Dinnerware Buying Guide

Think of dinnerware as the star player in your tabletop team. Working with table linens, stemware, and flatware, dinnerware makes a personal statement that contributes to a winning family-meal or dinner-party experience.

Types of Dinnerware

Types of Dinnerware

The biggest distinction in dinnerware is between formal and informal -- a decision that depends on your family's lifestyle and dining habits. If you entertain frequently, you may need a set of each type. Within each broad category of formal and informal, the individual pieces of dinnerware are much the same, although a formal table setting typically has more pieces to match the additional courses or menu items.

Fine China

The best choice for holiday dinner parties and formal gatherings, this dinnerware usually features top-quality materials and classic, simple styles that create a sense of occasion.

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Casual Dinnerware

Ideal for everyday family breakfast, lunch, and dinner, this dinnerware typically boasts more color and graphic elements than formal dinnerware. You might even mix solid and patterned styles or include seasonal-theme pieces for a relaxed, informal mood.

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Plates

Dinner plates are among the most important pieces because they present your kitchen's best front-and-center to each diner. Use an oversize charger plate below the dinner plate to frame it and add a decorative element. Smaller salad plates and bread-and-butter plates play supporting roles.

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Better Homes and Gardens
$14.88 $12.55

Better Homes and Gardens 6pk Sealife Salad Plate:Dimensions: 8.50"L x 8.50"W x 0.50"HBPA freeTexturedMatching cereal bowl and dinn...er plate available, Material content: MelamineCare instructions: top rack dishwasher safe, do not microwave read more

Better Homes and Gardens
$14.88 $11.56

Better Homes and Gardens Summer Entertaining White Dinner Plate, 6pk:6 packPerfect for indoor and outdoor useMaterial: 100 percent... melamineBPA freeDishwasher safe (top rack) read more

Better Homes and Gardens
$23.76 $19.92

Better Homes and Gardens Color Dipped Dinner Plates, Grey, Set of 6:Durable enough for everyday useMicrowave and dishwasher safeOv...en safe up to 450 degreesFrom oven to tableMaterial content: Stoneware1 dinner plate 11" (28cm) read more

Better Homes and Gardens
$23.88 $22.26

Better Homes and Gardens Coupe Square Dinner Plates, White, Set of 6:Durable enough for everyday useMicrowave and dishwasher safeO...ven safe up to 450 degreesMaterial content: PorcelainDinner plate 10.75" x 1.25" (27.3 cm x 3.1 cm) read more

Bowls

Soup and salad bowls present these respective courses in appropriate portion sizes. Their shapes often echo that of the dinner plate.

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Better Homes and Gardens
$14.88 $9.85

Better Homes and Gardens 6pk Ikat Cereal Bowl, Gray:Dimensions: 7.50"L x 7.50"W x 2.375"HBPA freeIkat printMatching salad plates a...nd dinner plates availableAdditional coordinating drinkware, dinnerware and serveware availableMaterial content: MelamineCare instructions: top rack dishwasher safe, do not microwave read more

Better Homes and Gardens
$14.88 $10.56

Better Homes and Gardens 6pk Cereal Bowl, Red Medallion:Dimensions: 7.5"L x 7.5"W x 2.375"HBPA FreeCapacity: 36 ozMatching berry b...owls and dinner plates availableAdditional coordinating drinkware, dinnerware and serveware availableMaterial content: MelamineCare instructions: top rack dishwasher safe, do not microwave read more

Better Homes and Gardens
$14.88 $10.24

Better Homes and Gardens 6pk Cereal Bowl, Sealife:Dimensions: 6.125"L x 6.125"W x 4"HBPA freeSealife printMatching salad plates an...d dinner plates availableAdditional coordinating drinkware, dinnerware and serveware availableMaterial content: MelamineCare instructions: top rack dishwasher safe, do not microwave read more

Better Homes and Gardens
$14.88 $10.05

Better Homes and Gardens 6pk Cereal Bowl, Blue Medallion:Dimensions: 7.5"L x 7.5"W x 2.375"HBPA FreeCapacity: 36 ozMatching berry ...bowls and dinner plates availableAdditional coordinating drinkware, dinnerware and serveware availableMaterial content: MelamineCare instructions: top rack dishwasher safe, do not microwave read more

Cups and Saucers

Coordinating cups and saucers often take center stage toward the end of the meal when they serve coffee or tea, perhaps with dessert. Cup sizes and shapes vary by dinnerware pattern, but all should be comfortable to hold.

