Socialize with ease at cocktail parties with one free hand plates

mingling plates : wine & dine plates : cocktail plates : one free hand

We all experienced the juggling act of holding a plate and a wine glass while trying to interact with others at a party. It can even lead to messy moments.

Some called them mingle plates, cocktail plates, wine & dine plates or one free hand plates; but the name does not really matter. Once you use it, you do not want to go back. This a plate with a slot to hold your wine glass for you to have one free hand.

This gadget makes a difference. If you like hosting cocktail parties, you must stock a dozen or more in your party pantry. But be warned that you may transform you into the hostess queen around your circles of guests.

What to look for in a mingle plate?

The plate must be strong but not heavy. That is why I usually tested plastic or acrylic plates with a good wine glass filled with water before buying. You also want to see how well you can handle the plate.

Plates with a rim help to keep the food in when you circulate. So it is a must-have feature. Finally this is for finger food, so there is no need to go bigger than the size of salad plates (7 to 8 inches maximum).

Selection of wood wine & dine plates

I enjoy the look of exotic wood plates. They are lighter than ceramic and nearly unbreakable. They add a little je ne sais quoi. Wood plates require more care as they must be hand washed.

The Turned Wood Mingling Plates is a new model at Pottery Barn. It is part of a serving ware series with a 3-Tier Stand and a duo of pastry pedestals amongst other pieces.

Crate & Barrel sells a cool looking rectangular cocktail plate. On the plus side is unexpected and has nice rims. I have never tried a rectangular mingling plate so I can say if it is comfortable or not. If some of you have tried a rectangular wine & dine plate before, I will like to hear your comments.

Frontgate sells a set of six Acadia wood Party Plates for $79.50. The plate diameter is 10 inches. As you can see from the marketing picture, the woman used both hands to hold the plate. That defies the intent. So I suggest staying away for this model.

The Tapas plates from Sur La Table are the winner for party goers. It is big enough to hold comfortably a couple of hors d’oeuvres at a time. The etiquette suggests that you serve yourself 2-3 pieces at a time. In a cocktail, you take a few hors d’oeuvres, socialize a little bit before you go back for more pieces. You often do not need more space than these small plates.

With the stemless wine glasses, the tapas plates look sharp. If you cannot afford the O Riedel glasses, remember that Crate & Barrel sells two models at $1.95 USD each. Make sure to select the higher one, the 17 ounces stemless wine glasses.

Color coded mingling plates

After the drink tags, now comes color coded cocktail plate set. I found two models at Wrappables that are perfect for our cocktail parties. The first one is a set of 4 different colors plates. Made in melamine, each set contains a soft blue, a poppy red, a taupe and a soft white plate.

The second model is more subtle; they have a color coded rims. Unfortunately they are 10 inch diameter. The weight is not the issue since they are made of acrylic. My concern is that it takes too much space when you are moving around and socializing. On the other, you will be able to use them at barbecue and picnic. Overall it is a great versatile buy.

+ Turned Wood Mingling Plates at Pottery Barn – price: $10 USD each
Rectangular Wine and Dine plate at Crate & Barrel – price: $7.95 USD each
+ Set of 6 Acadia wood Party Plates at Frontgate -price: $79.50
+ Set of 4 Tapas plates at Sur La Table – price: $19.95 USD
+ Set of 4 melamine Wine and Dine plates at Wrappables – price: $17.95 USD
+ Set of 6 acrylic Wine ‘n Dine plates is at Wrappables – price: $30.95 USD

+ Glass tapas plates called d’glas
+ Handful of plate

  • Jenn
    August 30, 2007 at 23:25

    what a great idea. genious! 🙂


  • At Home with kim vallee
    September 11, 2007 at 10:25

    Curve appeal with a Handful of Plates by Alissia Melka Teichroew

  • Elliott D. Schwartz
    October 18, 2007 at 18:41

    I was at an event once and they had these plates made out of glass. Not heavy and very cool and durable. Unfortunately, I don’t know where to obtain them made out of glass. Any ideas or suggestions would be appreciated.

  • at home with kim vallee
    October 18, 2007 at 22:59

    Johan Sandstr

  • At Home with kim vallee
    October 18, 2007 at 23:08

    Dear Elliott, I did not find a real mingle plate in glass. I found a glass tapas glass. See the related post (at the end of my post) for more details.

  • nick williams
    January 14, 2008 at 14:13

    Now that sur la table has stopped selling these wooden mingle plates, where do i get them from?

    I know about the d’glas, which has the d’glas logo on it. But i was kinda sold by the idea of the wooden…

    If anyone knows where this is in stock… let me know! 🙂


  • At Home with Kim Vallee
    January 16, 2008 at 11:54

    Nick: I do not have a new source at the moment but I’ll keep my eye open.

  • EmmaCay
    October 12, 2011 at 22:05

    I adore the mix and mingle plates. Someone has finally come up with the solution for only having two hand and too much to do. These would be perfect for a patio gathering. Great pictures.