Make it Memorable: How to Give an Old-Fashioned Pounding

When was the last time you enjoyed a good Old-Fashioned Pounding? Wait! No, I don’t mean being in a tussle with a 2,000-pound bull, or a fist fight! I’m talking about one of the events that happens before a wedding…

Well. That didn’t come out right either, so allow me to explain myself. An Old-Fashioned Pounding is very similar to what we call a ‘shower’ today. The term ‘shower’ refers to the act of ‘showering’ a person with gifts for a specific purpose. These purposes are usually for a housewarming, wedding, or a new baby.

An Old-Fashioned Pounding, on the other hand, is specifically food related, and helps the recipient to stock their pantry. Believed to originate in the 16th Century, and often accredited to the Quakers, it is thought to be called a ‘pounding’ due to the fact that most of the items – coffee, grain, flour, sugar, etc. – were sold by the pound.

jar of layered bean mix, fresh onion, ladle, can of Ro-Tel Tomatoes for a 10 Bean Soup Mix

An Old-Fashioned Pounding was a way to welcome a new minister to a church. The congregation would each bring an item to the minister’s home and stay to visit for a bit. This gave both the minister and the congregant an opportunity to get to know each other.

In many churches, this practice is still continued today. Instead of dropping off individual items, most churches chip in an item or two, and those donations are placed in bags or boxes and given to the minister and his family to get them started in their new home.

In today’s world, food has become expensive, and in some cases, grocery stores are having difficulty keeping food in stock due to transportation issues. The idea of starting a new home and having to stock a pantry is daunting. But by offering to host an Old-Fashioned Pounding, you may just help someone get settled in their new home without having to worry about grocery shopping.

a young girl serving tea to her stuffed animals

Tips on Hosting an Old-Fashioned Pounding

When hosting an Old-Fashioned Pounding, you need to first determine the needs of the celebrant. Are they a young person or couple that is just starting out? If this is the case, then the goal would be to fill their pantries with the staples, such as flour, sugar, baking supplies, spices, etc.

If they have already established a home and the Old-Fashioned Pounding is designed as a housewarming, then the gifts may range from an assortment of gourmet coffees, teas and food items the person or couple may not readily purchase for themselves.

Having a ‘surprise’ Old-Fashioned Pounding is a fun idea, but unless you know the celebrant well, it may not be advisable. Some people have food allergies or dietary restrictions and receiving cake mixes wouldn’t be beneficial to a diabetic.

As the hostess, knowing the needs of the celebrant is the first step in organizing your pounding. Here are some things you should know before organizing an Old-Fashioned Pounding. This would be classified as the ‘Considerations’ Guide:

  • Food Allergies
  • Dietary Restrictions (health, faith, etc.)
  • Cooking/Baking skill level
  • Pantry/Refrigerator/Freezer space
  • Food likes & dislikes

We discussed the food allergies and dietary restrictions, but the last three items on the list can be just as important.

bags of whole wheat, all purpose and bread flours

Consider their baking skills level. My baking and cooking skills are a bit higher, so items I might enjoy receiving would differ from a novice. Where I would love to receive Diastatic Malt and specialty bread flours, a novice wouldn’t know what that is or how to use it.

Storage space is also an issue. Where a 50-pound bag of flour wouldn’t faze us in the least, a five-pound bag might to someone who has very little storage space. If possible, determine how much storage space is available, and gear your Gift Suggestion guide accordingly. (More on a Gift Suggestion guide later!)

I am not a coconut fan. I don’t care for the taste, smell, or texture of that white fluffy stuff. So, if you were giving me an Old-Fashioned Pounding, offering anything involved with coconut would be useless to me.

The Country Boy loves his morning coffee. The only way I will consume it is as an ingredient in coffee-flavored ice cream. I love a good, rich spaghetti sauce – him, not so much.

Click the Image to Learn More!

But bread baking? Oh. I would just be thrilled with specialty flours, yeast, and other supplies and ingredients for baking my own breads!

Knowing the food preferences of each individual the Old-Fashioned Pounding is for helps when choosing the gifts.

Granulated, Confectioner's and Turbanado Sugars

The Hostesses Gift Suggestion Guide

When hosting an Old-Fashioned Pounding, a very helpful item to include with the invitation is a Gift Suggestion Guide. You don’t have to list every single item they may need or want, but it does need to include the consideration list above, at a minimum.

Think of a Gift Suggestion Guide as a registry. Determine what items are needed and list them. Break the list down into sections, such as Baking Supplies, Seasonings, Frozen Foods, Refrigerated Needs, etc. If the list is long, your sections can be a bit more detailed – ‘Coffee/Tea’, Pastas/Sauces, etc.

