The subject of how to choose dinnerware is one that no homemaker takes for granted. This is because the choice of dinnerware would affect a lot of things. It would determine how long the set would last, what occasions you can use it for and the cost among other things.
Based on the above and the fact that we know that many people would find it difficult to make the right choice, we would give you a simple guide that would help you greatly.
Factors To Consider When Choosing Dinnerware
Occasion Or Major Use Of The Set
Before you decide on a set of dinnerware, you have to decide the major occasion that you would be using it for. That in essence would be the purpose that the dinnerware would serve.
If you are just setting up house and don’t have any dinnerware at all, then you’ll be considering two dinnerware sets; one for everyday use and another for entertaining.
The one for entertaining of course would be elegant and of a higher quality than the one for everyday use. While the one for everyday use has to be hardy and durable enough to withstand wear and tear.
On the other hand, if you are buying dinnerware as a gift then you know you would have to look for something that’s really classy (or more in tune with the recipients’ personality). It wouldn’t be your business to know whether they’ll use it for entertaining or every day.
Open Stock or Complete Set
Dinnerware often comes in sets for 4 place settings or more and each set would most commonly consist of a dinner plate, a saucer, a soup bowl and a mug. So if you are buying dinnerware with a 4-place setting, which means that you get the above mentioned x 4. However, there are other types of dinnerware sets with a combo of different kinds of plates and bowls,
What if you don’t really need one or more items in a set? This is the beauty of open stock.
Open stock is an option provided by sellers to allow you choose the piece of dinnerware that you use more frequently. So if for example you use more of dinner plates, you have the option of choosing as many dinner plates as you want. Similarly, open stock allows you to replace any piece in your dinnerware set. Really interesting and liberating concept!
That said however what is the best option to go with when buying dinnerware? Here’s our take:
- If you are setting up house, the better route to go is the open stock route. That way, you’ll be able to choose the dinnerware that you’ll use most often.
- Similarly, you should also consider having at least one 8 or 12- place setting dinnerware set for entertaining.
- On the other hand, if you are buying the dinnerware as a gift, then the best option is a complete dinnerware set.
On a general note, a lot of people would opt for open stock because of the flexibility it offers. This flexibility allows you to be creative; you can mix and match your pieces to suite your taste.
Additionally, you don’t have to pay for an item that you would seldom use. Finally on this subject, if you have to replace one or two dinnerware pieces, then of course you don’t need to buy a complete set just go for the open stock piece.
Size Of The Dinnerware Sets To Buy
The size of the dinnerware you decide to buy is very important. Although this seems like an obvious factor, a lot of people still overlook it and buy oversized pieces.
Before you settle on a brand or particular product of dinnerware, ensure that the size is compatible with your cabinet, dishwasher and microwave oven. You don’t want to buy a product only to find out that it doesn’t fit any or all of the mentioned appliances.
Another factor to consider as per size is the quantity of food it would contain. If you are on a portion control diet then you would do well with dinnerware with smaller serving surface.
Style and Design Of The Set
There are myriads of designs and styles of dinnerware. If you are a young and growing family that don’t entertain often, your best bet is to go for plain white dinnerware set. That way you would be able to add on sets or plates with more intricate designs without upsetting the aesthetics of your table.
The beauty of plain white dinnerware is that it provides a canvas on which you can paint whatever picture you desire. You can plate and garnish your food as desired. What’s more, you can eve paint it as time goes on.
Furthermore, plain white dinnerware would not fade with time and washing!
Another thing to look out for in style is whether the pieces in the set would nest well for storage. This might seem like a minor issue but it is not!
There are so many styles and designs of plates that while they are beautiful and would make your table a sight to behold can be a pain in the neck to store. So whether you decide to buy a round, square, rectangular, rim or coup plate, ensure that you have adequate provision for storage.
Material That The Set Is Made Of
This is another very important factor to consider carefully as you go shopping for dinnerware.
Dinnerware sets are made with so many materials but the most popular are porcelain, bone china, stoneware, ceramic and melamine. Each of these materials has their advantages and disadvantages.
