t force myself to get out every bit of finery I have every time I set the table, either. It’s ok to pick and choose.

Myth 4 – If I can’t afford sterling, it’s not worth bothering with plate

Well, really. This might be true, to a certain point or for certain people. But one could also make the same argument that if you can’t purchase sterling of a certain age or from a certain manufacturer, it’s not worth bothering. There’s certainly cheaply made silver plate out there that really might not be worth buying, but that’s because it’s poorly made, not because it’s plate.

This is another line you’ll have to draw for yourself, but my opinion is there’s nothing wrong with silver plate. There are many lovely, beautiful pieces available, of all ages and styles. The quality and workmanship of an individual piece is much more of an indicator of value or worth than whether it’s plate or sterling. Remember, Tiffany made silver plate items. Bottom line – if you like it, and it’s of a good enough quality to hold up, buy it, use it, and love it. I wouldn’t suggest buying poorly made items or items in barely usable condition, whether they’re plate or sterling.

Check out Differences Between Silver Plate and Sterling Silver to dig deeper into this.

Keep in mind, too, that one may aspire to sterling (hello!) and still enjoy a set of silver plate flatware for “right now”. It’s generally pretty inexpensive to pick up 6 or 8 silver plate settings, and you can use those while you work on your sterling collection.

Myth 5 – I don’t have any where to store it

All right, you’ve got me here.  I can’t advocate buying or acquiring things if you’ve truly not got a place to keep them. Splendor can’t flourish in clutter. And silver does have some basic requirements for storage and upkeep, so you can’t just shove it anywhere.

But keep in mind that you may be able to find a few clever storage solutions, and your only option for storing silver doesn’t have to be a specialty chest, cabinet or closet (though, those are all peachy – I long for a proper silver closet, myself)

For example, you can stash flatware, which nearly always comes with a storage case, under a dresser, bed or even under your couch if need be. Larger items can be put in an anti-tarnish bag or wrapped in anti-tarnish cloth and stored in a tote. Just make sure the tote is stored in a cool, dry place – if your basement is climate controlled, that’s an option. That is especially useful for larger items you don’t use all the time – platters, punch bowls, big serving pieces.

Don’t overlook simply “storing” a beautiful bowl, tray or platter as part of your home decor. Bookshelves, tabletops and even your walls can be a home for your silver pieces. Yes, you might need to polish it a bit more often than if it was stored in a tarnish-resistant area, but on the other hand, it’s lovely to enjoy your silver every day. Limited space or lack of safe storage places might mean you have to be selective about the pieces you choose to have but it doesn’t have to mean going without, either.

Myth 6 – My silver is an heirloom, I don’t want to damage it

As someone who’s silver is mostly inherited, I FEEL you on this. A lot of silver or china has been passed down through at least one or two generations, and it would be sad to lose a piece to accident or improper care. I have a large collection of silver, china, and glassware that came from various grandmothers and grandmothers-in-law and I would be very sad if anything happened to those pieces.

You can certainly choose to keep special items stored away. That most definitely increases the likelihood they’ll survive for another generation. But what you are keeping those treasures for if no one is ever allowed to enjoy them?

Consider if the piece in question was already used and loved by one generation – if so, then odds are good it’s already got a few dings or scratches on it so you may as well add your own story to it by using it on your table. At the very least, don’t let fear of damaging something hold you back from using it and making new memories. Learn how to properly use, clean, and store the piece in question. Do a bit of research on the maker, age, and materials, and that will tell you a lot about what care the piece will need.

The piece of wedding silver Grandma used regularly and cared for is probably in excellent shape and well-made enough to handle being used. On the other hand, if a piece was used heavily or cared for improperly, then it might be in too fragile condition to use. But it’s been my experience that a lot of the “good stuff” that gets handed down has been but lightly used, for fear of damaging it, or out of concern for it’s welfare or uncertainty for how to care for it. Silver can also take a bit more abuse than fine china or crystal, too, so it may be the perfect starting point for bringing some of your heirlooms to the table.

This is a totally subjective matter – only you can and should decide if a piece simply means too much to risk it on the dinner table. But I would encourage you to find ways to use your heirlooms – not only will you have lovely pieces for your table, you’ll be connecting with your ancestors, maybe even creating new memories among the younger generation of “great-grandma’s silver”.

Myth 7 -People will think I’m ridiculous for using “fancy” stuff.

If this is indeed the case, consider finding new friends who won’t laugh at you or judge you for shaping your life to your own liking. Seriously. As the internet says “ain’t nobody got time for that”.

Ok, some less dramatic advice – if you’re concerned you’ll come off as fussy or pretentious for breaking out the silver or china, start small. Use it for dinner at home with yourself or your spouse/partner/roommate – someone who is cool and supportive and won’t make fun of you. Test it out. Have a few meals with a fancier table setting. See how it feels. Repeat until you feel totally comfortable, bored, almost. The goal here is to get you to a point where this is all normal for you. If it’s normal for you, then you’ll feel more confident about stepping up your dining game with friends or family. If it’s normal for you, you won’t feel like you’re “showing off” by using fancy table stuff.

And I really do mean it. If your friends or family are lousy about you wanting to set a nice table for them, and you care enough about them to keep them around, then sit down with them and explain why this appeals to you and why it’s important to you. Odds are quite good that they’re intimidated by it and it’s often easier to mock something than confess it’s put you off your game. If they understand that you’re motivated by a love of beautiful things and a desire to make gatherings with loved ones a little more special, then they’re being jerks for not going along nicely and appreciating the time and effort you’ve put in.

At the end of the day, it’s easy to find reasons not to use your household silver. If you’re afraid of it or if you’re worried about how to care for your silver, you’ll avoid it. There’s a workaround to nearly every issue here – it may take time or patience or a little bit of extra work, but if it is something you care about and want to do, you can find a way!