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Working Women Rock
$33.98

Silver Tone Tea Cup Joy Affirmation Ring Necklace. Tea Cup is approximately 0.32 x 0.48 x 0.33 inches (HxWxD). Tea Cup has a clear... crystal on the bottom. Silver tone 2mm Belcher Chain Necklace is approx. 24 Inches with a Lobster Claw Clasp. Affirmation... read more

Cheer Bunny
$33.98

Silver Tone Tea Cup Cheer Affirmation Ring Necklace. Tea Cup is approximately 0.32 x 0.48 x 0.33 inches (HxWxD). Tea Cup has a cle...ar crystal on the bottom. Silver tone 2mm Belcher Chain Necklace is approx. 23 Inches with a Lobster Claw Clasp.... read more

Working Women Rock
$33.98

Silver Tone Tea Cup Longhorn Mom Affirmation Ring Necklace. Tea Cup is approximately 0.32 x 0.48 x 0.33 inches (HxWxD). Tea Cup ha...s a clear crystal on the bottom. Silver tone 2mm Belcher Chain Necklace is approx. 23 Inches with a Lobster Claw Clasp.... read more

Jewels Obsession
$198.99

Manufactured exclusively for JewelsObsession. This is a beautiful 18K yellow gold cup pendant. This 18K yellow gold pendant measur...es 18 mm in length by 12 mm in width. Measurement includes bale. JewelsObsession creates all gold jewelry in our state of... read more

Place Settings

Dinnerware is often sold in preassembled place settings: dinner plate, salad/dessert plate, soup/cereal bowl, mug or cup and saucer, and sometimes a bread-and-butter plate.

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Product Features

Product Features

All dinnerware is made for the same purpose: serving food conveniently, hygienically, and attractively. Your options determine how the dinnerware looks and feels. Pure white and delicately thin? Think of an elegant meal by candlelight. Rustic and weighty? Gather the family around for casual, hearty fare. Funky shapes and playful designs? Just right for a fashion-forward lunch with friends. To suit all of these situations and more, most households own more than one set of dinnerware.

Material

Whether traditional clay-base bone china, porcelain, stoneware, ironstone, or earthenware, or eclectic glass, pewter, or plastic, each material has a great deal to do with how it performs and the impression it conveys. Let your personal preferences and common sense narrow the choices based on who and what you're serving.

Color and Pattern

These variables can seem overwhelming, so it may help to focus on what appeals to you and what will complement your home's decor (now and in the future). In general, it's smart to choose formal dinnerware in a simple design and a neutral such as white or ivory. That's why many fine restaurants use plain white plates: They showcase the food at its visual best. Don't worry -- you can still express your style with the plate's shape, texture, glaze, or rim detail. With casual dinnerware, the range of colors and designs is almost unlimited, so you can be more adventurous. If your budget is limited, however, look for colors and patterns that are more timeless than trendy. Consider moderately priced sets that work as quick-change artists, adapting to create varied tablescapes according to a menu or theme.

Purchase Considerations

Purchase Considerations

The variety of dinnerware selections sold in stores and online can seem daunting. When shopping, think about how you will use your dinnerware for family meals as well as special occasions. Don't forget the practical side: Dinnerware can be an expensive purchase and should meet your long-term needs.

Sets or Open Stock

Depending on the product, you can buy individual place settings; sets of four, eight, or 12 place settings; or individual pieces as open stock. Sets are often more affordable overall, but buying open stock lets you add exactly the pieces you need over time and as your budget allows. For flexibility, choose a pattern that is available both ways.

Versatility

If you decide to purchase only one dinnerware set for both formal and casual use, look for a type and pattern that will suit many occasions. Classic round white plates adapt to traditional and contemporary decorating styles, and you can dress them up or down by varying the flatware, stemware, table linens, and serving pieces.

Quantity

Although you may serve five or six people on most days, remember that you will need additional place settings for the extra guests at holidays, birthdays, and other parties. If you entertain with buffet-style rather than sit-down meals, buy a few extra place settings to cover return trips to the buffet table.

Durabilty and Care

Take note of each manufacturer's care instructions to evaluate whether the dinnerware you're considering fits your lifestyle. Not all dinnerware -- especially fine china -- is dishwasher-safe. Because dishes can chip from contact with each other, and harsh detergents can fade colors or patterns, the maker may recommend hand-washing. Also check whether the dinnerware is oven- and microwave-safe; metallic trim is a real no-no in the microwave. If you're concerned about breakage during daily use, choose high-fired pieces for their durability. See our buying guide on fine china for more details. If you have children, you may opt for coordinating pieces of virtually unbreakable melamine or laminated-glass dinnerware.

Storage

To keep fine dinnerware from chipping or scratching, store it with felt or padded-paper protectors between each piece, or in specialized dish-storage cases. A china cabinet handy to your dining table helps you show off your treasures. Stack casual dinnerware carefully in a kitchen cupboard.

