Use Your Antiques When Entertaining

Like me, I think you love antiques. If you have one beloved antique, or almost one too many {I can guarantee that there’s no such thing!!} I hope this post will give you some fun ideas to use some of your pieces in different ways when you are hosting guests, or making your home beautiful for your family this summer. Use Your Antiques When Entertaining!


Use Your Antiques When Entertaining




Your antiques are happy to serve, they’ve been used for over one hundred years, and they are ready to make your home and life beautiful and fun. {you know me by now, my antiques like to have fun!}  Here are a few tips to use your antiques when entertaining, besides using antique linens, silver and dishes to set your table.  I hope this sparks an fun creative idea for you!



Take your table setting to the next level with antique flatware. The Victorians had silver for everything, a collection of cutlery is a fun way to add intrigue to the table. Mix and match coin silver with sterling and silver plate, it’s great fun to use some pieces that will leave everyone guessing what, exactly, it was meant to be used for, it’s a great conversation starter!


Don’t limit yourself to the intended purpose. I’ve used gravy ladles to serve fruit sauce, and a marrow scoop to serve cheese spread for appetizers. And…this may seem strange to some of you, and I forgot to take a picture, but at the last dinner I had here I added antique silver serving forks and spoons of the more unusual kind to the center of the table. I gave each guest a set of small tags, and asked them to write on the tag what they thought each silver fork, spoon, knife or other serving piece was used for and tie it on the piece. There were prizes!





Get creative with how you use your antiques. If you collect French enamelware canister sets, display some on your buffet table. They can just look pretty or use one for your garden roses, another one could hold your flatware. In the setting below that I made for a casual dinner here, I ended up serving coffee out of the left biggin pot after dinner, and put the spoons in the smaller pot.

I’m always using our antiques in different ways, here at FrenchGardenHouse they can’t really just be another pretty face! Just because these began their service career as coffee pots, doesn’t mean they can’t hold a variety of long breadsticks for a soup dinner, for instance.


antique french enamelware




When creating a table setting or buffet food service, elevate some things to vary height and add some interest using small antique stools. This floral bouquet is nestled in an antique French canning jar, the bowl of fresh picked oranges is a nod to the label on the jar and adds a bright note.  The oranges {from our tree in the back garden} were part of the dessert service at this casual summer luncheon where I served salad, great French breads, a variety of cold cuts and cheeses, and fruit.


Use Your Antiques When Entertaining




For this garden party, I placed a group of antique French enameled water cans on a bench under our gingko tree joined by antique watering cans and plants. The pink quilt softens the bench, just in case a guest wants to sit under the tree in the shade.




Mix antiques with modern pieces in different styles and from different eras for a tabletop that sparks the imagination. For this table setting, I used an inexpensive gold charger layered with modern black plates, and added antique salad plates on top, Our favorite a striped {new} linen napkin and antique mother of pearl and sterling flatware are a good addition to the mix. The color scheme ties it all together.

Use Your Antiques When Entertaining



Be clever in how you use your antiques. A bottle holder is perfect to carry into the garden, it will hold one or two bottles of wine, some glasses, and a glass filled with breadsticks.

I’ve used ours to hold rolled up linen napkins, jars with flatware, even layered with a napkin to hold a baguette in each compartment.


Use Your Antiques When Entertaining




For this summer table, this antique French Boutis {quilt} is the perfect base for table settings that mix new white plates with melamine plates with bees. {haha, just when I will say in #10 I rarely use plastic – here are my favorite plates for fun!} An antique French jar with a bee label makes a great statement vase for roses and chamomile.  Each place setting has an new linen bee napkins, and very inexpensive glasses.


French Golden Honey Flower Arrangement



One of my favorite ways to use our heirloom antiques for summer entertaining is to serve tea. Tea is the easiest way to entertain. Set an outdoor table with your prettiest porcelain cups and silver, boil water and place some cookies on a pedestal plate. It’s a simple, and elegant way to show off your antique linens and tea set.


The Pleasure of Tea in the Garden




I don’t have a fancy built in BBQ with a serving Island. For a 4th of July party, I used our potting bench as a small dessert buffet. Nestled amid some of our garden antiques, new bowls and plates in a cheerful check design sit on top of an antique French grain sack. I used an antique little metal urn to hold French lollypops, and the antique water carrier holds a charming garden bouquet.


celebrating the 4th of July



A large bouquet is displayed beautifully in an antique 19th century Smear Glazed Pitcher, on a silver tray. The delicate Madeira linen tablecloth and napkins echo the flowers in the vase. A smaller glazed pitcher holds sterling dessert forks with mother of pearl handles.  It doesn’t take much to make a pretty display for when you are entertaining.

