Some years ago I was given an antique compote dish. At the time, I was convinced that the elegant foot-tall bowl-on-a-pedestal would never find a place in such a casual entertaining style as mine.

As it turns out, I use that compote dish almost as often as I use my giant oval platter (the lovely survivor from Great-Aunt Rae’s wedding china)…

NovaScotian Crystal compoteWhen someone drops by for a cup of tea, the compote holds the cookies and tea cakes — instantly, the guest feels special. Family parties or full-blown festive occasions, it’s there.

Between times, I fill it with fresh fruit or something equally decorative and set it on the sideboard or in the centre of the dining table.

And when there’s a call for a centerpiece, the compote saves the day — glass bulb ornaments in the bowl and pine tips at the base will put on the ritz for a winter holiday, or I fill it with coloured marbles, top up with water, and float one perfect peony flower to celebrate summer.

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It’s interesting to see, in recent months, a lot of footed dishes back on the shelves, in the catalogues, and at design and craft shows, as well as a fine selection of antique compotes turning up on eBay. (This delicate crystal compote, for example, is “Titanic” from NovaScotian Crystal.) This resurgence of interest means you’re likely to find a dish in any material and style, to suit any home decor — and what an elegant wedding gift it would make!

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