Cost

Be realistic about your budget, but buy the best quality you can afford. If you choose wisely, your dinnerware investment will serve you well for years. Formal dinnerware made from bone china or porcelain carries the highest prices. You can buy fine china one place setting at a time, while casual dinnerware often comes in less-expensive sets, although prices vary widely by brand. Formal or casual, if your favorite pattern has been drastically reduced by retailers, check to see whether it is being discontinued. You may be able to find replacement pieces later, but they will carry a higher price.

Dining on sale

Better Homes and Gardens
$49.97 $46.62

Add a rustic touch to your dinner table with this Brown Better Homes and Gardens Roaming Elk 16-Piece Square Dinnerware Set. This ...ceramic reactive glaze dinnerware set features a square shape with an attractive elk design. It comes with four dinner plates, four salad plates, four bowls and four mugs. Easy to wash up, this stoneware set can be washed in the dishwasher, and all the pieces are also microwave safe. read more

Better Homes and Gardens
$49.97 $41.43

Add style and grace to any gathering with the Red Better Homes and Gardens Medallion 16-Piece Square Dinnerware Set. It includes f...our each of dinner plates, salad plates, mugs and bowls. Adorned with colorful medallions, the Better Homes and Gardens dinnerware set features a soft, square silhouette that is complemented by a beautiful wax relief pattern. All of the components are dishwasher and microwave safe. read more

Better Homes and Gardens
$14.88 $12.55

Better Homes and Gardens 6pk Sealife Salad Plate:Dimensions: 8.50"L x 8.50"W x 0.50"HBPA freeTexturedMatching cereal bowl and dinn...er plate available, Material content: MelamineCare instructions: top rack dishwasher safe, do not microwave read more

Better Homes and Gardens
$14.88 $11.56

Better Homes and Gardens Summer Entertaining White Dinner Plate, 6pk:6 packPerfect for indoor and outdoor useMaterial: 100 percent... melamineBPA freeDishwasher safe (top rack) read more

Better Homes and Gardens
$14.88 $9.85

Better Homes and Gardens 6pk Ikat Cereal Bowl, Gray:Dimensions: 7.50"L x 7.50"W x 2.375"HBPA freeIkat printMatching salad plates a...nd dinner plates availableAdditional coordinating drinkware, dinnerware and serveware availableMaterial content: MelamineCare instructions: top rack dishwasher safe, do not microwave read more

Better Homes and Gardens
$20.88 $17.96

Better Homes and Gardens Short Mugs, White, Set of 6:18-oz mugs hold your favorite beverageDurable for everyday useStylish for all... your entertaining needsMicrowave safe and oven safe up to 450 degreesDishwasher safeMaterial content: porcelainDimensions: 4.50"L x 6.00"W x 3.38"H (11.43 cm x 15.24 cm x 8.59 cm) read more

Better Homes and Gardens
$17.16 $11.58

Better Homes and Gardens Square Mugs, White, Set of 6:Holds 14 oz of your favorite beverageDurable for everyday useStylish enough ...for all your entertainingMicrowave safe and oven safe up to 450 degreesDishwasher safeMaterial content: porcelainPorcelain mug dimensions: 4.75"L x 3.50"W x 4.25"H (12.07 cm x 8.89 cm x 10.8 cm) read more

Better Homes and Gardens
$19.56 $17.92

Better Homes and Gardens Teal Medallion Mugs, Teal, Set of 6:Durable enough for everyday useMicrowave and dishwasher safeMaterial ...content: Stoneware1 mug 5.25" x 3.8" x 4.25" (13.3 cm x 9.6 cm x 10.8 cm)16 oz capacity read more

Better Homes and Gardens
$39.92 $39.13

Awaken your senses and your tablescape with the Better Homes and Gardens 16-Piece Dinnerware Set. This contemporary two-tone servi...ce for four has a distinctive design, with matte black and deep crimson. Each piece features a reactive glaze that creates unique, subtle patterns, adding depth and dimension to every meal. The Better Homes and Gardens dinnerware set, Tuscan red comes with four 10.75" dinner plates, four 7.75" dessert plates, four 6" bowls and four, generously sized 11.5 oz mugs. Each piece has a matte black exterior and a crimson interior, for contrast. The dinner and dessert plates are square shaped, a distinctive departure from most kitchen dinnerware sets. All pieces are microwave and dishwasher safe. read more

Better Homes and Gardens
$23.76 $19.92

Better Homes and Gardens Color Dipped Dinner Plates, Grey, Set of 6:Durable enough for everyday useMicrowave and dishwasher safeOv...en safe up to 450 degreesFrom oven to tableMaterial content: Stoneware1 dinner plate 11" (28cm) read more

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