We’ll raise a toast to a season of pristine glass-clinking, y’all.

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Whether we're dressing up for Christmas supper (even if no one will see us but family), baking a towering confection for the sideboard, or decorating a tree that could grace the cover of, well, Southern Living, Southerners have a certain flair for the dramatic around the holidays. One area where we never rein in the spectacle is the tabletop. Once we've shined the silver, set out Grandma's vintage tablecloth, and grabbed our favorite china pattern from the cabinet, it's time for the crystal to make its grand entrance. To be sure your crystal is gleaming for the holidays, we went straight to the pros for the best advice.

We turned to the Crystal Restoration Team at North Carolina-based Replacements, Ltd. for their expert tips. It comes as no surprise that just like with Mama's beloved sterling silverware, it's always best to hand-wash your crystal.

Mix Traditional & Modern
Monogrammed linens, crystal stemware, and silver flatware establish a classic tone while bold red chargers and graphic gold-trimmed china update this display
| Credit: Photo: Jennifer Davick

Safety first, though! The Replacements, Ltd. Crystal Restoration Team recommends you start by placing a dish towel or cloth in the bottom of your sink basin to protect delicate feet and rims. Be sure to remove your jewelry (cut gems and sharp settings can scratch) and swing the faucet away from the wash area to prevent accidents.

When it comes to temperature, The Crystal Restoration Team says lukewarm water is best for cleaning crystal. According to their crew, you should stick to mild detergent, but use it sparingly as extra soap can actually cause residue build-up. A soft washcloth or sponge is fine, but don't use a brush or any material that might scratch your glasses.

Now we have to deal with those pesky water spots. The good news? The real trick for achieving a spot-free shine is already in your pantry. The Replacements experts say adding a little vinegar to the rinse water will prevent water spots from ever ruining your china cabinet's display.

Once your crystal is clean and spotless, you can use a drying rack or lint-free cloth or paper towel before putting it away. One major lesson from the Crystal Restoration squad: Dry carefully—twisting glasses from the base can result in a broken stem.

Once your glasses are dry, always store crystal stems right side up to protect rims from nicks. Lastly, give space between stems so the pieces won't rattle against each other. 

We'll raise a toast to a season of pristine glass-clinking, y'all.