Wednesday, February 18, 2009


So over the past year or so I have had people ask me why we generally use china instead of everyday dishes. We come across as kind of young to prefer it (we've used it mainly since we were married at 23) and a lot of people seem to think it is too fragile or nice to use everyday. Well, I have to disagree. Garret and I discussed a lot before getting married and one thing I was most excited about was getting to play at being grown up and using real china!

First, let me explain that yes, china can be expensive. We expected that for our wedding we would probably get a few pieces and then we would acquire the rest over the years. However, I registered at Macy's and when looking over my registry one afternoon we began an adventure of sorts. I had previously registered for the sets that had enough for 8 place settings, plus a sugar and creamer, a vegetable bowl, and a round serving platter. I didn't expect to get them, I figured Garret and I would buy one using the discount after our wedding.
However, that day when we printed out my registry it had the whole set (worth something like $500 retail, more if you bought individually) listed as $19, so I turned to the registry lady to point out that there must be a glitch in the computer. She too thought it was odd, since when I had registered they had been on sale for $200 a piece. She looked it up in the computer and sure enough it was listed there for $19. My mother got very excited and asked her to check into it. So off we headed to the computer system of the registers and still it said the same. My mother got even more excited, deciding she would buy 2 sets as my parents wedding gift to me. (understand....we couldn't have even bought one creamer and sugar for 20 dollars) But when the representative tried to look up where one was located in the system she couldn't find one. She called around, and still no set. I was getting mildly heartbroken as I loved the pattern.

My mother and she talked it over and the lady said she would keep looking. My mother also said that since it was listed on both my registry and the computer at that price, my mother felt they should sell them to us at that price even if they couldn't find one in time. The lady agreed. She got ahold of the people who run the website and was eventually able to get us 2 sets (enough place settings for 16 people) for less than $50!!! So yes, I got what even on sale is $400 dollars worth of china for less than $50. My mother and I have had some pretty good luck over the years with our shopping, but this took the cake.

Still, when I moved here to England we bought some plain white Corelle thinking we would want it to use when we did things like pizza or whatnot as a less formal way of eating. But slowly over time we realized that we just enjoyed eating off of the china. It makes for perfect portion sizes (we use the soup bowls for cereal, rather than the huge American cereal bowls that hold at least 2-3 times the serving amount), and it makes it feel like every meal is important. We also use the soup bowls when serving pasta since they seem to keep us from eating huge amounts, and the amounts they hold end up being just enough to make us feel very satisfied but not uncomfortable. We eat sandwiches on the salad plates. And one cute use we have found for the tea cups (other than the abnormal amounts of tea we drink) is to serve ice cream in them. They hold one nice size scoop. For Christmas 2007 my mother and grandmama bought us the gravy boat and plate and the salt and pepper shakers. We still need quite a bit of the china, but we are acquiring it over time, as originally planned. Up next on our list is the coffee pot, the oval serving platter and the fruit bowls (which we also plan to use for ice cream).

As for people who worry about it's durability, here's my experience. I have broken a salad plate and Garret has broken a dinner plate. Our kitchen floors are ceramic tile, so the china never stood a chance (this is on top of one round serving platter and vegetable bowl getting broken in the move, but those will be reimbursed by the movers). However, as long as you don't drop them they do fine. They are dishwasher safe, and while for a bit I was worried about the pattern and hand washed them all the time, I eventually gave it a go, and they have been washed in the dishwasher almost daily for a year and show no signs of wear.

Garret was not with me when I picked out the pattern, but he loves them. They are Mikasa's platinum crown pattern, and so they have just a bit of flair, while still remaining neutral and elegant. If you are wanting just a simple edging, Mikasa has that too and I would highly recommend them simply because ours has held up so well. I will admit they are slightly irregular, as china usually is. The plates do not all sit evenly spaced in our cabinet (but I am told that is normal). Yes, we still would like a plain white ware set (probably because I have an obsession with dishes). But we are taking our time finding a simple one with a little bit of style. Mikasa has a few everyday china patterns in white we are looking at, as well as patterns at Target and World Market. But as we love our china so much, we are taking our sweet time.
This summer when I move home I am also acquiring my grandmother's china, crystal and silver, as well as some entertaining pieces (being the only granddaughter and oldest grandchild does have it's perks). But for the average person, one set of china, if taken care of should last a lifetime. I know not everyone will have the money for items like china and silver, nor such luck with a grandmother, so here is my advice for acquiring such things elsewhere:
  • Look in thrift stores and antique stores. If you see a pattern you like, ask them to hold it and do some research. Check ebay for the same pattern. You may be able to get a whole bunch of one pattern very cheaply.
  • For silver, check antique places. I love the idea of using a mix of patterns for a more whimsical feel to dinner. Most of my grandmother's silver she bought back in the 40's or 50's but some of it was family pieces with monograms on them. I have a mix of demitasse spoons in sterling silver I bought at an antique shop several years ago, and I use them to eat grapefruit! They are the perfect size for scooping pieces out!
  • Ebay is a wonderful place to look for practically everything. I have even found my china set that someone took plates and made a dessert stand out of them (one where there are 3 levels of plates for hors d'oerves or tea time treats).

Basically, it's easy to find and collect china. It doesn't have to be expensive (often you can find sets of china on ebay that are older, but just as pretty). And if you like a more whimsical effect, mixing up similar patterns or colors is easy to do, and pretty easy on the wallet as well! Here's my ever present cup of tea next to me at the computer (I tend to keep a pot of water hot on the stove!)


  1. Kalee - I think your china is lovely and you should use it as much as you can. When we married we got a Villeroy $ Boch set for special occasions and a Denby set for everyday. However, once the children got older the Denby started getting very scratched, so we have retired it and moved over to plain white Corelle. The boys are now teenagers, but I think we'll wait a little while longer before getting something fancier for everyday! Patricia

  2. I totally understand....I came from a family of 4 kids, and Corelle was a savior! That's why I want a sturdy whiteware that I won't cry if something gets broke. I have had too many Corelle break on me in a way that it shattered and corelle dust went everywhere, whereas china tends to just break in chunks, so I am planning on staying away since I have dogs that are very nosy and get into the shards! I have looked at some Villeroy, they are so lovely!