Bringing Out the "Good China"

Updated on June 05, 2012
F.B. asks from Kew Gardens, NY
24 answers

Mamas & Papas -

Do you own so called "good china"? If so, what do you set it aside for, when does it come out, how do you store it? Do you have a formal parlor which is off limits to the kids? I grew up with neither. Frankly, we didn't have the room or the money for that kind of formality. When I was still in high school, after a health scare, my aunt pulled out her "good china" and decided to use it as everyday dishes. She explained that she was tired of saving it for "special occassions" or "special guests." Every day was a special occassion, and anyone who graced her table was a treasured and honored guest.

That lesson stuck with me. Hubs and I decided to go a middle ground. We've got nice, but not wedgewood, or royal doulton crockery. We make use of it everyday. There is nothing so dear in our homes that we would be crushed if it were broken, or would have difficulty replacing. There is nothing which is off limits to our DS.

Obviously DS is young, and we monitor him closely to make sure that he doesn't finger paint the sofa, or use saucers as frizbees. WEe'll teach him to treat his, our and others' belongings with respect. Nonetheless, we don't want anyone walking on eggshells.

How does this play out in your homes?
Thanks for the insight,
F. B.

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answers from Houston on

Yep, I'm got "good China". Its Mikasa. White with no designs. Goes with everything. I use it for holidays, birthdays. When my grandmother died, I received her china. She bought the Lennox pattern that Jackie Kennedy had made when her husband was elected president. Its beautiful. I use it with mine and its stunning. I'm more careful with that set then with mine. I have a beautiful china cabinet that was my other grandmothers and my dishes fit in there.

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answers from St. Louis on

It sits in the dining room in the china cabinet. Very pretty, never plan on using it.

It was my moms just so Bug knows. Never would buy the stuff myself.

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answers from Houston on

We have my wife and her ex's china, bwah lol. It took me a second to type that correctly (no grammar police please). She has had it for about 14 yrs and has 'lost' a few pieces over the years.
It is Mikasa, Oscar de la Renta. It is kept in a built-in with glass doors in the eat in kitchen. We do have a formal dining room and we used it last Thanksgiving with the adults.

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answers from Austin on

Ha, I was in retail for about 30 years. started out in the Fine China, Crystal and Silver dept. Then became the buyer.. along with other high end home items.

Needless to say I am addicted.

I have beautiful Wedgwood China.. I have amazing "Rice China" from China. Dansk Pottery and Cafeware.

Baccarat, Waterford and Orreffors Crystal. Simon Pearce Glassware. Dansk China and pottery..

Here is the deal. Your china is stronger than your pottery.. Your Bone China is the hardest to break or chip.. It actually has OX bone in it and can be fired at a higher temp.. so very strong.. You can tell it is bone china, by holding up to the light, if you place behind it and can see your hand, you have bone china..

Yes, it can be used everyday, but if it has metal on it, it cannot go in the microwave. You can put it in the dishwasher, but not with the heat of the dryer. It will eventually wear away the metal paint (It is actually hand painted on the edges).

Never put your crystal in the dishwasher.. It is "softer than glass" and will become foggy due to the abrasives on the dish soap.. This cannot be polished away,,

Also have you ever noticed tiny chipped on the edges of your crystal even though you have not used it in a long time? That is because you have it stored too close together in the cabinet. The crystal expands and contracts this causes small chips on the edges. .. Also over time, the lead in the crystal falls to the stem,, the the top edges become even more fragile. :

NEVER hang your crystal by the stem.. eventually this will cause it to weaken and when you are using this glass, the stem may break.

Never hang your cups by the handles, eventually they will do the same.. The pressure from hanging will eventually cause these handles to become so fragile they break.

There you go! Yes, we use whatever we are in the ,mood to use.

If something, breaks on accident, oh well, it was an accident..

