Get into the holiday spirit with these merry modern ideas from mid mod expert Robert Maurer.
Hello fellow mid century enthusiasts! I’m Robert Maurer, creative director, and residential designer at Commuter Industries. I’m so excited to partner with Atomic Ranch to bring you this new recurring lifestyle column, “The Vibe.” As an extension of my blog, midcenturymaurer.com, I’ll be sharing highlights from my home, geared toward design, entertaining, restorations, home improvements, recipes, décor and more. I hope you will find inspiration in these features that you can apply to your own mid century home and way of life. I can’t think of a better first feature than one that celebrates the winter season, so let’s seek out the holiday spirit and get our homes feeling festive!
Festive & Mod: Setting the Scene
When it comes to setting the table for a holiday gathering, I like to keep the holidays feeling warm, inviting and stylish, never stuffy or overworked. I have four design criteria I often use in creating an MCM-inspired centerpiece.
- Vintage touches: I’ve chosen this shallow, vintage brass vessel as the container for the arrangement. Its low profile, tapered legs and oblong shape mimic the architecture of the table.
- Mod style: Red seed pods that resemble Space Age ball chairs add a punch of bold, mod color and interest.
- Living elements: Live greenery is a centerpiece essential, and holiday arrangements are no exception. Don’t be afraid to mix artificial with living items.
- Odd numbers: Working in odd numbers creates visual interest, shown here with the incorporation of three Danish taper candles.
Festive & Mod Dinnerware
If I had to choose one obsession as a collector, mine would be dinnerware. I seldom need a reason to bring out the vintage plates and glasses. The arrangement of each place setting is casual but elegant. You may want to add a few pieces to your table, depending on the occasion and what is being served, but we’re keeping things fairly informal this year.
Tip: Freeze cranberries and rosemary sprigs into a few ice molds and place in the punchbowl. The slow-melting ice keeps your punch looking beautiful and chilled without it watering down.
Using a crisp, white cloth napkin is a great way to add sophistication to your table. I especially like this triple-pocket fold, which compartmentalizes each utensil, leaving a nice opening for a sprig of holiday greenery repeated in the centerpiece. Plan your seating arrangement, and make your guests feel special by creating a place card on a simple gift tag.
Some of my best holiday memories revolve around delicious food and drink prepared by my grandma (Me-Maw) at her home. Her signature baked ham, Southern-style green beans, deviled eggs and homemade pies always set the scene at the Christmas dinner. But the real star of the show (for us grandkids) was the holiday punch. This combination of tart cranberry, sweet grape juice and spicy ginger soda made for a colorful, fizzy concoction we couldn’t get enough of. She would always serve the punch in a large crystal bowl, and we would ladle it into matching cups, which hung off the side of the bowl on tiny hooks. I was so drawn to the vibrant red-violet drink that I was continually scolded for ladling out my third, fourth … seventh serving.
I still enjoy serving this delicious punch to guests, though I have modified Me-Maw’s recipe to include some festive spirits for a little added … punch! Here’s to enjoying as many refills as you like without being reprimanded.
Holiday Spice Fruit Punch
Yield: Approx. 50 4-ounce servings
- 30 oz. light rum
- 20 oz. spiced pear brandy
- 64 oz. white grape juice
- 12 oz. frozen cranberry juice concentrate (thawed)
- 48 oz. (4 bottles) ginger beer
Gently stir rum, brandy, grape juice and cranberry concentrate into a large punch bowl. Add ginger beer. Serve with a ladle into punch cups.
Credenzas are one of my favorite pieces of furniture in any room design. I give mine special attention for the holidays with a little seasonal décor. Using surrounding artwork as the basis for a holiday display is an excellent way to make your room feel festive. I modified these black candlesticks from Target (no longer available) by sawing off the candleholder portion from the top. Varying sizes are staggered and accompanied by a simple pine branch and clusters of colorful, vintage glass ornaments. The basic geometric shapes and colors in this setting mimic what is happening in the background, creating an added layer of depth to the artwork.
Do you cringe at boring holiday gift wrap? Use a solid color or bold graphic paper for a less literal approach to holiday packaging this year. A simple satin ribbon in a contrasting or tone-on-tone color adds a cheerful sparkle, and a solid-color tag keeps the focus on the vibrant wrapping. Adorn your gifts with a festive holiday pick by wiring together a faux pine stem and miniature glass ornaments.
Looking for more MCM holiday inspiration? Read on for Holiday Party: Stylish Dining Room Pieces for Entertaining and Retro Christmas Music: Essential Throwback Holiday Albums. Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest for more Atomic Ranch articles and ideas!