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High-Tech Plastic Tableware Tops Moms Wish List for Casual Dining Style

If a great set of plastic tableware tops Moms wish list this year, then youre in luck. New, high-tech plastics are giving unbreakable dishes and drinkware a noticeable facelift and a useful life far beyond the outdoor season. But how do you know what you're buying? Here's what every smart shopper needs to know about plastic tableware.

April 27 2004 -- If a great set of plastic tableware tops Moms wish list this year, then youre in luck. New, high-tech plastics are giving unbreakable dishes and drinkware a noticeable facelift and a useful life far beyond the outdoor season.

Better quality plastics like polycarbonate, polypropylene and acrylic blends create beautiful tableware thats more durable and versatile than traditional acrylic and melamine products, says Krista Fabregas, founder of KidSmartLiving. Whether you're kid-proofing indoor tables or party-proofing outdoor living, you can now find just about any tableware item from tumblers and stemware to dishes and serving pieces made from these better plastics.

But plastic products are rarely labeled by type and all come in a variety of styles, colors and finishes. Plus, most claim to be dishwasher-safe. So how do you know which to choose?

All plastics are not created equal, but each has unique qualities, Krista says. If you know what to look for when shopping for plastic tableware, you're much more likely to choose a set that meets your needs and expectations.

She offers shoppers these tips.

Unbreakable polycarbonate is the leader in better plastic tableware, and its no wonder its the same material as bulletproof glass. This plastic gives the highest quality glass-like clarity to drinkware and tableware, and can be found in clear, tinted and even solid colors.

Youll find that manufacturers generally label polycarbonate pieces as such, along with claims that items are unbreakable, microwave and dishwasher safe. These products tend to be more expensive than other plastic goods, but polycarbonates durability and clarity create great-looking tableware that can be enjoyed for years.

Die-hard polypropylene is a versatile plastic thats often used to make inexpensive outdoor tableware though some makers now offer looks that are very stylish indeed. Unbreakable polypropylene is easy to spot with its solid or slightly translucent color and softer, slightly rubbery feel. Its safe for the dishwasher and some brands, such as Sea Glass, are microwave-approved.

Acrylic blends such as SAN (styrene acrylonitrile) produce drinkware and dinnerware that is long lasting, extremely break resistant and reasonably priced. These products can be clear, tinted or frosted, and carry claims of being shatterproof, dishwasher and microwave safe. Only a handful of makers produce tableware in SAN, so it can be difficult to find. The BentleyWare and Infinity brands offer good selections.

Acrylic, polystyrene and melamine are among the least expensive plastics to produce, thus theyre found in the widest variety of styles. But they may not be as durable or versatile as the other choices.

Acrylic and polystyrene wont shatter, but can break if dropped. Products are often labeled top rack dishwasher safe but the heat of the dishwasher, even in the top rack, can quicky craze the surface covering it with tiny cracks. While crazing doesnt make the piece unusable, it does detract from its appearance. Hand-washing or dishwasher air-dry cycles are best for these products.

Melamine is used to create durable dinnerware in myriad styles. Full sets complete with large serving pieces are readily available in stores as seasonal ware. But while melamine dishes are dishwasher safe and very break resistant, they can warp or blister in the microwave, limiting their versatility. Melamine dishes typically are labeled not recommended for microwave use.

So, whatever Moms wish stylish poolside ware, dishes for the RV, or durable family-friendly drinking glasses theres definitely a product that provides the perfect balance of style, care, durability and versatility. And shopping for the just-right gift is easy when you know what to look for!

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Krista Fabregas founded KidSmartLiving in 1999 to help parents create safe, easy-care family homes with style. Find more family-friendly home decorating and living ideas, projects and products on the KidSmartLiving website at

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A facelift is a surgical procedure to repair sagging, drooping, and wrinkled skin of the face and neck. It is performed to improve visible signs of aging, poor diet, or heredity; it is performed by removing excess fat, tightening underlying muscles, and redraping facial and neck skin.


Sagging or wrinkled skin occurs naturally with increasing age. Folds and fat deposits appear around the neck, and deep flexion creases form between the nose and mouth. The jawline grows "jowly" and slack. Heredity, poor diet, smoking, or obesity may contribute to early or severe skin problems.

A facelift can help repair some of the visible damage to skin, fat, and muscles and can restore a "younger" look. A facelift can be done alone or with nose reshaping, a forehead lift, or eyelid surgery.

While the patient is sleepy (sedated) and pain-free (local anesthesia) or deep asleep and pain-free (general anesthesia), the plastic surgeon makes incisions above the hairline at the temples, behind the earlobe, to the lower scalp.

The surgeon removes some of the fat tissue and loose skin, then stitches (sutures) the incisions closed. The fat tissue is called the SMAS layer and is the primary lifting portion of the facelift.