We have already told our daughter about the special things, where or who they came from.. But we have told her many times. "When we die.. All of this you see around you, is not us. It is just stuff we liked. It is not your responsibility to hang onto it. Keep it and use or give it away sell it, trash it.. But do not make it your burden.. "

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answers from Kansas City on

We have very nice everyday dishes and "good china/crystal". We use the good stuff on special occasions and holidays. I love when my table is set with Waterford crystal and Lennox china, but it's just not practical for every day use. We have a china hutch for storage that matches our dining room table. The crystal goes in the top for display and the china is underneath in padded containers. When we do bring it out, everyone eats off of it--even my kids:)

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answers from Dallas on

I have a china cabinet and I store my beautiful Wedgewood in the china hutch with the Waterford crystal that I adore. I also have Sterling silver flatware that is stored in a special silver box. I also have several Waterford crystal bowl that I love.

All of this will be passed on to our daughter when we die. It wlil be hers to do with as she pleases at that point because it is simply things that we loved and chose to have in our home.

We use the "good stuff" on special occasions. Our daughter knows that is is special to us, where and how we got it (we bought it was not gifted).

I remove it from the china hutch about twice a year and make sure everyhing is chip free (which should be if he cabinet is never opened!) and completly clean the inside of the hutch and everything in it.

Our hutch has many special family treasures... some we have purchased as a family on specail vacations and some pieces from my Grandmother and Great Grandmother.

I think however you use yours is your personal choice and there is no right or wrong about it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

I grew up with both formal and every day dishes, as well as a "living room" and "family room".

When I was a kid the living room was mostly off limits unless we had company, and we never ate there unless we had company. It also had no TV. The family room had the TV, was where I could entertain my friends, and where we could eat popcorn, etc.

The "good" dishes had 12 place settings vs 8, and were taken out and used in the dining room (as opposed to the kitchen, where we usually ate). The dining room had carpeting and a very nice wood table, so you can imagine the reasons for not usually using it every day with kids.

I now have a smaller house, and a "dining room" that still doesn't have real furniture, because it doubles as an impromptu play room., with a folding table we cover with a cloth for company. We eat in it or our kitchen depending on how crowded each table is, and our mood.

I still have "good" china, which was about the same price (or maybe less) than my "every day" dishes, but prettier and more delicate. It has 12 place settings (as compared to 8) and I'm considering going up to 16 at some point. We pull it out one or two times a year when we have more than 6-8 people. It currently lives in the basement, or we might use it more often. Our 'good' glasses were $1 each at IKEA. They are very pretty and I don't care if I break one.

The reason for not using the good more often - I'm a klutz. If I used them every day I would fairly soon not have enough non-chipped china/non-broken glasses to serve 12 people. Our every day dishes are sturdier and we'll eventually need to buy another set, because after 12 years of hard use they are starting to look slightly worn, and we've broken enough that we're under 8 on a couple of items, even though we bought extra place settings when the pattern was discontinued.

I've never wanted truly expensive china because I never want to get upset if someone broke a glass, plate or bowl at a family event. That would make me feel like I cared more about a possession than the feelings of the person who broke it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Colorado Springs on

My parents did the same thing your aunt did, and that you do. We were expected to take care of whatever was in our home. We got to enjoy it, too. Sometimes it was grocery-coupon dishes and stainless forks. And sometimes it was antique furniture and Wedgwood and beautiful rugs.

I have good china and good sterling flatware and I love to get it out. I try to teach my grandchildren to use it properly. Like your aunt, I had to ask myself, "What will happen if anything is damaged, even if it *can't* be replaced?" and I had to answer, "Life will go on." If it can't be replaced, I'll be thankful I had it for a while.

I'd rather everybody enjoy what we have and gain good memories of it than save it for somebody else's museum. I can pick up the broken pieces, but my children and grandchildren have more lasting value.

Interestingly, they do their best. Not that the sixteen-month-old grandson uses the Limoges, but they all do the best that can be expected. On the other hand, when friends come to our house and I get out the "good stuff" to use, I'll hear objections. Somebody will say, "Ewww, I don't like this breaky stuff - haven't you got an old coffee mug instead?" They bring the eggshells with them - rather rudely, in a sense.

