I spent more time this weekend clearing out unwanted stuff in the basement.  The three camping cots were donated to the homeless coordinator at work.  Girly, twin size bedding was donated to the thrift store operated by a service provider for our developmentally disabled citizens, and I tossed all of daughter’s dorm room Christmas decorations from her freshman year. Then I got to the shelving where we store things from our parents we don’t use but still have.

We are the proud owners of my mother’s cut glass punch bowl, along with 12 glass cups and a glass ladle.  We also have her silver service, as well as my mother-in-law’s silver service.  I started to reminisce about the fancy lunches, family wedding receptions, and  other soirees from my childhood and young adulthood where those things were used.  I remember having to choose with care which aunts would sit at each end of the table and pour out the coffee at my wedding reception. They had to be different aunts than the ones who got to cut the wedding cake for so it could be served.  Nice memories.

Husband thinks we should keep the punch bowl.  I would like to keep the silver tray from my mother-in-law’s silver service and have it replated, since it is large with a pleasing design but has some of the plating worn off.  I can live without silver coffee and tea pots.  They just don’t have parties like they used to.

Tell about some parties you remember.

51 thoughts on “Soirees”

  1. Myself I would keep the tea set . But then that brings up a question where is the punch bowl from (made) how old is it? What’s it made of? Does it have all the cups unbroken? Is it made of Crystal? Or Lead glass.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Welcome! It is glass and all the cups are intact. We used it 23 years ago at a gathering we had after our daughter’s baptism.


  2. my mom has exactly that same set of silver pictured
    we would use it thanksgiving christmas and easter for family get togethers
    my mom had one married sister with kids and her mom and dad who had 2 daughters in high school that were sort of fun
    the cousins in the one sisters family matched up perfectly with our family but they were not the kind of people you want as friends
    they were ok as cousins in white shirts and ties and the girls in their lace trimmed pink taffeta dresses and patent leather shoes. would come over act snooty and be glad to go home st the end of the day
    my mom had a great time playing hostess and her family would bring salad and pie and help with the dishes. we did this because my grandmother didn’t like me coming to their house. she had tables and shelves and window sills full of knick knacks and little art pieces and i would touch them and break stuff
    it drove her crazy to keep following me around telling me not to touch anything so we moved it to our house where all the stuff was in line to touch.
    as we grew older we started letting them have holidays by themselves and we hung together. my mom still taught my sisters about which forks and which spoons go with what but it wasn’t as formal
    i remember the family wondering how i could get by with no meat and i would say that at this my favorite meal i would think it was obvious
    green salad, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, wild rice, green bean casserole, beets, salad, frozen fruit cocktail, hollandaise sauce and pie all served on fancy china with the gravy in gravy boats and soup in the soup tureen with silver ladles and serving forks and spoons
    crystal water glasses and all the kids making the ringing sound by whetting their fingers and circling around the top of the glass. then my grandmother would tell long boring stories and my uncle joe would tell good jokes
    grandpa would sometimes show 8mm home movies on the wall in the living room and when the night came we all felt good about family time together
    silver was well used and often
    my mom started a list of who gets what and my sisters both got dibs on the silver crystal and china as well as the breakfrong to display all the finery. it never dawned on them thrcwhen mom was 90 they’d be 60 so they needed to figure out their own stuff
    i think ikea and art fairs have filled their needs for these things. my wife’s grandma died and left us with 2 sets of china that can’t go in the microwave because of all the inlaid silver in the glaze.
    i still have all this same dishes served along with turkey or ham at the gala events but no silver
    now it’s pottery or glass pitchers and cream and sugar bowls
    my grandson will be at easter dinner this tear but not eating much
    the tradition continues

    Liked by 3 people

  3. when I moved out into the house on Porten than lake with my hippie friends in the 70s we had a beautiful dining room area with hutch and let it glass doors on the China cabinet in the dining room beautiful Darkwood and so on moving and I went to the veterans thrift store down the street and bought a dining room table and six chairs nonmatched for a total of $40 and brought them home set them up in the dining room and proceeded to put things that would be used for serving behind the cut glass doors in the hutch on our Thanksgiving and Christmas meals together I would bring out the serving trays and the goblets and the guys were amazed. That’s when I realized not everyone was raised with the etiquette and manners that we were instructed with


    Liked by 3 people

  4. During the time I volunteered for Hamlin’s amphibian census, my ex threw a surprise frog party for me. I was given all manner of frog related items. Games, plastic toys and a tee shirt that I still have showing a Poison Dart frog superimposed on the full moon.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. The Washington Opera costume shop gave an annual appreciation tea for our volunteers. We transformed the shop and made cucumber sandwiches, lemon curd, the works.

