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Heirlooms and Holiday Tables

Creating beautiful tablescapes for the Christmas season is an opportunity to celebrate life and to share with family and friends. When setting holiday tables I make sure to always incorporate a few heirlooms to remember family and friends from Christmas’s past. Here are a few tips for how you could mix antique pieces into your holiday tables.

Antique pieces, with all their pattern and texture and color, can look fussy to the modern eye. One way to temper the “fussiness” is to use an informal place setting. Keeping plates, utensils, and glassware to a minimum makes for an inviting, uncomplicated table and brings a modern sensibility to the table setting.

Another fun way to use antique pieces is to repurpose them in surprising ways. For example, salts can be filled with candies. Cut crystal tumblers can be used for votives. Teapots can be filled with flowers. Sometimes we don’t know what to do with a “pickle fork” or a “cucumber server” or an “ice cream server.” But we don’t have to follow the same rules they did way back when. Quirky pieces like these, are not only pretty, but they come in handy for charcuterie boards, cheese and fruit plates and dessert tables.

Linen napkins and tablecloths add texture, pattern and color. We could write a whole piece on what to do with napkins, but for a classic look, fold them on the side of the plates or put inside a decorative napkin ring and place on top. Antique lace tablecloths and placemats add color and texture, and the lively woven patterns add a sense of whimsy. Finishing touches like place cards and menu cards let your guests know that they are in for a special treat and make wonderful keepsakes.

Center pieces can be as simple greens strewn down the center of the table with flowers and ribbons nestled inside, or they can be a large, full arrangement in a beautiful container, which can be set on a side table during dinner. A mix of votives and candlesticks add ambience and make a memorable impression. If you’re a guest at a dinner party, a nice gesture is to bring a hostess gift, like silver serving pieces tied with a bow. Your host will remember your generosity for years to come when using them for future gatherings.

Tablecloth brings a lot of texture, color and whimsy to the table setting, so everything else can settle in and quietly compliment it.

I hope these tips have given you some good ideas and inspiration for how to mix heirlooms into your holiday table settings. Wishing you much joy around the table with friends and family this Christmas!