When I was growing up, we had sets of crockery, cutlery and glassware kept for “best”, stored away in their original packaging, to be unwrapped once a year only on Christmas Eve in preparation for the big day. This was a refection of a more austere age, when anything that wasn’t pyrex was a luxury item and couldn’t possibly be subjected to the rigours of everyday family life.
In recent times there has been a cultural shift towards routine use of our “special” things. We are encouraged to dust off Granny’s tea set and unpack our wedding glassware to enjoy them every day. I absolutely subscribe to that philosophy. The memories held in these treasures can bring a little pleasure to the most routine of daily activities, as well as helping to create a unique home.
But if we’re using our “special” items every day, how do we make our Christmas table out of the ordinary?
The Little Black Dress
I think there is a place for keeping a small but perfectly curated collection of “special” tableware for best. The little black dress for your dining table, elegant and understated, that will add a sense of occasion to proceedings, but be versatile enough that you won’t quickly tire of it.
Being on a super tight budget has meant that I have given careful thought to which table accessories are worth the investment; how I can make my Christmas table seem special without blowing the turkey fund.
For my money the capsule wardrobe for my dining table has to be gold. No Christmas table would be complete without a metallic shimmer and nothing trumps gold for adding a sense of luxury and warmth.
So I’m investing this year in gold cutlery and gold flutes – neither of which were as expensive as you might think. (Read on for details.) I’ve never spent money on special Christmas tableware before but while these accessories are easily luxurious enough to be fitting for Christmas dinner, they aren’t specifically Christmas themed. This means I’ll be able to bring them out for any special occasion – dinner parties, and family birthdays. Actually owning these beautiful items might be an incentive to have more romantic meals in. (Ok, I confess that last bit was a thinly veiled attempt to suck up to the Houses Husband in the face of more Christmas self-gifting.)
Gold looks amazing against pretty much any colour so I can see the potential for lots of different looks with the mere addition of a beautifully coloured table cloth or runner. Gold and white though is hard to beat for simple, understated elegance so that’s going to be the theme for my Christmas table.
The Dress Rehearsal
We’ve got our family coming over for Christmas dinner and we’ll be cooking for 12. While it’s a team effort (my in-laws on starters, my parents on puddings) I’m doubtful that I’ll have any time on the day for faffing and photographing. So, I’ve had a little dry run. I must caveat these images by explaining that I was styling against the clock, between morning dog walking and the sun setting – currently a window of about two hours this far North. I contemplated leaving the table set to take more photos the next day, but after a uncomfortable near miss involving the dog, my living room rug and chicken fried rice, common sense prevailed.
My tablescape (oooh, hark at me with the styling lingo) in addition to my capsule gold pieces, includes a crisp white cotton tablecloth. It was cheap as roasties and can apparently be boil washed so perhaps it will survive the inevitable gravy and cranberry onslaught.
I used my plain white everyday crockery and decorated it with a DIY gilded pear. This was inspired by the very clever Melanie Lissack’s gold leaf pear place name holders. However rather than fiddle with edible gold leaf I opted for a quick and dirty solution (any crafting involving tweezers is likely too intricate for my hashy style) I used the gilding wax I had already. The boys helped to rub the wax on – the work of two minutes – and the resultant C-3PO fingers caused much hilarity. The gold gilding wax I used is seriously amazing stuff and works alchemy on all sorts of surfaces. A little goes such a long way and I must warn you, you will want to gild everything!
Public health warning: these gilded pears are seriously inedible and if, unlike me, you have small children who might contemplate eating an actual piece of whole fruit, then you’ll need to keep these out of reach.
I “shopped my home” (more styling lingo!) for the decorations, sticking with the white and gold theme. I used a star votive from the Range, a brass tea light holder from Ikea and a crystal tea light holder which I picked up in a craft shop in the Highlands on a recent holiday.
The foliage is a classic holly and ivy combination from the garden with added sparkle from my copper wire fairy lights.
Gold champagne flutes, John Lewis, £29 for a set of 6 (no longer available on the website in sets)
Gold cutlery, Argos, £27.99 for a 24 piece set
White cotton table cloth, Amazon, £12.99
The wish list
I’m not completely happy with my table yet. I’m missing napkins and place settings, so the plates look a bit bare. For Christmas day I might tie my cutlery with some ribbon and add a sprig of rosemary.
If money was no object I would choose this to-die-for organically shaped, gold rimmed crockery from Urbanana (set of 4 dinner plates £55).
My tablescape would also benefit from some height and I would love one of these beautiful gold strand candleholders (Curious Egg, £18) with some gorgeous handmade tapered candles.
Ah well. #tablescapegoals2017
I’m taking a blogging break for the holidays to devote my full energy to reigniting my relationship with my sofa, Christmas TV and Baileys. Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year when it comes. And thank you to every single one of you who has taken time to read this blog since I started in May. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your support. I’ve got lots planned for Around the Houses for the New Year and am excited about sharing more blogging adventures with you in 2017.
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