Sometimes a silver ice bucket, pretty tray, and just a few glasses set out in a casual book-filled room have far more appeal than a ballroom done-up by the hippest party planner.
Obviously New Year's Eve is an ideal time to put together a setting like this, but a silver cooler, pitcher or any sort of serving piece is fun to use all year long. Instant, effortless elegance.
Right now Atlanta is participating in The Literary Center's Big Read. Everyone age 12 to 112 is encouraged to form a book club and read The Great Gatsby before June 2009. So I've been thinking about the scene in the film when Gatsby has all the silver sent to the modest summer cottage for that afternoon date with Daisy.
The silver used in the movie is fairly lavish. These days though only one or two pieces are really needed for big impact. Personally I'm drawn to wine coolers because they make such nice containers for flowers when not chilling a bottle.
This antique wine cooler from Beverly Bremer is sterling silver and engraved with greyhounds and bulldogs. Lovely silver plate examples can often be found at estate sales and gift shops too. In 2009, instead of buying lots of throwaway items each holiday, consider investing in some sort of versatile pewter or silver item that catches your eye.
Williams-Sonoma has a nickel plate and mother-of-pearl option priced at $58.
Here's another small (and free) gesture that requires minimal effort yet speaks volumes: If you use writing paper printed, engraved, or embossed with your name, scratch a line through the name when sending a note to certain friends. This feels less distant, according to Vogue's Book of Etiquette. Over the holidays I received a brief note from a seriously chic person who did this. It was a wonderful personal touch.
Images one and two are from Accents on Accessories. Dan Carithers designed the first setting, Gerrie Bremermann the second. The note card image came from Vogue's Book of Etiquette, 1969. The film stills are from Paramount Pictures 1974 movie, The Great Gatsby.