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answers from Appleton on

I have my Grandma's wedding china. My grandparents married in Janurary 1915 so it is almost 100 yrs old. My grandma worked for the company (I can't remember the name) that became Ka Tee pet foods in Chilton Wisconsin and they gave her the set as a wedding gift. It was so dear to grandma that whenever she used it she was the only one to wash or dry and put away the dishes. So My mom and her siblings loved it when grandma used the good china. The set is complete with 12 place settings, the serving peices and each place setting has 4 sizes of plates and 3 sizes of bowls. The only peice that is broken is one cup is missing the handle but I believe it is in the china cupboard..
I have used it a few times but i have an autistic granddaughter who likes to throw things and I would only use the china if she were at a different table. Small children don't get to use grandma's china.

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answers from Eugene on

Nope, don't have any good china. I opted for peace of mind instead and bought nice dinnerware seconds, 16-20 place settings. We use them every day, my kids clean up in the kitchen and I don't worry if they drop or break something. They were cheap! About $2.50 a place setting and I figured half of them would be broken or chipped by now. Nope, just one piece down and I'm the one who broke it! If I'd known, I might have spent more for first quality but then again, it was nice not to worry when my kids were little and this stuff is so durable, it'll probably last through my grandkids, too.

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answers from Spokane on

Neither side of our family had any to pass down and we didn't register for any. We have every day dishes. All white. For holidays I can add color with tablecloths and mats and it looks great.

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answers from Savannah on

When I was a kid, my grandma had a living room (everyone in there, it had ceramic tile, a TV, and opened to the backdoor). She had a little hutch in the eat in kitchen where the "everyday dishes" went. There was a formal dining room and a den that were not for children unless we had a "special invitation"; it had white carpet, lovely furniture that she did lots of extra jobs and worked hard to get, and it opened to the front door. We never thought anything of it though, it didn't hurt our feelings in the least. The tile floor from the living room was good for robots and remote control cars, the TV could be turned on, and it opened to the backyard where we played most of the time. The den was boring: lots of breakable collectables, white carpet meant no shoes for kids who had just come in from the vegetable garden, and there was no toys or TV in there, just old people talking, playing piano, eating weird looking foods. We had homemade strawberry or peach icecream at our kids' table, and that was way better than weirdness on a cracker. So nooooooo, I don't believe we were marginalized at parties and holidays when we were sitting at the kids' table (the regular everyday table) and the adults were on the other side of the house.
That said: we have a built in and we removed the cabinet doors and put in glass doors instead, to show off our china. It's lovely! I'm very proud of it, because I earned it all by myself and bought it with my own money. I didn't register for it because I bought it back when I was "never" going to get married, but I didn't see why I should do without such lovely china just because I wasn't planning a wedding. Mine's Mikasa, and I have a full set for 8 people, the red wine glasses, the white wine glasses, and the champagne flutes. The gravy bowl, a couple serving dishes, some very nice cutlery that goes well with it, and waterford crystal as well. I have my great-great grandma's punch bowl (inherited, because I love to entertain), cheese trays and other odds and ends that are really special to me. Mom said that my brother and I will share the German mustache cups that came over with our great great great grandparents. They are not a set, but since our relatives came with just what they could carry in their own bag, it seems they each brought their favorite cups (one's pink and ornate, one's white and gold and very manly, etc).
My boys (ages 2 and 5) eat on our regular dishes (drink from plastic cups though because sometimes, spills and drops happen). We all eat together at almost every meal, and that's wonderful. But if we are having a "date night" then I'll feed the boys early and they'll go to the guest room to watch a movie and my husband and I will eat on our china, in the dining room, by candlelight with quiet music in the background. We love it. We also use the china for holidays (Valentines Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, our anniversary, New Year's Day, and occasionally a birthday), as well as when there's a special thing to celebrate. We always eat at our Amish made table in the kitchen on normal dishes together, unless it's date night or a special event, OR if we have guests over. Not to show off but because there's not enough room for everyone to eat in the kitchen. So, 4-5 kids can eat in our kitchen, so it's the "kids table". and 4-6 adults can eat in our dining room. I have light carpet on the dining room floor (which is kinda silly, I'd like to change that to wood someday) so I just feel more comfortable with kids eating in the kitchen.
My china: it is not made anymore. It can be found on, yes, but very expensive and I don't want to replace things like that if I can help it! The tea cups previously mentioned, we wouldn't use. It's family history and we tell the stories that we've learned of the people who brought them over, and that's special, but we don't need to drink from them and risk breaking something that can't be replaced. We DO use my punchbowl because it was made to have fun! It's different, so it looks "special" but it wasn't expensive (depression era). To each their own, but how we do it works just fine for my family. I LOVE my china! Helps me feel festive, reminds me of special moments in our lives, there's a lot of stories and history to those things for us.
This is too long already, but my mom's china has a FANTASTIC story to it, and it's very special to remember it, to tell others, to even retell to us! To some, the china may not have "lived" (ha), or have a story. Others really do have some very cool memories or stories attached.



