(I am 46, for the record)
I had to choose 'other' because I am and always have been single *sob*
But I have and I love my fine china! I have lots of different styles, some more full than others, but not a complete set of one type as you'd try to get when married (I will get some of my parents' eventually). I know my sister didn't choose fine china for her wedding pattern, but chose a stoneware pattern which she uses as their everyday plates.
I use my stuff myself because I love it and love looking at it. I have done like HouseWench and gotten some excellent deals through estate sales! I also use crystal for my everyday drinking as well and why not? Why not use what you have and enjoy it? It makes me happy and I also like to have other things out where I can see and enjoy them every day, such as some jewelry pieces, figurines, vases with flowers, etc. I am home alone almost all the time, rarely able to leave the house, so it's important to me to not save things for company or for some hope that I will entertain when those things may rarely, or never happen.
I agree with you, Bignuf, the trends have really changed, but I specifically wanted a formal living room and dining room when I chose this house, and at my parents' house (where my siblings and I grew up), we used the formal rooms for special occasions and entertaining (and we/they still do), about every week, but they are in their 70's, so it's a different group of people who are used to this type of entertaining. I think people today are less formal about guests vs host, so they come into the kitchen and don't stay off in a living room while the host is dashing in and out bringing things from the kitchen. It's nice because then the host/ess gets to enjoy their company, too! I enjoy both types of entertaining though. I really like that today it's not like all the work falls on the host/ess to juggle while the rest stay chatting and relaxing and s/he is a glorified caterer.
This makes me think of something else that seems to have fallen by the wayside...a host/ess' gift! Does anyone here always bring something as a hostess/host gift when they go to someone else's house for a gathering?
I never go without one and yet I have had some odd reactions more recently from people I thought should know better, or at least be gracious about accepting them. I recently met a hostess in a nice neighborhood where we were having a progressive party, so, not personally knowing anyone there, I brought pretty guest soaps for each house we went to. I had the hostess at the first house stare at me, not reach out to accept it and tell me dismissively and really quite snottily, "We don't do that." It was so rude and tactless, I almost was snotty back, but simply stayed smiling and said, "Well I
do (said with a shrug, as if she hadn't just shot me down in front of everyone). You are gracious enough to let all of us into your lovely home and I wanted to bring something. Please, enjoy it, or I guess you could re-gift it if you don't want it (said with a laugh to try and lighten the atmosphere)."
Anyway, I always ask the host/ess beforehand if there is something I can bring: food, dessert, wine, etc. I guess this might be a dying trend? What do others think or have experience with this sort of thing?