Plan your dinnerware

How to calculate what you need?

When I talk about the dinnerware, I mean all the essential equipment and basics you need for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I am not talking today about special holiday seasons which depends a lot on your location, specific cultural environment, and family situation. 

This post should help you if you plan to downsize or if you’re just starting to organize your home. You will find below my recommendations on how you can calculate the quantity of items you’ll need.

These recommendations are based on a classic western European way of life. Being French most of my references are French-style combined with aspects of the German and American lifestyle which I believe, complement each other.

The idea of basics or essentials is that you will have items that you can use in your everyday life as well as when you want to entertain a small group of people. For example, a couple with 2 children and let’s say, 6 guests.

The items have to harmonize together so you can combine them for different situations. They should create the basis of your table and flatware.

Plates and bowls

plates and bowls

For everyday use, estimate for dining plates a minimum of 3 times the number of people in your household. Then, think of an average number of guests you’re likely to invite at once.

You might think why so many bowls. Bowls are really practical and can be used for an aperitif and starters or side dishes and gravy, and are perfect for holding different ingredients when you’re cooking. 

I would recommend to keep it simple with the choice of dining ware. Food looks best most of the time, in a simple white plate with a pure shape. It can be a very nice bone China porcelain or a more basic ceramic quality. 

If you like colors there are many other ways to introduce them such as; table covering (table cloths, sets, and runners), napkins, charger/service plates, candle holders, flowers… The dessert plates can also be colored or have a different style from the dinner plates. 


Use the same ratio of knives, forks, table spoons, like dining plates; 3 times the number of people. For dessert spoons and forks use as many as you have dessert plates. 

Use good quality stainless steel so you can wash them in your dishwasher for many years without care. Also, if you can buy a well-known quality brand in your country you will probably be able to add items to your collection as needed, either because the company will still produce the design or because you will be able to find them in second hand shops. 

Take simple shapes. As everywhere else there are fashions in flatware designs. For example, you can also find flatware with copper or brass colors, or what is also quite fashionable at the moment are black colors (it fits to the fashionable black kitchen!)… Try to stay away from this, unless you were already loving this style 10 years ago.  

Breakfast, coffee and tea cups

Of course, this depends a lot on your way of life. Whether you drink coffee or tea, long coffee or espresso, I leave it up to you. Again, what I would recommend is to keep it simple. Ideally you can use the same cups for several situations, for breakfast, the end of big meals everyday as well as when you entertain. You will need obviously extra cups for espresso drinks.  


Calculate the quantity you need:

  • For water glasses, 2 for each person living in the household + 1 for each guest. 

  • For white wine glasses and red wine glasses, count 1 for each person in the household and for guests. Even if there are people who don’t drink wine, it is always good to have some extra glasses when you entertain. 

  • If you enjoy drinking sparkling wine, then keep the same ratio of glasses to people. 

Choose a good quality glass that you can wash easily in the dishwasher without getting cloudy. Again, have only clear transparent glasses as simple as possible.  

Service utensils

  • 2 big serving spoons

  • 2 middle-sized gravy spoons

  • 1 pair of salad servers

  • 1 spaghetti spoon (it’s not a must… but so much more practical!)

  • 1 pie server

Service dishes

  • 1 big salad bowl 

  • charger plates (as many as the wine glasses)

  • fruit plate and/or a nice wood serving board (you could also use it to serve cheese)

  • 2 trivets

  • 2 bread baskets


  • Napkins. The same number as for the wine glasses. Use a nice strong quality fabric you can easily wash to remove stains. I like the linen or cotton-linen quality. It just feels better, looks much better and overall is better for the environment than using synthetics fabrics. Quality; check that the fabric is tightly woven. Since people tend to buy more and more natural fabrics the fabric industry sometimes provides low-price low-quality fabrics.. Although cheap, they will not last as long as a good quality fabric and could end costing you more when you need to replace them sooner. In Europe at the flea markets you can often find very good high-quality linen napkins that will last a long time.

  • Place mats or tablecloth? Compared to place mats a tablecloth is not as practical for everyday use. If you don’t like to use mats made of fabric, you can use rattan or ketak grass place mats, or cork place mats which are easier to clean.  


You don’t have to buy everything at once and can collect these items over time, but make sure it is good quality. 

I know also that for some of you, these recommendations may sound restrictive or boring… believe me, keep the dining essentials of good quality and with the purest design you can find. You’ll be amazedto see all the different combinations you can do in your dining area and whatever extras or new items you’ll add will over time will always be well integrated because your basic essentials are aligned and timeless. 

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