Stationery Snacks

A few years ago we inherited a mid-century hors d’oeuvres set from my in-laws. It consists of three smoked glass bowls — two round, one rectangular — and a wood tray with indents for each bowl. I imagine it being used to serve assorted nuts and pickles, or maybe little cubes of cheese, at fabulous parties where all the decor was avocado green and burnt orange and all the party-goers smoked.

For several years the set stayed in the basement in a box labelled “party stuff” which I opened once a year. A couple of times we even used it for parties, but mostly I just left it in the basement, waiting for some time in my life when I would have enough parties to justify keeping it somewhere more accessible.

When my mother died five years ago, we got rid of a lot of her stuff. Threw out, sold, gave away — my brother’s life is full and my life is full and we didn’t have much room to absorb the large number of possessions my mother had accumulated. The experience gave me a new perspective on the futility of keeping things around just because they seem valuable or you might want them later.

More recently, I read a book called Organizing Solutions for People with ADHD, and one of the recommentations within is to limit inventory — to not own so much stuff. That validated the slight anxiety I feel around every item I own, and a corresponding relief when I get rid of things.

And so, in December I spend a few hours going through boxes in the basement with an eye to getting rid of things I didn’t use, and using things I liked. Which brought me to this beautiful mid-century hors d’oeuvre set.

I still don’t have enough parties to justify keeping an object like this on the main floor (or owning it at all, really). But, after 13 years of having children in the public school system, I do own a lot of pencils and erasers. So, inspired by the Instagram account of London stationery store Present and Correct, I gave the set a new home and a new life.

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