By Carleton Varney- Special to the Palm Beach Daily News
If the pandemic hasn’t stopped you from taking care of your holiday shopping in brick-and-mortar stores this Christmas, I know the shopkeepers are appreciative of your business.
But those of us who haven’t hit the shops have been searching online for just the right gift. I have been selecting special pies, cakes and food specialties to send my family and friends this season. Easily ordered by telephone or online, Santa is always there, thanks to the U.S. Postal Service, FedEx, and UPS. What do we always say about the postal workers? They are always there in snow or rain — and in sunshine, too.
But when I’m thinking about a gift that’s always useful and attractive, my No. 1 choice is a flower vase. The late Pauline de Rothschild once said that you can never have enough vases, whether they’re glass, crystal or ceramic. A distinctive vase of any size is certain to be used and appreciated.
Flowers come in many sizes and stem strengths — long, short, fragile, strong. Think lily of the valley and you know you’ll need a tiny crystal vase, maybe a bud base from Waterford Crystal. Waterford also made the famous rose bowl. I own a few rose bowls, which are perfect vessels for loosely arranging a mix of colorful blooms for the dining room table.
And think about the gladiolus or the delphinium, which look best when the stems are displayed in tall vases. I also like to display tulips with their bulbs showing in clear glass vases.
De Rothschild, I can tell you, had in her home a special room devoted solely to her collection of vases, candle holders, jars and accessories used for table settings when she entertained. There also were shelves that held Christmas accessories, shelves for Easter entertaining, shelves for dinner services and, of course, shelves for glassware, bar accessories and decanters.
While we folk of today may not need several dinner services, we do need space to store our table accessories when they’re not in use. Some of my clients have full butler’s pantries, which are nicely fitted out for storage. Other clients adapt closets into storage places, while some simply store china, silver and not-often-used table decorations in upper or lower kitchen cabinets.
If you are lucky enough to have an unused room close to the dining room or kitchen, consider converting it into a space to house your decorations, china, silver and linens. You may not rival de Rothschild or Marjorie Merriweather Post, who is said to have had a vault just for silver at her Mar-a-Lago, long before the mansion became President Donald Trump’s private club and winter White House.
As we near Christmas, remember that a lovely vase or other flower container makes a fine last-minute gift — and you might even think about filling it with happy anemones and hand delivering it, wearing your most festive mask. Your eyes will smile when you present it and the recipient’s eyes will surely smile back.