Choosing Dinnerware When You Can’t Afford the Whole Set

If you’re like a lot of people, you would love to have a nice set of dinnerware, but you may not be able to afford quite as many place settings as you would ultimately like to have. That can be especially true if you’re buying an expensive set like Fiesta Ware, but it can just as easily apply to more affordable sets like Corelle. These days, a lot of us have good reasons for cutting back and not spending as much on unnecessary items (like place settings beyond the number of people we live with).

Although it can be tempting to buy whatever setting we like and just plan on buying the rest later, that’s not always a good strategy. Frequently, patterns are discontinued and they can get very expensive on eBay if you need to make up the whole set later. Scrapping all the dishes and starting over can be even more costly!

So, if you can’t get all 10 or 12 or however many place settings you ultimately want, consider these strategies:

  • Consider a set that has been around for a long time and is likely to be continued for years to come. Fiesta is like this. Many Corelle sets are like this. Target also has a classic line of “Room Essentials” dishes that are somewhat similar to the Fiesta line, but a bit cheaper. What you shouldn’t do is head down to the department store and pick something that’s clearly new and trendy, as those styles tend to be both expensive and short-lived.
  • Ask for place settings as a gift on a birthday or holiday. This won’t work if the place settings are more expensive than the average gift you receive, but you can also let people know of your goal to acquire a particular set and let them help you out with the matching separates (serving dishes, large bowls, etc.) or with a gift card to the store. Most people will be thrilled to be able to help out with a gift you actually want instead of more junk you don’t need.
  • Consider a cheaper set – Yeah, this is the obvious advice that none of us want to hear, but it’s still worth considering. You can also try stores like HomeGoods or TJ Maxx, Gordmans, WalMart, Target, and Garden Ridge if you want to look for cute but more affordable dinnerware sets.
  • Adopt the “happily mismatched” look – If you pick settings that all fit a certain style or color scheme, the effect of mis-matched dinnerware can actually be quite stunning. If you have a hard time matching things like that, ask a friend with a good eye for design to help out and give you ideas or help you shop when it’s time to add more settings. Stores like TJMaxx and HomeGoods, where they often have just one or two small boxes of any given set, can be great places for coordinating a mismatched look. Since those stores get their inventory from high-end department stores, it’s also a great way to get very high-quality pieces for less.

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