circa 1951
The Pattern: The flowers in this pattern, representing good fortune and happiness, were inspired by the Chinese Yuan dynasty.

The Setting: Our advice: You can never have too much blue and white! Paired with your best silver or pewter flatware, this pretty setting is ideal for Hanukkah or a holiday brunch.

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

Your treasured pieces deserve TLC.

Whether received as a wedding gift or passed down through the generations, collections of fine china are valuable pieces that also hold a great deal of sentimental value. Beautiful tablescapes for holiday dinners and other special occasions are built around a collection’s color and pattern. There’s nothing quite as tasteful or timeless as a blue-and-white color scheme, and it’s never too early to start thinking about festive patterns for setting a Christmas table. Even U.S. Presidents’ carefully select a china pattern that's created especially for them and used throughout their term.

If there’s anything Grandma taught us, it’s that our china collections should be treated with care. She’s preserving and protecting the collections she’ll pass on to you, and she expects you to do the same. Here’s how Grandma wants you to care for your treasured porcelain. 

Clean

The safest way to keep dishes in one piece is to hand-wash them individually. Though some manufacturers now produce dishwasher-safe collections, hand-washing is the best way to prevent breaks, chips, or cracks. Be sure to line the bottom of your sink with a towel or soft mat in case a piece slips out of your hand while washing. Use a gentle, unscented soap and soft sponge. Air-dry the dishes on a drying rack, or lay them on a towel out on the counter.

Has your china yellowed? Follow these cleaning tips, and the dishes will look brand-new in no time.

Store

If you’re storing china collections in boxes, be sure to keep them in a place where you can control temperature and humidity levels. Never expose your dishes to extreme heat. It’s also a good idea to store the boxes in rooms without any traffic to avoid bumps and breaks.

When packing china, wrap the pieces individually in newspaper, soft cloths, or bubble wrap. You’ll also want to have a layer in between the wrapped pieces for extra protection. Fill in any empty space with packing peanuts to keep the dishes even more secure.

You can store china in quilted, padded holders designed specifically for protecting your precious wares.

Display

Antique hutches and glass-front cabinets are popular places to display heirloom china. When stacking plates, be sure to put a piece of cloth or foam in between each dish. Never stack bowls or cups with handles. Hang cups on hooks by the handles on hooks, or arrange them right-side up.

When hanging plates in an arrangement on a wall, make sure there is padding on the hooks to keep the plates’ edges safe from cracks or discoloration.

Freshen up your dishes on display with a wash at least once a year.

WATCH: The Secret To Easy Calligraphy

Use

Grandma wants you to use your cherished china! Not just on special occasions but also for regular use. These collections have sentimental value and should be enjoyed. Just remember to follow her washing and storage tips afterwards.