answers from Los Angeles on

Yes I have the "good china" that we got tons of for our wedding and my husband hates that we rarely use it. So far I have broken it out for the baptisms of my two kids and I think thats it. I have a big family and not many opportunities to be the host! Someone else always snags thanksgiving, Christmas, and easter. I know I'll use it in the years to come for special events.
I also have a set of Franciscan that I collect- my aunt scored the bulk of it at an estate sale or something and gifted it to me. I add pieces to it now and then. I've busted that out for birthday parties now and then, it's very girly (desert rose) and doesn't fit well with most occasions.
And then regular noritake plates for the everyday.

I grew up with the formal china and silver always coming out for Christmas, easter, graduation dinners, wedding/baby showers etc. My mom is kinda into dishes. We also had a formal living room, but it wasn't all tricked out with nice stuff no one could touch or anything like that. It was more like the front room that no one hung out in because the TV was in the family room. Except on Christmas, because that's where we put the tree.
My front room is the only family room so no formal rooms in my house. Also my dining room is small and no kitchen area so there is only one place to sit at a table. I think if I had a formal dining room I'd bring out the formal china more often!



answers from Dallas on

We do not have expensive china. My personal belief, is that I don't have practical items (dishes, silverware, glasses, etc) that can't be used. It's a waste of space, in our opinion. I don't like having things stored away to be used a few times in my life...maybe. (Likely, not.)

We were in JCPenney one time for another couple's registry. We happened upon plates we loved the look of, so that is were we got our set. I want to be able to use things. I also don't think anyone is so special, that I keep china stored away until they come over. That makes me feel like I'm marginalizing everyone else who visits my home. Just my personal opinion, nothing against those who love their china :)

Jo- I wouldn't care if you did buy it!! It doesn't bother me if others choose to have china, I just choose not to. Different strokes!



answers from Chicago on

I have 1 set of everyday dishes. they are pfaltzgraf. I have service for 12 of that and we use it for dinner every night. In addition to that I have 3 sets of china. one set is the christmas china. It comes out the day after thanksgiving and we use it til the weekend before valentines day. I have service for 10 of that one. I have a set of johann haviland moss rose china that is my favorite. It is only service for 4. it was part of a set that got split up between siblings lol. I bought a serving platter and only use it when it is my anniversary. I also have have a set of lenox heyworth collection which I have service for 12 of. We use that for all special holidays / birthdays / anniversary's other than my wedding. Our children have all been fed on all of these dishes since they were babies. they do not throw or break them. they know they are special to me and they are careful.



answers from Boca Raton on

We use our fine china at Thanksgiving and Christmas . . . both sets are Lenox. The only reason I don't use them more frequently is that they must be hand-washed (too lazy to do that LOL).

I absolutely love dishes and have a nice every day set too, though I'm thinking of selling it to get a white set.

PS: It's weird how much I love dishes and hate cooking. :P



answers from Amarillo on

I was brought up with good china and silverware that had to be cleaned. When I was single my aunt and cousin and me saved money in savings accounts and got a set of dishes and silverware. Between us we could have served 40 people or so with the same set. The remains of this set is my everyday china and it is over 40 years old.

My husband to be sent me a set of bone china from Japan for 12 and the punch bowl, cups and crystal with bamboo etching. We later bought on special sale bone china for 8 incuding serving pieces for $40 that is over $150 a place setting now days and a German cake set. There are two china cabinets in my house full and a silver tea service with tray. A service comes out at least twice a year. There are also other lead crystal glasses that are used for anniversary toasts. I also love to dress the table with linens and cloth napkins.

