Divine Dinner Party

Thanksgiving Dinnerware:
Plates, China, and How to Choose Them

Ever hear that you eat with your eyes? It's true! Thanksgiving dinnerware is a more important part of a beautiful presentation for a beautifully-cooked Thanksgiving dinner than most people think.

Without beautiful and festive Thanksgiving china, the food will still taste good, of course. If you've chosen great Thanksgiving dinner recipes and made a wonderful turkey (we've got some tips and recipes here, if you're interested), people aren't going to complain that their plates aren't pretty. But if you serve a wonderful meal on wonderful Thanksgiving china, it will definitely up the anticipation factor. It will also intensify the feeling that your guests are sitting down to a very special, very extraordinary meal.

Do you need special dinnerware? At the bottom of this page, you'll find some examples of Thanksgiving plates and china that I really love. But remember... while special dinnerware for Thanksgiving is a nice thing, it's not a necessity. You can create that same feeling of holiday special-ness with some simple (and far less expensive) Thanksgiving table setting and decoration techniques.

Shopping for Thanksgiving Dinnerware

Pretty Thanksgiving Plates and DinnerwareThere are a few things you should think about before you being shopping for (and investing in-- this stuff can get expensive!) special Thanksgiving china. Some important considerations are:

1. Number of Place Settings. How many people do you generally have for the holiday, and do you need a set that will grow as your family grows? A Thanksgiving place setting for four, for example, will almost never be enough for a special meal like Thanksgiving.

2. Your Investment. If possible, it's always best to buy more Thanksgiving dinnerware than you really need. Why? Because pieces will break, your family will grow, and you never know who may end up at dinner unexpectedly. Kids who are too young to use the nice Thanksgiving china today will grow up. Will you be able to buy more place settings five or ten years down the road?

Even if you find a set you absolutely love, it's best not to buy it if you can't afford to buy more than enough for your family. Can't afford the whole set now? That's okay-- just think about longevity. Try to find out if Thanksgiving plates set you're interested in is something the company plans to produce for awhile, or if it has only a limited run.

3. Do You Need Convenience? A lot of beautiful Thanksgiving plates and dinnerware are delicate. Which means you can't just pop them in the dishwasher, the freezer, or the microwave when you need them. Before you start shipping for your Thanksgiving china, be sure to give some thought to what qualities you need it to have. If you can't stand the idea of hand-washing, avoid the delicate stuff.

4. The Pattern. You can find a lot of Thanksgiving dinnerware and china out there with Thanksgiving-themed patterns, like turkeys and cornucopias. But before buying, it's important to consider your future plans for your Thanksgiving dishes. Do you intend to use this set for other occasions? If so, you want to find a pattern that has year-round appeal. Or at least something that works for both Thanksgiving and for Christmas, too.

5. Storage. It happens often that you fall in love with something in the store... then bring it home and realize you just don't have the space for it. Before you start shopping, ask yourself how much storage space you have. Especially if you're investing in a fancy Thanksgiving dinnerware set, you need somewhere safe and out-of-the-way to put your dinnerware when not in use.

If you have limited space, consider going with a set that you can use any time – holiday or not.

6. Good Taste. Don't know exactly what you want? You have a lot of options for different Thanksgiving dinnerware sets and styles. Take your time and shop around. Look at magazines to find some inspiration for colors, themes, and materials. Remember that most people buy their Thanksgiving china once and use it for a long time --it's an investment!-- so it is definitely worth doing your research.

7. Can you Match It? Last but not least, you'll need to think about what other table items you'll want to match your dinnerware (like salt and pepper shakers, salad bowls, napkin rings, etc.)? It's a good idea to look for lines that offer those extensions, or to choose patterns that are easy to match with solid-colored table accessories.

Thanksgiving Service Ware

When you're first thinking about what to get for your Thanksgiving dinnerware, you'll also need to keep serving items in mind. Various sizes of serving bowls, trays and platters are going to be essential for a huge meal like Thanksgiving dinner. Alongside those, gather up some serving utensils, trivets for hot items, a pitcher for specialty beverages or just water, condiment servers, and a gravy boat. If you want a really pulled-together look, buy all of these items after choosing your Thanksgiving china.

Also, if you can find oven-to-table items (like pretty, oven-safe casserole dishes), all the better. That way you can keep those last minute items warm while you're carving the turkey.

Thanksgiving Table Setting and Table Linens

Along with your Thanksgiving dinnerware you'll want to find kitchen linens (napkins, tablecloth, runners) that will match your overall theme. It's much easier to buy these when you have a piece of your dinnerware with you so you can actually see how the colors and patterns of your dishes and table linens go together. This is also a good time to look into glassware.