If you have ever seen a registry in a shop, then you are aware that once an item is purchased, it is marked off the list. This is a great way to prevent duplicates.

jars of spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon, cream of tarter, basil, oregano as a gift for an old-fashioned pounding

In the case of an Old-Fashioned Pounding, most grocery stores don’t have a registry list, so you, as the hostess, become the ‘Shop’. To prevent the celebrant from receiving 10 five-pound bags of flour and nothing else, ask the guests to check with you for a list of items that are still needed, and to let you know what they will be bringing as a gift.

One thing to consider as appropriate gifts for an Old-Fashioned Pounding:  Although most of the items should be edible, it is also nice to add a supply or two to the mix. Items such as soup pots and cookie cutters are great to add to a gift of soup or cookie mixes. Need some help? There are some great lists in Best Kitchen Tools for the Job post!

Small items, such as measuring spoons, lemon zesters, and a nutmeg grater are a perfect addition to the bow on the package. Just use a little extra ribbon to secure it in place!

Click the Image to Learn More!


When sending invitations for an Old-Fashioned Pounding, you will need the standard information – date, time, location, celebrant, and type of shower. It may also be wise to explain what a pounding is. Your invitation may read something like this:

Come celebrate Jane’s new home with an Old-Fashioned Pounding! Help us fill her pantry and refrigerator with ‘a pound of this and a pound of that’.

(A helpful list of items she needs is included. Be sure to call the ‘Registry’ (hostess – Claire at 555-1234) with what you plan to bring to keep from having duplications.’

Of course, feel free to word it in a way that works for you. But as the hostess, you may also want to keep a list of those who are invited handy. This list would include their name, item they are bringing, plus a phone number to do a double check in case they haven’t responded.

Be sure to include your Gift Suggestion Guide. Since most folks aren’t familiar with an Old-Fashioned Pounding, having an idea of what gift to give comes in very handy. And since your Gift Suggestion Guide will also include the Considerations List at the top, this can prevent folks from buying something that cannot be used.

gift basket including a ravioli form, olive oil, and pasta and one filled with wheat flour, yeast, white flour; a box of tea, a bag of red beans

What to Give at an Old Fashioned Pounding

Once the main considerations are answered, the rest of your Gift Suggestions will come down to the celebrant’s skill level and preferences.

If they are just starting out, most people need the basics, such as:

  • Flour (All-purpose)
  • Sugar (granulated, brown, Confectioner’s, etc.)
  • Corn Meal
  • Baking Supplies (Baking soda, Baking Powder, etc.)
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Other Spices (i.e. Basil, Oregano, Garlic Powder, Tony Chachere’s, etc.)
  • Baking Mixes (muffins, pancake, Bisquick, etc.)
  • Canned Goods
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Dried Beans/Peas
  • Soup Mixes
  • Coffee / Tea

Another option (and perfectly suitable for an Old-Fashioned Pounding) is to help them stock up on cleaning supplies. This is especially helpful for first-time homeowners and young adults who are moving into their first apartment.

If they are already established, or have a higher skill level, you may want to choose items that are more specific, such as gourmet cheeses, coffee, tea, bread and specialty flours or Turbinado sugar.

spaghetti, rigatoni and other assorted pastas in boxes and jars

Another gift idea is what I would call an ‘All-in-One’ gift. Consider giving them a soup pot and fill it with a large stainless-steel spoon for stirring and a ladle for serving. Add in some dried soup mixes and maybe a muffin or bread mix to serve with the soup.

For those like me who love canning my own foods, feel free to add a jar of your own Vegetable Beef Soup to the pot. Or create a basket filled with homemade jams and jellies, or a ‘Meal’ Basket, filled with home canned vegetables, pickles, relishes and more.

Cookbooks or a collection of your own family recipes also make the perfect gift. These are some of the most exciting gifts to receive – especially if the recipe is a ‘family secret’, or a dish that they celebrant has expressed a love for the dish.

old-fashioned pounding

Take the Gift a Step Further

Want to take it a step further, and offer a more ‘outside the box’ gift? Consider a gift certificate to a cooking class. These are great for those who have never cooked but want to learn, or for those who are great cooks but want to learn a more specific technique, such as baking breads or creating regional meals.

And that cooking class? It doesn’t have to be in a formal classroom setting. If you are a great cook, offer to spend a day with them in your own kitchen. Teach them the basics, bread baking, canning, or anything else they are interested in learning.

Another ‘outside the box’ gift idea is to offer a You & Me Day. This day would include a trip to a local grocery store or kitchen shop to choose an item they did not receive at the Old-Fashioned Pounding party. Throw in lunch at a favorite restaurant or tearoom to make it an even more special and memorable day.

