The Ultimate Guide to Holiday Dinnerware Shopping

Posted by Belle and June on December 15, 2023

The Ultimate Guide to Holiday Dinnerware Shopping

Whether you are preparing for Christmas dinner or outdoor entertaining on the Fourth of July, you can elevate your table settings with the perfect dinnerware set. From fine china to rustic stoneware, it’s important to find dinnerware pieces that match your holiday style.

Discover the key elements of festive dining with our comprehensive guide to holiday dinnerware shopping. Find out why dinnerware materials matter for dishwasher and microwave safety, oven use, and chip resistance. Explore reputable brands, intricate designs, and the latest trends in dinnerware patterns. Plus, we’ll teach you the secrets to extending the lifespan of your new dinnerware.

Let this guide lead you through the world of holiday dinnerware, helping you make informed and stylish choices that add a touch of elegance to your festive occasions.

Understanding Dinnerware Materials

The first step in shopping for the best holiday dinnerware pieces and sets is to understand the pros and cons of different materials. Dinnerware comes in a vast array of strong material options, with some working better for certain styles and occasions than others. Here is our comprehensive guide for choosing the best dinnerware materials:


Porcelain dinnerware is a type of ceramic dinnerware known for its elegance, translucency, and durability. Formed from china clay and fired at high temperatures, the resulting porcelain has a smooth, non-porous surface. This material is often associated with a timeless and sophisticated aesthetic.

Key characteristics of porcelain include its thinness and transparency, lightweight pieces, and the ability to showcase intricate designs in sharp detail.

Fine China:

  • Crafted from high-quality kaolin clay (soft white clay)
  • Fired at exceptionally high temperatures
  • Extremely durable and nonporous
  • Often features intricate patterns and gold or silver accents

Bone China:

  • Combines bone ash, typically from cattle bones, with china clay
  • Fired at slightly lower temperatures when compared to fine china
  • Unique off-white color and visible translucency
  • Exceptional strength and chip resistance while maintaining a delicate appearance

Both types of porcelain dinnerware offer similar pros and cons, including:

Pros of Porcelain:

  • Elegance: as one of the most elegant and sophisticated materials, porcelain is ideal for formal holiday occasions.
  • Easy Cleaning: Both fine china and bone china can be put in the dishwasher, allowing for a simple and easy cleaning process.
  • Resistant: Despite the look of a delicate material, porcelain is well known for its ability to resist chips and scratches. Bone china is especially strong.

Cons of Porcelain:

  • Cost: Fine and bone china are often more expensive than other types of dinnerware due to the materials and level of craftsmanship.
  • Heat Concerns: Certain dinnerware pieces may not be suitable for high heat, or have lower heat conductivity. Additionally, sudden temperature changes should be avoided to prevent cracking.
  • Special Care: Porcelain may require more delicate handling and care. This is especially true for pieces with gold, silver, or platinum borders, as lemon or citrus-scented detergent can damage metal accents.



A popular choice for any holiday, stoneware dinnerware is known for its durability, rustic charm, and practicality. Composed of ball clay quartz, and feldspar, stoneware is then made by being fired at high temperatures. This composition creates a rustic and durable surface that is often glazed to enhance both aesthetics and functionality.

Pros and cons of stoneware include:

Pros of Stoneware:

  • Highly Durable: Stoneware is exceptionally resistant to chipping and breakage, giving it a long lifespan and making it suitable for everyday use.
  • Versatility: Available in traditional and contemporary styles, this material is adaptable to different table settings. A stoneware set won’t feel out of place at Thanksgiving dinner or Memorial Day barbeque.
  • Functionality: Stoneware is suitable for various temperatures, and retains heat well, allowing it to be used in both microwaves and conventional ovens.

Cons of Stoneware:

  • Weight and Heat: Stoneware is typically heavier and more conductive than porcelain and other materials, which can make it more difficult to transfer food from oven to table.
  • Potential Scratching: Some stoneware may be susceptible to scratches over time, particularly if metal utensils are used.
  • Longer Cleaning Times: Stoneware is more absorbent, which can potentially lengthen the cleaning process.


Affordable and rustic, earthenware dinnerware is a classic and versatile holiday choice. While also crafted from clay, earthenware is fired lower temperature than stoneware or porcelain, resulting in a porous material. The composition typically includes various types of clay, such as red or white clay, mixed with other minerals for added strength. Then, dinnerware pieces are often glazed to enhance their appearance and functionality.

