Buying flatware is not something people do every day. The tools we use to eat are something people usually don’t think of as disposable, although there are plastic options for one use only available. No, flatware is bought as something that should last, something we get and then don’t have to think about for years if we properly maintain it. And it’s because of this that buying flatware requires some planning, or at least some thinking about the future. Will you throw fancy dinners? How many people do you expect to use it? What types of dishes do you plan to serve? All of these questions influence the choices you make when buying flatware. So let’s dive into it.
The first question, how fancy or formal will be the events you plan to host at your home will dictate the type of flatware you’re buying, and the number of flatware sets you need to have. There’s a difference between the flatware you plan to use for everyday eating, and the set you bring out only in special occasion. The set of choice for special occasions is, of course, silverware, although having a really high end set, like the one that’s made by Aava, can also work well. Having such a high end set can also be very useful if you don’t think you’ll host a lot of formal dinners, but you still want to be prepared for them. In that case, having a high quality set for everyday use which could also be used for special occasions would suffice. Otherwise, you’ll need to have at least two sets – one for formal, and one for everyday use.
The number of people you think will be using the flatware determines the size of the set you need, or the number of sets you will need to buy. A set that is a service for six is designed for six people, and within it you’ll find six forks, six spoons, six knives, six of everything that’s needed for a place setting. Service for eight will mean eight of everything, and so on. Sets are made for anywhere from four to sixteen people. So, if you know you’ll have weekly lunches with your extended family, getting a set that serves more people is something you should consider. Or, if you find a set you really like but it’s only for six people, and you plan to have ten or even twelve people over for a meal regularly, you might instead want to buy two of same set.
Now you need to think about what kind of dishes you plan to serve. If you’re not really that big on soup, or if you only plan to drink it from a bowl or a cup, you can get away with a three piece place setting, which contains a knife, a fork, and a teaspoon. In this case, the term place setting refers to the number of utensils needed to eat a meal. A flatware set for six three piece place setting will contain 18 pieces. Traditionally, you wouldn’t see a proper spoon until the five piece place setting because the four piece place setting adds a salad fork to the utensils found in the three piece place setting. However, in modern and more functional times, it’s very common to find sets that have four piece place settings that include a spoon instead of the salad fork. Other pieces that can be added to place settings include a butter spreader, an iced beverage spoon, and a seafood cocktail fork.
Another very important thing to keep in mind is that serving utensils can be a part of a set of flatware, but it’s not unusual to find sets that don’t contain them. If you, for example, look at a 101-piece service for twelve people, and do some math, you’ll figure out that it contains twelve eight-piece settings, plus five serving utensils. Some of the utensils that can be included in the set are a tablespoon, sugar spoon, gravy ladle, meat fork, pie server, soup ladle, serving spoon, and so on. If these are all a part of a set of flatware – great, but if they’re not, you can always buy them separately, either piece by piece, or in a set that’s usually called a “hostess set”. Some manufacturers might make separate flatware and hostess sets in the same style, so you can buy them separately and still use them without worrying if they fit together. In other cases, you’ll have to pay attention that the style of the hostess set is complementary to the style of the flatware. And you should always be sure that a hostess set contains as many of the serving utensils you will need, because everything you need and is not there will have to be bought separately, and you have to worry about matching it to your flatware all over again.