Growing up Italian, Christmas Eve has always been its own unique celebration. After a late-afternoon Christmas vigil, the family gathers for the Feast of the Seven Fishes. This Italian-American tradition features many courses — from lobster tails and spaghetti to cheese and olives, to breaded white fish and broccoli drizzled with lemon — over which we talk, laugh, and share stories from holidays past.
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Year after year, the table is adorned with dishes, glasses and, as the evening winds down and the cookie platters are put on display, mugs from the Spode Christmas Tree collection. Walking into the house and seeing that classic, decked-out tree on every plate and bowl never fails to bring on a rush of memories.
For a night defined by food, family and gathering at the table, it’s as if the dishes and bowls take their own place of honor amid the feast. Things change over the years — we add people to our table, and we lose people from our table — but the Spode Christmas Tree dinnerware is always there, each and every Christmas Eve.
Barbara Weston, director of Global Trend and Design for Bed Bath & Beyond, understands exactly how this particular set of dishes can seem so emotionally charged.
“It’s like Christmas ornaments that are taken out every year after Thanksgiving,” she says. “These reliable holiday items are like time capsules that jog memories, recall long-gone relatives and friends and allow us a moment to feel secure in our own life story.”
If you find yourself attached to your own set of holiday serving options — well, you’re not alone.
According to Weston, original holiday collections, like Spode Christmas Tree and Lenox Holiday, “are reflective of the traditional tableware and continue to be a staple during this time of year.” For many, this is a tradition followed and handed down from parent to child, and collected year after year.
She adds that Wedgwood is another go-to manufacturer for traditional holiday serving options. “I think this love affair with a Victorian-style table set speaks to stability, memories, and family and tradition.”
Classic collections — with updates — reign over the holiday table
While these traditional settings still hold sway throughout the holiday season, manufacturers like Spode and Lenox have made some updates to their collections in recent years.
Spode has brought newness to the collection with beautiful new prints, per Caron Reilly, a Macy’s MyStylist at Westfarms in West Hartford.
“Spode has played with festive prints in such a fun way,” Reilly says.
Holiday hosts can play with their tablescapes with updated collections like Cranberry Italian, featuring the Italianate design that the Blue Italian line is known for, in holiday-appropriate cranberry red. Diehard Christmas Tree fans can add some pop with the Christmas Tree Gold Collection, sporting the same iconic tree with an ornate gold trim and gold accents.
In recent years, Spode has created a melamine version of its Christmas Tree collection that is fast becoming a staple for the entertainer who wants a holiday look with the affordability, quick cleanup, and durability of melamine, according to Reilly.
“It’s a great way to get the classic holiday feel for the whole family,” she says.
Reilly adds that Lenox — another classic holiday go-to — has also made updates to its collections, creating a cleaner look with its desvancigns.
“Lenox has incorporated their holiday patterns in a simpler design, which works well when pairing back with your existing, more classic pieces like those from Martha Stewart’s Whiteware,” according to Reilly.
While some holiday hosts are opting for simpler designs, others are going for flare. One trend that Weston noted is the increasing rise in gold flatware, a shift that has refreshed many perennial flatware bestsellers, like Royal Albert Old Country Roses.
The next generation’s holiday tablescape
Depending on lifestyle — and size of living space — members of the next generation tasked with hosting duties are opting for a more casual approach to the holidays.
“It is a little more ‘Hygge-esque,’ less formal, relaxed and inclusive of new twists on holidays,” Weston says. “This can include using more handcrafted, layered, and mix-and-match approaches to tablescapes.”
Newcomers to the holiday table include Michael Aram, a designer who takes a handcrafted, naturalistic approach to serveware and table settings. His designs include casts directly from nature, like twigs and flowers, that circle geometric shapes.
“It creates a wonderland of a tablescape for the holidays,” Weston says.
Olivia & Oliver, Bed Bath & Beyond’s exclusive serveware brand, provides a contemporary alternative to traditional holiday serving options, Weston adds. The open and secular design — featuring elegant and timeless touches — serves everyone’s celebrations.
Don’t forget the glassware
If you are opting to take a mix-and-match approach to your holiday table this year, consider updating your glassware to something contemporary to dress up the tablescape. Look to Macy’s expanded Hotel Collection, with its fun and festive approach including pops of color in ombre blues and green swirls, as an option, Reilly says.
Round out the glassware with trays and coasters by Thirstystone, featuring rich and varied elements of wood, hammered metals, and smooth stones. “Thirstystone pieces can be used every day or dressed up to add a cosmopolitan, yet rustic feel,” Reilly says.
Hosting a large party? Make use of the bar cart, which Reilly says has made a return to entertaining. She expects gold tone carts, or those sporting rustic mixed metals with wood elements, will be big this holiday season.
Whatever holiday serving options you decide to use this year, remember to focus on the memories made and the traditions shared. Like a beautiful tablescape, everything else will fall into place.