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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The punchbowl makes a comeback

Punchbowls have fallen out of favor in recent years, likely due to easier methods of providing beverages for large gatherings, combined with the hassle of storing a punch set. However, I think they can be a money-saver for some frugal households. Here's why:

I bought this punch bowl, cup and ladle set at Value Village for $6.99 this past month. I already have 12 punch cups in this pattern, which I bought at a thrift store several years ago, so the new set brings me up to 24 cups. My old cups have been well-used, so I won't factor in their cost in this calculation. The punchbowl has an 8 quart capacity. We had about 30 guests at the reception, the other weekend. I made 2 gallons of blackberry lemonade, using bottled lemon juice, sugar, and frozen wild blackberries. If  I had served commercial beverages, I would have bought 2 2-liter bottles of soda pop and 2 half-gallons of juice, spending around $6. Each quart of homemade lemonade cost about 25 to 30 cents. 8 quarts cost me $2.00 to $2.40 -- a savings of $3.60 to $4, compared to buying commercial beverages. My punch cups were sufficient in number for our guests, so I saved about $2 to $3 on purchased plastic cups (bought in 10-packs from Dollar Tree). So, my savings from this punch set is now up to $5.60 to $6.00, or about $1 short of the cost of my new punch set from Value Village. I will be hosting a similar reception in one year, when my other daughter graduates. It will take me less than 2 receptions to pay for the cost of the punch set. I will use these pieces for several other events in my own home, and now there is a punch set in the family to be loaned out to others.

Should I want to sell this set, I could make $20 or more in profit. This same pattern punch set is currently selling for $24.99 on ebay. So, my purchase price of $6.99 was a pretty good deal.

I almost always see punch sets in Value Village and Goodwill, which is a good thing for those of us wanting to buy a set. When I went out shopping last month, I was pretty confident that I would find a set or at least a punchbowl.

The bonus with buying this punch set was in avoiding single-use beverage containers, which would end up in a landfill.


Live and Learn said...

Very good use of your punch bowl. I have never had one, but I do see them in thrift shops fairly often. It's interesting how trends come and go.

Belinda said...

Great price on the punchbowl, Lili. You're helping the environment too by using something that is reusable and not simply thrown away. And like you said, you're homemade drinks are much more affordable than buying two liters and cups. Plus homemade blackberry lemonade sounds so good to me. We have one here that we use for Christmas punch. We see them all the time at the Provident thrift store here. I've never thought to price one though. I'll have to look next time we go.

Anonymous said...

That worked out well! Got me thinking ... I have a glass cake stand that doubles as a punchbowl should I ever need one.

Anonymous said...

Pretty punch bowl. I buy and sell antiques and in my neck of the woods (Central PA), you can't give one away and you can almost bet at every other auction I attend, there will be one for sale. I've seen people use them with floating candles - LOTS of other uses for them.


Lili said...

Hi live and learn,
yes, I can remember a time when both my mother and grandmother had punchbowls, and they used them. I think the ease of using bottles and cans of ready-made drinks for large gatherings has put punchbowls out of style. They may come back in style again, someday.

Lili said...

Hi Belinda,
I think so too. In the Seattle area, the trend seems to be away from using plastic, disposable items. There will now be a ban on plastic cutlery in take-out restaurants, and plastic shopping bags are being replaced in more stores with the paper ones we all remember from our childhoods, or reusable bags. My daughter bought an individual bottle of juice a few weeks ago, and it came in a glass bottle.

Christmas punch -- that sounds like a good occasion to bring out the punchbowl. I'll give that some thought for our tree decorating family party. We went to another family's gathering at Thanksgiving, one year, and the hostess served a seafood and tomato cold soup, using a punch bowl, before the dinner. There could be many occasions to use this.

Lili said...

Ooh, even better, and double-duty punchbowl. If your punchbowl/cake stand looks like I think it may, it would also be good for trifle. My mother used to make trifle as the dessert for gatherings.

Lili said...

Hi Shelby,
I wonder if using/buying punchbowls is regional. When we lived in Utah, there seemed to be several family gatherings that I went to where they used punchbowls, but I only see them used, here (PNW), in church halls.
I like the idea to use them for floating candles. That could look very pretty both outdoors in summer, and in the house in winter.

Anne in the kitchen said...

I inherited my grandmothers punchbowl, but never use it. I need to start bringing it out when we have large gatherings.

Lili said...

Hi Anne,
What a treasure to have with which to remember your grandmother. That would make using it even more enjoyable, I'd think. I like the idea Shelby gave, to use a punchbowl with floating candles. Maybe you'll find alternate uses for your grandmother's punchbowl.

Belinda said...

Definitely many uses for the punch bowl, Lili. My grandmother always put out her punch bowl for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. She would make red punch one day and green the next. She always used appropriate colors of sherbet (lime for green/raspberry for red) ice cream and covered it with cream soda. Delicious!

Lili said...

What a wonderful memory of your grandmother, Belinda. I love the 2 colors of punch!

Unknown said...

I love it! Great idea, Lili.

Matt Macduff Family said...

A few years ago, my good friend's daughter got married. My friend asked all of her friends, including me, if she could borrow our punch bowls. She had a friends put together the food for the reception. I made the baked beans. All of the salads (potato, pasta & green salad) went into the punch bowls for serving the guests. What a great idea! I will definitely be keeping my punch bowl (it was my grandmother's) in case I should need it for a wedding reception for one of our girls. I've used it a few times over the years for bridal & baby showers. You're right, Lili. I see punch bowls for sale all of the time at thrift stores. Melissa

Lili said...

Thank you! It worked really well, and I'm eager to use it again. Lots of great ideas here in the comments.

Lili said...

Hi Melissa,
That's such a fabulous idea with the salads. I will keep that one in mind. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

I'm 18 years old, not a coupon clipping mom, and somehow stumbled upon your blog. Your frugal ways have absolutely stunned me. What a way to save, firstly. Secondly, very entertaining and articulate posts. They are very enjoyable. If you have any tips on how the average college student living alone can save, I'd be grateful. I live in California and everything is super expensive; most of my money will go towards rent. I have all of July to search for a place, which is a bit intimidating for a lone female. Sorry, off topic, but back to the savvy tips!!! They'd be appreciated! Keep up the good work anyhow!

Lili said...

Hi there,
Thank you for the kind words!
I think I understand your situation. It isn't just that everything is so expensive in California, but there is so much pressure there to have all of the luxuries available. It's easier when you can surround yourself with others who are making wiser financial choices for their lives, and are also on a tight budget.

I was once a college student living on my own, and dirt poor. I did all of the usual frugal things, such as eat beans and rice not just for lunch or dinners, but also for breakfast (which brings me to -- eating unconventional breakfast foods, cereal is expensive, rice is cheap), shopping for staples like rice, or fruits and vegetables at small ethnic markets (less expensive than traditional grocery stores), keep the lights and heat off as much as possible, in winter leave bath/shower water standing in the tub until it cooled off, to get that last bit of residual heat for my studio apartment, no car, took public transportation or walked (sometimes walking several miles to save the bus fare), shopped thrift stores for everything, and making sure to hit the bargain days, use cash only for groceries, using a make-shift cooling system in summer consisting of my shower and portable fan (my water was included in rent, so I could run a cold shower with the shower curtain open, and set a fan on the floor in front of the shower -- a make-shift evaporative cooling system). You're probably already doing all or most of these things. I wish you well finding a good rental this next month. I hope you find something safe, and in walking distance of most of the place you need to go. And I hope you find more tips on this blog, and others to help you through the next few years of college!

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