ProCook Help Hub

The latest inspiration and advice from the experts at ProCook

How to Host the Perfect Dinner Party

Our tableware buying guide covers which dinnerware and flatware is right for you, as well as how to set a table for dinner.

Back to Hub

Our beautiful  Coastal Stoneware Blue Dinner Set - perfect for casual brunches, luncheons and outdoor dinner parties.

Beautifully presented tableware can enhance any dining space, leaving a lasting impact on your guests. But bringing together a stylish table setting isn't always easy. With so many designs and materials to choose from, it's easy to get carried away.

Before you start selecting your new tableware, be sure to learn about all the available styles and materials, so you can choose dinnerware and cutlery sets that suit your needs. For instance, quality everyday tableware is microwave and dishwasher safe, making it ideal for everyday use, whereas tableware for special occasions may be more delicate and require an extra level of care.

From choosing your table linen to learning how to set a table, this guide will help you understand the different materials used for dinnerware and cutlery, how you can care for your tableware, and much more.

Which Table Linen is Right for You?

Table Runners, Placemats and Coasters

Your table linen acts as a protector for your table while adding colour and texture to your dining room. While it may be easy to overlook table linens, there's a whole variety of materials for you to discover, as well as many ways to layer and match them with placemats and napkins.

Cotton and Linen

Cotton is durable and can be washed at high temperatures, whereas linen requires a gentle wash. Both come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colours. Ironing is required, as both materials are prone to wrinkles and creases.

Due to the high absorbency of cotton and linen, these tablecloth materials help keep spills at bay and provide the ideal aesthetic quality for fine dining - perfect for those who love to host lavish affairs.

Polycotton

A blend of polyester and cotton, polycotton is durable, drapes well and is resistant to staining. Polycotton is also wrinkle-free, meaning less ironing is required to ensure a smooth finish. They can also be found in various colours. A polycotton tablecloth is ideal for regular use and laundering, as it is very easy to care.

Vinyl and Acrylic

Ideal for households with young children or an outdoor table, vinyl and acrylic tablecloths are sturdy, hard-wearing and wipeable for easy cleaning. Vinyl and acrylic tablecloths come in a variety of colours; however, they do not drape as naturally as polycotton, cotton and linen tablecloths due to their extra sturdiness.

TIP: While table linens act as a first line of defence, there's only so much protection they can offer. Table protectors can be a great addition, as they sit beneath your chosen table linens and offer greater protection and heat resistance.

Layering Your Tablecloth

Think of your tablecloth as a canvas - you can add layers and accessories to enhance the look and feel of your dining table. For a glamourous occasion such as an engagement dinner party or Christmas dinner, add a gold beaded table runner that beautifully drapes across the middle of your dining table. Add golden candle holders for soft mood lighting and to create a luxurious ambience.

There's no right or wrong way to layer your tablecloth. However, try and stick to colours that complement one another or contrast harmoniously. For a more minimalistic approach, strip back your dining table and leave it bare. A simple table runner and matching placemats can turn your dining table into a showstopper.

TIP: There are many ways to layer your tablecloth, but sometimes less is more. Table accessories like tea lights and vases filled with floral arrangements can add life to a dinner table, but make sure table accessories do not restrict your guests' movements when enjoying their meals.

Plates, bowls and dishes all come in various shapes, sizes and materials, which is why taking the time to understand each material???s unique feature can impact the look and feel of your dining table. Certain materials also require more or less upkeep, so choose a material that suits your lifestyle.

When it comes to dinnerware, there's a style, material and colour for every taste and occasion.

Different Dinnerware Materials and their Properties

Porcelain

Known for its translucency and tough surface, porcelain offers durability and luxury. Porcelain is ideal for everyday use, but also for special occasions due it is delicate looking features. Traditionally, porcelain dinner sets come in white, but you can find porcelain dinnerware in various colours and patterns.

Porcelain is freezer, oven and microwave safe. They are typically dishwasher safe, but always refer to the manufacturer's care guide.

Bone China

Synonymous with elegance, bone china is created from a mixture of bone ash and porcelain clay that is fired at a slightly lower temperature than porcelain. This creates a material that is lightweight, delicate, and translucent with its signature milky appearance. Although bone china looks incredibly fragile, the material is chip-resistant and is considered one of the strongest ceramic dinnerware materials.

Fine China

Despite its name, fine china is tough and can withstand everyday use. While bone china is white, fine china is creamier. Although the term "fine china" refers to high-quality dishes, true fine china material simply means dinnerware that is made from a mixture of clays. Fine china is typically more affordable than bone china.

Stoneware

Rustic, modern and contemporary are only a few words that best describe stoneware, which has become a popular choice of dinnerware for many due to their simplicity and minimalist design that suits most occasions. Stoneware is very tough and has great heat resistance due to being fired at a higher temperature than most other dinnerware. There's also several different finishes and glazes to choose from, which can alter the stoneware's texture to shiny, matte, or satin.

Stoneware is usually thicker and easy to maintain. They're also microwave, oven and dishwasher safe, however, always check the instructions beforehand.

