Feb 19 2012
Treasure isn’t always shiny and bright, and holiday decorations aren’t always on the shelves of the craft shop or department store before Halloween.
The good stuff might be something as simple as a bottle destined for the trash bin or a wooden toolbox that’s been gathering dust in the garage.
It’s all in how you look at it.
So if you have some of Aunt Sophie’s vintage glass ornaments and bakeware, build a holiday table around it – even if your look is typically more chic than shabby. By using found objects and a lot of imagination, you can create a spectacular tablescape without spending a fortune.
“Vintage might not be your look, but it’s fun to do it once,” says Jo Anne Howell Wuneburger, whose San Antonio-based company, oh Goodie Designs, specializes in event styling. “That’s why you want to do it cheap.”
When Wuneburger combs flea markets, thrift shops and vintage stores for props, she doesn’t stop to consider their original purpose.
A red wooden toolbox at Max’s Haus Mercantile in new Braunfels became her muse for a cookies and cocoa holiday party. First drawn to the red, she envisioned sweet treats or cocoa garnishes displayed in the divided tray.
A white box with “sugar” stenciled boldly in black begged to be included, and vintage red thermos bottles could allude to a campfire. Ornaments etched with the patina of time displayed in a well-used muffin tin could be used just as they were.
Mika Beverly milled through castoffs with Wuneburger, picking up a burlap bag with words printed on it. it was hard to see it as a fit with a holiday table, but Beverly put her $9 find to good use. she stitched up a half-dozen tiny stockings from the burlap and edged them in eyelet. she used small clothespins to attach the stockings to a jute swag. Simple and chic.
Plain parts of the burlap became table runners, and another piece of it was cut into strips to make a wreath.
“It’s fun to take something you think has no life and turn it into treasure,” Wuneburger said.
Vintage Mason jars are one of Wuneburger’s favorite elements. for the holiday table, she made them into snow globes, with the addition of little bristle-brush trees, pompoms and some fake snowflakes. With an assist from Sheri Jentsch of Blumen Meisters, Mason jars and mayonnaise jars became vases for bouquets of rose hips, dusty miller, green dianthus and evergreen branches.
Glass milk jugs, flea market finds, also became part of the décor, complementing shapely Starbuck’s frappuccino bottles dressed up with retro paper straws for beverages.
A happy find – a green Ski soda bottle – became the star of the centerpiece when set among a trio of tall mercury glass candlesticks accented with glittery balls from a thrift store.
“The mercury glass classes it up,” Wuneburger says. “I don’t want it to look totally flea market.”
That’s not to disparage flea markets.
The table? A door from a flea market to which she added legs. Ditto the serving table and an empty window pane used as a backdrop.
A paint-spattered red bench from Max’s Haus paired perfectly with the serving table, giving variation in height that’s essential to good presentation.
While Wuneburger focused on red and green objects, a turquoise drawer caught her eye. she snapped it up, along with a folksy “Merry Christmas” sign in blues and greens. Those pieces became part of the serving table décor.
“I like to dance around with a lot of ideas so it can evolve,” she says. “I’m usually on Plan C by the time I’m done.”
Serendipity sealed the deal when she opened her cupboards in search of plates. Voilà! Red and turquoise Fiestaware.
Striped place cards and chunky peppermint sticks tied with peacock-blue satin ribbon made it look like a million dollars under a dusting of faux snow.