My Summary: Let's put it this way... that wrong Thanksgiving dinnerware isn't going to turn a great meal into a bad one-- not by a long shot. But using nice Thanksgiving plats and china can be a nice way to, say, cover up for the fact that your turkey came out a little dry. The meal will look so gorgeous that no one may notice! (Or maybe that's wishful thinking! *grin*)

"Honey" Plates, Set of 4

"Honey" Plates, Set of 4

These handmade, hand-painted plates are beautiful, warm, and have the perfect tone for Thanksgiving dishware. Pricey, but an investment.

Hamdon 40-piece Dinnerware Set

Hamdon 40-piece Dinnerware Set

This full service for 8 people is pretty, subtle, and finished in gold. A nice choice for Thanksgiving china that you can use for any special occasion.

Mikasa Antique White 45-Piece Set

Mikasa Antique White 45-Piece Set

I love this set and wish I could afford it! If you like the idea of an old-fashioned Thanksgiving, this Thanksgiving dinnerware set is antique-looking and really classic.

Service for 8.

La Belle Spice 16 Piece Dinnerware Set

La Belle Spice 16 Piece Dinnerware Set

Honestly, I think this gorgeous Thanksgiving dinnerware set is a great deal. You get service for 4, and the patterns and colors are perfect for Autumn. I think these are understated, elegant, and just a bit funky.

White Willow Full Dinnerware Set

White Willow Full Dinnerware Set

Perfect if you're on a budget! This 46-piece set has service for 6 people, plus napkin rings, salt & pepper shakers, and more. A full matching set for a good price.

Never overlook basic, classic white for holiday dinnerware. It's all about elegance.

Jaipur 16 Piece Dinnerware Set

Jaipur 16 Piece Dinnerware Set

This service for four Thanksgiving China is, with its muted reds and festive pattern, SO perfect for an autumn holiday. But it will also transition perfectly to Christmas, as well.

I think these are festive, elegant, understated, and cheerful. SO pretty!

6 Martinique Dinner Plates by Ten Strawberry Street

6 Martinique Dinner Plates by Ten Strawberry Street

If you're after a more modern look in your Thanksgiving plates, these are a lot of fun. Elegant by funky! Also available are all the other matching pieces-- you can pick and choose.

I think these would look great with plain black plates.

6 Small Square Plates from Ten Strawberry Street

6 Small Square Plates from Ten Strawberry Street

Another elegant and fun style if you're looking for something a bit different --and that you can use all year. I like these combined with other styles and colors, but you can also go for all black for a very cook Thanksgiving tablesetting.

Waechtersbach  Salad Plates - Set Of 4

Waechtersbach Salad Plates - Set Of 4

Another funky, fun style for a younger, more casual Thanksgiving dinner. These look great combined with plain white plates and brightly colored glassware (like a cobalt blue).

Winters Garland - Four Dinner Plates

Winters Garland - Four Dinner Plates

These beautiful (and pricey!!) plates are based off of engravings done by the gardener of London's Kensington Palace.

With a border of beautiful winter fruit and flowers, this is perfect if you're looking for dinnerware for Thanksgiving AND Christmas. And if you have a lot of money to spend!

16-Piece Coco Chic Service for 4

16-Piece Coco Chic Service for 4

I love these simple cocoa-colored Thanksgiving plates, which would be perfect for the holiday or for day-to-day use (though they're a bit on the pricey side). Dress them up with tablecloths, place mats, and napkins in warm shades of orange and red for a cheerful and elegant Thanksgiving table setting.

Pfaltzgraff Sedona Dinnerware (Serves 4)

Pfaltzgraff Sedona Dinnerware (Serves 4)

This is a 16-piece Thanksgiving dinnerware set that is warm, cheerful, and a lot of fun. I like the colors for Thanksgiving china, and it's also a style you can use all year. Almost southwest, but a little funkier and more fun.

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You Might Also Like...

Seen enough Thanksgiving dinnerware? You might also like some these other resources for decorating for Thanksigiving dinner.

Thanksgiving Table Decorating


Setting Up a Buffet Table

Leaf and Pumpkin Decorative Accent

Cooking a Whole Turkey
or Some Drumsticks?

Free Holiday Turkey Recipe Guide to How to Cook a Turkey

If it's a fat bird with a beard (no, I don't mean your Aunt Marjorie), we can help you cook it. Click on the icon above or click here to get started with recipes and tips on how to cook a turkey for Christmas, Thanksgiving, or any time of year.


Share and share alike! If you have a great dinner party idea or tip, send it in!

After all, what better way to pass on your knowledge than to share it with other hosts and hostesses?

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