Earthenware

Great for everyday use, earthenware is a sturdy and affordable material that offers a lot of charm to the dining table. Earthenware is typically thick, heavy and rustic-looking, but lacks the strength of other dinnerware materials like stoneware, porcelain and bone china as it can chip. Many earthenware dinner sets are hand-painted.

Melamine

Renowned for being shatter-resistant, melamine is a lightweight and sturdy plastic material that is practically indestructible. Melamine is commonly used in dinner sets for children and for outdoor parties due to its durable nature, although most melamine dinnerware features a glossy finish for added beauty. Melamine dinnerware is not microwave or oven safe.

Setting the Table with the Right Dinnerware

Choosing the right dinnerware material is only half the battle. Once you know whether porcelain or stoneware suits your dining table and dinner parties, you will want to know how to utilise the main parts of a dinner set. After all, learning how to set a table with the right plates and bowls is an important detail that can set the tone and theme of the evening.

Bowls

If you are serving soup to start or a pasta or risotto dish, the right bowl can help you properly portion up your meals but also signify the meal your guests are expecting to enjoy. As the name suggests, soup bowls are considered the proper way to serve soup, although a small and deep pasta bowl or cereal bowl can suffice for a more casual dinner party.

Pasta should be served in a pasta bowl. However, certain pasta like ravioli can be served on a plate with a rim.

Dinner Plates

The dinner plate is a blank canvas for you to build your main course on, so make sure you plan how you are going to build the meal while you are planning out your menu. As long as your main meal isn???t too saucy, you can serve almost anything on a modern dinner plate. When laying a table, the dinner plate will sit on top of a service plate (or a placemat if you are omitting the service plate) with the salad or soup bowl sitting on top.

Salad Plates

A salad plate, which is much smaller than a dinner plate, is used to serve salad before or during the main meal. If you are serving a salad with the main course, then the salad plate will be removed and sit beside the dinner plate.

Bread Plates

Sat on the top left of your dinner plate, above your salad and dinner forks, the bread plate is used for bread and will have an accompanying bread knife. Bread is placed on the bread plates just before the guests take their seats.

Dessert Plates

Dessert plates are not part of the original table setting. Once the main course is finished and cleared away, dessert is plated up in the kitchen and brought out.

TIP: Consider how you are going to serve each course before the special occasion. We eat with our eyes first, so food presentation should be high up on your list of priorities.

Selecting Your Dinnerware

Crockery and DinnerwareBest Selling Tableware
Cutlery

With a large variety of cutlery and flatware to choose from, you will want to select a cutlery set that suits your dinnerware and sits comfortably in your hands. Much like dinnerware, there are various materials to choose from, such as stainless steel, plastic, and silver ??? all of which have their own benefits. From stamped and forced steel to silver cutlery, here's our guide to choosing the right cutlery for you.

Every Day and Formal Flatware

Having two cutlery sets - one for everyday use and one for formal occasions - is very common. Everyday cutlery is usually lighter whereas weightier cutlery is used for formal dinners. Formal dinner parties may require you to lay out a butter knife or a pastry fork, depending on the food you are serving.

When browsing cutlery types, keep the following information in mind.

Handle Types Impact the Cutlery's Weight

The material the handles are made from can impact the overall weight and feel of your cutlery. For instance, metal handles can help provide a cohesive look, but they can also add a satisfying weight which is a sign of a high-quality knife, fork, or spoon.

You can also get plastic and wooden handles, which are ideal for outdoor and casual dining or added rustic charm. Wooden and plastic handles are typically more lightweight than metal handles.

Check the Stainless Steel Grades

The purpose of stainless steel grades is to show the chrome and nickel content. For example, the highest quality is 18/10, which translates to 18% chrome and 10% nickel. The combination of metals used impacts its corrosion resistance, strength, and shine.

18/10 - High corrosion resistance and high shine. Considered the highest quality of stainless steel.

18/8 - High corrosion resistance and good shine.

18/0 - Good corrosion resistance and good shine.

Sterling Silver Cutlery

Sterling silver and silver-plated cutlery are synonymous with luxury and quality, which is why for many, silver cutlery sets are only brought out for special occasions. Not only does sterling silver and silver-plated cutlery offer elegance due to its shine and expensive nature, but it does require more maintenance than stainless steel flatware.

TIP: When serving tough to cut meats like steak, always set the table with steak knives. A steak knife's serrated edge means less force is required when cutting through the meat, making the dining experience much more enjoyable for everyone sitting around the table.

How to Clean Cutlery

No matter the type of cutlery you choose, a little elbow grease and following the right guidance can keep your cutlery set shining and tarnish-free. Here's how to keep your cutlery in pristine condition.

Check Whether Your Cutlery is Dishwasher Safe

All our cutlery sets are dishwasher safe for easy cleaning, however, we recommend ensuring that your cutlery is fully dried before storage to reduce watermarks from appearing and keeping them in perfect condition.

You should always rinse off your cutlery before placing it in the dishwasher. However, avoid soaking your cutlery as this can cause damage.

