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.

Meals

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.

Tub/Shower

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.

Change

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.

Workspaces

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

Projects

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.

Cooking

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.

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About kristipetersenschoonover

A ghost story writer who still sleeps with the lights on, Kristi Petersen Schoonover’s fiction has appeared in countless magazines and anthologies. She has received three Norman Mailer Writers Colony Residencies, served as a co-editor for Read Short Fiction, has judged both writing and grant competitions and co-hosts the Dark Discussions Podcast. Her work Skeletons in the Swimmin’ Hole is a collection of ghost stories set in Disney Parks; her novel, Bad Apple, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She’s also a member of the New England Horror Writers Association. More info: www.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.:-)

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