A Tale of China (dinnerware, not the country)

I have had a thing for china ever since I was a little girl.  I remember my mother’s china set – it was nothing particularly fancy but to me, it was the most beautiful thing in the world.

I think it is my fond memories of playing with her china that influenced me when it came time to select our own dinnerware.  When the CPA and I got engaged, we searched (and by “we” I mean “me”) for the right china pattern for weeks but yet nothing ever seemed to be “us.”  I wanted the perfect set – the one that you could use for your fanciest meal or for your simplest affair.  Something tasteful and classic and elegant; something that would never go out of style.

It was hard to find a pattern to fit all of those criteria, but I finally did.  I chose the Opal Innocence line by Lenox.  We put it on our wedding registry and then each time we received a wedding gift I secretly jumped for joy when we could add another plate or bowl to our growing china collection.

My goal was to have an eight-piece setting so that we could have a moderate size dinner party should we want to.  At $130.00 per setting, however, this was no easy task.

But I was intent on getting those eight settings.  In my mind, you had to have a set of nice china, that’s just the way it was done.

It took some time and some gift exchanges, but I can now say that I am the proud owner of eight sets of plates, soup bowls, dessert plates, salad plates, and tea saucers as well as eight tea cups.

I even own one sugar container, one vegetable serving bowl, and one large platter (excellent for serving turkey, btw).  Did I mention that we also have eight crystal glasses in the matching pattern?

Beautiful, aren’t they?

And now that I have all of these pieces I use them at least once a week, twice if I’m feeling adventurous, right?

Wrong.

Including the Thanksgiving meal we had last week, we’ve used our china a total of two times since we’ve been married.

“Two” as in “twice.”

Instead of being used, they sit in the top of the cabinet looking pretty.  As a matter of fact, most of the pieces still had their labels on them until I removed them this week.

Why don’t I use them then – especially after going through all that trouble to collect them?  Simple: because of fear.  I’m afraid that I’ll drop one in the sink as I’m washing it and that it will shatter into a million delicate pieces.  I’m afraid that I’ll chip the handle on one of the cups and will have to replace the whole thing.  I’m afraid of sitting a plate on the table only to watch it crash to the floor by accident.

So they sit there unused, just taking up space.

I’m really embarrassed to admit that actually, especially after all of the money and the effort that went into getting them.  And honestly if I had to do it all over again, I’d skip right past the fancy china and I’d buy a regular set of dinnerware that was maybe a tad nicer than our everyday set but still usable.

But what’s done is done.  And who knows… maybe now that I’ve used them without any mishap, I’ll be able to put my fear aside and use them on a regular basis.

And if I don’t?  Well, at least they’re pretty to look at!

What about you: do you have china?  Do you use it?  If you have it, what pattern is it?

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Kristina P. - November 29, 2010 - 9:26 pm

I always wondered if there were brides who still registered for China. I’ve never really cared about it. No one in my family really had any. But it is beautiful!
.-= Kristina P.´s last blog ..She Bangs- She Bangs =-.

joy - November 29, 2010 - 9:30 pm

Maybe using them once a week like a Sunday lunch or dinner would suffice. As for myself, we also have some China from our wedding registry that we have never used. In fact, we never even bothered to get enough place settings and only have three. Yep, only three. With our little family of four, not all of us could even use the China. I think the pattern I picked is not in production at all, and I even meant to get at least one more set at the Mikasa outlet. But sadly I did not. How horrible! The pieces are still in their gift boxes too. The dishes we currently use are from Ikea, and I don’t really care if they break as they were super cheap. I wish I had thought it out more before I chose the china.

Jessika - November 29, 2010 - 9:50 pm

You know, there are websites that sell just one of many MANY different patterns of china. I inherited my grandmother’s china, a rare, beautiful ivy-patterned set. But I was even able to find replacements that old set (I didn’t need a replacement, but it’s good to know it’s there!).
.-= Jessika´s last blog ..Subway stop =-.

diana - November 30, 2010 - 3:07 am

It is so beautiful, I gasped when I set eyes on it! I understand the “thing” for china, and I understand the fear. But I also have the pleasure just to see it. I don’t have “the” china and crystals, and every Christmas, Easter, husband’s birthday I secretly hurt. Life is long, and even if you use it ever so often, you’ll be proud to use it when you invite Henry’s future in-laws to know them. When I’ll invite my first son’s future in-laws, I’ll secretly be ashamed, as a woman, not to have beautiful plates.

This is one of the most personal feelings I’ve ever put on “paper”.