Use White Vinegar to Remove Stains 

Watermarks are bound to happen, which is why knowing how to counter them is important. You can remove stains by pouring a small amount of white vinegar onto a non-abrasive cloth or sponge and wipe down each piece of cutlery separately. Rinse until the water runs clean and ensure your cutlery is thoroughly dry before storing.

Handwash Cutlery with Wooden, Plastic or Ceramic Handles

Wash cutlery with wooden, plastic or ceramic handles, unless stated that they are dishwasher safe.

Separate Stainless Steel and Silver Cutlery when Washing

Placing stainless steel and silver-plated or sterling silver cutlery beside one another in a dishwasher can result in a chemical reaction that will damage the silver cutlery. Always keep them separated from one another.

Use a Stainless Steel Cleaner

Find a stainless steel cleaner to remove water spots and finger marks from any stainless steel kitchen items. Simply spray directly on each piece of cutlery or onto a clean, dry, and non-abrasive cloth and waipe until your cutlery starts to shine.

How to Clean Silver Cutlery

Although silver-plated and sterling silver cutlery is corrosion-resistant, silver cutlery does require a little more care and attention than stainless steel cutlery due to its more delicate nature. Due to silver being a soft metal, silver cutlery can scratch easily.

Rise Before Placing in the Dishwasher

Much like with stainless steel cutlery, always rinse any food remnants before placing your silver cutlery in the dishwasher. Avoid soaking silver-plated and sterling silver cutlery as this can lead to rust.

Polish Your Silver Cutlery

Always check the manufacturer's instructions beforehand, but cleaning silver cutlery with polish and a silver cloth can save tarnished silver cutlery. For everyday upkeep, simply shine silver cutlery with a soft, dry cloth and a cutlery cleaner.

Invest in Proper Storage

Silver cutlery is prone to scuffs and tarnishing, which is why investing in an anti-tarnish roll or fabric-line cutlery box can offer protection and keep your cutlery in pristine condition.

Choosing Your Cutlery

Different Glassware and their Purposes

The shape of the glass can make a huge difference to the taste and aroma of drinks, which is why serving the right alcohol from the right glass can make all the difference. When serving white wine, red wine, champagne, or spirits, make sure you have the right glassware to hand.

White Wine

Featuring a smaller bowl and narrower opening than red wine glasses, the white wine glass is designed to retain the white wine's aromas while maintaining a cooler temperature. The less curved shape of the glass's bowl also helps preserve the floral aromas typically common within white wine.

Red Wine

A larger, rounded bowl is common for red wine as it amplifies the rich flavours due to aeration. The more air the red wine encounters, the greater the aromas and tasting notes of the wine - this is also why you leave the bottle of red wine to breathe once removing the cork.

Wine Glasses

Champagne

The flute was designed to retain the champagne's signature fizz and bubbles, reducing the chances of the champagne from going flat too quickly. There are many variations of the champagne flute, however, a long, straight bowl and smaller opening is the most popular design as it holds the Champagne's bubbles for longer.

Champagne Glasses and Coupes

Tumblers and Highballs

Simple in shape and design, tumblers and highballs are specifically designed to hold ice, a spirit and a mixer. Tumblers and highballs come in a variety of different heights, making them ideal for short and long mixed drinks.

Tumblers and Highballs

Beer

Much like wine and cocktails, the shape of your beer glass matters. A beer's aroma is in the head of the beer, and if you pour a beer in a pint glass that's too large, the aroma can bubble right off and reduce the intensity of the flavour. A tulip-shaped glass with smooth curves is great for hoppy beers, whereas a beer glass with a small top is beneficial for wheat beers.

Glassware

Which Type of Glass Suits You?

There are various materials used to make glassware, all of which have their own benefits. Here is a list of the most common materials as their unique features.

Soda Glass

Typically used for everyday use due to its affordability, soda glass is great due to its robust nature.

Crystal

Offering greater transparency than soda glass, crystal glassware is ideal for everyday use as well as formal occasions and dinner parties. The benefits of crystals are derived from the material's ability to be spun thin, while still offering great strength and durability. Lead glass also refracts light, which is often desirable amongst wine enthusiasts.

How to Wash Crystal Glassware

The best way to wash crystal stemware is by hand and using hot, soapy water. Use a sponge, and when holding the glass, avoid gripping the stem as this is the most delicate part and can cause breakage. Rinse thoroughly and use a dry cleaning cloth to remove any watermarks.

ProCook Carafe 1LTypical Price £15Only £10Shop Now
Modena Tumbler Set of 6 - 500mlTypical Price £32Only £22Shop Now
Cocktail Collection Ice Bucket 14 x 13cmTypical Price £39Only £26Shop Now
Cocktail Collection Tumbler Set of 6 - 410mlTypical Price £29Only £19Shop Now

Proper table setting can curate an ambience and elevate the appearance of your dining table. With the right mood lighting, table decorations and tableware, a simple mealtime can transform into a fabulous formal affair.

There's a conventional way to set a dining table if you are hosting an elegant soiree or simply wish to add extra oomph to a luncheon.

Here's an easy guide on how to set a dinner table.

How to Set a Table

Table Accessories

Browser not supported

To get the best possible experience using our website we recommend upgrading from Internet Explorer to another web browser.

Live Chat