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A Retro Christmas Party Planner

Two fanatical collectors of 1960s and ’70s design pull out their favorite pots, platters, dishes and bowls for a retro Christmas party around a spinning silver-tinsel tree.

When designers John and Linda Meyers plan a party, they don't start with the food. They start with the serving pieces. A bronze elk-shaped platter, for instance, was essential for a holiday party in their Portland, Maine, apartment. After some discussion, the couple used the platter to serve Linda's chocolate-espresso balls coated in powdered sugar. "It looked as if giant snowballs had landed on that poor elk," John says.

Retro Christmas: Colorful tableware
The Meyers’s colorful dinnerware collection. Photo © Fredrika Stjärne.

John and Linda are just the sort of people who have an elk-shaped platter on hand: The two are insatiable collectors of well-designed '60s and '70s tableware. When they moved from New York City to Maine about seven years ago, they began scouring flea markets and yard and estate sales every weekend, and they rarely came away empty-handed. Largely inspired by Terence Conran's incredible The Kitchen Book (published in 1977), their collections came to include a mountain of flame-orange Le Creuset piled high over shelves of cookbooks, stacks of red and blue Dansk pots and a set of moss-colored, Camelot-pattern Denby china from England that they inherited from a friend who passed away.

Eventually, the Meyers' collection started to overrun their small apartment. So the couple launched an online store, The Wary Meyers Shop, to off-load their surplus tableware, books, art and lamps. "We see so much amazing stuff, but we can't own it all," Linda says. "We want someone else to own it. It's heartbreaking not to buy it, because it's so wonderful."

They've also begun selling their own designs, like patinaed stools inspired by Alvar Aalto. Since moving to Maine, the Meyers have become more interested in creating objects than interiors. John is working on a line of Blue Willow-inspired china and a series of travel prints, while Linda is making large fabric sculptures based on food still lifes.

Retro Christmas: Party guests
Setting a retro Christmas party table. Photo © Fredrika Stjärne.

Frequent hosts, the couple always pull out their favorite serving pieces when entertaining. For this holiday party, they set everything out near the motorized silver-tinsel Christmas tree they picked up at a yard sale for $10. Linda prepared some of her family recipes to match the tableware. A bright yellow melamine Heller Dinnerware bowl, designed by Massimo Vignelli, held an equally vibrant green salad with Italian vinaigrette. Linda's grandmother's soothing stracciatella, Italy's version of egg drop soup with ribbons of spinach, filled a Royal Crown Paradise-pattern soup tureen and matching bowls with a charming bird motif. Crispy chicken in a lemony sage-butter sauce, a recipe Linda remembers her mother cooking nearly every week when she was a child, went with earth-toned Bennington Potters plates that echoed the shape of the cutlets. "We can pick and choose dishes for every mood," Linda says. "We can plan out occasions and add spice to them through dinnerware."

More than anything, the elk platter matched the happy mood at the Christmas party. "It's handmade, it's bronze, it's antique," says Linda. "We still haven't really figured out who made it, but we think it's really special. We think we're holding the Hope Diamond with that elk."


video Star Chef Holiday Dishes

Published December 2011
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