When I was young knowing someone who owned a punch bowl was imperative. Not everyone could afford a nice one, especially if it had at least twenty glass cups that matched. Back then punch was served at many different kinds of parties. My family go-to recipe was a liter bottle of ginger ale mixed with a can of Hawaiian Punch and a large can of frozen orange juice concentrate. Spoonfuls of rainbow sherbet, or a ring of frozen juice with fruit in it (made using a Jello ring mold) floated on the top of the liquid. At a wedding there might have been two punch bowls, one for the kids and one spiked with Vodka for the adults (that the kids like to sneak).
Back then, people didn’t live together before getting married so a bridal shower, was a necessity to help a young couple set up housekeeping. It was often hosted by the bridal party and the punch bowl was the colorful centerpiece of the food table. I still use my metal canister set with mushrooms on it, colors: orange and lime green that I received at my bridal shower. I talked about replacing it recently and my kids vetoed the idea. Presents were things like towels, kitchen utensils, a toaster, a toilet brush, a broom and mop, bake ware, pots and pans, a wall clock or perhaps an egg timer. Most women knew how to cook and did it. Eating out was reserved for special occasions unless you were rich or on vacation.
Baby showers were also very important. I guess those still happen today, but instead of being held in someone’s living room with homemade food and a nice punch, they happen at restaurants and country clubs. They have become so commercial it makes me sad. The day of just one outfit from a friend has passed. Lavish, expensive gifts are expected and with all the new safety feature strollers, high chairs, car seats and cribs, the necessary items are costly. I imagine flavored sparkling waters would be served today, different flavors to please any and everyone. Maybe I’m talking city life here. It’s been a while since I lived in a rural area.
Next time you have friends over may I suggest making an old-fashioned punch recipe. Maybe use cranberry juice so it isn’t so sweet. I’m sure a lot of memories will come to fore and be shared as people stand around the punch bowl.