How to celebrate the holidays 1950's-style with comfort food, fun accessories and family heirlooms.
it's time to make preparations to set the table for a truly old-fashioned and frugally-delicious Holiday gathering. Why not re-visit the 1950's?
Here are some tips for finding just the right accessories to make your Holiday vintage-worthy and special this year: These fun and festive items are sure to delight your family and your guests, especially those who are rather used to the traditional same-old, same-old. Of course, many of us look forward to the traditional holiday table, but there also are many of us looking forward to something different - especially this year. If you are one of those wanting to change it up a bit, consider decorating using vintage or antique table accessories. You will save a lot of money if you use or borrow family accessories, rather than loading up on pricey tableware and paper goods. You can then spend more on gifts and/or great food. That's how it works at our house.
I have been decorating for the Holidays using vintage family and thrift store items, for many years. Here are my tips for how to create an old-fashioned Holiday table, especially the Mid-Century 1950s style.
1. Check your family's heirlooms or collectibles that you can use to create either an antique or vintage table-setting. This year, I will use my grandmother's lovely turn-of-the-century Tea set, her antique silver flatware and china to re-create an early 20th-Century festive holiday table. Most of my grandmother's antique silver came from the Turn of the Century - so this will be more of an Art Nouveau and Victorian motif. If you don't want to go that far back in time, consider re-creating the 1950's Mad-Men style. It's easy to go back 50 years, simply rummage through the family storage or basement boxes. If your family members are not savers, consider taking a trip to thrift shop or visiting the Internet (eBay).
2. If you need to buy the accessories to re-create the 1950s and 1960s, you will want to visit your local thrift stores and plunge into their Holiday/Seasonal section, now going full-speed. I am showing a small sample photograph of some of the thrift store items I have collected over time The accessories were all found at the thrift store, and they are thoroughly 1940-60s. Today, while at my volunteer job at a humane society thrift store, I saw a large zip-lock bag full of metal and plastic vintage Holiday cookie cutters. Price $2. Actually, there were 2 of these bags for the same price, but the bigger one was better (cutters were red plastic cuties). There's a special section for Holiday decorations in the store and most items are very reasonable - in the $2-$4 range (including tree ornaments, candle holders, and some holiday tableware featuring holly, berries,mistletoe, etc). Other thrift stores are showcasing holiday-oriented merchandise in the same fashion.
3. Your thrift-store shopping spree can also net you some holiday candles, candle holders, centerpieces, wreaths, ornaments, place card holders, napkins, tea towels and small powder-room hand towels. I've included some vintage holiday hankies in my photo, which you can often find and give as gifts to your guests as a surprise at their place setting. You can find vintage hankies reasonably priced in some thrift stores--don't spend more than $2 each. (If you can't find any that you like, visit eBay) . You can also find holiday tablecloths and/or placemats at the thrift store. After a nice cleaning, they will sparkle like new (avoid buying any stained items; some stains will just not disappear). This is the same area within the thrift store, where you can sometimes find adorable vintage aprons. I once sold one that was made from starchy green net with 2 red felt pockets that featured small bells. Charming! I also love my red-and-white-check apron, shown here in the photo.
4. You don't have to limit yourself to the December Christmas holidays. You can also launch a new and different New Year's theme, like: 'Back to the 50s!' (those were generally good times in America). Why not scout around for some vintage cocktail coasters, glasses, shakers, and sparkly candlesticks. Plan on serving some 1950's cocktails (with alcohol and without). Serve food on your vintage platters and offer up vintage dishes for your buffet-line.
5. You can serve the holiday vintage cookies I mentioned in another article, or you can also recreate a 1950's holiday meal, with all the comfort food of this prosperous era, by checking out old Sunset or home-focused magazines like Better Homes & Gardens, Good Housekeeping, or McCalls. You may find a few recipes featuring small marshmallows, as toppings, and lots of jello ideas, but some of the food ideas are the same as 50 years ago: Ham, Roast Beef, potatoes (including scalloped and mashed), green beans and pie (mince was often served in the 1950's, and was traditional then). You may also want to locate a cookie press and make even more cookies easily - including the remarkable spritzer, which my friends remember fondly from the good old days. You can find a cookie press, some times, at thrift stores, but more often on internet auction. Maybe one of them will show up when you empty the Holiday boxes in the basement.
6. If you'd like even more fun, prepare a punch bowl full of home-made eggnog or alcoholic Tom & Jerry drinks, best served from a vintage Tom and Jerry bowl & cup set (findable on eBay). Actually, once you get started planning this meal and the table setting, you may come up with some incredibly creative ideas of your own. And when you're done with this Holiday or Holidays, you can always recycle by donating your accessories back to the thrift store from whence they came or re-packing them in the family's storage boxes for another trip back into fun times.