buying guide dinnerware

a course in dinnerware.

Your dinnerware will be the talk of the table when you
consider these tips.

  • set the mood.

    Whether you're setting your table with porcelain, glass or acrylic, dinnerware is a great way to personalize any occasion. Add extra flavor with fun colors, patterns or mix-and-match settings.

  • a versatile idea.

    Do your dinner parties span changing seasons and celebrations? Go for simple all-white or cream dinnerware. It can easily be dressed up or down with linens, flowers or a statement serving piece to suit any occasion.

  • two paths for purchasing.

    open stock.

    Open stock allows you to buy pieces separately so you pay only for the pieces you want. You can pick up other pieces as you need them, and have the option to mix and match patterns, colors and styles to create an interesting tablescape.

    shop open-stock dinnerware
  • boxed sets.

    Boxed sets include all the basic pieces you'll need for a certain number of place settings. You can quickly achieve a complete and classy look.

    shop dinnerware boxed sets
  • be set for dinner success.

    Which dinnerware pieces do you need? How many? This downloadable checklist will help.

    dining checklist

materials matter.

If you'd like the flexibility to use your dinnerware in the microwave or dishwasher, be sure to check the information on the packaging before you buy. In general, dinnerware with metal in its pattern or banding should never be placed in a microwave.

learn more about microwave- and
dishwasher-safe dinnerware
  • fine china.

    Fine china looks fragile, yet it's the most chip-resistant and durable. Bone china, one type of fine china, is exceptionally strong, white and translucent.

    shop fine china
  • porcelain.

    Porcelain has a hard, non-porous, shell-like surface that's less translucent than fine china. It's highly durable and chip-resistant, can handle being moved from hot to cold (or vice-versa) without breaking, and has insulating properties that help foods retain their temperatures.

    shop porcelain
  • ceramic.

  • earthenware.

    Earthenware tends to be heavy and can have a rich, earthy look. It's porous unless glazed to make it water tight, and it's less durable than stoneware. Because it's surprisingly fragile, it's generally not dishwasher-safe.

    shop earthenware
  • stoneware.

    This non-porous, scratch- and chip-resistant dinnerware is incredibly durable, yet it can have the same natural look as earthenware.

    shop stoneware
  • glass.

    Translucent, non-porous
    glass makes great everyday dinnerware thanks to its durability. It's a relatively inexpensive option that won't warp, stain or absorb odors.

    shop glass
  • vitrelle.

    Vitrelle is a laminated, tempered glass with layers that are thermally bonded to make it extra strong, and it's often thinner than other dinnerware materials.

    shop vitrelle
  • plastics.

  • acrylic.

    Acrylic is an inexpensive, glass-like plastic that's resistant to scratches. Acrylic dishes are available in a wide range of affordable colors and styles.

    shop acrylic
  • melamine.

    Melamine is a highly durable hard plastic that's shatter-, break- and scratch-resistant. These dishes offer an affordable way to bring different designs to your table.

    shop melamine
  • polypropylene.

    It is dishwasher- and microwave-safe, great for everyday use, and can add an affordable burst of color to every table setting.

    shop polypropylene

piece your table together.

place setting how-to.

Want to create a perfect place setting? This handy, at-a-glance guide shows you how and serves up more table setting tips.

learn more about how to properly set a table.

3 rules for a properly prepped table.

  • keep solids to the left of the dinner plate and liquids to the right.

    Salad is a solid—so the salad plate goes above and to the left of the dinner plate. Glassware holds liquids, and should be placed above and to the right.

  • set flatware served from the outside in.

    Each utensil is used for only one course, with the outermost utensils used first. Forks are placed to the left of the dinner plate, except for seafood and cocktail forks, which are placed to the right of the soup spoon or on the cocktail plate. Knives and spoons should rest to the right of the dinner plate.

  • only use the pieces you need.

    Don't make a table more cluttered than it needs to be. For example, if you're not serving champagne, there's no need for flutes on the table.

serveware to match.

Pick out the proper serveware to match your meal. Serving platters, bowls and utensils are great even for everyday use, and it's nice to have tiered servers, cake stands, and appetizer and dessert plates when the occasion calls. Don't overlook beverage items like a creamer, sugar bowl, pitcher and decanter, either.

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dinnerware care.

With the proper care, your dinnerware can last for years without breaking or fading.

  • dishwashing.

    If you want to wash your dinnerware in the dishwasher, read the manufacturer's instructions to make sure it's safe. Fine china may be dishwasher-safe, but it's often recommended that it be hand washed and dried. Some plastics are also dishwasher-safe but they should always be placed on the top rack to prevent melting.

  • microwave.

    If you want to use your dinnerware in the microwave, read the manufacturer's instructions to make sure it's safe. Never microwave any piece with a metal banding or metallic paint. While certain plastics are microwave-safe, use caution—some may absorb heat, warp or crack.

  • storage.

    All dinnerware should be stored carefully. Take special care with formal dinnerware—a padded storage case or a piece of felt placed between each piece can help protect from scratches. Everyday dishes can simply be stacked in a cupboard. Make dinnerware part of your home décor, too—display it in a china cabinet or cupboards with glass doors for a fun and functional decoration.

    shop dinnerware storage