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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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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee


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  • be sure you purchase a porcelain/ glass marker than can come in contact with food. Many cannot, even after baking. Many are intended to decorate the outer parts of dishes, not a plate surface. To be safe, you can decorate the under side of a glass plate.

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  • Thank you for sharing! A fabulous idea! We made these Special Day Plates in our MOPS group and my kiddos LOVE using them!! We find ourselves trying to find special things to celebrate just to use the plates!! :)

  • Also, consider getting a clear paint & do your words & decorations backwards on the bottom of the plate. There’s no worry about the markers being bad for you.

  • What a great idea! I’ve never heard of that (wish I’d thought of it!). It makes me want to run out to our local “do it yourself” ceramic store. I still might on Friday as I don’t have time to do it today or tomorrow.

  • Just FYI … While the markers and paints are dishwasher safe, I don’t think they’re rated for food safety. Meaning you could probably be ok with the ‘you’re special’ message around the outer rim, with only incidental contact with food, should avoid writing a message or decorating the main food area of the plate.

    I love the idea, tho … we have no such tradition in my family.

  • We’ve had a “Special Plate” for years that my husband and I painted at a ceramic studio on whichever anniversary is the one where the gift is pottery :) Using your special pen would certainly be easier, quicker and less expensive!

    We randomly pull our Special Plate out of the cupboard for dinner (or not so randomly when someone needs a lift or deserves a pat on the back) and during the meal, everyone says one thing they appreciate about the person who has the plate. It’s been a great way to lift each other up and teach our kids how to think of something nice to say about their sibling (esp. when they don’t want to!), how to take a compliment, and how good it feels to be appreciated!

  • We don’t have a special plate – although that is something that I should think about…but we do make chocolate chip pancakes for special occasion days!!

  • The smell of sharpies makes me ill.Another way to transfer the design is carbon paper or a poor mans version is to heavily color with pencil on the backside of the design then lay it right side up on the plate then with the pencil or a stylus on the right side of the design trace it to the plate. I don’t think I have ever done that on something like a plate but I have on to wood and hard canvas. I love this idea, my step mom has that red plate.

  • Great Job! The plates really look good. I have seen the ones done with Sharpie –but they just look like magic marker to me. Must investigate further.
    BTW love, love , love the spectrum of topics you put out there!

  • Thank you for sharing this idea. I have never heard of a “you are special” plate. What a great idea. I will have to pick up one of those pens for our house. So many plates, cups, mugs, etc to decorate and so little time.

  • I love this idea! Our family has been using the Waechtersbach “You Are Special” Plate for over 25 years for not only birthdays but Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. The first of my three adult boys recently married in April and I searched high and low for another plate. Finally found one on EBay and thought it was such a deal and snatched it up for $44 dollars! I could have made a whole set for that price!

  • My SIL has a plate with s set of ceramic banners to hang on the top to celebrate special occasions such as Christmas, Easter, birthdays, football season, 4th of July, etc. It is very, very pricey!
    All ways wanted one like it. Now, with your help, I can make a set that is different but the same idea! A plate for Christmas treats, a big platter for football season snacks, a bowl for Movie & Popcorn nights! And of course, birthdays! Thanks for the idea. I have time to make this set for my daughter for Christmas.

  • I love your plates & the fonts you used! Great idea!! I hope the pen works! For Christmas my best friend gave me a mug with a special memory on it. I hand washed it each time. My husband put it in the dish washer just once… And the cup looked brand new. :( But I kept the mug, because I still think of her every time I use it. :)

  • 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?

    • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

    • 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 :(

  • 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)?

  • 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.

  • 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.:-)

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • I like your version of the special day plate! I have a blue one that we usually forget to pull out! lol Pampered Chef has something similar in their outlet section. I have ordered a couple from there to give to my daughters when they get their own homes. I’m not an affiliate, just sharing for someone who may want to buy one that’s already made!

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