One of my favorite parts of the holidays is when I get to bring out my Christmas dinnerware. A few years ago a line of dishes came out from a company called International China titled "A Christmas Story". I fell in love with the idea and the look of them immediately. They are the creation of an artist named Susan Winget and when the set is complete, you have the entire story of the classic rhyme "Twas the night before Christmas" written out on your table.
The dinnerware is made of porcelain and is dishwasher, oven and microwave safe. The pieces are not sold in one big set but rather as smaller sets like 4 dinner plates, 4 salad plates or as individual pieces which would be the things like serving bowls and platters. Each piece has a different beautifully illustrated picture on it as well as a different line from the rhyme. The dinner plates and the salad plates seem to carry the most important lines in the rhyme and they are released each year with a different series number so you know you are getting the newest lines in the rhyme. Last year they were up to series number 4. It does get a little difficult to keep track of all the lines you already have and which ones you still need to get but I think that is actually part of the fun and I keep a running list.
I begin using my dinnerware on Christmas Eve and use it up until New Years Day. It has been through the dishwasher and in the microwave many times and so far I have seen no signs of wear in the pictures or the trim. They are heavy pieces more like regular every day dishes than fine china so I have no fear when my husband or children are handling them.
These dishes are not cheap and I can only add a few pieces every year. I have picked most of my pieces up at Macy's. They usually run 50% off sales and that is a great time to purchase them. The set of 4 dinner plates has a full retail price of $62.50 so 50% off is a big savings. Ebay is also a great source to add to your collection and is the perfect place to look for pieces that have a certain line that you may be looking for.
I may never be able to fill in the whole story but I still love this dinnerware anyway. It is so much fun to sit around the table every night and take turns reading the lines that we have out on the table.
Update On Nov 27, 2010: I have been to 2 different JCPenny stores and checked online for these dishes and they do not seem to be carrying them this year. I did however find some different pieces of the set on Amazon.com.