    We knew full well the ladies we were hosting were the wives of retired military brass and elected officials. They knew what was what. We wanted them to know the extent of our appreciation and show that our Mama’s had raised us well.

    I also used to host a post-Christmas Eve buffet at my church that I threw my all into. I’ve never had a home or lifestyle where I could really entertain. This is unfortunate, because I really enjoy nice things. I saw these events as opportunities.

    Both gatherings were eventually killed off by people who decided it was “too much work”, even though no one had asked them to do the work.

    Liked by 5 people

  6. I set the punchbowl on my mother’s cedar chest for the photo. I think the chest has mahogany veneer on it. It is full of table linens my mom embroidered and never used.


  7. My mom used to throw a 12th Night party for the neighbors – she was a church musician, so socializing and parties leading up to 12/25 were not on the agenda, and my folks left New Year’s Eve to others. But my mom loved 12th night – she’d make Norwegian fruit soup and cookies and have an assortment of other less memorable tasty treats. And she would get out the punch bowl – much like the one you show. That bowl would only come out for 12th night or occasionally bridal or wedding showers. It seemed so very posh. I would bet she still has it in the basement storage room. Some years my brother and I would be asked to keep ourselves entertained elsewhere in the house, some years we helped with coats (piling them in the back room sofa – where then we would sit on them like a giant cushion). Always fun to see the neighbors who were otherwise “just plain people” show up at our house looking dolled up (or at least not covered in whatever Saturday project they were working on when we kids cruised through the house looking for snacks or something to do).

    As for the silver service…I’m afraid I inherited a similar one from my mother-in-law. By the time I got it, it was quite tarnished and had lost quite a bit of plating. It met an ignominious end which I did not fuss about as Husband had, I think, less fond memories of it than me and my mother’s punch bowl…

    Liked by 4 people

  8. Rise and Shine Baboons,

    Back in the day, meaning my adolescence, we used to use such things for 4-H meetings and teas, pulling all of it out of the cupboards, shining it up, then putting it to use. Mom used it for church circle meetings. Man, I disliked that stuff. When we closed down my mother’s house, she still had all of such things and expected us to keep it and use it. We no longer use such things. While I like to entertain, and do so when possible, I don’t enjoy using such silver and glassware because it cannot go into a dishwasher.

    So, Renee, the stuff I have been passing it along elsewhere, much like you are doing. The great memories of 4-H I am keeping. I did love 4-H; the meetings, learning to lead, the projects, the trips were all so good for me. I learned a lot, too.

    Liked by 4 people

  9. I sure don’t like to polish the silver. A friend from grad school and her sister, when middle schoolers, took it upon themselves to surprise their parents by polishing the sterling silverware. They really went to work, even removing the dark decorative inlay on the handles. Her parents were not amused.


  10. My parents threw what I suppose you’d call a cocktail party the summer I was 14. There were a lot of people in our small house, but most must have been outside or in other rooms, because I was able to sneak my first drink of alcohol–a whiskey sour that was half gone, and someone had apparently forgotten they’d left it there.

    So I took a sip but didn’t like it much. The next day, I pitched a no-hitter for my Babe Ruth league baseball team.

    Chris in Owatonna (who never pitched another no-hitter but also never became an alcoholic–although I do love my wine most every evening!)

    Liked by 6 people

  11. Parties were not part of my family tradition and I have no positive memories of parties. The two parties I remember best from my youth are the sort of thing you spend a lifetime trying to forget.

    My erstwife kept some family heirloom silver in the basement. It was fancy stuff we never used but dutifully toted from apartment to apartment until it finally settled in the basement of our home. I never understood its appeal but got used to thinking it somehow pleased my wife just by being there.

    Then we had a theft. Someone took the silver and some jewelry that my erstwife regarded as precious legacies. That incident drove wedges between the three members of our little family. It is the only topic we could never discuss and dare not mention even now.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. A friend hangs onto a few things she does not use because they are from her grandmother. They mostly sit in a break front – what she values is the reminder of connection to family and history, not necessarily the utility of the thing. She would be devastated I think if those things were lost.

