Something to eat with

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This page is a subsection of SCA Without Breaking the Bank. It provides information about feast gear.

Five-step method

  1. Get it free: Can you find a way not to pay for feast gear? You probably have things around the house that would work well. A wooden bowl (like a salad or soup bowl), a wooden or metal (or even ceramic) plate, cutlery, and a mug is really all you need to get you started. You probably have all these things around the house. Even if they don't look perfect, you can always touch them up by painting designs around them. If you're really cheap, you can always find a slightly stale or crusty loaf of bread, cut out the center, and use it as a trencher (long bowl). Believe it or not, this is actually period.
  2. Barter for it: Assuming you don't have anything you want to use at home a lot of people I know have extra feast gear, or are buying new feast gear and don't need they old ones. Ask around. You might even find someone who will give it to you free. Alternatively, you can barter for it. If you want to barter in kind (ie: with something related to feast gear), there are a bunch of things you can do. For example, if you're an artistic person, you might offer to paint their device (or other design) on their new feast-gear. You could offer to wash their dishes or carry their feast-gear at a certain number of events. You could offer to join them and help them when they go out shopping for their next feast gear (hey, you might even find something for yourself).
  3. Pay someone in the SCA for it: A lot of times, people will sell you their used feast gear if they won't barter for it, and they will generally give you good prices, or better than you will find in most stores.
  4. Get it used at discount: Thrift stores (like the Salvation Army store) are wonderful places for feast gear! I got all of my feast gear (a bowl, a full set of cutlery, a plate, a mug, a candleholder, and a candle-snuffer) at thrift stores, and in total they cost under $7 CAN (about $5 US). This is especially nice because you don't have to worry about breaking it or getting it truly dirty (we're talking left in the sun three days, mold-growing stage), because you can always replace it cheaply.
  5. Get it cheap: Though you can definitely find beautiful gear at retail stores, I wouldn't really recommend going this far, especially not if you're reading this page. You can almost certainly find what you need by one of the above-mentioned methods. Don't bother buying feast gear at a retail chain when there are so many other options available to you. If you really want to buy nice feast gear, you could always try some SCAdian merchants (and even then, watch the prices, which can vary drastically between merchants).

Submitted tips

Submitted by Teffania Tuckerton

Don't think you need to have a big set of feasting gear just because other people do. When you can't find cheap plates, use an extra bowl instead. A bowl or two, spoon, knife, goblet and napkin should be plenty. You may not even need a knife - someone else on the table might be persuaded to cut up pies and carve the roast for you, and then you should be able to manage with a spoon and fingers.

Most early period personas didn't use forks, unless they were a server carving the meat. Just remember to take a serviette/napkin (a teatowel with discrete pattern will also do) if eating with your fingers. Also not all forks were two pronged. Byzantine forks ranged from 2 to 7 tines, so you probably can use a normal eating fork confidently if you say you brought it back from crusade, or have a byzantine persona.

Some very cheap ceramic cups may actually be labelled as vases in your opshop/thrift store. Be careful of the prices of pewter goods - it's all too easy to believe you must have a silver goblet, when you can just as often get a period looking goblet/tankard of glass, wood, ceramic or leather for a cheaper price. On the other hand, get a sturdy tankard for drunken revels - most glass will break easily in such circumstances. Pewter or silver goblets with engravings (eg. "happy 21st Mary") often sell for much cheaper. Don't worry - engravings are too small to read by candlelight, or you can stick some fake gemstones or paint over the engraving.

Also there is a period drinking vessel called a 'Mazer' - it's a turned wood bowl used to share a ceremonial drink between people. They look remarkably similar to the kind of turned wood bowl you find second hand, and are sure to fit the whole of your can of drink, no matter how big.

