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Whether you’re hosting a brunch, dinner party, or simply reveling without a cause, a fully stocked cabinet of tabletop and barware is a must for any hostess. Mixing and matching is part of the fun when it comes to tableware, whether you’re building a collection of tableware basics, or shopping for a vintage piece de resistance, such as a one-of-a-kind pitcher or unique set of coupe glasses. If you’re unsure where to start with your tableware, or you’re simply looking to make sure you’re prepped for any occasion—from cocktail parties to backyard clambakes—we’re laying out all of the tabletop accouterments you need. Read on to learn all about the pieces to add to your must and lust lists.


Tabletop consists of any item you’d used to set a dinner table. Items under the dinnerware umbrella range from the essentials—plates, flatware, glassware—to the unconventional—ice buckets, tureens, oyster plates. Dinnerware can be sourced in just about any style. Some of the most popular styles include retro, organic modern, and madcap or English cottage-inspired.


Dinnerware is a term primarily used to describe plates. Plates can be made of a wide array of materials, including bone china, porcelain, earthenware, stoneware, and melamine. Terms you will often see associated with vintage dinner plates include ironstone, transferware, and majolica. Plates can vary dramatically in style. Plain white plates, often referred to as “catering plates” are a favorite of entertainers because of their versatility. Others prefer more decorative plates featuring ornate rim designs or all-over patterns. Worth noting is that the term “decorative plates” often refers to plates that are meant to be hung on a wall as art, and are not necessarily designed for eating off.


Flatware is a term used to describe eating utensils like knives, spoons, and forks. Another commonly used term for flatware is “silverware.” Newly-made flatware is generally sold in single sets consisting of five pieces—two sizes of spoons, two sizes of forks, and a butter knife—while vintage flatware is often sold in large, sprawling sets consisting of thirty-plus pieces or more. Flatware can be made of a variety of materials, but the most common are stainless steel or sterling silver. Sterling silver flatware is more likely to be ornately designed, while stainless steel flatware is more likely to be minimalist and modern in design.


Intended for drinking hot beverages like coffee or tea, mugs are an essential part of any entertainer’s repertoire. Like plates, mugs can be made of a variety of materials, including bone china, porcelain, earthenware, and stoneware. If you’re in the market for second-hand tableware mugs, there are numerous styles to consider, including stacking mugs, engraved mugs, porcelain mugs, and more. If you’re not necessarily looking for a set, and you prefer a collection of artful and eclectic mugs, consider seeking out diner mugs, tiki mugs, beer mugs—and let’s not forget: Christmas mugs!


Serveware consists of any tabletop item that’s primary purpose is to contain food. This can include platters, tureens, bowls, and oven-to-table bakeware like casserole dishes. Serveware can range from plain to extremely decorative. Soup tureens, in particular, tend to be extremely ornate and are often designed to look like birds or animals, including swans, ducks, lambs, or pigs. Serveware is often made of durable materials like earthenware, stoneware, or even cast-iron— although there are more delicate porcelain styles available. A subset of serveware includes a battalion of mini serveware options, such as gravy boats, ice buckets, pitchers, sugar bowls, creamers, and more.


From drinking glasses to rocks glasses to champagne flutes, you could easily write an encyclopedia on glassware. Each hostess’s arsenal will vary, but common inclusions are drinking or water glasses, juice glasses, and wine glasses. What other glasses should be a part of your line-up? We break down some of the most common and specialty glassware and barware options below.

Balloon Glass: Named for their silhouette which mimics a balloon with its top lopped off, balloon glasses are generally used for serving red wine or tonic-based cocktails. They feature a wide, round basin and a slightly tapered rim.

Brandy Snifter: Brandy snifters showcase a large, round bowl with a tapered rim (generally, brandy snifters feature a more extreme taper than balloon glasses, but if they sound similar in appearance, you're not wrong) balanced atop a short stem. Brandy snifters are generally used for serving aromatic spirits like brandy, but increasingly, they’re used for stout-style beers.

Champagne Coupe: A classic silhouette that evokes Gatsby-era glamour, the champagne coupe is a piece of barware featuring a saucer-shaped bowl placed atop a grateful, tulip-like stem. In addition to champagne, coupes can be fashioned as vessels for specialty cocktails. When shopping for vintage coupe glasses, keep an eye out for intricately etched models, as well as coupes in alluring colors like pink or lavender.

Champagne Flute: The wedding toast classic, the champagne flute is composed of a tall, narrow cylinder-shaped bowl balanced on top of a long stem. Alternatively, champagne flutes can come equipped with a short, knobby base or be stemless.

Collins Glass: A sleek-as-can-be, cylindrical silhouette makes the Collins glass a tabletop heavyweight. Lifting its name from the classic Tom Collins cocktail, the Collins glass is ideal for mixed cocktails like mojitos and bloody Mary’s.

Juice Glass: A brunch basic, the juice glass is a short tumbler that typically holds between 5 to 10 ounces of liquid. Juice glasses are often decorated with whimsical sketches or ditsy prints, but they can also be plain or incised with jelly glass ribbing.

Margarita Glass: Also known as a coupette glass, margarita glasses feature a wide rim (perfect for salting!) and a large, pyramid-stepped bowl. If you feel like the margarita glass is a bit one-note, consider a model that appears to be more of a hybrid between a coupe glass and a margarita glass.

Martini Glass: Featuring a cone-shaped bowl perched atop a long stem, martini glasses are a forever classic. Use this barware basic to serve mocktails or mixed drinks like cosmos, Manhattans, and, of course, the Holly Golightly stand-by: the martini.

Pilsner Glass: Shapely and built for suds, the pilsner glass features a wide mouth and a slightly tapered base—an hourglass silhouette of sorts. While these glasses are typically used for housing light brews like pilsners and ales, they’re also the de facto vessel for Guinness. Use them to give root beer float night also a chic upgrade as well.

Old Fashioned Glass: On the rocks or neat, an old-fashioned glass is the go-to glass for heady libations like whiskey and bourbon. These squat glasses are typically designed to hold 8 to 10 ounces of liquid, making them ideal for sippers of the non-alcoholic variety as well.