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5 old-school table accessories to revive for the holidays

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Here are fresh ideas to toast the holidays using entertaining throwbacks.

Some old-school basics are being brought back, even reinvented, to grab the attention of a younger, hipper crowd looking for fun – not fussy – accessories for the holiday party season. 

Placemats Embroidered linen and cotton placemats are not seen on tables these days. They evoke a fussy, grandmotherly look and are in constant need of washing and ironing. Yet placemats are a nice way to frame individual settings at a table, so ask your mom for old ones and have some fun.

Place cards Although cards engraved with guests’ names are associated with formal gatherings such as weddings and diplomatic dinners, they don’t have to be fussy and give a lovely vibe to an event. Why don’t you put a different quote or saying on each?

Punch bowls Vintage punch bowls are not often seen partying these days. Instead, they’re languishing in second-hand shops.

When researching her new book, Entertaining at Home: Inspiration from Celebrated Hosts, author Ronda Carman writes about Christy Ford, whose family has given punch a new spin.

At an annual mother-daughter holiday tea, a mixture of orange juice, cranberry juice and champagne is ladled from a tall punch bowl into elegant champagne flutes rather than the usual small cups. It makes for a more festive, fizzier experience.

“The appeal of a punch bowl is that it’s a way to make a beverage ahead of time,” Carman says. “Then people can help themselves and you don’t have to be fussing around making drinks.”

Decanters Most glass decanters or carafes were originally made for holding liquor or wine. You could pour red wine into a carafe so the flavour would open up by being exposed to oxygen. Scotch was kept in a heavy cut crystal decanter with a stopper on top, a la Mad Men.

As more relaxed lifestyles came into vogue (and day drinking diminished), many decanters were shoved into the back of cabinets or donated to charity shops. But the truth is that many of them are really good-looking and are fun to pull out for a special occasion, if not more often. Decanters unify things.

Candlesticks Votive candles have been in vogue for a while. Maybe it’s time to bring back the classic charm of tall white tapers in classic holders, or old wooden candlesticks that you can paint white with black outlines.


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