A Gilded Age Hol­i­day


Victorian Homes - - Contents - By Lidy Baars

Cel­e­brate Christ­mas in style by im­i­tat­ing the op­u­lence of the Vic­to­rian era.

En­chanted by the magic and beauty of Christ­mas, the wealthy so­ci­ety ma­trons of the Gilded Age in the late 1800s hosted par­ties and din­ners that were op­u­lent, grand af­fairs. Stick­lers for de­tails, with the wealth to set lav­ish ta­bles filled with gleam­ing gold and sil­ver, the As­tors, the Rock­e­fellers, the Van­der­bilts and their so­cial equals were un­ri­valed in their soiree ex­trav­a­gance.


A hol­i­day ball or din­ner for 1,000 guests could carry a price tag of mil­lions; these events were lav­ish and deca­dent, with a foot­man for ev­ery two guests, a menu that would ri­val any five-star French chef ’s cre­ation and a small or­ches­tra. Each guest was wel­comed to a place set­ting laid with mag­nif­i­cent dishes and glassware, not only costly and beau­ti­ful, but per­fectly laid out, with the aid of a ruler to make sure that each set­ting mir­rored the next one pre­cisely.

“Christ­mas is the time to use the most beau­ti­ful things you own. An­tique linens, dishes, serv­ing pieces and sil­ver­ware make a de­li­cious hol­i­day meal look even more tempt­ing, and an invit­ing ta­ble tells your guests how happy you are that they are part of your cel­e­bra­tion ,” Lid yB a a rs, owner of French gar­den house An­tiques, says.


In the spirit of Gilded Age op­u­lence, con­sider re­viv­ing the cus­tom of a beau­ti­fully ap­pointed, for­mal hol­i­day ta­ble. To add en­chant­ment to your own hol­i­day cel­e­bra­tion, take in­spi­ra­tion from both of these Gilded Age-style ta­bles set with an­tiques and per­son­al­ized with eye-catch­ing touches meant to de­light each of your guests. One is an in­ti­mate ta­ble set in front of the Christ­mas tree for lunch, the other for a for­mal hol­i­day din­ner.

Christ­mas is not about per­fec­tion; it’s about cre­at­ing magic that comes from your heart. This is the time when mem­o­ries are made, old tra­di­tions are con­tin­ued, and new ones are cre­ated.

Christ­mas is not about per­fec­tion; cre­at­ing it’s about magic that comes from your heart.

Left: One ta­ble can be set a va­ri­ety of ways. You can be­gin the event with lus­cious hand­made menus and gifts placed at each set­ting. Then you can end the meal with a thought­fully wrapped gift for each guest. top: Lay­ers of heir­loom lace napkins will add a lav­ish touch to your ta­ble. Ac­cented by ster­ling sil­ver serv­ing pieces, this will be an event wor­thy of roy­alty.

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