      Liked by 3 people

    1. I had an ashtray in my car that I was using as a cup holder. Weirdly, someone stole it out of the car one night when I had left the car unlocked. Nothing else was taken. It was a chunky glass ashtray, sort of peach-colored glass.


  12. My dad had a wonderful ashtray. It was a sort of brass pool (which was the tray part) with a nude Brussels Boy standing on the edge. There was a semi-round cigarette holder. But if you put a lit cigarette in it, the glowing ember would trip a switch and the Brussels Boy would pee to put out your cigarette. I’d love to have that thing now.

    Liked by 3 people

  13. Mom and dad both grew up dirt poor, parties of any kind were not part of their life experience, and neither were they a part of my childhood. My sister and I were taught manners and how to comport ourselves mostly at dance school, which, of course, did not include table manners. The nuns at the boarding school took care of that. We did have a “fancy” set of dishes (Royal Copenhagen dontcha know!) that was rarely used. I’m not exactly sure why we had them, as mom was not a good or confident cook, and we rarely entertained.

    Confirmations were big celebrations in Denmark when I was growing up, a sort of coming of age party with a slight religious overtone. It was an opportunity to get some nice clothes, a lot of gifts, and invite family and friends to a big sit-down dinner, which was usually catered.

    I recall that for my sister’s confirmation we didn’t have enough dishes for all the relatives and friends mom had invited. Mrs. Mortensen, who lived across the street from us, had the same pattern dishes as we did, so a loan was arranged. The trouble was that Mrs. Mortensen used her dishes every day, so hers were faded and much of the pattern had worn off from use, while mom’s dishes, having rarely been used, were pristine. After the party and the dishes were done, the appropriate amount of borrowed dishes were returned to Mrs. Mortensen.

    It wasn’t till months later, when mom had invited guests to a Sunday dinner that justified using her Royal Copenhagen plates, she discovered that most of the plates in her cupboard belonged to Mrs. Mortensen. By then it would have been embarrassing to ask to switch plates, so they never did. It was a source of irritation for years.

    I think it’s telling that the two things I remember about my sisters confirmation is the saga of the dishes, and the fact that my sister HATED the shoes mom had insisted she buy for the big day. Parties were usually not happy occasions at our house.

    Liked by 4 people

  14. OT – I suppose you could argue that a Claudia Schmidt concert is always a party, but since these “parties” haven’t happened as yet, I’m counting them as OT. Here are some concerts that you may want to get on your calendar.

    SAT. FEB. 10 NEW BRIGHTON MN. Creek House Concert One of the finest house concert venues anywhere, I call it the Carnegie Hall of House Concerts! Reserve ahead at 651-633-5353 or $20 I will have my new CD with me!

    SUN. FEB. 11 BURNSVILLE MN. Dakota UU Church 13001 Cty. Rd. 5 10am Everyone welcome, I do the whole hour, there WILL be singing!

    WED. FEB. 14 ST. PAUL MN. THE LOVE SHOW returns!!! Myself, Kevin Kling, Prudence Johnson, Simone Perrin, Dan Chouinard, and Dane Stauffer mix it up musically and poetically like to make your heart burst with joy! O’Shaughnessy Auditorium 7pm

    FRI. FEB. 16 BRAHAM MN. Live on KBEK FM Wiese Auditorium 208 Broadway Ave. S. Social hour 6, music at 7 $10 I came here last year and was thrilled to be able to come back, what a fun event! Local beverages and snacks. .call 844-200-5235 or

    SAT. FEB. 17 DULUTH MN w/Sara Thomsen Weber Hall UMN 7pm Tix at door. .for more info contact Sara at or call 218-269-9557 Sara and I have had the chance to share the stage a couple times, and I am thrilled to have yet another opportunity to make music together!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Mom had her wedding china and sterling silver which always came out for occasions such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and a few other special event parties. I never cared much for the sterling because it had to be hand washed and we had to count every piece before putting it away. I do very little entertaining (used to do a Christmas season Open House for about 10 years – no more) and have no use for fancy china or silver. My sisters and I were unsure of what to do with Mom’s sterling plus the silver-plate set she had from my grandma – none of us wanted or needed it. Luckily one niece wanted the sterling and another niece took the silver-plate. As to the china (actually one full set and three partial sets), they are being donated. Even consignment shops didn’t want china. I do have a punchbowl and 12 cups – not an heirloom – that sits unused in my pantry. It will most likely be donated.

