Celebrate Life! Make Your Own Simple “You Are Special” Plate

you are special plate

When I was growing up my Mom had this special red plate that whenever it was our birthday, or some other special occasion in our life, we got the distinct privilege of using it at dinner. :-)  I’m sure many of you are familiar with the special red plate tradition.

It occurred to me the other day that I don’t have a special red plate for my kids!  I think I did a LONG time ago when they were very little, but I have no idea what happened to it. I know my kids are older and probably wouldn’t appreciate the special plate idea as much as little ones, but even big kids need a little VIP treatment at times. :-)  If I know my boys (and I think I do!) they would love to have a “special plate” to highlight a special day.


red plate

I decided to look online to see if I could buy the special red plate my Mom had. I found it easily enough on Amazon, but when I saw that the Waechtersbach “You Are Special” Plate was $39.99, I decided to pass. I mean it IS a special plate…but not THAT special! :-)  A DIY project was definitely in order!

I’d seen a lot of ideas on Pinterest about using a Sharpie to decorate coffee mugs and such, but I had my doubts whether a Sharpie would hold up on a dinner plate that would have food on it and go in the dishwasher. So I did a little research and came up with this pen, the Pebeo Porcelaine 150 China Paint Fine Tip Marker, that I ordered off of Amazon for about six bucks.


porcelaine pen

You can use the Porcelaine 150 on china, porcelain, tile, metal, ceramic, glass and more. The paint is tack-free in a few minutes and fully dry after 24 hours. Once fully dry, you can bake the finished piece which gives it a dishwasher-safe, enameled finish.


IKEA plates

I found these plain, white 11″ dinner plates at IKEA last week for $2.99 each. Now all I needed was a little inspiration!

It’s times like these that I really wish I were artistic! Specifically, I wish that I could illustrate!  I have an entire Pinterest board dedicated to illustration’s called “Illustration Envy” because I do so envy that talent. But since my talents lie elsewhere, I did the next best thing…I traced!


you are special plate

I wanted the plates to be very simple so I stuck with just the phrase “You Are Special Today.” I printed it out in a couple of different fonts to see which one I liked best. I settled on a really plain font because I thought it would look better, but after doing a slightly more “fancy” font, I felt like the fancy font was a little more forgiving and didn’t show the imperfections as much.


you are special plate

I looked at lots of image transfer methods online, but none of them seemed appropriate for transferring onto a stoneware plate….so I made up my own “transfer method”.  I took a Sharpie and “traced” the lettering by making little dots on the paper that bled through to the plate.

It’s kind of hard to explain…but a picture is worth a thousand words here!

you are special plate


you are special plate

Then when I was done “tracing” the words with the Sharpie, I removed my template and started going over it with my porcelain pen. One of the great things about this pen is how fast it dries! Within a few minutes it was dry enough that I could go back over it and fill in any light spots.


you are special plate

Although I was going for very simple…in the end I couldn’t resist adding SOME embellishment in the form of tiny polka dots around the rim. Those I just free-handed. It didn’t take much illustration talent. :-)


After letting them dry for 24 hours, I then followed the instructions for making them “dishwasher resistant” and baked them in the oven for 35 minutes at 150°C (300°F). However, I will probably still hand wash them just to be on the safe side.

you are special plate

I’m pretty pleased at how my “special plates” turned out. Now when someone in this house has a special day (or maybe even a not-so-special day)….I’m ready! :-)


 How do you commemorate “special days” in your house? 

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  1. Lori LaBricciosa says

    love this and have wanted to try the sharpie idea also. My question is how did you get rid of the “dots” after you traced them?

    • says

      Lori, the black ink in the black porcelaine pen covered the black sharpie marks. If you were using a colored pen you would have to use a similarly colored Sharpie.

  2. Eden says

    Very pretty, but now I will be thinking about Detta/O’Detta’s “fo special” plate from Stephen King’s Dark Tower series all day!

  3. Amy says

    We have a plate that my kids usually remind me to put out for their birthday suppers. My mother -in-law gave it too us, I believe she bought it from a Dayspring catalog. It says You Are Special along the outside and on the inside it says; He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. Romans 14:6

    It is good to know about the special marker, I know of a teacher who received three of these mugs as gifts at Christmas time and only one lasted through the dishwasher. A sharpie was used in these cases, it had something to do with containing alcohol or not having alcohol in the marker.

  4. Erika says

    After seeing the idea on Pinterest, I decorated a white mug with a sharpie and “baked” it. It came out great and I loved it but after washing it with a sponge, the writing/drawing gradually came off. :-( So I guess it’s great for decoration but maybe not actually using it.

    • silverdust says

      Similar situation here, too. My daughter decorated a coffee mug for me with words to describe me for Mother’s Day (they were surprisingly complimentary!). She assured me it was washable and durable. After one trip through the dishwasher, most of the words were gone :(

  5. Karen Clifford says

    Wow, from todays blog I learned about the special pen and a new transfer technique.

    As we used to say at work…OK, I learned something new today can I now go home (and try it)?

  6. liz says

    i love the plate and the sentiment behind it. i have done the sharpie pen on a mug and was not pleased with the font as I just hand wrote it, which did not come out as well as those you see on pinterest. however, i have also tried the method you used to transfer letters to fabric and was not successful on fabric, any suggestions? i bought a plain Christmas stocking and wanted to personalize it, but it’s still sitting in my “stuff to do” pile.

  7. Rebecca B says

    You remind me that I haven’t pulled our our Fiesta “Happy Day”, plate in a while. The kids have always liked it, and so do I. It is 8″ classic white Fiesta with a balloon and confetti graphic. Brings to mind a birthday, but doesn’t have to be used for just that. I don’ recall exactly, but I’m sure I paid less than $20 bucks for it. Really like that marker, I’m going to keep an eye out for that. Keep the posts coming, Jillee, they are helping me through a rough time.:-)

  8. sandra says

    I love the plate – I’d never heard of it before! Our family has a birthday top hat that lights up that we bought at Disney many years ago. You may wear it all day if you want but you must wear it for dinner and presents, no matter how old you are.

  9. says

    This is such a lovely idea although I would probably be like Susan and forget about it, lol! We have one plate that looks like all the others but has a slightly more bevelled bottom which makes it spin. Even though my kids are now young adults it still makes us laugh when one of us gets the’spinny plate’ as I did last night! Ah, family traditions eh? You gotta love ’em!
    My daughter has just decorated a mug for her friend’s birthday using a Sharpie pen. It needed to ‘cook’ longer than stated but seems to have worked. Like you, I am unsure how it would hold up to constant use, so I will pass on your info to her re the Pebeo pen, thanks Jillee.