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Whether it's family pizza night or a formal holiday party, everyone needs a nice set of dinnerware. Although many families today often buy a one-size-fits-all dining set to accommodate both casual dining and formal dining, those who frequently entertain often invest in fine china for those extra-special occasions. As you buy your next set of dishes, be sure to consider this:

What should my dinnerware set include?

The number of pieces in a dining set differs for casual dining and fine dining. A casual set usually includes a dinner plate, salad plate, bowl and mug. On the other hand, a formal set typically includes a dinner plate, salad plate, bread plate, teacup and saucer. Since casual dishes usually include everyday items like bowls and mugs, most people opt for this set initially and later on work up to fine china if needed.

How many dining settings should I buy?

This is another instance where casual and formal dinnerware differ. Casual, everyday dishes oftentimes come as a complete set, with usually enough plates and bowls for eight people. Formal dishware sets, on the other hand, are bought as individual settings — therefore, you will need to buy eight five-piece, single-person settings to serve eight people. Because of this, as well as the quality of the dish set, formal dinnerware is vastly more expensive than casual.