How to throw a home improvement party shower

A do-it-yourself shower for a young couple who will live in an old house, or an apartment in an old-style residence, is fun and sure to please the engaged pair, especially if they are furnishing with hand-me-downs from their families and pieces bought secondhand, or at auction sales and antique shops. The idea of the shower for them is that every guest brings a small piece of furniture, such as a box, stool, small table, lamp, tray, and the means of refinishing it effectively. The refinishing is started at the party and the refinished pieces are the shower gifts.

One such party was given near Katonah, New York, for a couple who had just acquired a reconditioned barn as their new home. They had bought beds and a few large pieces, and a complete bathroom and new kitchen were installed but they needed many small furnishings. Friends and neighbors staged an all-day home decorating shower.

Invitations were given by telephone or in person by one of their neighbors acting as host, with a list of the kind of furnishings that would be welcome: small chair-side tables, larger end tables for bedroom and living room, book shelves, mirror frames, work table or desk, chairs of every kind from metal ice cream parlor chairs for the tiny stone terrace to Windsor chairs and others from farm sales, lamp bases, useful boxes and chests for living room, dining room and elsewhere.

The time set for the party was from 10 o’clock until 5 on a Saturday in early summer. Each guest was to bring whatever he or she wanted to give the couple, with whatever refinishing supplies were needed for putting the gift in good condition.

One man cleaned two handsome oil lamps, removed wicks, and mounted each on a wooden base which he cut with the host’s power saw from scraps of an old teakwood table. He wired the lamps, and they were ready for shades and a place in the living room.

One girl sandpapered an old painted chair – it turned out to be cherry – and wiped it down with a wet cloth, and after lunch waxed and rubbed it to shining beauty. Sanding, painting, scraping, and polishing jobs filled the host’s big porch and cleared garage. At 1 o’clock the host and hostess rang their brass dinner bell and work stopped for an hour or longer, while the party feasted, as in the early days of this country, at a big table set up under the trees on the lawn.