10 Things to Do with Your Grandmother’s China

Repurposing China at Lifes Collections

What do you do with a large sentimental item like your grandmother’s china? How do you honor the past without having it take over your life (and your dining room!)? Use them? Donate them? It doesn’t have to be an all or nothing thing! Re-purposing is a wonderful way to hold on to a little piece of history and still leave plenty of room for your own experiences and sense of style.

If you’ve inherited a set of dishes and you’re not quite sure what to do with them, here are some thoughts:

1. Mix and Match: If the whole set is a little too much for you, mix a few key pieces (like charger plates or salad bowls) with your current set to put a modern twist on your grandmother’s table settings. Martha Stewart Weddings

2. Just one piece: A sugar bowl, gravy boat or serving tray used on special occasions, or kept on display, may be all you need to remind you of your roots and all those wonderful family meals from your childhood. Real Simple Magazine

3. Still Life: Place a piece of your grandmother’s jewelry, an old letter and a treasured picture on a piece of china for a special vignette. Photograph it for posterity and/or create a shadow box out of these curated pieces.
Photo by twopinkpossums via FlicKr

4. From the table to the wall: Plate walls are everywhere – mix and match sizes, patterns and solids to get the perfect look. Modern Glamour via Stumble Upon

5. Let it Grow: A teacup, soup or serving bowl can make a beautiful vase for cut flowers or a base for a potted plant (just make sure you start with a layer of gravel for drainage). Thrift Candy

6. Get Organized: Tea cups and small bowls make great drawer dividers for jewelry, notions or other small objects. Use one on your dresser to hold your rings or catch spare change, or place a few in your medicine cabinet for Q-tips, hairbands and other sundries. Daily Danny

7. Let’s Play: Little girls love tea parties and who wouldn’t love the richness and history of playing with an antique set! While grandma’s china might get a bit chipped, as they say, it’s better for them to be loved and lost than to never have been loved at all. Photo by kimintin via FlickR

8. Stack them Up: Grab the gorilla glue! Combine your dishes with sturdy stemware to create a tiered display for cakes, cookies or other creations! I’ve also seen this done beautifully with teacups and plates! Curiosity Shoppe

9. Get Crafty: If you’re really crafty the possibilities are endless – re-purpose a few teacups or bowls into candles or pincushions or for the really adventurous, clocks or even lamps! Vintage Revivals

10. Break on through: Whether a cherished piece broke, or your ready to say goodbye to them all, The Broken Plate, takes shards of pottery and turns them into beautiful, modern pieces. Re-purposing china into necklaces, cufflinks and earrings creates new heirlooms that can be shared among many family members. The Broken Plate

Have you inherited any china from your relatives?

What did you do with them?

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10 Responses to “10 Things to Do with Your Grandmother’s China

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  • Do you accept grandma’s china set, even if you really don’t like them?

    • It depends! First, I would try to explain to her that while you love her very much, the china is just not your style, or you don’t have room or occasion to use it, and perhaps someone else in the family would enjoy it more. You could spend some time with her asking about where she got the set, how often she used it, etc. Take photos of her with the china or see if she has any old photos of it from family occasions. Record her stories on your phone and tell her that this is what you want to pass on to the next generation (not just the china).

      If she still seems insistent, and this is the one treasure she is passing on to you, then yes, I would accept it. Her gift to you is an expression of love, and at this stage of her life, it may be the only way she knows how to do it, but that doesn’t mean you have to hold on to it forever out of obligation or guilt. Consider the ideas above and hold on to the memories of your grandmother (but feel free to let go of the china!). Good luck!

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