Pros and cons of earthenware include:

Pros of Earthenware:

  • Affordability: This material is generally less expensive than stoneware or porcelain, making it an accessible option for most households.
  • Versatility: Earthenware can be easily molded and shaped, allowing artisans to create a wide range of designs and patterns. This allows you to find something that suits any holiday occasion.
  • Excellent Slow Cooking: Able to retain heat and cook uniformly, earthenware is a great option for slow cooking. Its porous nature allows both moisture and heat to circulate easily through the food.

Cons of Earthenware:

  • Durability: While earthenware is suitable for everyday use, its porosity can lead to durability issues. It may require careful handling to avoid cracking or chipping.
  • Limited Heat Resistance: Though excellent for low temperatures and slow cooking, earthenware can experience thermal shock when heated at high temperatures or transferred from one extreme to another.
  • Not Dishwasher Safe: Many earthenware pieces may not be dishwasher-safe, requiring handwashing to preserve their appearance and longevity.


Looking to add a modern touch to your holiday celebration? Consider glass dinnerware. Crafted from molten glass that is molded, cut, and tempered, this transparent option adds a contemporary touch to table settings. The composition includes silica, soda ash, and limestone, with the addition of various oxides for color. Glass dinnerware can come in various forms, including plates, bowls, and even drinkware.

Pros and cons of glass include:

Pros of Glass:

  • Elegance and Transparency: The transparency of glass dinnerware sets allows you to show off your holiday meals. Glass can also be shaped into a variety of elegant patterns and shapes.
  • Easy Cleaning: Non-porous and resistant to staining, glass is easy to clean. Plus, most glass dinnerware pieces are dishwasher-safe, adding convenience to everyday use.
  • Temperature Resistance: Able to withstand high temperatures, glass is suitable for serving hot or cold dishes. The material is suitable for oven-safe bakeware and chilled desserts.

Cons of Glass:

  • Fragility: Glass is often more fragile compared to stoneware or porcelain, making it susceptible to breakage or chipping.
  • Limited Insulation: This material doesn’t retain heat as well as other options, affecting the temperature of hot dishes during serving.
  • Scratching: Glass dinnerware can be prone to scratching, especially when using metal utensils.


Essential Dinnerware Features and Considerations

While the material says a lot about which dinnerware set will work for you, there are a few other considerations you should keep in mind while shopping. After all, not every stoneware, porcelain, earthenware, or glass dinnerware piece has the same manufacturing process.

High-quality features are especially important for the holidays, as you’ll likely be serving more guests than usual, or hosting a more formal occasion than you’re used to. Here are some factors to consider:

1. Importance of Chip and Scratch Resistant Dinnerware

Holidays can be chaotic, making chip and scratch-resistant dinnerware crucial for withstanding outdoor use, children, pets, and hungry uncles. The more resistant the dinnerware, the easier it will be to maintain a polished table setting.

Certain materials are more resistant and durable than others, but the manufacturing process also matters. For example, the durability of porcelain or stoneware is largely the result of the artistry and clay quality. The same can be said about any other material. It’s important to rely on trusted brands when pursuing durable holiday dinnerware.

2. Cleaning and Other Care Requirements

When you have several guests over for the holidays, you can expect a mammoth pile of dishes following that big meal. For large family gatherings, dishwasher-safe dinnerware offers convenience in cleaning, saving time and effort in the kitchen. Consider materials like porcelain and glass without garishings for stain resistance and easy cleaning.

On the other hand, if you’re only hosting a small number of people, cleaning and other care requirements may not be as important as the aesthetic. Always research the care requirements of a dinnerware set before making a purchase.

3. Type of Cooking

When looking for holiday dinnerware, it’s vital to know which pieces will cook your desired dishes the best. After all, the food you cook on Thanksgiving will be different from your Fourth of July barbeque.

For example, glass might be easy to clean, but can also struggle to retain heat consistently. If you’re slow-cooking a casserole or dessert, opt for porcelain or earthenware dinnerware. Before you start dinnerware shopping, take the time to research which material cooks your chosen dishes the best.

4. Oven and Microwave Safety

It’s not uncommon for holiday meals to need oven time or microwaving, tasks which can be accomplished much more easily with microwave and oven-safe dinnerware. While materials like porcelain, stoneware, earthenware, and glass are often deemed microwave-safe, it’s essential to check the manufacturer's guidelines before use.

For example, you’ll want to avoid putting dinnerware with metallic elements or intricate patterns in the microwave. Similarly, you should always be careful transferring materials prone to heat shock from one temperature extreme to the other (i.e. from the freezer to the oven). When in doubt, research the microwave and temperature restrictions of each dinnerware set.

