Choosing the right flatware is a fairly straightforward process, but the many styles and designs available still leave you plenty of choices. Affordable flatware is generally made from stainless steel that has either a brushed or polished finish. Either one is fine if you're replacing your day-to-day flatware, but a high polish is the best choice when you're putting together formal place settings for guests.

Whether you choose forks with three tines instead of four or flatware with an intricate design instead of something sleek and simple are both personal choices, and ones that should be a reflection of your own personal taste and style. Keep function in mind, however, when selecting the type of sets you should purchase. Flatware is either sold in complete sets of four or eight place settings or as individual five-piece settings that you can accumulate over time. A full set is a good choice when purchasing flatware for everyday use, particularly since many of them come with serving pieces as well. Individual place settings are a good choice for more formal flatware, as you can build up your inventory over time. Remember to purchase a matching hostess set as well so you have a cohesive table setting. No matter which route you choose to go, plan to purchase more than you need. Like socks in a washing machine, forks, knives and spoons have a habit of disappearing every now and then, especially if you have children or teenagers in the house. When you purchase a spare set or extra place settings, you'll always be ready to set a table that looks stylish and put together.
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