What dinnerware set should I purchase?

What dinnerware set should I purchase?
Believe it or not, this is a question we get from prospective customers.  They may have just gotten married or feel that their older dinnerware has become damaged or is out of style.  In any case people are looking for guidance to help them determine the type, manufacturer and most often price of various dinner sets.  There is no shortage of options when it comes to purchasing a dinnerware set and hopefully this guide will give you a couple of ideas for what to think about when making that decision.

Thinking about dinnerware are you?

Thinking about dinnerware are you?

How do you plan on using the dinnerware?

This is the first question we ask customers when they ask us about their fine china or casual dinnerware choices.  Typically the answer is one or the other…. “we need china for formal occasions” or “we want dinnerware for everyday use”.  We will go over both options and hopefully bring some ideas to mind that you may not be thinking of.  We will also suggest a third option – “everyday formal”.  This is an interesting new concept being made by a couple well-known manufacturers.  Fine china that is not super expensive;  looks fantastic and performs like everyday dishes.

China for formal occasions

The first thing to consider when looking at purchasing china for formal occasions is price.  We suggest that you think about a budget and decide how high-end you want to go.  One can spend upwards of $1,000 per place setting for the real high-end china by the most revered manufacturers and brand names.  We feel that one can get a high-end fine bone china for around $100 to $140 per 5 piece set.  The bone china and porcelain you can get for this price will be decorated with enchanting patterns or platinum banding and will most definitely impress your guests at any formal setting and remain timeless.

An important thing to remember when selecting the pattern is to make sure the pattern is popular enough (like a top 10 dinnerware pattern) so that the manufacturer continues to produce the pattern.  We have seen many patterns move to the discontinued status over the years.  Patterns that people love when they purchase them new don’t have the popularity necessary to continue to produce sales for the manufacturer and as a result the pattern is slowly phased out and eventually discontinued.  Finding replacement china for discontinued patterns is both difficult and expensive.  And the truth is something will eventually break, chip or become faded and unsightly and need replacing.

Another consideration to purchasing a fine set of china is to make sure the pattern selected has all the different dishes, plates and serving pieces that you may want in the future.  There is no shortage of different plates, dishes, bowls and serving items that complete a fine china set.  Many of which are ornate, but fun to use and the more they are used and the more ornate they are the more fun it becomes to have a formal dinner party and actually use these fine china pieces.  Typically one will want the standard serving plates and vegetable bowls, but look deeper into the pattern and make sure that the manufacturer makes enough of the specialty items that you want so that you can continue to expand your china set over the years.

Dinnerware for all occasions?

Dinnerware for all occasions?

Dinnerware for everyday use

Most customers are looking for simple dinnerware for everyday use.  Something that is heavy weight, stoneware, porcelain or other material that is strong enough to handle every day use.  Make sure the dinnerware you select is microwave and dishwasher safe.  You would be surprised how often we hear stories from our customers about the dish or plate they took from the refrigerator and put in the microwave only to have it crack. 

Dinnerware sets have become more and more popular in recent years.  The type of dinnerware set we are talking about is one where the manufacturer sells a box set of say 45 pieces.  The set will contain service for eight (or 8 “5 piece sets”) and a couple service pieces like a creamer, vegetable bowl, and serving platter.  Mikasa is best known for their casual dinnerware sets.  The sets are typically less expensive than purchasing each plate separately, but finding replacements becomes a huge trouble if items are broken – and as everyone knows, dishes will break.  Mikasa does a nice job of providing 5 piece sets, but you can only get them in the complete set – so if you just break one dinner plate, or are missing three salad plates, you will have to purchase the complete set to get replacements.  Further the serving plates are not available in open stock.

Other manufacturers like Lenox also make casual dinnerware, but they make the dishes available in open stock.  This means that should you break a single cup or saucer, you can find a retailer that has the individual item in stock and available for replacement.  Building a set this way can be a bit more expensive than purchasing the complete box sets – but over time you will save money as you add to your collection with new service items or purchase replacements for broken dishes.

One other thing we like to ask to prospective customers is “how much entertaining will you do with your casual dinnerware?”  As times are changing and more and more families are becoming more relaxed about entertaining, it is important to make sure your tableware can function to meet your entertaining needs.  This leads us to the third option for dinnerware.

Everyday formal dinnerware

As times change and people’s entertainment habits shift towards a more casual lifestyle dinnerware manufacturers and brands are responding with a new form of “everyday formal dinnerware”.  The thought is to create a dinnerware that is both elegant and classic (feels and looks nicer than the typical casual dinnerware) but yet is as versatile and strong as heavy weight casual dinnerware.  The hybrid makes for an interesting combination that will allow you to fancy up informal entertaining yet still provide an elegance and grace to those occasions when formal dining and high end china is required.  Lenox has been the leader in this mid category china specifically with the Lenox Simply Fine and pristine porcelain collections.  The Simply Fine china is guaranteed not to chip with regular use.  Each dish is break resistant, safe to put in the refrigerator or freezer and then transition right to the microwave.  When done, just put the dishes in the dishwasher like any other casual dinnerware.  Wedgwood has recently released their version of everyday casual with their Whiteware collection of Wedgwood casual china

Of course the hardest decision to make when purchasing your new dinnerware is the selection of the pattern.  This is simply personal taste.  Browse all the different brands and select what you enjoy most.  Make selecting new dinnerware fun.  Get something you can add to or accessorize.  Pick a bold color or go with the classic white.  Whatever you decide, own it and enjoy it.  Dining and entertaining are fun and your dinnerware should reflect your joy for cooking and entertaining. 

by Dinnerware ForLess