How Much Should You Spend on Holiday Dinnerware

Investing in the right holiday dinnerware adds a touch of elegance to your festive table, but how much you spend depends on various factors. These factors include:

Casual Vs. Formal Occasions

There are a vast array of formal and casual dinnerware sets. For grand holiday dinners and special events, consider investing in high-quality dinnerware materials such as porcelain, fine china, or bone china. While formal dinnerware sets will cost you more, they also provide an exquisite dining experience.

Conversely, you can afford to spend less when hosting more laid-back or frequent gatherings during the holiday season, opt for budget-friendly yet durable options like stoneware or casual dinnerware. These sets balance affordability with functionality, perfect for everyday use without compromising aesthetics.

Brand Quality

Certain brands work with high-quality ceramic material, while others don’t. While reliable brands and trusted artisans may cost more, the benefits of better dinnerware often outweigh the costs. For example, dinnerware collections from these brands are more likely to be chip and scratch-resistant, increasing the lifespan of your purchase. Compared to cheap plates, you may actually spend less in the long run.

Number of Guests

The number of guests you need to serve will also impact how much you spend. Serving the whole extended family this holiday season? You might need dinnerware sets, rather than a few pieces. Luckily, dinnerware might come with discounts when purchased together for a complete place setting.

Holiday Dinnerware Shopping By Holiday

When shopping for holiday dinnerware, you should consider the unique needs and themes associated with different holidays throughout the year. Tailoring your dinnerware collection to specific occasions adds a personalized touch to your festive gatherings.

Winter Holidays

Commonly celebrated winter holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years offer wonderful opportunities to host guests. Everyone will delight in warm casseroles and hot chocolate by the fire while the hills become covered with snow.

For these holidays, we recommend easy-to-clean dinnerware that can serve many people. Depending on your guests, you can also opt for more casual or formal dinnerware sets.

Essential Pieces:

  • Dinner Plates: Elevate your winter holiday table with an elegant dinner plate or two that provide a stylish backdrop for festive meals.
  • Oven-to-Table: Bring your guests cozy hot meals with oven-to-counter bakers and casserole dishes.
  • Salad Plates: Complement your main courses with salad plates, adding a touch of sophistication to your holiday table setting.
  • Pie Dishes: Bring out everyone’s favorite pecan, apple, or pumpkin pie with charming pie dishes. And don’t forget a pastry server!
  • Mugs or Cups: Warm beverages are a winter holiday staple; choose mugs or cups that enhance the overall holiday atmosphere.
  • Serving Bowls: Serve hearty soups, stews, or side dishes in festive serving bowls that enhance the visual appeal of your holiday spread.

Winter Holidays

Summer Holidays

Summer holidays are a fantastic opportunity to spend time outdoors with your friends and family, regardless of household size. With that in mind, your Fourth of July barbeque can benefit from casual and durable dinnerware.

Consider easy-to-clean pieces that can easily transport food from an indoor to an outdoor setting.

Essential Pieces:

  • Casual Dinner Plates: For laid-back summer gatherings, opt for casual dinner plates that exude a relaxed and inviting vibe.
  • Pitchers: If it’s hot outside your guests are sure to be thirsty. Consider leaving out a classy pitcher filled with water or lemonade.
  • Tumbler Drinkware: Keep your guests refreshed with tumblers or outdoor drinkware designed for summer beverages.
  • Colorful Salad Plates: Infuse vibrant colors into your summer celebration with eye-catching salad plates. They’ll pop like fireworks on the Fourth!
  • Large Serving Platters: Summer often calls for BBQs and large meals; invest in spacious serving platters for a seamless dining experience.

Other Holidays

If you’re the type to have guests over for holidays like Easter, Halloween, or traditional holidays from other cultures, consider finding themed dinnerware that matches the holiday’s aesthetic.

Essential Pieces:

  • Themed Dinnerware: Embrace the spirit of any holiday with themed dinnerware that reflects the occasion's cultural or seasonal significance.
  • Specialized Serving Pieces: Some holidays may have distinct dishes or culinary traditions, so consider pieces that may fulfill unique requirements.
  • Decorative Centerpieces: From skeletons to spring rabbits, enhance your holiday table with decorative centerpieces that align with the holiday’s themes.

Shop Our Holiday Collections at Belle and June

Discover our wide selection of holiday dinnerware sets and pieces at Belle and June, perfect for hosting your friends and family for any holiday occasion. Visit our website at to shop our catalog today. From dinner plates made from durable materials to exquisite serving platters, we offer the best holiday dinnerware with easy care instructions.