Everything in this picture is related to my mother or her mother. My grandmother used these cups when she had friends for a "tea"--when most of them would drink coffee--and there would be too many of them sitting around the living room for everyone to have a table to put her cup down on, so the potential for breakage was too great to use the Best Dishes, but she still wanted things to be elegant. (The ladies would all be wearing hats to this kind of party in the 1940s and 50s.) All the little nibbly things would be made small enough to fit one or two on the saucer. Since there were 18 cups and saucers to begin with, and when she gave them to me there were 14, breakage did occur.
The ivy painted tray was either painted by one of my grandmother's friends--they all painted things, some better than others--or brought back from a trip as a gift. I know my grandmother gave it to my mother along with a whole stack of commercially printed trays the same size at some time before 1960. When I'm using a mug or a glass, I put it on the tray so the condensation or spills won't get on the shelf.
The student-climbing-books bookends were a present to my mother--for no special occasion--from a friend of hers who loved books as much as she did.
The snail paperweight was given to my mother by her cousin about twenty years before they died as a tease about how slow my mother was about everything she did. (She always said how she loved dining at this cousin's house because her aunt was the only person she knew who ate slower than she did.)