Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Vintage-themed bridal shower: Setting the table

This post is the first in a series about how to plan a vintage bridal shower for your 1920s wedding.  You can find the first post, with the list of all the posts in the series, here:

Planning a vintage-themed bridal shower or party

Today's topic focuses on dishes and linens.  The way you set the table for your 1920s-themed bridal shower, or for any vintage-themed party, is paramount to creating an authentic vintage feel.  For the vintage tea party we held for my mom's birthday, we used snack sets and vintage linens.

According to what information I can find, glass companies started making snack sets in the 1920s, and continued until the 1960s and later.  They were most popular in the 1940s and 1950s.  Each place setting consisted of a little tray with a matching cup that sat in one corner, and were usually made of either clear glass or milk glass.

Although many of the sets you will see are actually from the '40s and '50s, they are still very art deco.  Many of the sets use motifs or themes that were popular in the 1920s.  Some sets, such as the ones I have, even have a tiny ashtray and a cigarette rest in one corner of the tray!  This reminds me of the 1920s so much, because it was around then that it really became fashionable for women to smoke.  (Not that I am a fan of smoking, let alone having a cigarette right next to my food — we used the ashtrays as just another place for food.  It would be a good place for dip, too.)

Candlewick Boopie or Orchard Crystal snack sets

There is some confusion over who made my snack sets. I often see these sets sold as Candlewick, which, according to this blog post on Candlewick vs. Boopie, was a pattern by Imperial Glass that dates back to the 1920s.  However, because of the lack of space between the balls, they are actually not Candlewick.  From what I can tell on eBay, the sets were sold by two different companies — Anchor Hocking, which introduced their version of the pattern in the 1950s, and Atlas-Hazel Orchard Crystal.  I've seen the exact same sets still in their box from both companies, and I have no idea if there is any way to tell them apart.

I think the squarish lines and the pattern of my snack sets could easily fit into a 1920s theme, and I've seen others that would, as well.  For instance, I think these are fantastic — the basic pattern is similar to mine, but the rounded ends made it look even more art deco.  And check out the cigarette rest!

Very art deco snack sets

Very art deco snack 
sets
Photos by Celtic38 on eBay — To buy this set, click here

Another great pattern for a 1920s-themed shower or party would be these fan-shaped snack sets.  The faceted pattern on the underside is lovely when it catches the light and shows through the top (which is smooth, so you can eat off it).  As far as I can tell, the cups on these also came in both red and green, so you could look for whichever would best suit your wedding colors.

Snack sets in a 1920s-like fan theme
Photo by Diantiques on Etsy — To buy this set, click here

This is one of the plainer sets, but I love it because the frills on one side look very art deco to me.  And check out the sweet little curlicue handle on the cup!

Art deco glass snack sets
Photo by knaomiafulton — To buy this set, click here

There are so many beautiful styles to choose from that I couldn't include them all, but here is one more.  Grapes and grape leaves were a popular motif in the 1920s, so even though this set is probably from the '40s or '50s, I still think it would be appropriate:

Anchor Hocking snack sets in a grape pattern
Photo by bits-n-p — To buy this set, click here

Finally, don't forget vintage linens.  You can usually find these pretty cheap at garage sales, estate sales, thrift stores, and eBay.  Vintage linens do need to be ironed in order to look nice, but it's worth the trouble!  I didn't use a vintage tablecloth (and my place mats aren't vintage, either, actually), but the napkins are vintage and possibly hand-embroidered.

Don't feel like everything has to match, by the way.  Plenty of restaurants use mismatched dishes and napkins for a cool eclectic feel.  You can do this too.  Snack sets came in 8-piece sets (four place settings), so you could get several different complete sets for variety, or even buy individual place settings (just a cup and plate) if you see something you like that doesn't come in a complete set.  You can also pair up coordinating but mismatched place mats and napkins.

Many thanks to all the sellers who let me use their photos in this blog post.  Readers, if you are interested in vintage items such as snack sets, please feel free to check out their items.  They were all extremely friendly in my dealings with them, and would be lovely to do business with!

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