Julie - November 30, 2010 - 4:30 am

Couldn’t care less about china. At all. If anyone is judging me about my dinnerware, then they are petty and their opinion does not matter to me. I like my everyday Corelle dishes. Cheap, sturdy, and able to go in the dishwasher. I do have my grandmother’s china but seriously doubt I will ever use them. Maybe for Christmas just not this year. We are renovating the house and the dishes on on shelves that have many things stacked in front of them to get them out of the way.
.-= Julie´s last blog ..Day 19 =-.

Kristy - November 30, 2010 - 5:45 am

We don’t have china, we aren’t too formal. When I married at 20, it just didn’t seem practical to register for it when we had so many things that we really needed. I have Pfaltzgraff’s Filagree pattern. It’s pretty, but not too expensive.
.-= Kristy´s last blog ..Advent =-.

Janet - November 30, 2010 - 6:52 am

One of my chores when visiting my grandmother was to set the table. I was allowed to choose whatever china I wanted. When questioned as to whether that was really true, she said it was there to be used whether it was “good” or not. She enjoyed it and I did too. We ate grilled cheese sandwiches on her Spode. She had that china through six of her own children, 12 grandchildren and three great-grands before she passed away at 92. Not a piece got broken. It is still being used nearly forty years later and still intact. If you love it, use it. Don’t worry about the might be’s.

MaryBe - November 30, 2010 - 6:53 am

What a beautiful pattern! Use it and enjoy it!
.-= MaryBe´s last blog ..Minty Wellness Hotel and Spa – A Review =-.

lou - November 30, 2010 - 6:59 am

I decided a long time ago to worry only about the things that can’t be replaced…special friends, my son, my family. Things that I could go to a store and buy another one got all the same treatment. Enjoy your dishes, you deserve them. I enjoy mine every week.

cher - November 30, 2010 - 7:22 am

well, you have used your china two more times than i have then! i got a pattern that is very ornate and i cannot imagine eating off of, but its’ beautiful. i love to look at it..really.

i still have the tags on it, no plans to take them off.

isn’t that what china is for?

Renee - November 30, 2010 - 7:57 am

I could have written your words of your affection for china. I grew up feeling the same way. Don’t let your fear prevent you from using it.

http://www.replacements.com is the site I use for any missing/broken pieces. I think they are based out of North Carolina.

Lindsay - November 30, 2010 - 8:08 am

I LOVE my china set. We picked out Lenox’s Tribeca pattern and I would leave little hints to people that really the only thing I wanted on the registry was a place setting. Like you with some exchanges and store credit we got all of our place settings and some extras. In the five years I have been married, we have only used the china once,but in our defense we have only had 1 formal dinner in our house which we have been in for 2 years. The rest of the time it sits in the china cabinet and honestly I love just looking at in in there. It looks so pretty!

Joanna - November 30, 2010 - 8:35 am

No china. My grandmother was horrified that there was nary a piece of fine china to be found on my wedding registry.

I was afraid I’d change my mind about what pattern I wanted … after the wedding :)

My cousin registered for china, but she went to the store and found eight different patterns that she liked and that complemented each other and got one place setting from each set. I love that idea because if some breaks, you don’t have to find an exact match, just something that goes with the others!

As for dishes, I’m a Fiestaware gal myself.
.-= Joanna´s last blog ..Remembering =-.

Heather (Heather's Dish) - November 30, 2010 - 8:44 am

your china is stunning…nate and i never got china because we knew we’d never use it and didn’t have space for it. sometimes i wish we had, but in our current house there’s no place we could put it!
.-= Heather (Heather’s Dish)´s last blog ..Me Against the Christmas Tree =-.

Sara - November 30, 2010 - 9:00 am

That set is gorgeous! I inherited my grandmother’s china when I got married a little over a year ago. We’ve used it maybe 4 or 5 times, for Thanksgivings and special dinners with friends. I love having it! It includes service for 12, although I’m missing some pieces. Once we move in a few weeks I may try to hunt down replacements.
.-= Sara´s last blog ..The calm before the holiday =-.

Janice - November 30, 2010 - 9:54 am

I did a blog post about this very thing several years ago. I registered for china at my wedding and my goal was to have 12 dinner and salad plates. (I have no need for the cups and saucers.) Anyway, my pattern is now discontinued (Alsatia by Noritake) and a few years ago, I purchased the pieces I was missing. I bring it out every “big” holiday. I am now thinking about using it every Sunday like my friend does.

We got married in December and were given The Christmas Tree pattern china by Spode by my aunt as a wedding gift. After several years of adding to it, I have a complete set and we eat EVERY meal in December on it. I love it. I want my kids to have memories of using the fun dishes and having them part of their lives.