One day the services will be split between the two kids. What they do with them is not my concern as I won't be here to complain about it.

Enjoy what you have. It is good training for the future dinner parties or special events.

The other S.



answers from Chicago on

I have a my mother's china set --she is using my grandmother's. I have never used it. I also have some good stoneware I haven't used in eons --a good 7 or 8 years. We should use that as our everyday dishes, and I am thinking we just may!

We don't have a formal dinning room in our house, it's too small, but I was raised with one, and china came out for special company and on holidays --it still does.

I just can't be bothered. All of mine is in storage, and it's a pain to use.



answers from Dallas on

I really don't have anything to say regarding your post. But I do like your alias, F. B. - awesome!


answers from Dallas on

My mom had a china cabinet filled with blue and white dishes. She "earned" each piece by saving grocery store stamps, filling up the little cards, and trading them in to get one piece at a time. I'm sure if a single piece broke, I would feel so guilty I couldn't live until I replaced it.


answers from Jacksonville on

We didn't register for or buy any "good China" when we got married. Neither of us really saw the point. We aren't formal entertainers. We don't host fancy dinners. We don't have any "esteemed guest lists". I mean, we love our family and friends, don't get me wrong---but none of them are going to be on any of the Society pages.

There is really no NEED to keep up any sort of "appearances". So, well, we didn't both spending the money on that sort of dishes. We have nice Noritake stoneware. And another set of dishes that I ordered years ago from Gevalia (yes, the coffee people, lol) that are white. We use both as "everyday" dishes.
We do have a "formal" dining room in addtion to our everyday breakfast table area. And I do set a "formal" table for Thanksgiving and Christmas Dinner. Other than those meals, the only time we use the more formal dining room is when we have more than 2 guests. It's the only way everyone gets a seat at the table. :)

Our first house, we didn't even include a "formal dining room" because ours was used so little when I was growing up, and we didn't see any point. We had the space that would have been the dining room, turned into a 4th bedroom and expanded the casual/breakfast dining area, instead. But, we discovered that when we had large parts of the family visiting us that we didn't really have table space for everyone. When it was just the two of us and his parents or my parents, or the four of us and his parents or my parents, it wasn't any big deal. But if we wanted to host another Family with kids, it was an issue. When we wanted to have his AND my parents, it was an issue. So with this house, we kept the formal dining room in the plans, and bought a dining set for it.

I don't have "china" in my china cabinet, though. :)
(I have wine glasses and the kids' school award certificates, and special mugs from "events" and things like that in the glassed section on the top. The drawers/bottom stores table linens, and larger serving pieces/platters and holiday stuff.)


answers from Los Angeles on

If I had it to do over again, I don't know if I would bother with good china. I have a set of vintage bone china that i take out about 4 or 5 times a year (and would use more if I could use it in the dishwasher without having to hand dry) and half a set of new bone china I never completed the set for and have never used. I also stand to inherit a set. Its just too many dishes!!!!!!!! I'm all for using your china every day if it makes you happy. And I equally admire those who skip the formality of owning bone china all together. And yes, I totally let my toddler eat off it. But that in part has to do with our internet age and being able to buy parts and pieces of out of production china. 30 years ago it made more sense not to let kids eat off china.



answers from Pittsburgh on

We have my husband's grandmother's china.
It is in the china closet in our dining room.
We have used it maybe 5-8 times in 15 years.
Maybe if I liked it more, we'd use it more! LOL

With any china, I'd be concerned about the safety of the paint for every day use. That's why I'm dragging my feet on buying new every day dishes!



answers from Kansas City on

I do have fine china, a set from my wedding and one of my grandmother's sets. When I use it, I use most of it because we have a big family! I really should use it more, I often think that, but honestly, I rarely use it. We do use it for major holidays (Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving) but other than that not really. I'm happy to have it, even if I don't use it much. I was definitely brought up with rooms children were not allowed in, but that's not how it is in my house. I don't let my kids use the china, but someday I will! ;) We have a nice big china cabinet that is in our dining room. I love the cabinet and my dishes aren't displayed in there but rather stacked up usefully.

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