We thoroughly research all the products we feature, and we honestly think they’re great. But just so you know, things you buy from links on this page may earn us a commission. All prices were accurate at publish time.
Al fresco dining season is almost fully upon us, and we can practically feel the chilled rosé in our hands already. Sadly, most outdoor dinnerware runs the risk of looking tacky and cheap, disposable (sometimes because it literally is), or like you’re eating at a kid’s birthday party. But why should outdoor dining mean compromising on a fancy table setting, or durability? Whether you’re camping, really jazzing up your patio, or looking for something durable for the road, these dinnerware picks provide all the luxury of fancy dinnerware, take some good wear-and-tear, and actually look like you dropped more than a buck or two on them. All whilst enjoying some welcome sunshine and fresh air. Ahh.
The Bay’s own homeware line delivers with this sky-blue line with swirl pattern, made of that most versatile and useful material, melamine. Melamine is non-porous but robust, meaning it’ll stand the test of time, and most outdoor dinnerware will favour it. The Distinctly Home range is BPA-free, and will show off your fresh farmer’s market veggies beautifully. It’s not microwavable, but after an outdoor party, you can easily toss it in the dishwasher and you’re good to go. And if we didn’t know better, we’d say it looked like a gorgeous glazed ceramic.
Distinctly Home 11” Dinner Plate, $5 at The Bay.
These aren’t your standard plastic plates; with some classic design, they look more like fancy china. At just $45 for a 40-piece set, you’ll be ready to throw an outdoor party for your whole block. And the best part? They’re both reusable and recyclable, and are just as suitable for indoor use as out. So if you can’t face the pile-up at Thanksgiving, you can whip these out again in the fall to save yourself some elbow grease. These are also BPA-free, but a little too delicate for the dishwasher, so best to hand-wash for longevity.
Mozaik Premium Plastic White Ring Plate Set, 40 Pieces, $45 at Amazon.
How charmingly rustic-looking are these beauties from Melange? Slightly thicker than your usual dinnerware, this melamine faux-clay collection is heavy-duty, so hopefully will see you through many summers of outdoor entertaining. You can expect them to withstand a good dishwasher, and they also come in a range of brighter colours such as yellow, red and green, if navy isn’t quite your thing.
Melange 12-Piece 100 Percent Melamine Dinnerware Set, Clay Collection, $85 at Amazon.
While you’re picking up some summer reading, you might also be inclined to browse Indigo’s outdoor dinnerware sets. This cheerful, floral melamine set of dinner plates will have your al fresco feast blending with the natural surroundings with cute patterns and natural colours. As with melamine, it’s lightweight and shatter-proof, and a steal at $25 for a set of 4. We’d be lying if we said we didn’t have our eyes on the whole set.
Playa Floral Outdoor Dinner Plates (Set of 4), $24 at Indigo.
For the more environmentally conscious, durability as well as green credentials are important, and this has both. Simons’ own line of solid bamboo outdoor dinnerware will have you serving fresh, natural goods on famously durable and long-lasting bamboo. It’s probably best-looked after with handwashing, but with toucans that cute? We wouldn’t mind at all.
Toucans Bamboo Serving Tray, $14 at Simons.
Available in both neutral grey and cream, these may not look as cute and fancy as some others, but what they lack in excitement, they make up for in versatility. Made of sustainable bamboo, corn, wood fibre and melamine, these are lightweight and sure to last. In fact, they’d probably double up nicely as indoor dinnerware and you’d scarcely notice. You could use these for parties, a formal dinner, or just everyday. Best kept usable with handwashing.
Boutique by Distinctly Home Classic Dinner Plate, $5 at The Bay.
For those who prefer a more rustic look, this mauna burgundy set from Gibson Studio is heavyweight, and that means heavy-duty. So expect this to see you through several messy kid’s parties, Thanksgivings, and everything in between. Helpfully shatter-proof, scratch and chip-resistant, they’re also not too bad on the eye. And for those who like their kitchenware more lively, the set comes in a variety of brighter colours, as well as multi-coloured rainbow circle-patterned, and stripes. They’re happy in the top shelf of your dishwasher, but if there’s no room there, handwashing is your best bet.
Gibson Studio 94904.12 Line by Laurie Gates 12 Piece Mauna Melamine Dinnerware Set of 4 (Burgundy), $52 at Amazon.