Tips for Using Your Dinner Plates for the Theme of Your Tablescape

Themed dinnereware for your tablescape.

The china or dinnerwares that are displayed on your dinner tables are more than just practical necessities. These could actually make the loveliest decorative elements in themselves. So aside from planning your tablecloth color, the centerpiece flowers, and what napkin fold to use, think decorative plates for your tablescape!

We’d like to show you the possibilities of using plates with dainty patterns, interesting borders, or embossed textures—whether to set a mood, convey a feeling, or play up the theme of your tablescape. We also offer some tips and tricks for making the most of their decorative qualities to create a beautiful place setting on your tablescape.

Use Vintage-style Plates for a Tea Party Setting

Vintage-inspired theme wit floral china dinnerware.

If you’re planning a tea party-style gathering, then plates with dainty floral patterns are just the thing. These come in pretty pastels against a white background and often have a touch of gold or silver worked into the design. If you can find a set with matching tea cups and saucers, that would be perfect.

China with scrolled edging on the border.

You could also opt for pure white china ware in which the design appears as a beautiful embossed border of vines and scrolls. A scalloped edge adds a further sweet touch.

Where to find these pieces? You may be lucky enough to have them in the family—and can just borrow them from your mother or grandmother. But if not, keep our eye out for these lovely finds at antique stores, flea markets, and thrift shops.

Tips to enhance your party plates:

  1. Set your dinner ware against contrasting plate chargers. These serve as “frames” for the plates and make them truly stand out. Look for chargers in various finishes and textures such as matte gold, acrylic with beadwork edging, or even mirrored ones.
  2. Between the charger and the plate, you could add a liner of fabric like the ruffled pink one shown above, or a pretty crocheted or paper doily.
  3. To add further visual interest, mix and match china patterns within the same general color palette. For instance, your dinner plates, pastry plates, tea cups and saucers may all be pure white but with different embossed patterns and border designs—with a few pieces completely unadorned.
  4. You could also layer your party place settings. Place a patterned bread plate on top of a plain dinner plate, and a colored, embossed soup bowl on top of that. The result will be a party table with interesting character and texture.
  5. Combine porcelain ware with clear glass plates in a complementary color. This is one way to highlight a particular hue in the patterned plates—such as blue, amber, rose, or even green.

Try Artful Plates for a Unique Theme

Japanese dinnerware theme.

There are some themes that give you the chance to be truly creative with plates. If your dinner party will have a Japanese motif, for instance, use distinctive earthenware plates and bowls with richly glazed finishes and artistic designs. You may even bring in a few unique pieces like the one shown above. Its irregular shape and “Oriental brush painting” design are sure to make it a party conversation piece!

Other decorative plate ideas:

  1. Mosaic patterned plates for an exotic Middle Eastern or Mediterranean themed party
  2. Plates with a lacy cutwork border for a springtime brunch shower
  3. Handpainted tapas plates for a casual gathering with a Spanish menu
  4. Leaf-shaped plates for a tropical-themed bridal shower held outdoors
  5. Plates with designs marking the particular season—snowflakes and Christmas trees, clover leaves, spring flowers, Easter bunnies, summer sunbursts, pumpkins and maple leaves

Modern metallic dinnerware for Christmas holiday tablescape.

In this tablescape, we played up a Christmas theme by using plates with a simple silver concentric design salad plate resting on a white dinner plate and matte silver charger.

Wondering how to use to use plain white porcelain plates? Here are some examples of themed tablescapes:

  • A winter place setting in silver and white makes use of just a few elements to convey a snowflake motif of the tablescape.
  • Chic square plates with curved edges at an al fresco-style beach setting require only a little table decorations to complete the look!

How about non-white plates? Here’s how you can use them for your tablescapes:

  • Check out our tropical summer tablescape with square wooden plates are coordinated with natural elements like leaves, coconuts, and seashell favors for guests.
  • Mix and match your plates if you have no idea what to do! See this whimsical Alice in Wonderland tablescape, floral plates are laid out with yellow ones in an alternating fashion.

So, as you plan the table settings for your dinner party, don’t overlook plates as decorative elements in themselves. Make the most of their colors, designs, and textures, since they are right in front of each guest throughout the party!

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