Food for thought: How to choose the perfect dinnerware

Denby Studio Blue dinnerware from Aldiss

Denby Studio Blue dinnerware is a practical and elegant dinner set - Credit: Aldiss

Dinnerware is much more than utensils for serving food – how you dress your table can set the mood for your meals and express your sense of style.

“Dinnerware can create a full sensory experience for the eyes and hands as well as the taste buds,” says Tina Barkway, director of buying at Norfolk department store Aldiss.

“From elegant sets for entertaining to casual pieces for everyday use, knowing the difference between the types of crockery available can help you choose a brand that ticks all the right boxes.” 

We spoke to Tina about how our dining habits have changed over the last year, and her top tips for choosing a dinnerware set that’s right for you and your home.  

Q: How have our dining habits changed since lockdown?

Maxwell Williams Cashmere plain white dinnerware from Aldiss

Maxwell Williams Cashmere tableware is a simple yet stylish choice - Credit: Aldiss

A: Since the first lockdown, when many were working from home or furloughed, the way we eat our meals has changed significantly. Before restaurants and cafés recently re-opened, friends and families were gathering in homes for dinner parties and barbeques – and there’s no sign of this trend slowing down.

Many families are also enjoying a slower, more relaxed pace of life and are now taking the time to sit around the table and eat together for breakfast, lunch and dinner, rather than grabbing a quick bite to eat. 

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Q: What should I look for when buying dinnerware?  

A: As with anything you buy for your home, you’ll want your crockery to reflect your personal style and complement your interior décor. There are plenty of colours and patterns to choose from, but perhaps the most important consideration is the material.

Bone China is less favourable these days as very few people have a 'best' dinner set that only comes out on special occasions. Earthenware, stoneware, porcelain and even melamine are more popular choices, offering a more casual and stylish dining experience.

James Martin Everyday white plate and mug from Aldiss

James Martin dinnerware is ideal for everyday use - Credit: Aldiss

It’s also important to consider practicality. For example, can the pieces be used in the oven, microwave, dishwasher and freezer? Our James Martin and Denby collections are a great practical choice, ideal for everyday use.  

Don’t forget extras such as serving boards, bowls and jugs as they can really enhance your dining experience.  

Q: What dinnerware is popular?  

Denby Linen plates and serveware from Aldiss

The Denby Linen collection offers a range of stylish dinner plates and serveware - Credit: Aldiss

A: Plain white dinnerware, such as the Maxwell Williams collection, is always on trend. It’s a simple yet stylish choice that complements all types of tableware and makes meals look very visually appealing. 

Having said that, we’re also seeing an increasing number of people choosing solid colours to inject personality into their living spaces. Our stoneware collections from Denby come in an array of colours – including the popular Denby Studio Blue and Imperial Blue – and can be mixed and matched to add interest to your table.  

Bowls are also incredibly popular at the moment for more casual dining. The Mary Berry collection includes large bowls and long-serving platters which are perfect for sharing food with family and friends.  

Q: What type of glassware should I buy? 

Wine glasses from the Stolzle Revolution glassware collection

The elegant Stolzle Revolution glassware collection is suitable for both casual and formal dining - Credit: Aldiss

A: When it comes to glassware, old-fashioned cut crystal is becoming less popular and the focus is now more on the shape and style of the glass. Our Stolzle Revolution collection is a popular choice with a range of modern wine glasses and elegant glass tumblers. 

Or for something more playful, the Mikasa Cheers collection has an array of etched designs perfect for dinner parties, including balloon glasses and champagne saucers. 

Q: How should I dress my table?  

Mary Berry white dinnerware and glassware

The Mary Berry dinnerware collection has a classic style and is ideal for dinner parties - Credit: Aldiss

A: There are formal methods of laying a table but I say you should set your table any way you want. I recommend mixing and matching colours and textures to create an eye-catching display and add a colourful runner to the middle of the table either horizontally or diagonally for contrast. 

I’m no great cook but when I have friends around my table always looks inviting – it's a great distraction for the disaster that may come out of the oven! 

Go to to browse their dinnerware collections or pop into the Norwich or Fakenham stores. You can also read more about how to modernise your dinnerware at

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