Dinnerware Buying Guide
Types of Dinnerware Sets
Dinnerware sets are available in different materials, styles, and number of pieces. Some dinnerware sets work well for fancy dinner parties, and others are more suitable for backyard BBQs and casual get-togethers. For formal dinnerware, a set made from bone china or porcelain is sure to look great while earthenware or melamine is best for casual dinnerware. Formal dinnerware usually features a crisp white coloring, complemented with a more elegant design. Casual dinnerware often features bold colors and patterns, which gives you a lot of fun options to get creative with.
A typical place setting includes a cup, bowl, salad plate, and dinner plate, which means a 16-piece dinnerware set provides settings for up to four people. Formal dinnerware sets may include extra pieces such as saucers, dessert plates, and platters. You can also find sets of completer pieces such as serving platters, sauce dishes, butter dishes, and gravy boats, so you can supplement your dinnerware set with matching serving pieces. If one of the pieces from your set breaks, you can sometimes find a replacement that is sold individually.
Best Dinnerware Materials
Bone China Dinnerware
If you’re looking for dinnerware that is both strong and elegant, then look no further than bone china. Known for its thin, delicate-looking structure, bone china is actually one of the most durable types of dinnerware there is. Its semi-translucent white appearance makes it an attractive style that complements any dining room. Bone china is usually safe for dishwashers, but washing by hand may be preferred.
More affordable than bone china, porcelain dinnerware is still very durable but has a slightly heavier construction. Porcelain dinnerware is break-resistant and can be conveniently washed in dishwashers and heated in microwaves. Porcelain, like bone china, works well as formal dinnerware because of its refined style.
Stoneware makes for casual, chip-resistant dinnerware that comes in a variety of stylish options. Stoneware is slightly heavier and thicker than bone china and porcelain, but does not have the same level of strength, so the pieces will need extra care during washing or while reheating food. Wash stoneware by hand rather than risk materials eroding in the dishwasher. To avoid extremely hot dishes, transfer your stoneware’s contents to tupperware or a paper plate when microwaving.
Earthenware is one of the most affordable types of ceramic dinnerware. Because the construction is more porous than other types of dinnerware, it is sealed and strengthened with a waterproof glaze before use. Earthenware is generally considered to be more casual, and less sturdy, than stoneware or porcelain dinnerware.
While melamine dinnerware mimics the look of ceramic dinnerware, it is made of an extremely durable resin. Melamine will stand up to plenty of use and is impervious to shattering or chipping, making it a versatile option for any occasion. Melamine dinnerware sets are available in a wide variety of colors and patterns, so you can easily find the perfect style for you.
Caring for Dinnerware
You should always check the manufacturer’s instructions for your type of dinnerware before using it. Some styles of formal dinnerware should be hand-washed and hand-dried instead of being cleaned in a dishwasher, and some dinnerware sets have metal incorporated in their design that prevents them from being microwaveable.
Between meals, some dinnerware sets can be quickly stacked in your cupboard, while other types should be stored more carefully. To safely store fine china and other formal types of dinnerware when not in use, place a piece of felt between each piece to prevent scratches and keep them in a special china cabinet.