Setting Up Housekeeping

By Karen Parr-Moody


The phrase “setting up housekeeping” is an American idiom that dates back to the 1800s. It means, simply, to start living in a place, typically after getting married. For example, 18th-and 19th-century wedding announcements in newspapers often included such statements: “The newlyweds set up housekeeping in New York after a two-week honeymoon in Paris.”


Among the many accoutrements required in “setting up housekeeping,” dining and entertaining items have long been considered the must-haves. Customary items include crystal, a complete set of china, decanters, a tea-and-coffee service, cake plates, silver and more.   


Whether you are blissfully single or engaged to be married, collecting such items is an exercise in nesting creatively when you shop at GasLamp and GasLamp Too.


If you want to greet your guests in style, you must have a toast-worthy set of crystal glasses, such as this set of 14 Fostoria goblets ($196; Booth T-101). Each one is 7-1/2 inches tall and made in the Corsage pattern, which includes an etched motif of a floral bouquet held in a cone-shaped holder and tied with ribbons, bows and streamers. Fostoria made the Corsage pattern from 1935 to 1959.


Another way to welcome guests is with champagne punch or sangria served in a large punch bowl, like this L.E. Smith one in the Pineapple pattern ($285; Booth T-166). It includes 18 cups and the underplate. The pattern is a pineapple and fan design, fashioned after the symbol of welcome. It holds 11 quarts of whatever delicious beverage is served.  


The beauty of floral porcelain extends its allure to any dining room table it inhabits. This set – 48 pieces of Bavarian china – is so resplendent that it will enliven any party. (And we won’t tell your guests that it cost a mere $225 at Booth B-109). These pieces hail from Bavaria, one of Europe's oldest states and one that is well-known for its gorgeous porcelain, from sets to cabinet plates. This porcelain includes a creamer, sugar bowl and tray, along with an array of plates and teacups. Remember: good china is a wise investment, especially for future high teas and holiday parties.


This bowl is a fine example of the transferware process called Flow Blue, which originated in 1825 through a chemical reaction that caused the ink to spread and blur, thus “flow.” Flow Blue was initially inspired by Asian imagery, as was transferware before it. This covered vegetable bowl bears the “Shanghai” pattern and was created by J. Furnival Co., an earthenware and ironstone manufacturer that operated at Cobridge, Stoke-on-Trent, England from 1845 to 1870 ($265; Booth B-106).


Hosts and hostesses love elegance and practicality in one package, particularly with pieces used for entertaining. What fits this description? This 19th-century butler’s tray, with stand, made of gorgeous mahogany wood that retains its color ($595; Booth B-300). Such a light, handy table can be easily moved anywhere in a room to accommodate parties large or small. These tables originated in the 1700s and are still a bright idea today.


When setting up housekeeping, start with the tabletop basics and you will never regret it. Since friends and family are the heart of one’s home, they will always be warmly welcomed with your thoughtfully-appointed dining items.




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