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Go with Vintage and Mismatches to Funkify Your Holiday Decorations

by Laura Trueman (11/20/12).

Wrap candles with Indian corn for a festive autumnal decoration.

One of the pleasures I get every year during the holiday season is making interesting and inviting holiday table settings for my guests to marvel at and enjoy. It is the one time of the year that I can peacock in full form. Out comes the antique tablecloth and vintage silverware grandma handed down from Russia. I buy up old vintage greeting cards and turn them into invitations, which include the holiday menu inside—all mismatched to add to the charm of the season.

Likewise my RSVP cards are vintage holiday postcards that all are mix and matched—I am like that— little mix of gypsy in everything I do. I think it brings more love to an event and it is a memory that many never forget. Someone once told me I was mish-moshing it up with my mix of eclectic vintage and antique stuff, but I think if tastefully done, with the right color patterns, it makes your arrangements have more meaning and are far more interesting than the old traditional ways.

Now, I must confess, this was born out of a need to hang onto my vintage items as long as I could. So, as many items got lost or through age got damaged, I kind of got sucked into this new creative genre. But you know what? I like it better now than the old ways. The best part is, since you are setting a shabby chic type of tone, you can go to thrift stores for a steal and get old linens and additional china to add panache to the table settings.

Last year I went totally diner-style retro and used a white table cloth which looked quite startling against the variety of blooming colored prints that I mixed and matched on the table. The key is to always stick with the same color themes. If you don’t, you will end up with a messy array of vibrant colors that might make your guests nauseated. This year, I am using vintage painted wooden bangle bracelets from Japan (circa 1960s) as my napkin rings. I have a ton of these old bracelets that, sadly, will not fit my older, form-fitting puffy middle-aged arm, so I decided instead of throwing out or selling such pretty items, why not put them to good use in an interesting holiday setting. Sheer brilliance don’t you think?

Use mix-and-matched vintage holiday cards for invitations, RSVP cards and menus.

The Autumn Harvest Pyrex pattern is a natural for Thanksgiving.

Vintage runners can be used on the table or on the back of a sofa for added holiday decorations.

These colorful painted wooden bangles will work as festive napkin rings.

The colored bangle rings are going to be for my Thanksgiving and Chanukah table. I have special plans for my Christmas table. Remember the old plastic sparkly floral corsage arrangements you used to be able to get from the Five & Dime Stores such as Woolworth’s from the 1950s through 1970s? I have a bunch of those leftover from some past project and thought they would make an incredible splash on the table as napkin holders, as well as springs on the table (yes the white tablecloth). I am also going to take a couple of clear bowls and put some old Christmas ornaments in them as centerpieces. I think that it will bring an old-world feeling to the Christmas festivity.

For Christmas decorations, vintage ornaments in a bowl works as a great centerpiece.

Those old, frustrating bulb Christmas tree lights work better in a bowl as well.

What sort of creative holiday ideas are you guys going to do this year? You know what would be really interesting? If you could send photographs in of your holiday tables we can showcase in December before New Year’s Eve. If you’re game, we would love for dealers to send in pictures we can post online of your various holiday table festivities. I have yet to see some Kwanazaa ideas—but I have a friend who is doing a celebration this year, and I am going to loan her my Tibetan food bowls to add to the theme. E-mail me at

Laura Trueman is a dealer on the GoAntiques Mall Network, operating Truetiques, Inc. and RVT’s Primitives. You can also follow her on Twitter @rvt01 and Facebook. If you would like to be placed on the company’s vendor call list, contact Laura directly at


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