Here is my blog about it. The comments section really was busy for this post.http://toothsomefamily.blogspot.com/2009/04/wedding-china.html
.-= Janice´s last blog ..Thanksgiving at Home =-.

Casper - November 30, 2010 - 9:54 am

I don’t have china for that exact reason. I am the complete opposite of graceful so I am sure I would break something. I am not the type of person that buys something just to have it sit in a cupboard so I would want to use them. So I just opted out of that tradition and I stick with my normal plates/bowls. They are very pretty though!
.-= Casper´s last blog ..Youre WHAT!! =-.

Nicole - November 30, 2010 - 10:17 am

I LOVE DISHES!!!!!! We registered for an everyday white china set and a printed china that went with it. We only have 5 place settings of the printed china, which is fine since it’s so totally 80s!!!!! It didn’t take Tony too many years to chip all my everyday china pretty bad. Now I generally don’t spend too much on dishes…but I have tons of them. 12 Days of Christmas set, 12 white with gold trim, 12 white with silver trim, 8 multi-colored stripe plates, 8 spring colored, 8 bunny plates, 8 french country, 8 autumn colored, 8 snowflakes, 12 glass plates…I know….TOO MUCH! But it’s fun and I host family a lot. Enjoy your dishes….whether in the cabinet or on the table!
.-= Nicole´s last blog ..THANKSGIVING RECAP =-.

Lisa - November 30, 2010 - 10:42 am

My husband and I also were set on getting china. We have the Federal Platinum by Lenox and I love it! We are lucky enough to have 12 place settings, and many of the matching pieces. We went with a simple setting that several stores have carried for a long time, so that if anything breaks it would be easier to replace. We lived in an apartment our first year of marriage and had nowhere to store them, so they stayed all packaged up in the original boxes! We then moved into a home and I bought a china cabinet (in my head, this makes me an adult officially!). Now that we had access to the china, we could actually use them. Except everyone told me I would never use them, or maybe only once a year. So, we decided that since we were married on July 11, we make a nice meal and use our China on the 11th of every month. (Except for busy season, as we are both also CPA’s – I am sure you understand this!) It’s been a great way to use our china and an excuse to get all fancy! I love it.

Jana - November 30, 2010 - 11:38 am

Oh yes, I have China and I use it. I also have Christmas dishes, everyday dishes, nice everyday dishes, and cute everyday dishes. In case you weren’t counting, that’s 5 sets of dishes. That doesn’t count dessert plates…

Patty - November 30, 2010 - 1:41 pm

My sister got the same set for her wedding about 5 years ago, beautiful! She found several of the extra serving peices at a Lenox outlet in the local outlet mall. Also as mentioned before there are websites where you can get replacement pieces, so go ahead and use them!

Vicky - November 30, 2010 - 4:13 pm

I too suffer from this phobia! I love my Eva Zeisel dinnerwear from the 1950′s. I have most of the pieces but I don’t even display them out of fear that someone may decide to use them… :)

Isabelle - November 30, 2010 - 4:33 pm

I looooooooooooooove china, but thought I would never in my life be able to collect the set I wanted: Musselmalet from Royal Copenhagen, handpainted. But ebay brought that into my life, in fact it was the first ebay purchase I ever did, and since then many beautiful pieces of these danish dishes have made the journey from all around the world (US,New Zealand, Australia, Scandinavia and Germany) to my house. In fact, when we moved to Switzerland my employer stumbled over the insurance costs for the dishes. I have many very antique pieces, and even had the chance to visit the painters in Copenhagen a few times. Unfortunately, the crises in china also hit Royal Copenhagen and they are in serious crises, having placed some production in Thailand now ;-(((( Only wish, I was using my dishes more than I actually do. We once started to make it a Sunday habit but got away from it again …. I think we will pick up this tradition again soon. Enjoy your dishes and use them on this special night when you cook special things for your husband.

Isabelle - November 30, 2010 - 4:34 pm

I looooooooooooooove china, but thought I would never in my life be able to collect the set I wanted: Musselmalet from Royal Copenhagen, handpainted. But ebay brought that into my life, in fact it was the first ebay purchase I ever did, and since then many beautiful pieces of these danish dishes have made the journey from all around the world (US,New Zealand, Australia, Scandinavia and Germany) to my house. In fact, when we moved to Switzerland my employer stumbled over the insurance costs for the dishes. I have many very antique pieces, and even had the chance to visit the painters in Copenhagen a few times. Unfortunately, the crises in china also hit Royal Copenhagen and they are in serious crises, having placed some production in Thailand now. Only wish, I was using my dishes more than I actually do. We once started to make it a Sunday habit but got away from it again …. I think we will pick up this tradition again soon. Enjoy your dishes and use them on this special night when you cook special things for your husband.