We would not be able to go into great details about them all but we would brieflt summarize:-
Porcelain Dinneware Material
This is made from refined white clay called Kaolin clay. This material is most commonly luminous and non-absorbent. The clay that porcelain is made of is usually fired to over 2300 °F after which it is covered with transparent glaze. This helps the material to retain and show off its white color.
Dinnerware made of porcelain usually looks delicate and is lighter than some other materials. It is a versatile material and the most commonly accepted because it can be used for everyday dining and also for elegant parties.
Porcelain dinnerware is also highly durable as it is resistant to chipping and breaking. Furthermore, it is microwave and dishwasher safe.
Stoneware Dinnerware Material
Stoneware and porcelain come from the same source; clay. However, there are several differences between them.
The major difference between stoneware and porcelain is that stoneware it is made with a different kind of clay and then has only one firing at the same temperature. It is porous unlike porcelain that’s not and it is also not luminous.
Stoneware is usually hard and long lasting but not as delicate or refined as porcelain. So it is not usually the first choice for fancy dinners.
Furthermore, stoneware is heavier than other materials and can have different colors and finishes. It can come with matte, satin or shiny finish and also a variety of designs.
Finally, stoneware can be used in the microwave, oven or dishwasher but as per manufacturer’s instruction. And it doesn’t deal well with sudden temperature changes.
Bone China Dinnerware Material
Dinnerware of this material is made with a combination of highly refined clay and bone ash. In USA, the bone ash content has to be up to 25% for the product bone considered authentic bone china. Experts however argue that the authenticity of bone china is premised on the quality of the surface and the glaze used which results in the translucency and overall beauty of the product.
When bone china is fired at heat over 2200°F, it stays white or a light off-white color but it would also become luminous.
This is the most delicate looking and classy material of dinnerware but it is also quite durable. It is not the go to material for everyday use. Most people reserve their bone china dinnerware for special occasions or entertaining.
The downside to bone china is that it is the most expensive type of dinnerware, it cannot be machine washed and is not microwave safe.
These three above are the most common materials of dinnerware but there are several others that are not so common but are still in the market. They include: – plastic, glass, melamine and enamel.
Melaware is dinnerware made with melamine- formaldehyde resin. This is ideal for parents with growing kids and also great for picnics, camping, tailgating and other outdoor activities. This is a highly durable material but it’s not suitable for entertaining.
Also of great disadvantage is the fact that it cannot be used in the microwave and must be washed by hand. But it compensates for this by it high durability.
Composition Of The Set
If you decide to buy your dinnerware in a complete set, then you need to consider the composition of the set.
Some sets of dinnerware come with soup bowls while others come with rice bowls or pasta bowls. Cereal bowls are usually the most versatile shape and size of bowls to have because they can be used for other types of food. Whereas soup bowls may be too shallow for many types of meals.
Look at the shape, size and depth of the plates, bowls and cups. Then think of the type of meals that would be served in the set most frequently. This would help you determine which composition is suitable for you.
Cost Of The Set Versus Its Functionality
Money may not be an issue to some people but majority of folks would sure want to get the best value for their money.
When you go shopping for dinnerware, the way to get the best out your deal is to look for a product that would meet your needs adequately.
From our brief analysis of different materials of dinnerware, you can see that it is best to spend money on a product that can serve for both daily need and entertaining.
Instead of spending $250 to buy one set of bone china and another $100 to buy another set of dinnerware why not spend $150-$180 to buy a beautiful porcelain dinnerware? Then buy a cheap set of melaware or ceramic dinnerware.
That way you can use the porcelain for some daily meals and also entertaining while you use the cheaper set every day. Spending money on bone china may not be a wise decision unless you entertain very often.
It has been confirmed that many people who get bone china or other fancy dinnerware as wedding gifts almost never use them. So why would you spend money on something that would not be functional?
The above is by no means an exhaustive piece on everything you need to know about choosing good dinnerware. However, we hope that this piece has contributed to your info bank.
Additionally, the products we have pictured in this piece are good samples of products that you can consider for purchase.