Jacqualynn Snavely of the Palos Verdes Junior Woman's Club likened the event to an "elegant ladies' luncheon, giving ideas for a costly way to entertain." Indeed it was.
One table was graced by an exquisite collection of butterfly and floral Herend china from Hungary, cut crystal glasses by St. Louis of France, and hefty silverware by Buccellati of Italy. A floral centerpiece was topped off with a hand-pierced porcelain bowl. The price of this setting for four? About $3,000.
"I haven't taken any orders yet," said Gary Putnam of Bullock's Wilshire.
Judy Sipes of Palos Verdes Estates wasn't put off by the $625 price for a five-piece setting of flowered dinnerware brought in from Japan by importer Brooke Harvey. "I'm in the market for some china and I'll consider this," she said.
"Entertaining With Style," with the holidays in mind, was what the afternoon was all about, as fine specialty and department stores put their best table settings forward beneath the tiered crystal chandeliers of the Torrance Marriott Grand Ballroom.
Not everything, however, was calculated to run up the charge accounts of the fashionably dressed women who moved among the tables, murmuring praises like "beautiful" and "perfect for the holidays."
There were tips on choosing wines and making perfect chocolate truffles and a demonstration of "vegetable art," in which a paring knife and a little skill readily transformed zucchini and carrots into pretty flowers.
A major share of attention went to the craft boutique, which took up about half of the ballroom and offered everything from Christmas ornaments to quilts to hand-sewn dolls and animals. "I've sold all my ducks and my pumpkins," said Pat Hinz, a Rancho Palos Verdes ceramacist who totaled up $400 in sales.
"We wanted to present all-around entertaining ideas, everything from centerpieces to wines and desserts," said Snavely, who pronounced the afternoon--a fund-raiser for South Bay charities supported by the woman's club--a success, based on the advance sale of about 1,000 tickets at $15 each. "It meets the needs of the wife of a young executive who needs to entertain."
When it came to the table settings, Barbara Hall of Rolling Hills Estates confessed, "I don't have the money for a lot of this, but I'm getting lots of ideas." One thing that caught her fancy was an enormous vase of blown-up balloons arranged to resemble flowers. "That would be perfect for a centerpiece," she said.
"I could buy some of this china, but in our age group, who needs it?" commented Mary Lee Higgins of Palos Verdes Estates, a middle-aged woman who had paused with a group of friends to enjoy coffee and cream puffs on the hotel terrace. "But after an earthquake, ask me again."