GOOD HOUSEKEEPING REPORTS: Company’s coming – Place setting 101

Mix fruit jam and softened butter for an easy breakfast treat. (Photo by Mike Garten)

Elevate your next dinner party (or family breakfast) with these standout settings, who-knew tricks and must-try recipes from our entertaining experts.

Fancy Farmhouse.

Mark a special occasion by dressing up everyday white plates with a linen napkin, unique utensils and loosely scattered greenery (like silver dollar eucalyptus) on the table.

Modern Heirlooms.

Make your grandmother’s china look fresh by layering it with other patterns in similar colors — a vintage toile will look new again with sleek stripes and sweet gingham.

Opulent Organics.

Opposites attract, after all. Think plates and vessels with imperfect edges in shades of off-white, but paired with glamorous gold flatware to elevate the whole look.

Refined Rustic.

Bring the vibe back down to earth by keeping a wood table bare, without a tablecloth or place mats, and play up woodsy elements and shades of green found in nature. 

Black-Tie Sparkle.

For a table worthy of a New Year’s Eve countdown, go ahead and mix silver, gold, copper and brass within each setting. Finish off with regal candlestick holders.

Whimsical Watercolors.

Look for pieces that have a painterly touch, like color-dipped flatware or hand-dyed linen. Keep the palette to a few colors for easy mixing and matching.

Dirty Martinis with Stuffed Olives.

Stuff pitted green olives with lemon zest and blue cheese, and thread onto cocktail picks. For each martini, shake 3 ounces vodka and a splash of olive brine over ice for at least 1 minute, then strain into glass.

Ginger-Sage Rye Cocktails.

For each cocktail, shake over ice: 3 parts rye, 1 part each lemon juice and Ginger-Sage Syrup (recipe below) and 1/2 part maraschino liqueur, then strain into glass. Top with a dash of bitters and fresh sage.

Ginger-Sage Syrup: In a small saucepan, bring 4 ounces fresh ginger (thinly sliced), 2 sprigs fresh sage and 1 cup each sugar and water to a simmer. Gently simmer until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and let cool to room temp; strain into jar or measuring cup.

BONUS: You can also drizzle this sprightly syrup over citrus slices for a quick dessert, or stir some into hot tea, with or without a shot of whiskey.

That’s genius!

Leave a blank card at each seat to encourage guests to send gratitude to a loved one via snail mail.


Five-Second Name Card. Anything can be used to mark a guest’s seat — even a piece of fruit. Just wash the skin of a pomegranate (a piece of citrus works, too!) and write the name on it with a paint marker.

Mini Bouquets. Buy two types of flowers — one that’s flat and one with a bulb shape — and snip off the majority of their stems, leaving 3 inches. Bundle into a little corsage using ribbon for a take-home treat.

Foraged Freebie. Looking for a cheap addition to the table? The answer’s right in your own backyard. Make a cardholder by binding two twigs together with twine, and finish with the name on card stock.

Movable Centerpiece. Take wooden craft balls and tape off angular shapes. Paint taped sections with metallic and black paint and let dry. Scatter them down the middle of the table, and store to use in the future.


Ask the GH Cleaning Lab

Good Housekeeping’s resident home-care dynamo, Carolyn Forte, shares her best tips and favorite tricks to conquer your toughest messes and trouble spots.

Q: What should I be using to safely clean and protect my granite countertops? — Audrey D.

A: Granite is a durable stone and more stain- and chip-resistant than marble, but it’s not indestructible. For daily wipe-downs, use a cleaner made for granite, like GH Seal star Weiman Granite & Stone Cleaner Spray or Daily Wipes. The mild formulas cut grease and remove surface stains without the damaging effects of vinegar or ammonia, and they won’t leave behind a dull film like ordinary dish soap can. Every few weeks or as needed, use a granite polish to restore the shine and help repel stains. The best thing you can do for your countertop is make sure it’s properly sealed. If a few drops of water soak in rather than bead up, it’s time to reseal it. Countertops take a lot of abuse, so check yours every six to 12 months.

Recalls Alert

The following products and vehicles were recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Unless otherwise indicated, discontinue use of the products immediately and return them to the store where purchased for a refund. For more information about the products, call the manufacturer or CPSC’s toll-free hotline, 800-638-2772. Only some cars or trucks recalled are affected. Contact a dealer for your model to see if it is included in the recall. The dealer will tell you what to do.


Eddie Bauer fabric infant carriers, sold at Target stores nationwide and online between December 2017 and August 2018 for about $70.

The buckles on the infant carriers can break, posing a fall hazard to children. Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled carriers and contact Gold Inc. to verify that the product is subject to this recall. Once the product is verified, consumers will receive replacement products of comparable value or a full refund. Consumers must cut off and return both straps and tag with their name, address and phone number to receive selected replacement products, free of charge, or a full refund.

2006 Suzuki Grand Vitara SUVs

The power steering pump belt tension adjuster pulley has an outer portion that is made of plastic. Repeated heat stress can cause the plastic material to deteriorate, causing pieces of the pulley to break off, which can get caught between the pulley and the drive belt and cause the drive belt to come off, resulting in a sudden loss of power steering assist and increasing the risk of a crash. Dealers will replace the power steering pump drive belt tension adjuster pulley for free. Owners can call the automaker at 714-572-1490 to learn more.

© Hearst Communications Inc.

Distributed by King Features Syndicate



GOOD HOUSEKEEPING REPORTS: Company’s coming: Place setting 101–