Italian themed gift basket including olive oil, a jar of homemade spaghetti sauce, a ravioli form, and a bag of spaghetti

Ways to Present the Gifts

As with welcoming a new minister, you can simply present the gifts in grocery bags (personally, and if you can still find them, the brown paper bags can be decorated and presented much better than the plastic grocery bags!)

Have each person deposit an item in the bags. You may want to mark the bags according to the gift – baking supplies, dry goods, etc. If they are items that need to be refrigerated, these will have to be handled accordingly.

With any other gifts, you may ask that each person include a recipe that will incorporate the item they give. For instance, if you give someone several cans of Cream of Mushroom Soup, give them a recipe for your favorite Chicken & Rice Casserole. If you give a set of cookie cutters, give them your recipe for Sugar Cookies.

The recipe card should include the name of the giver (Recipe by: Jane Smith), and the card itself can be used creatively as the gift tag.

table covered in a blue and white check cloth with an enamelward pot filled with red geraniums as a centerpiece

Decorating Tips for an Old-Fashioned Pounding

As the host of the Old-Fashioned Pounding, you will want your decorations to fit with the theme. Consider using a red and white checked tablecloth. Add coordinating paper plates and plastic cups – or pull out your Mason Jars and use them as drinking glasses.

Another consideration is to make it all Vintage or Retro, using tablecloths, napkins and serving pieces from the 50s. These pieces can range from Enamelware to Carnival glass or even Fiestaware.

For the centerpiece, consider using a medium to large basket filled with fresh loaves of French bread, pasta, and sauces, or cookie making ingredients complete a rolling pin and cookie cutters. This can double as a fun decoration and your gift all at the same time.

Click the Image to Learn More!

Using a smaller arrangement, decorate a smaller table with some Vintage Salt and Pepper shakers or small bud vases filled with fresh flowers. In the center, place a Recipe Box. As the gifts are opened, place each recipe that is received in the box under the appropriate section.

At the end of the party, present this as an extra gift. (You may want to give the attendees a heads up and request a specific size recipe card, such as 3×5 or 4×6. This way, all of the recipes will fit without having to be folded!)

stacked cans of vegetables in a pantry

Bring Back the Old-Fashioned Pounding

Instead of having the same old shower, bring a piece of the past back to life with an Old-Fashioned Pounding. Not only will you help someone stock their pantry, but conversations surrounding food can be fun and interesting.

And as the hostess, you are allowed to cheat a bit. Keep a notebook handy and jot down some of those delicious recipes. You may just have some new and interesting meals to serve your own family!

Cajun themed gift basket filled with red beans and rice mix, jambalaya mix, Tobasco Sauce, Tony Chachere's and a wooden spoon

Ready for more Tips & Ideas?

Check out these helpful posts!

Living from Scratch – Breathing Fresh Ideas into a Simple Life

Grandma Essie’s Perspective on Living a Life from Scratch

10 Fun and Easy Ideas to Decorate on a Budget

Best Kitchen Tools for the Job

Living Frugally – Learn to Barter

Have a ‘Swap’ Meet

Host a Canning Party

Vintage Calling Cards

Julie Murphree is a blogger, newspaper columnist, and speaker on all things ‘Living a Simple Life on the Farm’. She is the author of \\\'The Farm Wife – Living a Simple Life on the Farm. She and her husband have 60 acres in NW Louisiana where they actively work on living as sustainable as possible.


  1. This has been very helpful to me. I am helping plan a pounding for a soon to be bride and many for the “young” ladies who are invited have never heard of a pounding. This article has given me a good start on a list for them. Thanks.

    1. I’m so glad the post was helpful, June! Poundings are a great way to get a couple (or even a single person) started in their new home. I hope you have fun!

  2. We have done this for my parents At Christmas the last several years. Buying gifts for them became so difficult because they have everything they want, they are in their 80’s. The first time we did it they were overwhelmed. In the current economy and inflation it lets us help them with things they might not buy. We also throw in a grocery store gift card.

    1. Sandy – this is an excellent idea! With the current economy, I’m sure many of us would appreciate gifts that can help stretch the grocery budget! Thanks for the suggestion. It may just help others!

  3. Never heard this term! But I do remember years ago when our former church ladies purchased food items for the new pastor’s family when they arrived at the parsonage. I can still remember my shock at my/our first grocery bill after we were married! When you are buying everything starting with the basics of salt & pepper: whew!

    1. My aunts introduced me to this concept years ago when they roped me into helping them with a housewarming shower. It was fun, and a blessing to the couple it was given for. It is VERY expensive to
      get started for the first time. Even if someone already has a pantry established, a pounding still helps!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.