I know I'm not alone in this feeling. I've seen too many punch bowl sets abandoned at thrift stores to have any illusions about their perceived usefulness.
I've also written before about the cost of clutter. In terms of the monetary cost of the space a punch bowl set takes up, it's pretty expensive for something that sees so little use. Still, they're handy to have around on those few occasions that they are needed. So here are a few ideas for dusting off that set and getting some better mileage out of it:
- Use it the way it was intended! Don't keep your punch bowl set packed up waiting for the next holiday party, pull it out for birthday parties, barbecues, Thanksgiving, Independence Day, and any other time you have several people over (Home owner's association meeting? Why not! Monthly pot luck with friends? Sure! The next 4-H meeting? Absolutely!).
- Punch bowl as serving bowl. Punch bowls are generally large and beautiful, not to mention transparent. Take the opportunity to use them for fruit or green salads. They're also perfect for holding a pile of biscuits, dinner rolls, baked potatoes, or corn on the cob. And since punch bowls are designed to handle hot cider in addition to cold punch, they can handle warm foods, too (although I wouldn't want to put anything boiling in one). Perhaps your punch bowl would be a nice soup tureen. And don't forget to use such a lovely dish for serving desserts! Punch bowls are lovely options for ambrosia or trifles.
- Use punch bowls to carry and serve food at potlucks. Not only can they accommodate many servings, but they are also made of glass, which helps plastic wrap stay in place.
- Punch bowls can also double as mixing bowls, especially when they are simple in shape.
- Use your punch bowl as a fruit bowl on your dining table. Nothing dresses up fresh fruit like putting it in a glass bowl.
- Use the bowl to house fish or as a terrarium.
- Use punch cups for scoops in your pantry. I keep one in my flour jar, rice jar, and huge jar o' black beans.
- If you don't have formal tea cups, punch cups are the perfect size (and are usually numerous enough) to serve tea to company. Since they all match and are pretty small, they are a cut above the usual coffee mug.
- Punch cups are also perfect cups for small children. They hold the perfect serving size and are easy for small hands to hold. The handles and the patterns molded into the glass also help children keep a grip on them. Even better, their small size and low center of gravity help prevent spills, while simultaneously teaching children to be careful with glass. (I actually prefer not to give my boys plastic cups, because plastic is so lightweight).
- Punch cups are lovely for home decor. You can float flowers in them. Or you can use them to hold tea lights, and let the cut glass reflect the light.
- Punch cups are also the perfect size for spoon feeding purees to a baby.
- Make bubbles! If you aren't using the set to serve drinks to guests and a child's birthday party, use them for soapy water. Fill the bowl with a solution of equal parts water and dish soap. Use the ladle to "serve" it into the cups, and provide the children with small bubble wands. They may not be able t take it with them, but it's certainly pretty and produces less trash than the disposable alternative.
- Finally, if you are using your set to serve drinks, don't for get to make an ice ring in a bundt pan to keep your punch cool!
This post has been linked with Busy Monday at A Pinch of Joy and Works For Me Wednesday at We Are THAT Family.