Submitted by Buliwyf the Tiny

I just made a nice set of feast gear out of wooden spoons. Whittle or burn a simple pattern onto a wooden spoon from the dollar store (I got a pack of 3 for a dollar) so they don't look like a cheap-mass-produced spoon. Then take another wooden spoon and whittle it into a 3 prong fork. Apply a good coat of stain and food-safe shellac, and you're done. You can also find some nice period looking mugs at a do-it-yourself ceramic shop. I found a nice set of viking horn mugs from there

Submitted by Illiana Raska

This is for making a tankard. Get a glass jar of whatever size you want, preferably one without a screw on top. Get a small piece of wood and sand it down to make a curved handle to fit the size of the jar. Get a couple of strips of bendable metal and a few screws. Wrap the metal around the jar so the ends just cover the handle. Attach with screw or a more period looking piece if you like. And voila you have a tankard.

Submitted by Affrika of Wyewood

The very best place I have found to find two & three tined forks, steak knives with wooden handles, wooden plates and wonderful drinking vessels is the larger goodwill and value village thrift stores. Strangely enough during camping seasons they are nearly impossible to find but in the fall and winter (when most go all out for nice feast gear) they are everywhere for .25 to 2.00. I have a family of 5 and a household (period) of over 15 and I have feast gear for all of us acquired for less that 25 dollars. It is also a great place to get pots and pans. If you are like me and actually like to cook over the open fire you know you much rather use thrift store pots than the 300 dollar set you received as a wedding present.

Submitted by Brian Fulton

At my local dollar store, there are sold two-packs, for $1 of "Royal Sheffield Cutlery" steak knives. Wood-handle with rivets or bolsters, they look period except for the serrations. Someone who knows how to sharpen knives and has a belt grinder could easily remove these, even if you screw up, you're only out $0.50. These make good eating knives, and if you made a couple sheaths, you could have "barbarian walking around with five daggers on" look for very little cash.

Submitted by Constanza di Alba

I'll second using Chinese goods for feast gear. In Atlanta GA, you can find plates, bowls, tea cups and serving pieces at just about any of the Buford Highway farmers' markets in both porcelain or melamine.

Submitted by Elizabeth Beaumont

Napkins are often almost essential at SCA feasts as there's usually finger food and wiping your fingers on the tablecloth is not good manners (some feasts will not have a tablecloth anyway). Use scraps from your garb, the napkin I take to feasts is a square of plain white cotton with hemmed edges, which was about the only fabric left over after I had made a tunic using the method from If you don't have any fabric scraps lying around cotton handkerchiefs can be used as a substitute, if you've got a choice try not to get one with a printed pattern as they tend to look modern.

Submitted by Giano Balestriere

If you cook yourself, you can save a bundle. You don't need much equipment for cookery in the field - a pot or deep pan, a trivet to stand it on or a barbecue and a bowl or two to mix things in are enough for one or two people. I got almost my entire cooking gear (pans, pots, trivets, bowls and other tools) on flea markets for under $60.

Submitted by Feng Yin-yue for Asian Personas

Chinatown shops and Chinese grocery stores are great places to find inexpensive bowls and plates. There are great Chinese porceline or even metal spoons to be bought for less than a buck each. Since the Chinese invented practically everything either in period or the millenia before, you know the Chinese spoons still used today are period. :) You can also get wooden chopsticks there that may be highly ornamental. One set of twelve pairs cost me just $2 at Pearl River in Manhatten's chinatown. Another source: restaurants often give out wooden chopsticks with their Asian foods--most of which they throw out once your meal is over. I collected several pairs of chopsticks that way that are far superior to the plastic ones I got in grocery stores.

And oh yes...tableclothes. Just buy a yard and a half of linen and finish off the edges--instant tablecloth! If you need to trim it down a bit to make it square, you can also get some nice linen napkins out it to impress everyone around. I believe there's some no sew methods people can use for finishing off edges. Try's very very easy!

Submitted by Kat

King's Hawaiian bread: cut it in half to maintain a circle and you have two trenchers. Someone asked if I was entering the period feast gear competition but I just didn't have a plate.

There are several companies that make two & three tined forks now. Keep your eye out at places like dollar stores, because you never know what you'll find at a dollar store.

Submitted by Lady Fionnghuala Bethoc of Lindisfarne

Plain plates in plain colors (wood, metal, ceramic) with no decoration (can be purchased practically anywhere at any price, especially at yard sales or thrift stores)

Drinking vessels - plain unadorned metal (I have even seen the "clear plastic bottom" metal mugs going for 50 cents at yard sales)