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For some people, it isn’t the holidays without trotting out that kitschy old set of turkey, Santa, or Christmas-tree-themed dinnerware that are as much a family tradition as the menu. If you have the inclination and room in your cupboard for a set of holiday dinnerware, start your own holiday tradition with a set of festive plates for your favorite occasion. Or choose a more generalized set in wintry scenes or holiday colors that can be used throughout the season and for years to come.
Below, our pick of the best holiday dinnerware sets.
Best for Thanksgiving: Spode Woodland Turkey Dinnerware Collection
The turkey is the star of the Spode Woodland Turkey Dinnerware collection, which includes pretty much everything you'd ever want to set your table: plates, gravy boats, soup tureens, mugs, and more. Done in autumnal brown and white with hints of red, green, and yellow, this elegant yet casual porcelain dining set will instantly turn a plain table into one set for a Thanksgiving feast! The dishes are dishwasher safe, which helps make cleanup a breeze.
Best for Christmas: Pottery Barn Nostalgic Santa 16-Piece Dinnerware Set
With beautiful illustrations inspired by vintage-style Santa renditions on each piece, the Pottery Barn Nostalgic Santa 16-PIece Dinnerware Set evokes Christmases of ages past and all the warm fuzzy memories that go with it. In classic red, green, and navy hues, the dinnerware will pair nicely with solid-color or plaid linens. The dishes are made of stoneware with a glazed decal finish and are microwave and dishwasher safe. Each set includes four dinner plates, four salad plates, four bowls, and four mugs.
Best Nostalgic: Gibson Home Christmas Toile Serving Set
Done in muted colors, the Gibson Home Christmas Toile 16-Piece Dinnerware Set evokes nostalgic winter scenes with illustrations of a sled, country houses in the snow, and icy rivers. The dishes are made from porcelain and are dishwasher and microwave safe, and the set includes four dinner plates, four salad plates, four bowls, and four mugs. Because the color scheme is relatively neutral and the winter scenes aren’t Christmas-specific, the dishware can be dressed up for holiday dinners with red and green linens or made to work all winter long with plain white ones.
Best Winter: Williams Sonoma Woodland Berry Dinnerware Collection
If you're looking for holiday dinnerware that can be used throughout the winter season, Williams Sonoma's Woodland Berry Dinnerware Collection is a great option. This durable porcelain dinnerware set is adorned with pinecones, pine branches, winterberries, and holly for a stunning backdrop that's sure to delight guests. You can layer plates from the same collection or add in pieces from another Williams Sonoma collection (we also love their Tartan plaid dinnerware) for a more unique table setting. Each piece in this collection is sold individually or in sets of four.
Best Everyday: AmazonBasics 16-Piece Cafe Stripe Dinnerware Set in Red
For a set of dishes that can be used during the holiday season and after, we recommend the AmazonBasics 16-Piece Cafe Stripe Dinnerware Set. With the simple red and white banded design, the dinnerware can mix with more formal pieces and will work with all of your favorite holiday linens. Made of AB-grade porcelain that's lightweight and durable, the dishes are microwave, oven, and dishwasher-safe. Each set includes four dinner plates, four dessert plates, four bowls, and four mugs.
Best for Kids: Pottery Barn Kids Snoopy Holiday Tabletop Gift Set
Get your kids ready for Christmas with the Snoopy® Holiday Tabletop Gift Set. This 3-piece set features a plate, bowl, and tumbler that are all decorated with a whimsical drawing of Snoopy. The plate and bowl are made of melamine, which won't break if dropped, and the tumbler is made of Tritan, a shatter- and stain-resistant plastic. Both materials are BPA, phthalate, and lead-free so you won't have to worry about your little one ingesting harmful chemicals. The set is dishwasher safe but not recommended for the microwave. You can choose from four different Snoopy drawings—all of which are bright and festive.
Best Elegant: Spode Christmas Tree 12-Piece Dinnerware Set
For the utmost in wintry sophistication and festive elegance, the Christmas Tree Dinnerware Collection from Spode will undoubtedly be the perfect addition to your dinner table this holiday season. Originally designed in 1938, this lovely dinnerware pattern features a lush evergreen tree wrapped with glittering ornaments and golden garland, complete with piles of cheerfully wrapped presents. All dishes are made of sturdy stoneware and are microwave-safe, and can be easily cleaned in the dishwasher—leaving you with more time to enjoy your family, open presents, and drink cocoa under the tree.
Best Design: Molly Hatch Gingerbread Holiday Icon Plate
The whimsical design of this holiday plate is sure to earn a place at the table season after season. Part of Molly Hatch's Holiday Icon collection, this red and white dinner plate features a sweet gingerbread man with the word "gingerbread" emblazoned below the design. Not a fan of gingerbread? Other designs include a snowflake, candy cane, and Christmas tree. Purchase several plates with the same design or mix and match for a more eclectic table setting. The entire Holiday Icon collection is crafted from high-quality stoneware, so it's dishwasher and microwave safe.
What to Look for When Buying Dinnerware Sets
Porcelain is the gold standard in dinnerware, long favored for its delicacy and durability against chipping. But dinnerware comes in a variety of materials, from bone china to stoneware and earthenware. Each has its own qualities, drawbacks, and price points, so keep that in mind when selecting which is right for your holiday table.
Dishwasher and Microwave Safe
A vintage family heirloom set of holiday china might require hand-washing to keep it looking its best. But if you generally like to use your dishwasher to clean up after a holiday meal, or warm up leftovers in the microwave, check to make sure that your holiday dishware is safe for the dishwasher and/or microwave. Just because it’s a special occasion purchase doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be practical and convenient.
Boxed Set or Replaceable
Things break, especially china. Keep in mind that a boxed set might be a one-time deal, meaning that if you break some plates, you won’t be able to easily replace them. If you have more than one set, you can mix and match the patterns, but otherwise, you might want to look for a dinnerware set from an open stock pattern that allows you to purchase additional pieces to replace broken ones, or to add additional servings as your family grows.
How do you place dinnerware?
For a plated holiday meal that isn’t a buffet-style occasion, dinnerware is usually stacked in the order in which courses will be served. Let’s say you want to reverse engineer a dinner setting for a meal that starts with soup, progresses to salad, continues with an entree, and finishes with dessert. Start with the dinner plate, top it with the salad plate, and add the soup bowl on top. No soup? Leave it off. Dessert plates are normally brought out separately after the dinner plates are cleared. Some more formal or decorative place settings include chargers as a foundational layer, but this is optional.
How many dinnerware sets should you have?
Gone are the days when etiquette requires households to have different sets of dinnerware for different occasions and seasons. While wedding registers may still include both an everyday pattern and one for special occasions, in the 21st century, a more casual approach to living and a focus on reducing consumption and waste means that the go-to number of dinnerware sets is one, with fewer or more place settings depending on how large your family is and how much you entertain. Having said that, it’s a personal choice, so you do you.
Does porcelain dinnerware scratch?
Porcelain has a tendency to develop fine gray marks on the surface over time that can easily be mistaken for scratches. Porcelain is glazed to prevent scratching, so those gray lines are actually metal deposits from cutlery use that sit on the surface, rather than scratches that are etched into the porcelain. To remove the gray lines, make a paste with baking soda and water, and scrub your plate in a circular motion. It’s best to do this as soon as you see them start to develop, since they are easier to remove when faint rather than built up and darkened over time.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was researched and written by Ayn-Monique Klahre, a product reviewer for The Spruce, as well as the former magazine editor at Good Housekeeping and Woman's Day magazines. She has written about décor for The New York Times, Real Simple, and more.