Trina Machacek: It’s red solo cup season

Trina Machacek

Trina Machacek

Don’t get me wrong here. The red solo cup is a staple all year long. But throughout the end-of-the-year holidays these little plastic items have a special place in homes everywhere.

Of course, we use them in summer. Barbecue season would not be possible without a red plastic stack of cups being present. Sitting next to the five-gallon cooler of lemonade set up on one end of a picnic table. Right next to the open bag of hot dog buns that more than a few sticky hands have reached into to grab a blanket for a charred dog. But the holidays from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day are where the shine of those red cups can’t be diminished. Or overlooked.

Dinners of celebration are usually put on with all the trimmings and the tables are set with all the “good” dishes. China and special serving dishes that are found in hidey holes for 359 to 363 days of the year. Oh, but when they come out, lovingly put on tables and are usually awe inspiring. It was that way in my growing up home and I carried on the tradition into my married home.

I never bought a fancy dish or platter or long-stemmed glasses. Except for some margarita glasses that over the years have gotten quite the work out. But! Yes, a fragile glass “but.” My good stuff I have were gifts, mostly wedding gifts, so they are – oh my stars, nearly 50 years old now. They sparkle just like the smiles they created as they are set out on tables, even before they are covered with enough food to cause any refrigerator to shudder.

The days after any big celebration are fun and more relaxed days. Those are the plastic plate and cup days. The red solo cup days. There are many plusses in using these liquid refreshment holders. A big one that I have noticed has to do with children at gatherings. The plastic cups come in small and adult.

I have been on clean-up crews after summer gatherings where cans of sodas were handed out. I have picked up and tossed gallons, gallons I say, of soda left in cans by children. It isn’t anyone’s fault really. It’s just a reality of how big a can of soda is compared to the attention span of children outside in the summer where there are games and kids and pets and way too much to keep track of a silly soda. So, another one is opened and another and another. With smaller cups for kids and filling them just part way. Well, you can do the math.

A red solo, or a blue or purple or orange cup depending on the type and time of year of a celebration, of regular size holds about a dozen ice cubes and 13-16 ounces of liquid. Say iced tea. Yes, let’s go with iced tea. Not to mention if you are like me and many of my friends, we get a cup and magically a marker will appear, and we put our names on our cups. You know in case we happen to misplace them for some crazy reason! You can’t do that with a fancy wine glass, or a crystal iced tea glass. Hostesses tend to frown at that! Oh, I have even been given these cute little ring things that look like one wire earring. You make a tiny hole along the rim of your cup, slip the ring in and it usually has some extra stylish hanging thing on it so you can tell at a glance if it is your cup. My little cup earring was given to me by my niece, Marci. I have used it on a few occasions. It’s adorned with three little blue and silver ice cubes. You know, for my iced tea. Wink, wink.

I have learned over the years that now these versatile smooth sided cups can now be found with some sort of swirly designs and various textures. The additions have led to less dropping and spillage. Nobody wants to drop a cup making a mess or waste any liquid refreshments.

It’s nice to clean up after a gathering where red solo cups are used. Nary a one is found holding much leftover liquid refreshment. Isn’t that what any good hostess strives for? A happy ending to a grand celebration where all the guests go home safely, full, and happy. And some will take their cups with them. You know, just to keep track of their cup ear rings. Celebrate in happy responsible groups. Remember. You drive, your red solo cup holds only iced tea!

Trina Machacek lives in Eureka. Her books are available online wherever you buy books or email her at to buy signed copies.


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