The Wife of Odie - November 30, 2010 - 4:53 pm

I love your china. Thanks for bringing it out for Thanksgiving :)

Nicole - November 30, 2010 - 6:24 pm

Oh my gosh, that is my dream set of china! I saw it at the mall once, and I have adored it since. Isn’t it like the pearl drop collection? Something like that, I forget. But it gives me hope that you collected it a bit over time. I can do that too!!! Although I imagine I would be the same and would be afraid to use it to. Ha, ha. All I can say is HAVE FUN with it. If you do break a plate or chip a piece, you can buy a replacement. This is your china set! Have fun!
.-= Nicole´s last blog ..Never Fully Dressed Without your Smile =-.

Monisha - November 30, 2010 - 7:58 pm

We also have Lenox china and only use it once per year – at Thanksgiving! My husband thinks we should keep it with our regular dishes so it gets daily use, but there is not enough space. I think you are both right that its better to use it than to have it sit there on the shelf!

Mom of 5 - November 30, 2010 - 8:18 pm

I love your china!!! You just have to use it more frequently – you’re not going to break it (I know how careful you are). Enjoy everything you got from your bridal registry, it was for the two of you, now use it and love everything minute.

One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned so far in life is: you must appreciate, treasure and use all that has been given to you in life, both material things and things of the spirit.

Now that I’ve said my “piece” – so and enjoy that beautiful china and everything else you’ve been putting back for that “special occasion”…have a blast and share pictures of your table settings and the family and friends that get to join you for the dinners you’ll have!!!

Chelsea - November 30, 2010 - 10:30 pm

I don’t have a China set, but I think yours is beautiful! and I think you should use it more often!
.-= Chelsea´s last blog ..Cashew Chicken or Turkey! Rice Casserole =-.

erin - November 30, 2010 - 11:06 pm

Hey! Katie over at Marriage Confessions has the same china! She just did a post on it last week. :)

We did not register for china. I wanted to, but we did not think people would get it for us along with our regular dishes and we didn’t want to have 3 china plates and 6 regular plates and then what do you do. Instead we registered for beautiful porcelain everyday dishes. They are plain white with a pretty raised wave along the edge. Fine for everyday, just the right bit of fancy for holidays, easily dressed up with “accent” pieces.

We did register for (and receive) Lenox crystal goblets. They are gorgeous, with a beautiful egnraved design and a platinum rim, and I love them. They make our regular dishes look extra special for holidays.

In hindsight I’m glad we did it that way, because we ended up inheriting a beautiful set of china from Brian’s grandmother with gold and silver lilies of the valley (my birth flower). Although I confess, I am waiting to inherit MIL’s art deco black-and-platinum china. :)

Also, about dropping or chiping dishes? Our regular everyday pattern has been discontinued, so if we break one we’ll have to search for replacements just like if they were china. The downside to not getting Corningware. :)
.-= erin´s last blog ..busy like a bee =-.

admin - December 1, 2010 - 10:14 am

Your comments have been fascinating – it’s so interesting to see how differently everyone feels about having china. And here I always assumed that everyone had (or wanted) china but I’ve learned that that isn’t the case.

Blessing Oshin - December 1, 2010 - 10:30 am

I do not have China. I am much more impressed with the modern day plates, etc. But yours are beautiful, I might have to rethink this :)

Suzanne at Window on The Prairie - December 1, 2010 - 12:34 pm

I don’t have any china myself, but my mom purchased a beautiful set when she got married back in the 60s, and has probably used it less than 5 times. Your set looks a lot like hers. Go ahead and use it, maybe like once a week for Sunday dinner. Enjoy it, you earned it.
Suzanne
.-= Suzanne at Window on The Prairie´s last blog ..Elk Herd In Rocky Mountain National Park =-.

Märtha - December 1, 2010 - 1:31 pm

I don’t own my own china as I still live with my parents, but I plan on having it once I’m married (not happening anytime soon, though).

My parents have been married for 28 years and they already own their second set of good china, as we use it every Sunday and on special occasions. So along the way, the first one got chipped along the way…

I have to say, I really like yours!
.-= Märtha´s last blog ..Feels like home =-.

