i'm a huge fan of using fancy dishes in unfancy ways. it's the age-old thing of having lots of nice things but not using them nearly often enough, so they collect dust and are only used on the most special of days. but every day is a day of our lives only lived once, so shouldn't we surround ourselves with beautiful things when we can? and it's an added bonus if those things remind us of people or places we've loved.
on my mother's vanity, she uses pretty platters and mugs to corral beauty supplies and tools, which is one of the best uses for special dishes, especially smaller ones. they're pieces she remembers from family gatherings when she was a little girl, and now they hold her eye gel. love it.