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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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Waterford Crystal

Shop for Dishes and Plates from Hayneedle.com! With the Wedgwood Jasper Conran Bone China Plain Salad Plate - White - Set of 4 on ...hand, you'll be ready for any occasion life sends your way. Styled to reflect the contemporary elegance of designer Jasper Conran's aesthetic, these plates are pure sophistication in pristine, traditional whiteware. They're not shy about the dishwasher or microwave.British designer Jasper Conran has joined Wedgwood to create a collection combining classic British elegance with his unique design aesthetic. This collection includes fine bone china and serveware, drinkware, home decor, and gifts. Each item in the Jasper Conran collection is a unique work of art by this famed designer.About WedgwoodThrough highly skilled craftsmanship and the highest quality standards, Wedgwood manufactures quality ceramics with sophisticated, classical, and contemporary design. With a tradition of innovation, quality, and craftsmanship, Wedgwood designs are widely acknowledged as timeless, elegant, classic, and understated. Their design teams work with external designers for cross-pollination of ideas and experience. Founded in 1759 by Josiah Wedgwood, Wedgwood has been an international company determined to uphold their standards in order to maintain their leadership in the world's markets. Though their roots are over two centuries old, the company strives to stay current through partnerships with fashion designers Jasper Conran and Vera Wang with whom they've read more

Lenox

Marchesa by Lenox 819044 This smoky-banded charger will add an elegant touch to your table setting. Rimmed in platinum, the charge...r is designed to be used beneath the dinner plate. Features: -Material: White bone china.-Platinum rim.-Dishwasher safe.-Paisley Bloom Collection.-Product Type: Charger Plate.-Collection: Paisley Bloom.-Color: White.-Distressed: No.-Material: China -Material Details: Bone china..-Number of Items Included: 1.-Pieces Included: .-Formal: Yes.-Shape: Round.-Pattern: Platinum Band.-Microwave Safe: No -Microwave Safe Details: ..-Dishwasher Safe: Yes.-Enameled: No.-Eco-Friendly: No.-Country of Manufacture: United States.Dimensions: -Overall Height - Top to Bottom: 1.-Overall Width - Side to Side: 11.75.-Overall Depth - Front to Back: 11.75.-Eating Surface Width: 9.75.-Eating Surface Depth: 9.75.-Overall Product Weight: 1.05. read more

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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GIBSON EVERYDAY
$29.00 $44.00
at Walmart

Whether you are outfitting a new kitchen, want to buy dishes for a special occasion, or youre just adding to your dishware collect...ion, this The Gibson Everyday Ocean Oasis 16-Piece Dinnerware Set, Turquoise is a stylish and colorful way to show off... read more

Better Homes and Gardens

These beautifully sophisticated Better Homes and Gardens Square Salad Plates will add something extra to dinner time. Each porcela...in plate is durable enough for everyday use and stylish enough for use on special occasions. These porcelain salad plates... read more

Better Homes and Gardens

Add to your dinnerware collection with this set of Better Homes and Gardens Round Dinner Plates. They are durable enough for every...day use and provide a simple yet stylish touch for entertaining guests. The set of 6 porcelain dinner plates is microwave... read more

Gibson

The Gibson Home Stanza 16-Piece Dinnerware Set will help you set the table with style. These elegant dishes offer the perfect way ...to make everyday meals feel special. read more

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
$10.00 $16.00
at Walmart

The colorful design of these Better Homes and Gardens 6-Piece Melamine Dinner Plates turns family meals into fun occasions. The br...ight colors in the red damask design appeal to kids and add a bit of excitement to the table. Since they are made of... read more

Better Homes and Gardens

These beautifully sophisticated Better Homes and Gardens Square Salad Plates will add something extra to dinner time. Each porcela...in plate is durable enough for everyday use and stylish enough for use on special occasions. These porcelain salad plates... read more

Ten Strawberry Street
$34.00 $45.00
at Walmart

Start your dinner party off in style with these 10 Strawberry Street 24-Piece 6" Square Appetizer Plates. This set provides servic...e for 24 and is microwave safe. With sturdy porcelain construction, these plates are also oven safe up to 500-degrees... read more

Better Homes and Gardens

The Better Homes and Gardens Soft Square Dinner Plates are square with rounded corners for an elegant shape. They are made of beau...tiful white porcelain and coordinate with Better Homes and Gardens white soft square dinnerware (sold separately). These... 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
$8.00 $14.00
at Walmart

Family-friendly melamine is BPA-free and safe for use in the top rack of your dishwasher. This durable dinnerware looks like ceram...ic but is perfect to use outdoors. Stylish prints and bold solids are designed to mix and match to create the perfect... read more

Crate & Barrel

Simple, versatile design serves chips and shrimp, crackers and party mixes, canapes and finger foods. White porcelain coordinates ...with most dinnerware and table appointments. -Porcelain -Dishwasher-, microwave- and oven-safe to 375 degrees -Made in China 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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Portmeirion
$210.00 $262.50
at Hayneedle.com

The Traditionalshaped Breakfast Cup and Saucer, available in multiple motifs, serves a generoussized 10 oz. serving.Collection: Po...mona Material: Fine Earthenware Shape: Round Size: 10 oz Style: Pattern Type: Casual read more

Lenox
$71.80 $144.00
at Hayneedle.com

Shop for Dishes and Plates from Hayneedle.com! Pretty, sculpted butterfly wings form the handle of the elegant cup in the Lenox Bu...tterfly Meadow Fig Pink Cup and Saucer - Set of 4. Both the handle and saucer are bathed in pale pink, offering a subtle contrast to the cloud-white porcelain accented with pastel green leaves and a cute bumblebee. Just what you need to make your tea party a big hit, this set will bring the beauty of nature right to your table. Dishwasher- and microwave-safe.Set Includes:4 cups: 8-oz. capacity4 saucers: 6 diam. inches read more

