There’s no actual record of it, but after the first fireside ever held by Latter-day Saints, punch and cookies were probably served. And punch and cookies have been served at nearly every fireside and other informal Church meeting ever since.

Essentially, there’s nothing wrong with punch and cookies, except that they’ve long since lost their originality. In planning a good substitute, consider these questions:

Will the refreshments have to travel?

Are they finger- or fork-foods?

What’s best to serve at this time of the year?

What’s simple to make?

Who’s going to clean up?

What will appeal to the largest number of people?

How many will be there?

How much will these refreshments cost?

Cost should be the first consideration, actually. People shouldn’t be asked to make or donate refreshments that they wouldn’t be able to afford in their own homes.

Also consider compatibility. The punch may be pretty and the cookies luscious, but if the two tastes cancel each other out, everyone puckers all the way home. And chartreuse punch served with blue cookies will appeal only to the color blind. Consider texture, too.

After all this, consider fruit and nut breads: they are practical, easy to make, low-cost, widely appealing, and easy to match with punch. They freeze easily, transport well, compare favorably in cost with cookies, and can (and should) be made ahead. In addition to your favorite applesauce, date nut, banana, and pumpkin bread recipes, branch out and try:

Cherry Coconut Loaf

Combine:

2 beaten eggs

1/2 c. milk

1/2 c. oil

Sift:

2 1/2 c. flour

1 c. sugar

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. soda

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. salt

Combine mixtures.

Then add:

2 c. shredded raw carrots

1 1/3 c. flaked coconut (3 1/2 oz. can)

1/2 c. chopped maraschino cherries

1/2 c. raisins

1/2 c. chopped pecans

Pour into two greased and floured loaf pans and bake 55–60 minutes at 350 degrees. Can also be baked in four fruit or beverage cans. Remove from pans and cool.

Peanut Butter Bread

In a medium bowl beat one egg; then add:

1 c. brown sugar

2 T. peanut butter

2 T. butter or oil

1 c. sour milk or buttermilk

Sift into another bowl:

2 c. flour

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread 2 T. butter on the bottom of a loaf pan. Sprinkle with 1/4 c. brown sugar and 1/4 c. coarsely chopped peanuts. Sprinkle with 1 T. water. This will be the topping.

Combine the two mixtures well, pour into pan, bake 1 hour, remove from pan, and cool. Wrap carefully so as not to disturb topping.

Afraid your fruit breads might be too dry? Try some of these spreads, or make up your own:

1. Combine 3 oz. soft cream cheese with 1/4 c. apricot puree or pureed apricot baby food and a dash of salt. Optional: 1/4 c. finely chopped pecans.

2. Combine 1–2 T. orange marmalade and 3 oz. soft cream cheese. If desired, add grated rind of one orange.

3. Combine 3 oz. cream cheese, 2 T. crushed pineapple, and 1 T. chives.

4. Mash 2 bananas, add a few drops of lemon juice and 2 T. chopped walnuts.

5. Chop 1/2 c. peanuts or cashews (or mixture of both) and moisten with 1/2 c. honey.

What about punch? Consider one of these:

Pineapple Punch

Combine:

3 quarts unsweetened pineapple juice

3 c. orange juice

1 1/2 c. lemon juice

1/3 c. lime juice

2 1/2 c. sugar

Stir to dissolve sugar; chill several hours. Pour pineapple mixture over an ice ring and slowly add 4 chilled 28-oz. bottles of gingerale and 2 chilled 28-oz. bottles of carbonated water. Float orange and lime slices on top. Serves 75.

For a touch of elegance, make an ice ring by pouring about one-half inch of water into a ring mold and freezing it solid. Arrange maraschino cherries, mint leaves, orange or lemon slices, pieces of fruit, etc., and add another one-half inch of water. Freeze solid, fill the ring to the top with water, freeze again, unmold in warm water, and float fruit side up.

For smaller groups freeze maraschino cherries, mint leaves, or pieces of fruit in ice cubes. Frozen cranberry juice cocktail keeps pineapple or orange punch cold and adds a new flavor as it melts. It’s good served with gingerale, too.

For something spicy, try seasoned tomato juice. To every quart of tomato juice add 4 tsp. lemon juice, 4 tsp. sugar; salt, pepper, and celery salt to taste. Chill for the summer, warm slightly in winter, and serve with any of these toasty accompaniments at any time of the year:

Florida Cooler

Combine:

2 quarts orange juice

2 quarts grapefruit juice

1 tsp. peppermint extract

Float mint leaves on top. Serve with crushed ice. Serves 25.

Double Bubble Raspberry Punch

Dissolve 6 oz. raspberry gelatin and 2 c. sugar in 4 c. boiling water. Stir in 1 c. raspberry jam. Chill well. Pour into punch bowl.

Add:

4 qts. cold water

2 pkg. raspberry flavored Kool-aid

1/3 c. lime juice

Slowly pour 4 chilled 28-oz. bottles lemon-lime carbonated drink into the bowl. Float 2 or 3 partially thawed packages of frozen raspberries. Serves 75.

Cranberry Punch

Combine 1/2 gallon cranberry juice and

1/2 gallon pineapple sherbet in a punch bowl.

Slowly pour a quart of gingerale down the side into the bowl. Serves 30.

Cracker Thins

Combine:

1/2 c. milk

1/4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

3 T. oil

dash of hot sauce

Combine in a separate bowl:

1 c. cornmeal

1/2 c. flour

3/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. baking soda

Combine the two mixtures, stir until the dough forms a ball, knead on a lightly floured surface 5 minutes, then divide in half, roll each half into a 12-inch square, sprinkle with salt, and cut into squares or triangles. Bake until golden brown at 350 degrees (about 15 minutes). Cool, remove from pans, and store in a loosely covered container. Makes about 10 dozen.

Toasty Wheat Sticks

Remove crusts from sliced whole wheat bread. Cut each slice into four strips, brush with melted butter or margarine, sprinkle with caraway, sesame, or poppy seeds. Toast at 450 degrees 4–5 minutes, or until crisp and brown. Serve warm.

For SWEET STICKS, use raisin bread, brush with butter, and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar or finely chopped pecans and sugar.

Cheese Crisps

In a medium bowl, combine:

1 c. cornmeal

2 T. soft butter

1 tsp. salt

l c. boiling water

Add:

1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese

2 T. grated onion

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease several large cookie sheets.

Mix well, drop by half-teaspoonsful onto cookie sheets, l inch apart. Flatten, sprinkle with poppy or sesame seeds, bake 20 minutes, serve warm. Makes 4 dozen. May be reheated.

Onion Toasties

Blend an envelope of onion soup mix with 1/2 lb. soft butter. Trim crusts from 12 slices white bread, spread with onion butter, cut each slice into five strips, place on ungreased cookie sheet, and bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes. Makes five dozen.

Pamela S. Williams, a homemaker, is a new member of Sanders Ward, St. Johns Arizona Stake.