Did people eat fancier in the past?

In a thread on wedding registries, it was noticed fine china was the stereotypical gift. Some dopers surmised it was because people were more likely to use china in the past. Is this true? My grandparents never used fine china, but then again they were poor. And if the middle class didn’t use fine china in the past either, why does everybody think of it as the prototypical gift?

My mother had good china and silverware that was used only on special occasions like Thanksgiving and Christmas (the nice tablecloth came out at the same time). She was married in 1960, and I believe she got most of her set as wedding presents. I would say she was lower middle class growing up.

Part of it is that, even today, when you register at a department store for wedding gifts, it’s kind of expected that you’ll choose a china pattern, even if you think you won’t get any use out of it. It’s just one of those things you do when you get married.

Just a WAG, but probably reserved for special occasions. Similarly, in the UK it was for a long time to have the practice of keeping a rarely used ‘front parlour’ in pristine conditions (a practice which is still fairly common in older Afro-Caribbean households).

More tea, vicar?

We got the works for our wedding in 1967. Enough to seat twelve dinner guests or entertain considerably more buffet style. And monogrammed crystal glasses in every shape and size

Unfortunately serving peanut butter sandwiches on silver trays just never struck me as something I’d want to do.

Eventually our budget matched our dinnerware and there was probably about a decade where it got fairly frequent use - Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter.

Then dining style became more casual and I began running out of the kind of three-day energy it took to put on this kind of a feast.

Now I probably get the good stuff out once a year or so.

And I have also inherited my mother’s, mother-in-law’s and aunt’s things which sit in storage.

My grandparents have a full set of china which they used on special occasions. They also had regular dinner sets for every day use. My grandma would always set the dinner table very formally though with candles, etc. They no longer do that as they are in poor health.

My mom always set the table nicely, but I think our dinner set was from Macy’s. No china.

Once or twice a year (either for Christmas or Thanksgiving) my mom and I eat at a family friend’s for dinner and they have a VERY formal table set. We don’t dress up or anything, but my mom’s friend said this is how she was taught to entertain. I had never heard of a “charger” that is not a phone charger until eating at her house.