Selecting the Right Plate for Entertaining: Size, Material & Color

Author: Hou

Mar. 07, 2024



Tags: Minerals & Metallurgy

I know, how much can really can go into choosing a plate for a party, right?  Well it’s actually pretty simple to select the right plate for entertaining.  There are three things to consider in choosing a party plate: size, material and color.


The size of your meal will determine what size plates you will need:  lunch, dinner, dessert plates, etc.  This one shouldn’t be to hard to determine, if you are having a large menu then you will need larger plates like a dinner plate but if it is appetizers only you may only need a lunch or dessert plate.

  • Dessert plate: approx. 6-7″
  • Lunch plate: approx. 9″
  • Dinner plate: approx. 10 – 12″



Plastic plates are a great option when a heavy disposable plate is needed.  In most cases they have the sturdiness to hold up as well as a real ceramic plate would but can be tossed after the meal.  They usually are more costly than a paper plate but hold up better to cutting or liquid foods,  Plastic won’t absorb the liquid and get soggy like paper.


Paper plates are the least expensive option and have a variety of weights available, from thin to as thick as a plastic plate.  Paper is great when cost is an issue, such as for a large event, they can be bought in large quantities for very little.    Since they are thin and paper they will absorb any liquid and can be flimsy.  Something to consider if your guests are walking around with their plates.


Ceramic plates is a broad category for any non-disposable plate or I sometimes call a “real” plate.  They can be made out of a variety of materials,  ceramic includes stoneware, china and porcelain.  There is also glass, metal, wood, melamine, and even plastic.  Real plates are arguably the most ascetically beautiful option, there really is nothing like a real plate.   For a one-time event they are the most expensive option however for a recurring event they can be a better investment over time.  The one disadvantage you can’t get away from is they must be washed, unless you rent them, where they still have to be washed just not by you.


Food is the really the focal piece of the event so the plates you choose should complement them.  You also have to take into account your theme and color scheme as well.  Okay this may not be the most beautiful plate of food (or the healthiest) but it shows when you have a lot of colors going on, sometimes the best option is just plain old white.

  • Yellow & white food:  for a menu with a bland color palette, choose a fun bright color to make the food pop.  Serve chicken and rice on a bright teal plate.
  • Colorful bright food – if menu is colorful already don’t let the plate compete with  instead add a nice background to it with a neutral color.  Serve a crisp green salad with red strawberries on a white plate and that salad will pop beautifully.
  • Dark food:  pick a light color to contrast the food.  If the menu is hamburgers  and beans a pastel color will create a contrast between the food and the plate.

This is Part 3 in an ongoing series about how to create your tablescapes. You can read Part 1 about developing a theme for your table here and Part 2 about Choosing what Plates to Buy, Chargers, here. There are some similarities when choosing chargers and dinner plates so there will be some repetition in this blog post.

The dinner plate is really the most important plate on the table from a practical standpoint. You can do without a charger and you can do without a salad plate but you need a dinner plate. My tablescapes tend to have at least three plates in the plate stack, a charger, a dinner plate, and a salad plate but if you are just starting to tablescape you can start with just a dinner plate on the table and still create a perfect tablescape.

There are five things to think about when buying dinner plates; size, color, shape, material, and price. Dinner plates tend to be about 10 1/2” in diameter. You want a dinner plate about that size so that a larger charger will show below the dinner plate and a smaller salad plate won’t cover the dinner plate completely. This provides a nice balance for the plate stack.

Selecting the Right Plate for Entertaining: Size, Material & Color

Tablescaping DIY, Part 3, Choosing what Plates to Buy, Dinner Plates — Whispers of the Heart


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