Hostess must-haves

By Karen Parr-Moody

 

The holiday season reminds us of many wonderful matters – including the important role of the hostess. It is one that can be both exhilarating and exhausting, but it is one that yields many outcomes of beauty and cheer. So let’s make a toast to the hostess, who can always find something extraordinary at GasLamp and GasLamp Too.

 

After dinner comes dessert – and naturally, a sip of a delicious port or sherry. A hostess would be pleased to serve such libations from this blue Bohemiam crystal decanter with four glasses ($100; Booth B-219). There is striped gilding around each glass and a gilded floral pattern around the decanter. It’s the perfect set for ending an evening in front of a roaring fire.

 

Every good hostess needs a traveling cake carrier – and what could be more stylish than a vintage version like the one in the photo, left ($15; W-409)? This Mid-Century Modern style one is a great find, because the plastic ones tend to be more airtight than the metal ones. Also, the shiny gold “pastries” lettering is simply scrumptious.

 

Another way of serving drinks – say, lemonade or tea – is from an old-fashioned beverage server, such as the 1920s vintage server in the photo, right ($159; Booth B-125). It is an unusual piece made of custard glass, which was a creamy, opaque glassware that originated in Europe in the 1880s. Note the beautiful bird details on the handles. This could be the centerpiece for an enchanting tea party, surrounded by plates of finger sandwiches and petit fours.

 

Another bird motif can be found in this covered casserole dish in a brown transferware print (photo, below left, $38; B-125). It is generally accepted that John Brooks, a prolific Irish mezzotint engraver, invented the transferware process in 1751. However, partners John Sadler and Guy Green of Liverpool, England, are credited with perfecting the method. When transferware first hit the scene, it was in colors of cobalt blue on white. But by 1820, transferware was produced in shades of red, pink, cranberry, black, gray, green, brown, purple and yellow. Prices in brown transferware have increased in recent years.

 

The ancient Romans first used glass decanters as containers for wine, but after the Empire’s fall the material wasn’t used again substantially until the Renaissance, when the Venetians advanced the art form. Every good hostess knows what the Venetians discovered: A decanter with a slender neck and a wide base allows for optimal airing of the wine.

 

The decanter in the photo, right, is made of hand-blown glass from Jozefina Glass Works in Poland, in a factory located in Krosno, one of the oldest glass and crystal producing areas of Eastern Europe ($39.95; Booth B-310). The decanter's shape will give wine a broad surface area so that the air can bring out its flavors and aromas.

 

One need not be a society doyenne to be a proper hostess. Even if you are a member of a Bunco club, think about ways in which an unusual item can bring some flair to a meeting when it’s your turn to host. Trust me: It's time to set some eyes agog.

 

 

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