Dining ware is any dish or dishware used for setting a table, serving food, and dining. It includes cutlery, glassware, serving dishes, and other items for practical as well as decorative purposes. The quality, nature, variety and number of objects vary according to culture, religion, number of diners, cuisine and occasion. For example, Middle Eastern, Indian or Polynesian food culture and cuisine sometimes limit tableware to serving dishes, using bread or leaves as individual plates. Special occasions are usually reflected in higher quality tableware. Flatware is a term for "open-shaped" dishware items such as plates, dishes and bowls (as opposed to "closed" shapes like jugs and vases). "Dinnerware" is another term used to refer to tableware and "crockery" refers to ceramic tableware, today often porcelain or bone china.Sets of dishes are referred to as table service, dinner service or service set. Table settings or place settings are the dishes, cutlery and glassware used for formal and informal dining. In Ireland, such items are normally referred to as delph, the word being an English language phonetic spelling of the word delft, the town from which so much delftware came. Silver service or butler service are methods for a butler or waiter to serve a meal.
Setting the table refers to arranging the tableware, including individual place settings for each diner at the table as well as decorating the table itself in a manner suitable for the occasion. Tableware and table decoration is typically more elaborate for special occasions. Unusual dining locations demand tableware be adapted.