Pull out the good stuff! Even when I entertain outside, I rarely use plastic plates, even with the little people. They have learned to eat from porcelain, and drink from real glasses. When they were really young, it was Wedgwood Peter Rabbit dishes and cups, now they just use whatever we do. They seem to love seeing different antiques used on the table, and I can see them thinking creatively when setting the table. I loved it when our eldest little person insisted on making place cards for a dinner “because that makes it special.”


Spring floral arrangement




A bright Provencal tablecloth brings summer warmth to this outdoor table set for lunch with a collection of antique ironstone from England and France. I picked up on the lemons on the French tablecloth with a bowl of lemons on the table, and home-made lemonade. For fun, the little antique metal tartlet pans hold French lemon bonbons at each place setting.


Summer Entertaining French Style


Antiques play nicely with new pieces…trust me, if you put some love on your table, it will be beautiful.

I don’t believe in living in the past, but antiques do make my soul happy.  Antique heirlooms and collections create little environments when you entertain on your tables that tell a story – your story. Use antiques to create rich, seamless arrangements of one-of-a-kind objects, and your table settings will reflect your personality, and be different from others.

Creating lovely experiences for guests when you entertain at home is a loving captivating way to express yourself.  Your collections and heirlooms – note: they don’t have to be your family heirlooms, even- you can adopt some and make them your own – create a beautiful experience for everyone at your table.


Use Your Antiques When Entertaining

PS. We’re having a SUMMER SALE! Many of our antiques are on sale, go take a peek in case there is something that you will love to use when entertaining or otherwise. : ) Sale is on select pieces throughout all categories.


Do you Use Your Antiques When Entertaining?

We’d love to hear how you do!





Shop for the best in French Antiques, furniture with the patina of age, vintage accessories to delight you and your family & friends, and French Country utilitarian pieces. Treasures that make your home fresh, beautiful, inspirational and above all uniquely yours. Visit our shop

10 thoughts on “Use Your Antiques When Entertaining”

  1. Lovely ideas! I sometimes do use melamine plates; if a pottery dish falls to my patio tiles it usually breaks and the guest would be upset. So many pretty plastic dishes are available these days and when combined with vintage linens and pottery serving pieces …. we’re transported to Provence.

  2. Have you thought of writing a book? I would love to see all your beautiful antiques and creative ways of using them in a book. You have such a gift. I just love your blog.

  3. Lidy, another beautiful and inspiring post. One of my favorite aspects of acquiring these little treasures from shopping markets, shows, and shops is using them daily in unexpected ways. Favorite vases are a group of French mustard crocks found on a trip to Dijon. I have a collection of French sterling baby teething rings that I repurpose as napkin rings. I smiled at your “Name the Use” game. Clever and fun! Your treasures are gorgeous. Photo #10, Use the Good Stuff has me envious. Love the silver box with lion head handles, and the two pitchers are stunning in their details. They remind me of Prat Ware.
    Thanks for always delighting!

  4. I enjoy the vintage feel when entertaining… and you do it here so very nicely! Such stunning inspiration! Thank you!
    And I agree with Ellen… you should write a book!

  5. Dolores

    Your ideas are magical and so inspirational.
    Tell us though, we are timid about using quilts with food offerings because of possible spills .How would you remedy that situation if it occurred ?

  6. I wouldn’t use an especially expensive or museum quality quilt, but other quilts? Yes. I’ve used quilts on tables for a long time, and honestly, almost no one ever spills.Having said that, I don’t serve red wine, or dark food at a table covered in a quilt. Sandwiches, water, lemonade, salads and { light colored} fruit are all good matches to a quilt covered summer table.

    Most quilts are so busy in patterns that should a spot not come out all the way, it will most likely blend in.

  7. Sharon Crigger-Stokan

    Oh, Lidy, you do design your tables with such love and thought. Everything is so beautifully arranged. What a fun it would be to sit with you and enjoy one of your beautiful lunches! Thanks for all the wonderful tips and ideas!!

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