Canadian Rental Service

Trends in dinnerware

By Dennis Heathcote   

Features Party and event Trends and technology

Keeping up with trends is essential in the party rental business. No one wants to lose a customer because the company’s inventory has become dated. This is especially important when it comes to dinnerware.

Keeping up with trends is essential in the party rental business. No one wants to lose a customer because the company’s inventory has become dated. This is especially important when it comes to dinnerware. Tables will always be tables, and stages will always be stages, but dinnerware can come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colours. If you have limited funds, it is incredibly important to determine quickly which trends will be around for a while and which trends are mere fads that will pass quickly.

Coloured dinnerware may be trendy, but just like clothes, colours can go out of style. White dinnerware is always popular and goes with everything. 


So what are some current trends in dinnerware? The most important trend in dinnerware is the move away from the plain, round dishes. Round dishes continue to have their place, and will endure simply because of their classic nature. Round dishes come in a variety of qualities, including houseware grade, restaurant quality and bone china.

Houseware-grade round plates offer the customer a good-quality plate at typically lower prices. Restaurant-quality (or commercial grade) plates are a step up on the durability side of things. These plates typically feature rolled edges to reduce chipping and are made of more durable porcelain. They are also more esthetically pleasing, with a more refined look and feel.

The final grade of dinnerware is bone china. These dishes are reserved for more upscale events where cost is not a concern. Bone china is the best of the best in terms of overall appearance. It is not typically added to inventories, simply because of the necessarily higher rental price needed to recoup the investment; most customers simply cannot justify paying the high rental price.

If customers are moving away from round, white dishes, what alternative are they looking for? Square dinnerware has been hot for a number of years now, and it is not showing any signs of slowing down.

One of the reasons that square dishes are so popular is because they are something that consumers don’t have in their own homes. They are exotic and unique. Because the square dishes are so unique, they are likely to remain a popular item for some time. An investment in square dishes can help differentiate you from competitors who have not invested in the dishes and will ensure that you are competing on even ground with competitors who have.

Square dishes are available in a variety of sizes, as are numerous accessory pieces, including teacups and saucers. Having a full range of square dinnerware allows you to present a completely unique experience to your current and future customers.

Rectangular dishes build on the uniqueness of the square dishes   and allow caterers to differentiate themselves from their competition. Rectangular plates do not represent a huge move away from square dishes; in fact, part of their popularity is due to the fact that they can be intermixed with square dishes. A rectangular dinner plate is easily accented with a square teacup and saucer and a square dipping bowl can easily sit on a rectangular platter with an appetizer. Rectangular dishes come in numerous sizes from appetizer/dessert sizes of 4.5 inches by 10 inches to platters that are seven inches by 10 inches. They can be found with rims or as rimless coupe-shaped varieties.

Colours also have trends. White is always popular, and never goes out of style. It’s easier to find dishes in white, and they match with anything.

Coloured dinnerware and dinnerware with a pattern can be very tricky. Just like clothing, styles change and colours and patterns go in and out of style. What’s hip and cool today can be tired and tacky tomorrow. Colours that were considered timeless can look dated and old. If you’re going to invest in coloured or patterned dinnerware, you should expect that demand will fluctuate as the style goes in and out of fashion.

Tastes also can vary from person to person. One person’s treasure is another person’s trash. Finally, you may find that you have difficulty replacing pieces, as your supplier may be reticent to bring in patterns that have slowed or show slowing sales.

Although future trends are hard to predict, there is one that we have been watching closely. Over the past several years we have seen a growing interest in a truly unique dinnerware line that is oval. While oval dinnerware is not necessarily new (it has been seen in platters for years) oval plates with no rim are a new phenomenon.

Many trends like this start in Europe, make their way to Los Angeles and New York City, and then on to Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. In the case of oval dinnerware, the trend got its start in Vancouver by one of the city’s leading party rental companies that was interested in offering a product no one else had.

Sometimes, looking at what your competitors have to offer and offering something that is attractive and different can be a great way of setting a trend in your area.

Dennis Heathcote is the president of D & K Imports, a supplier of various products to the hospitality sector, and a proud recipient of the “Supplier of the Year” award from the Canadian Rental Association’s Ontario chapter. For more information, please visit our website .

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