Back when we were registering for our wedding ten years ago (TEN! YEARS!), I remember being really focused on two things: basics and classics. I figured that we needed to make sure we had plates that would last for the rest of our lives (which was smart). But beyond that, I figured we should just keep it simple. Trends change, and I didn’t want to be stuck with stuff that felt super dated. And while I do fully endorse keeping it simple when it comes to your day-to-day china, a decade into being married, I’ve decided I was wrong about the rest of it. In forcing myself to pick things that felt classic and timeless, I stopped myself from having fun… and left our kitchen feeling remarkably devoid of personality.
Which is why we’ve partnered up with Zola today to talk about how I would do it all over again if I could. When we first started working with Zola, they were a brand-new company trying to make the registry process easier with features that just… made sense (like being able to choose when your packages get shipped to you, for example). These days they have a whole suite of tools designed to make your life easier—think a checklist, registry, and guest list all in one app, plus thank you cards that practically write themselves. But it wasn’t until I started putting together this roundup, that I realized just how good their range of products really is. While traditional registries often force you to compromise between the basics and the fun stuff you want, Zola is an all-in-one registry that allows you to register for products, experiences, and cash funds in the same place, from staple items your Grandmother wants you to have to up and coming brands you’ve probably never heard of.
When my RISD-trained grandmother with impeccable taste died two years ago, nobody else in my family was very interested in inheriting all of the dinnerware and serveware she’d collected over the years. Since we were moving into a house with big closets and space for entertaining, it all landed at my house. (Poor me, right?) And as it turned out, my grandmother didn’t do basics. Instead, she did beautiful things. And that means I ended up with a tea set painted with beautiful Japanese fall maples, a cut-glass punch bowl with cut-glass cups in a variety of patterns, a beautiful green and gold patterned china set, and too many beautiful little things to count. (Lovely silver sugar bowl? Check.)
Becoming a Real Grown-up
This year, we hosted both Thanksgiving and Christmas for the second time. And because we were past the panic and freak out of the first hosting, we started to step into our role as real adults in the family. Real adults who bring out the good china, and the cut glass, and the big serving dishes to host the big holiday meals. As we did that, I started to realize the gaps in our collection. We had beautiful interesting smaller pieces from my grandmother, but all the serveware I had picked was deadly boring (and dullAF is really not my jam).
But more than that, the only table linens we had registered for were white. With white napkins. And white plates. (Not to mention the tablecloth we’d gotten for our teeny-tiny apartment table doesn’t even fit our full-sized family table.) After Christmas, I vowed that 2018 was the year that I’d start collecting more things that would make me feel like an adult when I hosted meals. My hope is that by getting good table linens, I might actually work up the nerve to host real-life dinner parties. (My friend Jordan does dinner parties in a way that I always envy but have yet to emulate.)
When I was registering a decade ago, the traditions I’d want to create with my family never crossed my mind. I’m fond of the Waldorf educational ideas, and one of their foundational rules is that kids love traditions… and they have a bunch of their own (secularly Christian–based) traditions. When I read about it, I realized that we don’t need Waldorf rituals, because we’re Jewish (and I’m a WASP by birth), and both Jews and WASPs live and die by tradition. That means we have plenty of our own rituals to pull from. But Waldorf is right that traditions, rituals, and celebrations are great for kids. And, no surprise, given my line of work, we really love holidays and celebrations in our house. (My kids will make a party for literally anything… those apples didn’t fall far from the tree.)
All of that means I’ve started to be really thoughtful about small traditions I can create for my kids throughout our weeks and our years. So after Christmas, I snatched up some good deals on red napkins and plates for holiday breakfasts, and our kids adore them. I want to build on that with things like special heart napkins for our Valentine’s Day breakfast, and a beautiful Seder plate for Passover. And given that my kids came into this world ready for a celebration—one on the Fourth of July, and one on Thanksgiving weekend—we’re always ready to make those holidays super special.
So, inspired by my grandmother and the lack of excitement in my own kitchen, here is what I would register for today if I knew then what I know now. If you’re just starting to think about your own registry and aren’t sure what where to start, I recommend checking out Zola’s starter guides. They’re beautifully curated and have you covered on the essentials and the fun stuff. (Am I saying you need these pillows in your life? Yes I am.) You’ll want to include a mix of price points on your registry, but don’t be afraid to include a few higher priced items. You never know whose love language is gifting, or which of your friend groups is going to want to go in on a big group gift (which, yes, you can do easily with Zola). So with that, here are my picks for beautiful serveware that is not at all basic, things to make holidays feel extra special, and a few other things to usher us into proper adulthood. (Because we did register for nice roller suitcases, and those legit have made our lives better ever since.)
Not Timeless, Beautiful
I’m in love with Kate Spade’s Birch Way collection, so I was thrilled to see that Zola carries it. It’s not super cheap, but that’s fine, because I don’t need the whole set (plus if your guests ever find something cheaper at a different online retailer, Zola will actually match the price). I really want their sugar bowl and creamer to make my breakfast table a little more beautiful. And I’m really into mixing and matching on the dinner table (see: all of the beautiful cups and plates I inherited and want to use), so I’m also into the serving bowl. As it turns out, you can never have enough serving bowls.
Let’s up our style game and mix patterns. This is a perfect bowl for serving vegetables, and the pencil sketch mixed with gold is everything.
I have learned over the years that I like anything I can ROYGBIV. Because putting things in rainbow order is the most satisfying feeling there is. So I want these rainbow tapas bowls, so I can ROYGBIV them over and over for the rest of my life.
I’m clearly into lush botanicals right now, but it goes with all my grandmother’s stuff, so I’m not mad about it. This tray is perfect for serving things at brunch. Though as my grandmother taught me, life is short, so eat off your bone china whenever you feel like it.
Practical Things I Never Thought..