Pros: Clean and elegant pattern for a very versatile stoneware set.
Cons: Can't use them all year long.
This is a very nice set of holiday stoneware dishes. I bought this "starter" set for my mother as a Christmas present a few years ago and it's one of the best things I ever did. She's tough to buy for in the first place, so it's nice that each year I can add to her set and knock a few gifts off for her at the same time. And, as long as they keep making the pattern, I'll never run out of things to buy since there are hundreds of items in this pattern!
About the Set/Design
The 16-piece set contains 4 dinner plates, 4 coffee/tea cups with saucers, and 4 soup/cereal bowls. On the site, they also sell this in a 32pc set (double everything in the 16 pc set).
Now, you may be wondering why I'm describing the 16pc set, when the product description clearly says a 12pc set. On the Pfaltzgraff site, www.pfaltzgraff.com, there is no 12-piece set for sale. On the Internet, I found 12-piece sets for other Christmas Pfaltzgraff patterns. Those 12-piece sets came with 4 dinner plates, 4 deep cereal bowls, and 4 coffee mugs. On this site (epinions), however, the description of this set says it contains 4 of the basic 3pc Buffet sets (4 dinner plates and 4 coffee/tea cups with saucers) with a bonus 4 soup/cereal bowls. In other words, it's the 16pc set.
The pattern is made up of berries and vines and is appropriate as a late fall and winter pattern. Here's Pfaltzgraff's description of the pattern: "As fall turns to winter, bright holly berries make their appearance, and are the most traditional of Holiday evergreens." I love the pattern and it's one of the things that makes our Christmas dinners so special.
I call them holiday dishes, because at the suggestion of one of her friends, this year she began using them at Thanksgiving time, too. My mom stores these dishes in-between the holidays and found that it's just as easy to keep them out from Thanksgiving to Christmas and it gives her two major opportunities to use them. Plus, they're accessible for Christmas season get-togethers, so if a few friends stop over, she has nice serving dishes available.
According to Pfaltzgraff's site, this pattern was introduced in 1991. And it's still sold in many stores, which is one of the reasons that I'm glad I went with this brand and style. In addition, Pfaltzgraff has a "five year promise" that after the pattern is retired, they will continue to produce the basic dishes for a five year period. To know when your pattern is being retired, simply call 1-800-999-2811 or register online. In addition, should a piece break within your first purchase year, they will replace the first piece for half price. (Never has this happened, knock on wood.) Against defective workmanship, the company provides a five-year warranty.
I'm able to buy it Kohl's Department Store or Boston Store throughout the holiday season - and am usually able to purchase it during 50% off sales before and after Christmas. It's always advertised in sales ads, so I just make sure to keep my eyes open. There are also periodic sales at their web site.
I have not ordered through their catalog, website, or visited their factory outlet store. However, there are coordinating pieces that are only available through them, for instance, a 12pc. beverage set (6 tall glasses, 6 small glasses).
Use and Care
These dishes, along with all their stoneware products, can be placed in the microwave, oven, dishwasher, or freezer. Personally, my mother and I haven't done that with any of the dishes or pieces, and make sure to hand wash them soon after our meal. They're just too nice, if you know what I mean.
The dishes are easily cleaned by hand. However, they should not be soaked in a sink full of water. If there is tough food to remove, a little warm water and mild soap should be placed directly in the dish, itself, and then be allowed to sit for a while. According to the Pfaltzgraff site, "submerging" the dishes in a sink full of water allows water to penetrate and be absorbed by the dish, which could cause the dish to crack or break if it's heated. Pflatzgraff also sells a special cleaner in case flatware leaves marks on the dishes. They also recommend cleaning coffee and tea cups soon after use so that stains do not occur. If they should occur, a solution of 50% liquid bleach and 50% water can be added to the cup and will remove any stains.
In addition, Pfaltzgraff has these five warnings for the use of their stoneware:
1. Do not subject your stoneware to sudden or extreme temperature changes. Start your oven no higher than 225?F for the first 10 minutes, then increase to desired temperature.
2. Do not place hot dishes on a wet surface or handle with a wet cloth. The hot dish may break when touching the colder water.
3. Do not place stoneware on direct heat, in the broiler, or under a microwave browning element.
4. Always use a padded mitt when removing from oven or microwave.
5. When warming in microwave, use the stoneware piece that best fits the portion size. This way, all items will heat evenly and not cause "hot spots" in your stoneware that could lead to crazing and cracking.
If you buy one of the starter sets, be careful about how you buy additions for the set - specifically place setting pieces. I bought the 16-piece set as a starter, and, so she could use them immediately for our Christmas dinner for 6 people, I bought two additional place settings. However, I didn't realize the place settings (the only available single settings available at Boston Store) contained a dinner plate, coffee mug (as opposed to the coffee/tea cup and saucer), and a cereal/soup bowl. So, now she has two coffee mugs, 4 coffee/tea cups with saucers, 6 cereal bowls, and 6 dinner plates! Every year I intend to head out to a nearby factory outlet store and "fix" the set, but always end up buying other serving pieces when they go on sale at Boston Store or Kohl's. I swear, this year, I will bring the set up to par and increase the place settings to a total of eight, which is what she wants.
Over the last few years, I have also purchased 8 red stemmed wine glasses, 8 beverage glasses (water glasses), the covered butter dish, gravy boat with saucer, two medium serving bowls, a glass round platter, and an oval veggie serving dish.
I have a lot of fun picking out new pieces each year. I know my mom will like whatever I choose, but I like to pick one or two practical dish things (like a veggie serving dish) and one or two fun pieces (like a butter dish). They have everything you need and more in this pattern - even a dog dish! And, there are a few pieces that I think are a little corny since they seem over-ornamented (compared to the simple and elegant design of the Winterberry pattern), such as the dip bowl and serving knife. Besides serving ware, there are also some baking dishes, and other useful kitchen items like a colander and cutting board.
Unfortunately, I cannot remember the exact prices I paid for anything except my most recent purchase. I paid $20 for a 4pk of red-stemmed wine glasses during a 50% off sale at Boston Store. I believe the original 16pc set was $100, but I'm really not sure. On the Pfaltzgraff site (which is featuring sale prices on most Winterberry items, so regular prices would be much higher), items range from $109 for a 32pc set to $2 for a coffee/tea cup and saucer.