Using Your Silver to Decorate for the Holidays

by Nan Stuckwisch of Silver Magpies

Traditional Home magzine

Traditional Home magazine



It’s quite overwhelming flipping through the gorgeous shelter magazines and catalogs that come pouring into the mailbox this time of the year. I have a sneaking suspicion that lots of you feel this way too. The photos show a lifestyle that seems unattainable in real life.

There is never a speck of dust nor an ornament out of place. Garland cascades down the stair rail like the train on Kate Middleton’s wedding dress. Tables are set with a blinding array of crystal and silver ornamented to perfection with witty and amusing centerpieces. Trees and mantels are so perfectly styled they look like works of art.



Not in my world

My beloved Talisker, who currently rules the roost, is the furriest of all the Goldens I have ever had. Plus, she is not shy about “sharing” her fluff.

Absolutely none of the words in the paragraph above apply to my house! The garland dries out within 3 days and starts to drop bits and pieces in the hallway below. As a lifelong fan of Golden Retrievers, I can assure you, no matter how carefully and regularly they are groomed little dust puppies of dog fur hide under the furniture. And in addition to running my business, taking care of my home and family, getting the essential elements of the holidays down (ie gifts really must be wrapped) I don’t have an awful lot of time or energy left to decorate in such an elaborate way.

Now that you know about the dog fur, I’ll also confess to you that I’m just not talented enough to dream up amazing creations. Let alone skilled enough to successfully do them!



When in doubt, keep it simple.

If you go over to my Pinterest Holiday Board and you will find more inspirations on how to use your silver just like this. Photo from P. Allen Smith’s Moss Mountain Farm from Pinterest

By choice and necessity I keep it simple. The starting point is the pieces of silver and silverplate around the house. It fits three very important criteria:

-it’s already here

– it’s pretty

– making it look “Holiday-esque” is not difficult.

The Hall

In exactly the same way that vintage silver is adaptable on the table – don’t feel that the name of the piece should constrain you from using it any way you like – the same holds true for using it elsewhere.

All of the pieces in these photos are “serving” dishes. Come holiday time, they get filled with whatever strikes my fancy, grouped together in as close an approximation of stylish that I can manage, and then I’m done.

In the hallway a large silverplate bowl is my anchor point. Into it I put a 1 gallon rosemary topiary from Home Depot. To cover the unattractive gap between the black plastic pot and the top of the bowl, I slid a wreath over the topiary.

Easy, it looks pretty good, and it smells divine. Every time I pass, I ruffle the rosemary and release that fabulous aroma.

The wreaths are preserved boxwood held together by some ribbon. The ribbon is dressed up a little bit with some of the many vintage rhinestone brooches I’ve gotten from various places. Single wreath/ribbon/brooch combinations hang from the stair railing. No messy garland this year!

The Mantel

Dressing your mantel! Vintage silver teapots holding flowers and greens are easy to do and make your mantel feel festive and traditional. Photo from pinterest – source unknown

As you can see from the photo at the top of the post, on the mantel in the living room a larger boxwood wreath and more silverplate bowls are the majority of the decoration. This year I’ve filled the bowls with vintage Shiny-Brite ornaments in my favorite colors.

Shiny-Brites are a recent discovery for me. None of these are in perfect condition, the colors are faded and cracked in places, but that just adds to their appeal. It also subtly reinforces my more casual look :)

Some years the bowls are filled with pinecones I’ve scavenged on hikes. Other years they brim over with clementines. Regardless of what they are filled with they always look fabulous. Best of all it’s manageable to do and up away from little hands and enthusiastically wagging tails.

The Table

As of the moment this is being written, what the table will look like is still shrouded in mystery. We have a cocktail party in about a week. It will be a buffet, so again, silver serving pieces will anchor the presentation. Doubtless this new acquisition will play a starring role.

Vintage Silver for the holidays

An original Emilia Castillo – a thrift store find!!

This huge (22 inch by 22 inch) silverplate over copper scallop shell is by the contemporary Mexican silversmith Emilia Castillo. An accomplished smith in her own right, she comes from a famous silversmithing family. Her father is Los Castillo founder Antonio Castillo and Uncle is Chato Castillo.

This beauty came to me via a local thrift store. I nearly fell over in my haste to get to it before someone else did. When I brought it to the counter the clerk looked at the tag and said “Finally it’s going. We could use the floor space.” I kept my jaw from dropping to the floor and couldn’t hand over my money fast enough.

Imagine it filled with shaved ice and sweet pink shrimp. Perhaps there will be a dish in the middle filled with dipping sauce. Oh the possibilities!

De-stress the holidays

Chef Robin White writes today on how to make Christmas less stressful in her article,  Unstressful, Easy to Make Appetizers for Christmas. She is right on the money. Keep it simple so you can enjoy the holidays too. Just as Robin suggests simple but absolutely delicious fare, I urge you to use silver (or any other) bowls or compotes you have around the house and fill them with something seasonal. It’s chic, beautiful and easy. What could be better?


Silver Magpies for vintage silver



Nancy Stuckwisch of Silver Magpies has had a life-long fascination with vintage silver. She believes we should get the silver out of the cupboard, onto the table, and then into the dishwasher.

In addition to writing for The Daily Basics, Nancy also blogs on her own website, Silver Magpies,  and is a regular columnist for Silver magazine.


Read more of Nan’s posts on silver


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