As you mop up from the holidays, it’s a good time to take stock of any damage that may have been done to your entertaining essentials.
Inspect your dinner plates, wineglasses, flatware, tablecloths and napkins, as well as your serving pieces to see whether you need any repair work done. Or perhaps you should budget for some additional salad plates or water goblets for next year. Maybe your menorah has one wobbly holder that needs to be reattached. Perhaps your grandmother’s damask tablecloth has a small tear that should be mended.
The post-holiday period is one of the busiest times for Replacements, Ltd., the McLeansville, North Carolina-based behemoth of old and new china, crystal and silver patterns. The company has been in business almost 35 years and stocks a warehouse the size of eight football fields with 12 million pieces. It also has a restoration department that repairs flatware, crystal and china.
The busiest time for Replacements Ltd., a North Carolina company that stocks old and new tableware patterns, is October through January
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The busiest time for Replacements is October through January. Customers order extra plates and cordial glasses and then the hotline staff gears up for the post-holiday emergency calls, said spokeswoman Lisa Conklin.
“The day after Thanksgiving is huge,” Conklin says. “And on the weekend after Christmas, we received lots of calls from people wanting to replace pieces they had broken themselves. Then there are those who were at someone else’s home and broke something belonging to their host. They all want to get it replaced before the next round of entertaining.”
We came up with a list of scenarios you might be dealing with right now as you put away your Wedgwood and Waterford until perhaps Valentine’s Day or Easter. Here’s what the experts suggested:
▪ A shattered dinner plate: At Replacements, many people who call after the holidays don’t even know the name of their china pattern. But if you email a photo to the company, the research department can help identify your pattern and let you know whether it’s in stock. The company carries more than 284,000 china patterns. If it doesn’t have your particular piece, it will keep it on a search list and notify you when it’s in stock.
On the weekend after Christmas, we received lots of calls from people wanting to replace pieces they had broken themselves. Then there are those who were at someone else’s home and broke something belonging to their host.
Lisa Conklin, spokeswoman, Replacements Ltd.
▪ A mangled fork: All hope is not lost, says Joshua Brettell, a restoration expert at Awesome Metal Restorations in Kensington, Maryland. Damaged flatware brings many people into this shop after the holidays. “We can reshape it, polish out any of the marks,” he says. “The problem may be later, in that a spoon that we fix will be a lot shinier and nicer-looking than your other old flatware.” This type of repair usually starts at $35 and goes up, Brettell says. (The shop has a minimum charge of $50 per order.)
▪ A chipped crystal champagne flute: Grinding crystal is risky business: If there is a hairline crack in the crystal that you don’t see, your glass may break on the wheel, Brettell says. But if you have a simple chip on the rim of a wineglass, chances are it can be smoothed out. At Awesome Metal, the charge is $35 and up. At Replacements, crystal repair starts at $16.
▪ A burned copper saucepan: Brettell says he can probably save your pot and polish up the outside to make it look beautiful. He can also replace the lining if needed. The cost would depend on the size of the pot and the damage.
▪ A chipped platter: The problem with fixing a piece of porcelain or pottery is that the repair will probably make it unsuitable for serving food. If your piece is sentimental or decorative or both, you might want to have it repaired anyway. The charge for gluing a simple chip at Replacements would be about $20 to $40, Conklin says. More complicated repairs would be priced higher and might cost more than replacing the piece.
▪ Burned or torn table linens: Scorching — say, from an iron — can be very bad news for your linens, says Deborah Payne, vice president of the Vintage Tablecloth Lovers Club, a group of collectors and dealers who in 2002 founded their group to exchange information on finding and preserving cloths from the 1930s to 1970s.
Payne says members have shared their best linen-care tips on the Vintage Tablecloth Lovers Club website (vintagetableclothsclub.com). Here is what they suggest to help lessen burn damage on a cloth or napkin: “Scorching permanently damages the fabric. The heat burns and weakens the fibers, and can also melt manufactured fibers, such as polyester. If the damage is slight you might be able to improve the look. Brush the area to remove any charring. If the tablecloth is washable, rub liquid detergent into the scorched area. Launder. If the stain remains, bleach with an all-fabric non-chlorine bleach.”
As for tears, check with your dry cleaner or alterations expert regarding mending services. Don’t let a tear or worn-out patch get worse year to year.