Selecting a china pattern is not easy. A lot of time and thought should be taken when making this decision. You want to be happy with the choices you make because your china will be with you for a long time. Be sure to make an appointment to meet with a registry consultant -- don't just show up on your lunch break or 30 minutes before the store closes. An appointment will ensure that you will get all the time and attention you need. These consultants are experts, so they can answer any questions you have. Bloomingdale's has the best registry consultants in the business.
Why register for china?
Before you say no to china, consider the benefits of owning it. In addition to being beautiful, extremely durable and very user-friendly, your china says so much about you. Remember, your table is your label, and you want yours to say great things about you. Nothing does that better than beautiful china. Fine bone china is also the greenest stuff there is when it comes to dinnerware, as you only have to buy it once and it will last for generations. While your grandmother may have locked hers up in her china prison (sorry, "hutch"), you'll want to use yours every day.
Even if you already have a set of dinnerware and think you don't need china, your gift registry is the perfect opportunity to upgrade or add to what you already have. By the way, a hodgepodge of mismatched, chipped dishes does not constitute a dinnerware pattern. Step up to the plate!
Here's what to register for:
Consider registering for two sets of dinnerware: one for every day and a dressier one for Friday nights and other special occasions. You don't have only one outfit, so neither should your table! Multiple patterns will give you many more options to style your table.
For your casual/everyday set, I recommend porcelain or china. Porcelain or non-decorated fine bone china is best for frequent use, as they are the most durable. Earthenware patterns are also good for everyday use, but are not as strong as the other options. I recommend a basic white pattern, but a colorful one can be fun too. Just remember, it will be with you for a long time and colors and patterns can go out of style. White will last forever.
When registering for an everyday set of dishes, you don't need a five-piece place setting. What's best for casual daily use is a four-piece set (consisting of a dinner plate, a salad plate, a soup/cereal bowl and a mug). Most manufacturers offer a four-piece set in their casual patterns. Casual china is also available in multiple set configurations, such as service for four. Make sure your casual china is oven-, microwave- and dishwasher-safe. Some can even go in the freezer. Nantucket Basket by Wedgwood is one of my favorites. It's an everyday classic! Wedgwood is known for having the whitest whites in the industry and they have been around for more than 250 years.
For your everyday china, this is what I recommend:
- 8 - 12 four-piece place settings
- 8 - 12 rim soup/pasta bowls
- 2 large serving bowls
- 2 large platters
- sugar bowl and creamer
- salt and pepper shakers or mills
- bakeware, if it is available in your pattern.
- other fun pieces like pitchers, covered butter dishes, candlesticks and more may be available in your pattern. Have fun!
For your dressy or more formal pattern, fine bone china is your best bet. With proper care, it will last for many generations. Consider a simple white pattern with a platinum band. This classic, clean look will always be in fashion. Remember, the busier the pattern, the more it will compete with the food on the plate. I love Vera Wang's Grosgrain pattern.
When it comes to your fine bone china, quality is your No. 1 concern. To check the quality of any fine china plate, hold it up to the light and put your hand on the back of the plate. If it's good-quality china, you should be able to clearly see the shadow of your hand. This is called translucency.
Here's what you should register for in a fine-china pattern:
- 12 five-piece place settings (12 may sound like a lot, but trust me, you will really need them!) (A five-piece place setting consists of a dinner plate, salad plate, side plate and cup and saucer.)
- 12 rim soup plates (perfect for salad, pasta, soup and dessert)
- 2 large and 2 small platters
- 2 open vegetable bowls
- 1 covered vegetable bowl
- 1 beverage pot
- 1 sugar bowl and creamer
- 1 gravy boat with stand
- Don't forget to register for 6 - 8 EXTRA dinner plates. You can never have enough.
You may want to register for a china buffet, tea or breakfast service. If so, here's what to consider:
- 16 - 24 dinner plates (oversized is best, as the entire meal must fit on one plate!)
- 2 large serving bowls
- 2 large platters
- 2 small platters
- 2 rectangular bakers
- 2 gravy boats and stands
Tea or Breakfast Service
- 12 salad plates
- 1 teapot (or 2 if you tend to serve more guests)
- 1 sugar bowl and creamer
- 1 large platter
- 1 small platter
- 8 cups and saucers
- 8 mugs
- Fine bone china is the best quality and the strongest stuff there is when it comes to dinnerware. So register for it!
- Choose a classic, timeless pattern. Trendy never lasts.
- Browse online first, but then go into the store to see and feel the product.
- Set a mock table at the store to make sure that your china works well with your crystal and flatware choices.
- Want to go green? Register for fine bone china. You only have to buy it once and it will be in your family for generations.
- Register your pattern with the manufacturer. They will advise you of new items and any possible discontinuations. Some also offer replacement pieces for accidental breakage at reduced prices.
- Stores are unable to carry every item in every pattern, so go to the manufacturer's Web site to see everything that is offered in your pattern.
- Add a holiday pattern to your registry if you plan to host holiday functions.
- Don't let anyone talk you into registering for something that you most likely will never use.
Some final thoughts on china:
Once you have your base pattern, register for pieces to layer on, like several different sets of accent salad plates in different colors and patterns. This way you can create many different tablescapes. Match linens, chargers and place mats to your accent pieces to complete the look.
Mixing and matching is a good thing. In fact, many couples inherit a pattern and incorporate it with their registry pattern. It's also absolutely OK to mix gold with platinum.
Do you love a particular designer? Register for their china and crystal designs and have dinner with them every night! I love the Monique Lhuillier for Royal Doulton collections.
Fine china is not just for special occasions. It belongs as much at a picnic as it does on your dining-room table. Use it every day. Everything will taste better!
So are you convinced? Let's dish!