Columnist Allan Blackburn: Bringing Christmas to the table

Allan Blackburn
Allan Blackburn

Last week I talked about shopping for toys but my wife Gloria and many ladies will tell you that the most important part of the festive celebrations is the Christmas dinner.

Gloria spends ages making the table really special, all from pieces we’ve picked up over the years from antiques centres.

Candlesticks and candelabra, linen and glasses are a special addition to any festive dining table.

Before the days of electricity, candles were the main source of lighting in homes.

The most valuable candlesticks are those still in pairs and made from brass, bronze, gold and silver.

For the Victorian householder, Sheffield plate and EPNS (Electro plated nickel silver) were frequently cheaper substitutes for silver.

The silver imitations are reasonably collectable today.

Electricity may be more convenient but a pair of candlesticks or candelabra gives any table a feeling of luxury and any room a romantic Christmassy atmosphere.

A good quality linen tablecloth can also make a huge difference to the look of your table.

With the move towards natural fibres, linen is coming back into vogue and stores from Harrods to Next are once again stocking fine linen, but old linen has a charm of its own and fortunately is often a lot cheaper when bought old rather than new.

A linen tablecloth will cost £100 new, but can be bought for £5 to £75 from a linen dealer.

Having beautiful antique glasses on your Christmas dining table looks fantastic and when you sit down to enjoy your festive tipple, have a look at your glass – you could be holding a collector’s item.

The main way to identify old glasses is by the colour – new glass is very clear and very white in comparison with old glass, which is 
much darker in colour, sometimes with a greenish tinge.

Finally, having an antique dinner service with a large Victorian turkey plate (ours is by Royal Worcester) provides the final touch to a beautiful table.

*More Christmassy ramblings next week!