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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 819034 Features: -Material: White bone china.-Dishwasher safe.-Floral Illustrations Collection.-Product Type: Ch...arger Plate.-Collection: Floral Illustrations.-Color: White.-Distressed: No.-Material: China -Material Details: Bone china..-Number of Items Included: 1.-Pieces Included: .-Formal: Yes.-Shape: Round.-Pattern: Platinum Band; Color 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: 2.6. 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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Zak Designs

These Zak! ice cream bowls are a wonderful choice for people who like to enjoy a scoop or two on a hot summer day. These bowls are... great for everyday use, and for when guests come over to visit. Use them for picnics, barbecues, parties, and other... read more

Corelle

These durable and attractive Corelle Soup Bowls are designed to stand up to the rigors of everyday life. They are break and chip r...esistant for long-lasting use, microwave and oven safe for versatility and dishwasher safe for easy cleaning. These... 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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generic
$13.00 $16.00
at Walmart

These Gibson Studio Bistro Dining 9.75" Oval White Dessert Plates will make a lovely addition to any dining room table. They featu...re a simple look, which is easy to match with any type of cutlery. These porcelain dessert plates come in a set of 4 and... read more

Cake Boss

Impress your guests by serving savory treats with the Cake Boss Serveware 4-Piece Dessert Plate Set. It is made of sturdy porcelai...n that will grace your kitchen for years to come. These plates come in bright and playful colors that attract the... read more

Better Homes and Gardens
$16.00 $20.00
at Walmart

This set of Better Homes and Gardens Round Ribbed White Salad Plates is made of beautiful white porcelain and coordinates well wit...h other pieces from the same line. These plates add to a dinner table with their elegant look and slender modern profile.... 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.

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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Dazzlers
$88.00 $132.00
at Classic Charms

This 14K Gold Place Setting Charm contains 1.1 grams of gold. Gold weight is approximate. Add a gift box to your order for only $4... and we will also send you a cleaning cloth. read more

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

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
generic
$11.00 $14.00
at Walmart

He'll be in good company on our list of golfing greats!

Personalized Golf Legends Mug
generic
$11.00 $14.00
at Walmart

Enjoy your favorite beverage in this cute personalized mug featuring a camouflage design.

Personalized Camouflage Mug, 15 oz
LANG
$11.00 $14.00
at Walmart

Ceramic 17-ounce mug is art-wrapped with full-color artwork, full-color icon inside, coffee house style design and easy-to-grip ov...ersized handle. read more

Lang 17 oz Abundance Cafe Mug
generic
$10.00 $100.00
at Walmart

Personalize this Valentine's Day Photo Mug with your favorite image of your loved one.

Valentine's Day Be Mine Photo Mug, 11oz
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