Past tense picnicking with the vintage Ingrid Party Ball

by Neal Kielar, Tastemaker in Residence

A long-ago picnic in the park, at the beach, in some faraway field or just in the back yard is a perfect bit of nostalgia for a lot of us.

I remember picnics from my childhood in Pittsburgh, when a tight group of my parent's friends and their kids got together multiple times each summer. We'd set up, play, eat, drink, eat some more and then clean up and drive home happy and tired. I'm not sure if we used paper plates and cups that long ago. Maybe it was lightweight Melmac dishes. In any case, I recall that we lugged a lot of food-related gear with us.

Fast-forward to the 1970s (I wasn't a kid anymore) and some clever soul in Chicago came up with a picnic serving solution that my mom probably wished she'd had years earlier – and lots of people would appreciate today. It was the Ingrid Party Ball, an ingeniously designed, self-contained and portable service for six. The colorful ball, about the size of a soccer ball, included six each drinking cups, large plates, large bowls and small bowls. A platform for the cups was also a serving tray and the two halves of the container were serving bowls.

Did I mention that it came in vibrant colors? The classic original design was a primary red ball with white carrying strap. The pieces inside were red, blue, green, yellow, orange and white.

Today, Ingrid Party Balls are fun finds in stores selling vintage wares - when you can find one complete and in great shape. If you do find one and live life on the go, it's worth grabbing. And because it was designed as a space saver it won't take up much room in your cabinets.