Company's coming! Having appropriate tableware: plates, bowls, glasses, flatware, and whatever else adds to the general well-being of the party. Although we could all survive with paper plates and cups, having beautiful dinnerware makes life all the more enjoyable. Here are some places to start looking.
Wedgwood is an English company founded in 1759. They have produced fine dinnerware for royalty, presidents, and the common household. Also known for its durability, Wedgwood's exquisite fine dining collection graces the tables of many of our country's top restaurants. Look for Wedgwood in high-end department stores.
Neiman Marcus carries several high-end brands such as Versace and Spode, as well as many international designs such as Italian Umbria. For a colorful and unique look, I like the hand-painted artisan collection of Tracey Porter Marsh.
Table Ideas carries the complete collection of Gien Faience. Gien is famous for its beautiful patterns, vibrant colors, and scalloped forms and shapes. Faience is earthenware with a hard, permanent glaze - a kind of ceramic. Because it is fired at lower temperatures than porcelain, its colors are rich and warm. They have a wonderful collection of Christmas plates.
Rudi's Pottery has several collections of holiday tableware. My favorites are not holiday specific, however. I like Denby dinnerware for its simple yet powerful designs. Denby also stands up well to everyday use. Rudi's also sells Royal Doulton Bunnykins, a delightful dinnerware set especially for children.
If you enjoy a more country setting, have a look at Bennington Potters of Vermont. Started in 1948, Bennington Potters produces some very beautiful stoneware. You can find wonderful organic designs that will warm your dining table. Still a potter's house, you can also find bolder, more artistic designs.
An artist from Ireland who has now made his home in Vermont, Simon Pearce has been in business for over 20 years. His glass and pottery have become world famous. His work is simple in design, yet quite beautiful in that simplicity. It must be felt to be truly appreciated. Simon Pearce now has several retail outlets around the U.S. Check the website for locations. If you happen to visit their home in Quechee, Vermont, be sure to dine at the Simon Pierce Restaurant. It's outstanding.
Bo Danica may seem like another chainstore full of the same brands as the next. When it comes to dinnerware, however, they stand apart. They carry wonderful handcrafted pieces by American, French, and Italian artists. Especially delightful is the work of American Stephen Pearce.
Somewhere between country simplicity and artistic genius, you'll find Tater Knob. A wonderful collection of pottery made by a family in Kentucky.
Michael Wainwright is an artist who creates ceramic dinnerware that is more art that plate. All his pieces are porcelain hand-painted with 22K gold or platinum. He also has a very unique collection of serving bowls. Although not available online, the website will guide you to one of the many retail outlets around the country.
Yet another megastore, Ross-Simmons carries all the major brands like Lenox, Waterford, Dansk, etc. A good place to compare prices.