Lenox
$119.80 $172.00
at Hayneedle.com

Shop for Drinkware from Hayneedle.com! If it's tea time, then it's Lenox French Perle White Cup and Saucer - Set of 4. These cups ...and saucers are ornately crafted of White stoneware and embellished with fine details. Great for entertaining or everyday use, and microwave and dishwasher safe.About Lenox CorporationLenox Corporation is an industry leader in premium tabletops, giftware, and collectibles. The company markets its products under the Lenox, Dansk and Gorham brands, propelled by a shared commitment to quality and design that makes the brands among the best known and respected in the industry. Collectively, the three brands share 340 years of tabletop and giftware expertise. read more

Lenox
$71.80 $144.00
at Hayneedle.com

Shop for Dishes and Plates from Hayneedle.com! You'll love the beautifully sculpted butterfly wings, which form the handle of the ...elegant cup in the Lenox Butterfly Meadow Fig Green Cup and Saucer - Set of 4. Both the handle and saucer are bathed in pale green, perfectly playing up the cloud-white porcelain accented with pastel green leaves and a cute ladybug. Just what you need to make your tea party a big hit, this set will bring the beauty of nature right to your table. Dishwasher- and microwave-safe.Set Includes:4 cups: 8-oz. capacity4 saucers: 6 diam. inches 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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Target
$39.99
at Target

Find dinnerware at Target.com! Kathy ireland home by gorham georgian estate 4 piece place setting

Target
$39.99
at Target

Find dinnerware at Target.com! Kathy ireland home by gorham natures song 4 piece place setting

Spode

Dinnerware Sets. With a dinner plate, salad plate, bowl and mug, this 4-pc. place setting is a great way to start your collection ...of Spode Baking Days items. With a whimsical hand-painted dot motif, the Spode Baking Days series adds a fresh, vibrant touch to everyday dining and cuisine. Once you ve tried them you ll know these durable, versatile pieces are essential equipment for everyone who enjoys entertaining and spending time in the kitchen. For your convenience, this item is microwave, dishwasher and freezer safe. Includes a 10.5 dinner plate, an 8 salad plate, a 7 bowl and a 14-oz. mug Dishwasher safe Microwave safe Freezer safe Warm oven only (up to 200 degrees F) Made of stoneware Imported read more

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
GIBSON EVERYDAY
$29.00 $44.00
at Walmart

Whether you are outfitting a new kitchen, want to buy dishes for a special occasion, or youre just adding to your dishware collect...ion, this The Gibson Everyday Ocean Oasis 16-Piece Dinnerware Set, Turquoise is a stylish and colorful way to show off... read more

Gibson Everyday Ocean Oasis 16-Piece Dinnerware Set, Turquoise
Better Homes and Gardens
$8.00 $14.00
at Walmart

Family-friendly melamine is BPA-free and safe for use in the top rack of your dishwasher. This durable dinnerware looks like ceram...ic but is perfect to use outdoors. Stylish prints and bold solids are designed to mix and match to create the perfect... read more

6-Piece Melamine 7.5" Round Bowls, Gold Reactive
Better Homes and Gardens
$10.00 $16.00
at Walmart

The colorful design of these Better Homes and Gardens 6-Piece Melamine Dinner Plates turns family meals into fun occasions. The br...ight colors in the red damask design appeal to kids and add a bit of excitement to the table. Since they are made of... read more

Better Homes and Gardens 6-Piece Melamine 10.5" Dinner Plates, Red Damask
Ten Strawberry Street
$34.00 $45.00
at Walmart

Start your dinner party off in style with these 10 Strawberry Street 24-Piece 6" Square Appetizer Plates. This set provides servic...e for 24 and is microwave safe. With sturdy porcelain construction, these plates are also oven safe up to 500-degrees... read more

10 Strawberry Street 24-Piece 6" Square Appetizer Plates, White
Better Homes and Gardens
$29.00 $39.00
at Walmart

Enhance your kitchen and dining room in style with a Better Homes and Gardens Soft Square Dinnerware Set. It consists of place set...tings for four people, including four each of: large dinner plates, small salad plates, soup/cereal bowls and mugs. Every... read more

Better Homes and Gardens Soft Square Porcelain 16 Piece Dinnerware Set
Portmeirion
$66.00 $92.00
at Hayneedle

Shop for Sets from Hayneedle.com! If you're looking for versatile dinnerware, the Sophie Conran Celadon Dinner Plate- 4pc set is e...xactly what you're searching for! These durable porcelain dinner plates are safe for the freezer, oven, microwave, and... read more

Sophie Conran Celadon Dinner Plate- 4pc set Multicolor - 427709
Crate & Barrel
$39.96 $61.80
at Crate & Barrel

Enjoy cafe society right at home with the fresh, friendly appeal of one of our most popular dinnerware sets. This pattern creates ...a charming cafe-style table setting. Deep plates and large stackable bowls are oversized and durable, great for every day. -Heavy, restaurant-quality porcelain -Dishwasher-, microwave- and warm oven-safe -Made in China read more

Crate and Barrel Cafeware II 16-Piece Dinnerware Set
Target
$55.99 $69.99
at Target

Find dinnerware at Target.com! Threshold studio 16 piece dinnerware set - white

Threshold Studio 16 piece Dinnerware Set - White
Target
$55.99 $69.99
at Target

Find dinnerware at Target.com! Threshold coastal 16 piece dinnerware set - white

Threshold Coastal 16 Piece Dinnerware Set - White
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