    Liked by 3 people

  16. I overstated when I said parties weren’t in our family culture. My parents were fond of “bridge parties,” (meaning contract bridge). They owned two card tables, and a game involves four players, so that’s eight people. They would have invited three other couples to these parties.

    My mother would rig the record player to play a record over and over all night. She favored a soft jazz artist named Billy Eckstine. Drinks were glasses of blended whiskey splashed over Coke and ice cubes. Everybody smoked. Late in the evening you could barely see across the living room through the smoke.

    I liked to sit on the stairs looking out over the living room during these parties. There was a lovely sound of small talk, laughter, the tinkling of ice in glasses and that rippling sound of playing cards being shuffled.

    My folks said I’d never have a social life unless I learned to play bridge, so they sent me off to bridge lessons. The lessons didn’t “take.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m married to a bridge player. He competes and has enough “master points” to be some level of “life master.” I think he likes the logic and math involved in playing well. I used to play “social bridge” (of the sort I’m sure your parents played Steve – though with less smoke and gin in place of whisky), but I will never be able to play competitively. Not my thing. I send Husband off with his partner (they have been playing together since before I met Husband) and smile and nod politely when he tells me how the game/tournament/event went. 🙂

      Liked by 4 people

  17. Oh, I’ve been at some great parties.

    There was a couple that hosted New Years Eve parties in a grand old house on ‘Pill Hill’ here in Rochester. “Pill Hill” was were the doctors lived. (Course some still do). I knew I had ‘made it’ when I joined the board of directors at this theater and then, consequently, got invited to their New Years parties.

    There was the cast party after a Mantorville Melodrama where we drank more champagne / person than any other cast. We won with 2.4 bottles per person. Yes I was very sick. No, I don’t like champagne anymore.

    I have hosted ‘Screw Sorting parties’ at a theater. Complete with instructions on how to tell a good screw from a bad screw. Condom, stapled right through the center, attached to all the instructions.
    (Lower budget theaters, the sets are constructed with screws. On closing, ‘Strike’ is when the set is taken down and everything that can be saved and reused, is. All the screws are just thrown in a bucket. And then later, sorted out. Hence, a ‘Screw sorting Party’.)

    And there are our random ‘Porta Potty Parties’. I rent a porta potty, we have a party.

    My 21st birthday was at a pizza place with a lot of good friends. Still, one of my favorite memories.

    Liked by 4 people

  18. A couple of years ago I went to a holiday choir potluck with a white elephant gift exchange. A LOT of people but still fun. One of the popular gifts was a stuffed cow that occasionally broke into laughter and fell over on its side. It was stolen back and forth but even when it wasn’t being stolen it would randomly let loose. I was laughing so hard it made me cry. Hysterical.

    Liked by 3 people

  19. I was talking with my next door office mate and dear friend today, telling her about my clean up this weekend . She said she had been scouting out thrift stores for silver tea services for some time with no luck. She is a few years younger than I am. She has always wanted a silver service to display and use for tea parties. I told her she could have my mother’s. I am so thrilled it will have a good home and get used!

    Liked by 6 people

  20. My mom wasn’t much of a party giver – think it made her nervous to prepare for (which I inherited). But I do remember when I was about 5, a small gathering at our house of some friends to sing Christmas carols around our piano. Everyone was dressed up, my mom had a beautiful red dress that I’d never seen before. The house was all decorated… I don’t remember much except the singing, but it’s a lovely memory.

    Liked by 4 people

  21. My family was once invited to a Christmas party at the home of a neighbor who owned a car dealership and was quite wealthy. He had a summer home near where we lived, but his main home was in some suburb like Edina where the houses were big and modern.

    It was mostly adults. I remember that the car dealer’s wife introduced a sort of word game involving numbers, where all the words began with the same letter as the number, starting with one and going up to twelve (?). I think you were supposed to memorize the whole string. I still remember that the phrase for the number eight was “eight egotistical eaglets eagerly expecting ecstasy”.

    The food was a little intimidating. I think there were hors d’oeuvres on toothpicks and all that sort of thing, and the kids were served Shirley Temples in fancy glasses.

    Liked by 3 people

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