Lisa - December 2, 2010 - 10:23 am

We thougth about the dilemma of having fancy china but then not really using it. We thought it would be a waste of our money.
But, it was either Corelle or porcelain because of the strength of the dishes (stoneware chips easily).
Since I’m not thrilled with Corelle (too thin and light), we went with Royal Doulton and a pattern called Fusion.
We love it! It’s excellent quality china that’s sharp looking but simple enough to use every day. And like I said, good china is tough. We’ll have a lot fewer chips than if we bought a stoneware set from Ikea or Canadian Tire (My parents have done that. They’ve bought like 3 different sets in the last 6 years because it keeps breaking and chipping).

So, I would recommend people get a good set of white china that they can use every day and, for more fancy dinners, buy the pretty but cheaper stuff! (You can find great sets at places like Homesense. )
This is our set: http://www.royaldoulton.com/product/browseTableware.jsp?FOLDER%3C%3Efolder_id=2534374302033626&bmLocale=en_GB&PAGE_ID=1

Lisa - December 2, 2010 - 10:24 am

Ps. I think your set is beautiful!

sparkly jules - December 2, 2010 - 8:46 pm

I love China. My mother had purchased a set in payments before her wedding–a set I have, although there is only one dinner plate–and on special occasions she would bring it out and serve us dinner on it. This from the woman who saved everything “for good.”

When I was getting married in 2006, I looked, and looked, and looked for a pattern I liked. I finally found it. The Mikasa Cameo Platinum. I fell in love with its heart-shaped handles on the tea cups and the sugar bowl and teapot.

I registered for it, but got not one piece for our wedding. We did, however, get a full set of the Mikasa Park Lane wine glasses (white); four of the red; and two martini glasses. I use the wine glasses regularly, just for myself.

I am still lusting in my heart (a nod to Jimmy Carter) for a full set of the Cameo Platinum. We don’t have dinner parties, rarely have people over, but I just….want it. Maybe someday.

In the meantime I do have three sets of regular “every day” dishes, two sets are in storage, and I have an antique glass and gold-rimmed set I use at Christmastime. I got it for a song at an antique store, and I love it.

I also collect antique sugar and creamer sets. Why? I do not know. Maybe it’s a longing for the past or simply a reminder of when my mother was around.

There is beauty in good China, and admiration of such beauty surely cannot be a fault.

Jules

dishes
http://www.mikasa.com/dinnerware-pattern/cameo-platinum,default,sc.html?fp=x&wm_crID=4041142&wm_lpID=19983309&wm_ctID=360&wm_kwID=11388997&wm_mtID=1&wm_content=0&wm_g_crID=5142441257&wm_g_kw=mikasa+cameo+platinum&wm_g_pcmt=&wm_g_cnt=0&gclid=CP2f_tmUz6UCFRhzgwodxnX_jw&wm_kw=mikasa+cameo+platinum&wm_sd=1

wine glasses
http://www.tabletopsetc.com/inventory/item.jsp?InventoryID=1013763
.-= sparkly jules´s last blog ..POLL =-.

Jenna - December 9, 2010 - 8:03 am

I am recently engaged and I always thought I would register for china. Luckily, my future mother-in-law decided to give us all of her china, since we hosted Thanksgiving this year for 13 people. She had 16 place settings. It’s beautiful and I hope to use it more than a few times a year.

Beki N. - March 6, 2011 - 3:29 pm

We registered for this China pattern for the same reasons. My mother owned 3 different sets of china 1 for Christmas and 2 others she just loved for any occasion. She uses her fine China every chance she gets. One of the mug handles broke and one of her plates got chipped, but she was able to replace them using the power of the internet. I am not afraid to use my China and we intend to follow her example and enjoy ours. I think it would be a shame not to use something so beautiful for fear that you might lose it. This pattern is a popular one and it will be available longer than your lifetime I am sure. My great grandmothers China pattern is still available to this day. Just remember beautiful things are meant to be enjoyed. So enjoy them!

Sheena Clemens - September 23, 2011 - 6:37 pm

I love china yet I do love people more….I use my china everyday!!! At one time in my life I decided I would have china in every room. I get good deals on good china. Right now I have Lenox Hancock Gold purchased new service for four at $200.00=half the usual price, Villeroy & Boch Casa Azul purchased for my kitchen microwave china a “used” service for eight with the completer set for $250.00! I didn’t realize it’s value was over a thousand dollars brand new…Then I got a pink floral coffee pot set for my bedroom to decorate with!! It’s fun!!! I decorate with china on tables, on the wall and display it beautifully when in china cabinets. Fear is not of God. God has given us a spirit of power, love and a sound mind. What if you did break something??? Big deal!!! You do have to put china in careful places if you have young children. Enjoy your China that God has allowed you to have! Love In Christ Sheena

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