Having the right tableware is as important to hosting memorable dinner gatherings as the food being served. That is why choosing a quality dinner set is an important decision and a dining investment that you will be using for years to come.
Whether you have a dinner set registered before your wedding, restocking when moving into a new home, or simply replacing your old dinner service with something new, bear in mind that when choosing dinnerware you define something about yourself and your lifestyle that will be evident to all who share a meal with you.
Starting with the Basics
If you are restocking, start with evaluating our current dinnerware. Decide whether it is important that your new dinnerware matches the current dishes you have. If this is the case, you will have to coordinate the colour, pattern or material of the new set to match the one you already have. If not, consider how you can keep on using your current pieces and how they will fit in with the new ones.
Choosing the Right Type of Dinnerware
Decide how your dinnerware will be used on a regular basis. If you plan to use your dishes outdoors you may want to consider choosing materials that are sturdier than fine porcelain, like stoneware. If your entertainment includes formal dinners you may want to consider getting a separate set. Keep it simple by sticking to basic colours, unless you only use formal settings during the holidays, when you may want to choose a set of festive colours. Traditional dinner sets usually come in classic styles and in white as they never date or fade, and they showcase food well.
Choosing the Right Material
Dinnerware material should be chosen based on durability, intended use, and price. Casual dinnerware is commonly stone or earthenware, while formal dinnerware is made with porcelain or bone china. Porcelain is made from a hard ceramic material which makes it extremely strong. Bone china is equally strong and, as its name suggests, it is fortified by ox bone ash. Both porcelain and bone china dinner sets are more expensive than other types of dinnerware as it is usually harder to replace individual pieces and it requires more care.
However, there are many bone china and porcelain sets available nowadays that are oven, dishwasher, and microwave-safe.
Casual dinnerware made from materials such as stone or earthenware are less expensive, dishwasher and microwave-safe, and should be able to withstand oven temperatures of 400 – 500F.
Choosing the right Color
Choose your tableware based on your personal preferences and the décor of your dining room. Plain white is classic, simple, classy, and never goes out of style. Neutral colors like white or cream are easy to coordinate with any colour scheme. However, coloured or patterned dinnerware can be striking, especially in a neutral dining room.
Gold or metal lined dinnerware is elegant and sophisticated, but should only be hand washed to prevent fading. Many patterned pieces have transfers or decals that may come off when washed in a dishwasher and normally are not suitable for microwave or oven use.
Choosing Shapes and Textures
While smooth, round dinnerware is most common, shapes and textures can add interesting accents to tableware. By adding a few complementary pieces to your dinner table in striking shapes, patterns, or materials, you can transform a boring table setting into something dramatic. Modern styles in dinnerware include several interesting shapes such as oval or square dishes that break with tradition.
Storing and Cleaning
When choosing dishes that are unusually large, you will have to ensure that your dinner set will fit your table, cabinets, and dishwasher. While most dinner plates have approximate standard sizes, may vary a lot, so measure before you order. Some people find the negative space created when using overly large dinner plates elegant. If you love this look, just be sure they will fit your storage space and table.
Choosing Serving Pieces
A dinner service normally includes two to three serving dishes, two bowls, one covered casserole, one cake stand, and a tea or coffee set. Serving dishes are a great way to ring in the changes as they do not have to match the rest of the colour or your dinner service. You can even choose different shapes and textures for serving dishes and for beverages.
Choosing the Size of Your Dinner Set
A twelve place setting is the most economical even if you generally serve only six people. Unexpected guests are easily catered for and you won’t have to worry about replacements with the extra dishes you already have.
Dinnerware does not have to extremely expensive, however, don’t skimp on price as this is a big investment and will have to last for many years. Select as many pieces as you can afford if you are on a tight budget, and add to the set over time. Make sure that you choose a brand and style that has been on the market for many years and can be easily replaced.