Published on March 25, 2019

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Plates, flatware, glasses—we all need them, but we rarely give them much thought. Perhaps you inherited yours from your parents when you moved out or bought a starter set from a big-box store when you signed your first lease. If you’ve invested in your dinnerware, maybe you picked a style that no longer suits your taste (ahem—square plates). The thing is: You don’t need to wait to fill a wedding registry to invest in luxe-looking dinnerware.

Luxury has gone a long way from fine china or overly gilded and ornate pieces. The elegant dinner tables of today are less opulent. Instead, they’re filled with beautiful hand-thrown ceramics, stoned-washed linens, and elegant bud vases. And while some ceramicists might be a little out of our budget (especially when shopping for large sets), there are surprisingly affordable alternatives out there, and we’ve sourced some of our favorites from H&M Home, Zara Home, and more.

Get ready to set your table under a whole new light—all without having to eat instant ramen for a month to pay for your newfound dinnerware.

The Tablecloth

The base of any good table starts with a simple tablecloth—that is unless you have a beautiful table to showcase, in which case a table runner is a great alternative. This simple washed linen tablecloth serves as a neutral backdrop to work with any table setting.

The Dinnerware

At under $100, this 12-piece dinnerware set from Urban Outfitters will give your table an understated flair. These plates will be nice enough for a formal dinner but casual enough for any regular weeknight.

The Candleholders

No need to spend a ton to set the right ambiance for your dinner. These under-$15 marble candle holders will ensure that every night feels extra special.

The Napkins

Forget the paper towels and set the table with these beautiful grid-motif cotton napkins instead. They’re neutral enough to fit any tablescape but will elevate a simple colored plate.

The Tumblers

Amber glass is all you need to give your table a sophisticated edge. By adding just a few pops of color, you’ll add interest to your tablescape all under $8.

The Flatware

This ultra-thin stainless steel flatware is classic enough that you won’t get sick of it in a few years but visually interesting enough to add an elegant layer to your dinner table.

The Carafe

Don’t put a plastic water bottle on the table. Instead, a sophisticated smoked glass carafe will keep your guests hydrated in style. They’ll never guess you got it from H&M for under $18.

The Wine Glasses

When choosing the right wine glasses, look for a classic shape with a slender and tall stem to add instant elegance to your table. These CB2 glasses fit the bill perfectly.

The Vase

No need for an elaborate centerpiece for your dining table. A simple bud vase (or a small set of them) requires fewer flowers and will still make your table feel layered and elevated.

The Coupes

If a bottle of champagne is on the menu, skip the traditional flutes in favor of a modern coupe with a sophisticated ribbed design.

The Trivet

If you own a beautiful Staub, Great Jones, or Le Creuset dutch oven, bring it straight to the table, but set in on a beautiful terra-cotta trivet like this one.

The Dip Dishes

Forego the salt and pepper shakers in favor of these beautiful sample dishes that can hold your table essentials and any other spices you want people to try with their meal.

The Serving Platter

If you want to serve in platters, H&M’s selection of stoneware plates can hold appetizers, sides, and desserts big or small.

The Serveware

A few simple serving utensils will always make your table feel perfectly put-together while also making plating easier for both yourself and your guests.

Discover more expert entertaining tips:

New York Chefs Swear By This Chic Dinnerware Brand
All I Want Is to Be the Kind of Person Who Has Matching Glassware
A Food Network Star Dishes on Her Party Secrets