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Let it Shine

HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR HOLIDAY SILVER

In any environment, silver is a classic leading character, especially when hosting meets Southern hospitality. When you add the glowing grandeur of the holiday season, silver steps forward, finds its light and becomes the star of the show. 

Though “made for the moment” of seasonal celebrations, silver can also be underused and overlooked due to the misnomer that it’s hard to care for. But sparkling, spotless silver is simpler than you’d think, if you know what it needs. 

RULE NO. 1: USE YOUR SILVER

Howard White, president of Corbell Silver Company says, “Silver improves with age.” Hilary Allinson, one of the family of founders of Hôtel Silver agrees, “We leave most of our silver out on open shelving to use daily. It’s an ‘everyday luxury’” she says, speaking of the Hôtel Silver inventory at Cassandra’s Kitchen – an Ina Garten fan-favorite shop in Bluffton.

If you do store, be sure items are in untreated, soft cloths or acid-free tissue, but Allinson’s advice is unanimous among experts, “Don’t put it away.” 

NO. 2: FOLLOW THE RULES

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DON’T use rubber gloves when polishing or put silver in the dishwasher. Rubber gloves can cause silver to tarnish. Dishwashers may leave spots. 

DO use a mild dish soap and soft cloth for gentle cleaning. For heavier tarnish, try baking soda and water or any one of the recommended polishes like Wrights or Twinkle.

AVOID open flame (5 feet or more), acidic foods, air drying (hand dry immediately), or too long in humidity.

DON’T Polish too much or harshly, or with any abrasive materials. 

DO Polish regularly as one of the simplest ways to keep your silver’s shine. Polish with clean, soft cloths or cotton balls.

DO Separate pieces when putting away the silver. Contact may lead to scratches. Use cotton. Store in a well-ventilated spot to avoid moisture.

DON’T store with items that can cause spots, such as newspapers.

You can’t cut corners with silver, but if you speak its language, it will not only last your lifetime, it may become a generational tradition. 

RULE NO. 3: BE CREATIVE

If you’re new to the silver scene, you might be thinking of a tarnished water pitcher or your grandmother’s heavy wood box silverware set, and the daunting concept of polishing the pieces, tine-by-tine by dinnertime. Perish the thought. 

Silver elements are some of the most versatile and impressive ways to dress up any setting. 

Browse the Beatriz Ball collection at Le Cookery on Hilton Head, and you’ll see silver design that puts form far over function, from simple bowls that become centerpieces, to asymmetrical works of art that can serve as an atypical champagne bucket. 

Allinson suggests wine coolers as “elegant vessels for poinsettias, orchids and seasonal greens.”  Pedestal cake stands “make instant holiday centerpieces piled with pomegranates or deep red apples with sprigs of boxwood of holly leaves tucked in between the fruit.” 

RULE NO. 4: GIFT IT AWAY

Perhaps Allinson’s most creative share: “A vintage spreader tied onto a jar of jam or a small round of camembert with a pretty ribbon makes a beautiful gift.”

Divided dishes can be donned with lemons and limes on a wet bar. Footed sorbet bowls and bottle coasters can be repurposed for spiced nuts, wrapped candies, or teeming with truffles. Vintage platters and trays can be adorned with votives and flower vases and holiday decorations. When it comes to the adaptability and longevity of silver, anything makes a memorable and meaningful gift and doubles as décor.

From ornaments to menorahs, table settings to perfect gifts, cutlery, jewelry, picture frames, engraved keepsakes, silver is one of the surest ways to make your moments “merry and bright.” 

The easiest way to keep it company-ready and to work up a lush patina over time is to use it. Keep it out. Show it off. Give it a seat at the table. Let it shine.