Director, The Chatelaine Institute

YOU DON’T need to hear the official weather forecast to know that there will be showers in May. Perhaps it won’t rain rain or violets, but there’s apt to be a regular deluge of gifts for next month’s brides. And no “gentle dew from heaven” ever brought more happiness to a farmer than a kitchen shower to the prospective housekeeper.

As a rule the presents are inexpensive. Not that it’s a matter of etiquette; you may buy her an electric range or a refrigerator if you like, but it’s hardly expected. Something around two dollars or under is usually about right, and if you don’t want to spend more than a few cents you can find any number of gadgets which she’ll “simply adore” at the time and find useful when the real business of housekeeping begins.

If you go in for pots and pans, you have a choice of all manner of utensils and different materials. Scout around a bit and find out what your friend likes best. She may want granite ware in cool white or a gay color. Or she may prefer the soft, silvery sheen of aluminum or the warm lights of burnished copper. You can find lovely things in each— pieces which combine utility and good style, and the only difficulty is to decide just which one. I low about a businesslike double boiler or saucepan, green, blue, yellow or red, to match the dream kitchen? Or, for the pancakes every husband likes, there is a new aluminum griddle pan which also cooks chops to perfection on the reverse side. There is a hinged omelet pan which would make a useful and interesting gift. In copperware, too, you can find any number of items to suit your purpose; anything from a small saucepan up to a good-sized roaster with a heatproof glass lid which does duty as a platter when it comes to serving time.

Speaking of oven glass, you might wish to look at the many utensils in this line—baking dishes of various shapes and sizes, loaf pans, custard cups, pie plates and other things to delight a housewifely heart. Earthenware cookers are useful in the oven and on the table, and they come in many attractive colors and designs.

Any woman would love a nest of refrigerator dishes in glass, crockery or granite ware. One of the newest containers is designed on a sort of lazy Susan idea—five or six triangular dishes fitted compactly together on a metal stand which turns by the mere touch of the finger. It’s above the two-dollar limit, but a good suggestion if two of you want to go together for some out-of-the-ordinary gift.

Then there are sets of mixing bowls with quaint decorations, pitchers of various sizes, gaily painted tins for holding flour, sugar, spices and other staples. And have you seen the unbreakable “glasses” for bathroom and kitchen use, or the other items made of this unshatterable material? There are colorful salt and pepper shakers in smart design, egg cups, plates, cups and odd-shaped saucers wide enough at one side to hold a sandwich or a piece of cake. You might stock the lunch kit for the honeymoon motor tour or picnic suppers.

Kitchen cutlery is interesting in its variety.

Look at the knives - small, medium and large

—with plain or serrated edges, with sturdy handles and stainless, keen-edged blades for vegetables, bread, cakes and all kinds of food and fruit. For paring acid fruits there is a glass knife, and specially designed ones for many different purposes —knives to cut everything but your friendship. Spoons for measuring and mixing, and forks for everything a fork can do, are among the essentials of a well-equipped kitchen. So are a flexible spatula, a rubber dish-scraper, a wire cake-cooler and a measuring cup. And who in these enlightened days would try to get on without a good can opener or a pastry blender? Who would put up with dull knives or depend on a husband to keep them in order when there is an efficient knife sharpener to be had for a few cents? Who would scald their fingers for the want of a lifter or tongs for hot foods, corn on the cob, boiled eggs and “such like?”

Acceptable Labor-savers

ANY ONE of a dozen or more little labor-savers makes L ail acceptable shower gift. How would you like an egg sheer or a larger one for tomatoes and oranges, a gadget to lift the core from the morning grapefruit, a small wooden bowl with a many-sided chopper, scoops for making melon or potato balls for special occasions, or a cutter with a row of circular blades for mincing parsley?

For giving a party touch to plain food, any bride would like a cookie press or a pastry set to use in decorating cakes,

salads and canapés. I know that a set of jelly molds would make a hit, and I’ve yet to see the woman who wouldn’t like the new cookie cutters with crinkly or plain edges. And there's a set of vegetable shredders which cut the food attractively and are easy to wash.

And for everyday cookery the young housekeeper will need sieves and strainers with fine, medium and coarse mesh, egg beaters, food choppers, fruit juices, measuring cups for liquids and solids, and the rolling pin to attend to the dough not a refractory husband. Then. I can think of nothing more useful than an oven or candy thermometer unless it is one for deep fat frying or roasting meat.

Don’t think you must wait until the first anniversary to give paper products towels in a handy metal container, wax paper for keeping foods, cookery parchment and shelf paper. In linens you will find towels, dish cloths, pot holders and scrub cloths. Or you can buy oilcloth and make a variety of appropriate gifts a pad for the kitchen chair, a cover for the table or the cook !xx)k, and other useful inexpensive things for the kitchen.

I hope someone will give the bride a recipe box where she can file her -favorite recipes clipped from Maclean's.

Kitchen Utilities

THESE suggestions for the kitchen shower do not cover the long list of possibilities. The best place to get ideas is in the housewares department of any big store, for there you will find an array of the latest gadgets to make housekeeping easy and interesting. Don’t go in and buy just anything; half the fun is in nosing about until you find the little gift you know will please at the time, and also later on when it is called upon to do its stuff in preparing the three meals a day.

Try to think up some novel way of presenting the gifts. They might be packed, neatly wrapped and tied with white ribbon, in a wash boiler, a clothes basket, a new garbage tin or some other large container. Or you might like to put up a clothesline in the living room and have each guest fasten her gift to this; the bride gets the clothesline, too. If you're good at making amusing verses or couplets, write them on the tag and have them read at the party. This has generally been found to contribute considerable gaiety to the occasion.