Who formally entertains anymore? Accoutrements and why you still need them

Leaf Accoutrements

I got these at Pier 1, mostly for accompanying my Thanksgiving set. I consider these my fancy ones (they’re glass), so I don’t use these much the rest of the year unless I have friends over for a spread of hors d’oeuvres.

Recently, a friend and I spent almost an hour on the phone talking almost exclusively about our passion for accoutrements.

What are those, you ask? Accoutrements are small bowls (usually with equally small spoons) in which to put accompaniments (mustard, jams, olives, et cetera). If you throw a sit-down or buffet dinner parties, they’re critical to your service; if you’re putting out an informal spread, they can come in handy for dips, olives, candy, or catch-alls for those pesky shrimp tails. If you don’t throw parties?

Accoutrements are useful for a bunch of different things. So, even if you don’t formally entertain, here’s why everyone—especially gentlemen living alone (I’m serious—every guy I’ve turned these on to has asked me ‘where have these been all my life?’)—needs at least one set of accoutrements. Where to find them? Pier 1 or anywhere that sells formal dining pieces.

Snacking in front of the TV/computer

Peanuts, pretzels, candies, olives, croutons, for example. Prevents you from opening up that bag of Hershey’s Kisses and eating them all.


Reflective of the more proper use, they can sit on the corner of your plate and hold the dip for your chips, the bleu cheese for your wings or the oil for your garlic bread.


If they’re not glass, you can stick an accoutrement in the corner of your tub to hold small items, such as foot scrubbers, razors, or that bobby pin you forgot to brush out of your hair.

Black and White Accoutrements

This was my very first set. My friends Suzanne and Adam bought this set of four to accompany a cheese board, glassware, and appetizer plates. These are my go-tos for dips and TV snacks, and right now one lives in my shower and holds my LUSH shampoo bar.


All the men in my life walk through the door and empty their pockets of change—usually on whatever hard surface is closest (or, worse, in the bathroom, where the pennies get wet and leave little green rings all over the vanity). An empty accoutrement in the most strategic spot solves this problem.


Convenient stash spots for paper clips, thumb tacks, and screws/nails.


Easy access to sprinkles for the frosted cookies, picture hangers while you’re redecorating your dining room wall, sequins for that costume you’re making.

Personal snack stations

Movie night: six people seated all over your living room: on the couch here, on the easy chair or even cross-legged on the floor there. Everyone can grab some popcorn or dip to accompany the chips and head to his own space.

Beach Accoutrements

These were another Christmas Tree Shop win, although I bought way too many–I ended up with 14 of them (they were like thirty cents each). I gave six to one friend, four to another, and kept four for myself. These are new, so I haven’t used these yet, but plan to really use them for summer entertaining–I plan to do a lot of outdoor dining on my deck with friends, and these will be perfect.

Small jewelry stash station

Do you take off your rings when you shower or wash the dishes? Put your rings in here so they don’t get lost. If you lay out your work outfits the night before? An accoutrement is the perfect harbor for your watch, necklace and earrings for the next day.


If you make a mess when you cook like me, you can use these to mete out the ingredients beforehand–then they’re all right there, pre-measured and ready to go.

About kristipetersenschoonover

A ghost story writer who still sleeps with the lights on, Kristi Petersen Schoonover’s fiction has appeared in many magazines and anthologies; her traditionally published books include a short story collection, THE SHADOWS BEHIND. She was the recipient of three Norman Mailer Writers Colony Residencies and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College. She serves as co-host of the DARK DISCUSSIONS podcast, as founding editor of the dark literary journal 34 ORCHARD, and is a member of both the New England Horror Writers and the Horror Writers Association. Follow her adventures at kristipetersenschoonover.com.

Posted on April 7, 2019, in Deep Thoughts & Fun Stuff and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I have a beautiful, orphaned 1940s china saucer sitting on the bathroom counter. It’s a perfect soap dish.:-)

    • Right on!! There are so many great uses for those little things, and that’s what I love…because if you have something like that that’s cool, it’s a shame to let it sit around and accumulate dust.

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