HOSTESS AND GUEST
The primary requisite of a successful luncheon is harmonious and agreeable relationship between hostess and guests. This holds true both of the formal and informal luncheons, though particularly of the former. One cannot possibly enjoy a luncheon-no matter how carefully the menu has been prepared, no matter how delightful the environment—if there are awkward lapses in the conversation; if there are moments of painful, embarrassing silence; or if the conversation is stilted, affected or forced.
Spontaneity of conversation and ease of manner, together with a hostess who knows how to plan delightful little surprises, and simple though delicious menus,-these are the secrets of successful luncheon-giving. And if they cannot be observed, the hostess had better direct her energies toward strictly formal entertainments; the luncheon is not one of her accomplishments.
The hostess receives in her drawing-room. She rises as each guest enters the room, greets her, or him, as the case may be, with outstretched hand, and proceeds with any necessary introductions. As soon as all the guests have arrived, she orders luncheon served, and she herself leads the way to the dining-room. The guests may seat themselves in the manner that is most congenial; but in arranging the formal luncheon, the hostess usually identifies the correct seat with a small place card. If there is a guest of honor, or a lady whom the hostess wishes to show deference to, she is given the place to the right of the hostess.
If there are gentlemen at the formal luncheon, including the hostess' husband, they do not remain at the table to smoke and chat as they do after dinner, but leave the dining-room with the ladies. Neither do they offer the ladies their arms when entering or leaving the diningroom. If the host is considerate, and is fortunate enough to have a porch, she will suggest that the gentlemen have their cigars on the porch.
A well-bred guest will never take advantage of the leniency toward late-comers to the luncheon. It is /always/ rude to keep people waiting; but it is doubly so to be lax in one's punctuality because one rule is not as exacting as another. The guest must also bear in mind that a great part of the enjoyment of the luncheon devolves upon his or her own cordiality and friendliness. Every guest must feel it a duty to supply some of the conversation, and if he is not naturally conversant, it might be wise to decide upon and remember several interesting little anecdotes that the company will enjoy hearing. No one can be excused from silence or lack of interest at the luncheon.
To the hostess, then, goes the responsibility of providing the means of enjoyment; to the guests goes the responsibility of utilizing this means, and cooperating with the hostess in making the entire thing a success. There are huge social possibilities in the luncheon, and it is rapidly becoming one of America's favorite functions. With both hostess and guest observing their duties, it must inevitably be a triumph that will vie with the important dignity of the formal dinner itself.
FORMAL AND INFORMAL BREAKFASTS
Breakfast to some people may mean a hastily swallowed cup of tea or coffee, and a bit of roll or cake. The early breakfast, of course. But to many there is a later breakfast that is as elaborate as it is tempting.
The formal breakfast may be held any time between ten and twelve-thirty. A fruit course opens the menu, with a mild hors d'oeuvre following. Soup is never served. After the fruit, fish, broiled or saute is served, and sometimes deviled lobster if it is preferred. In England, steamed finnan haddie is the favorite breakfast fish.
The personal tastes of the guests must be taken into consideration in deciding upon the main course. Lamb or veal chops are acceptable, and egg dishes are always welcomed. They may be accompanied by mushrooms, small French peas or potatoes. For the next course, chicken meets with favor especially if it is broiled or fried with rice. Dessert of frozen punch, pastry or jellies follows immediately after the chicken; and coffee, in breakfast cups, concludes the meal. And of course, the hot muffins and crisp biscuits of breakfast fame are not forgotten-nor the waffles and syrup, either, if one is partial to them.
For an informal breakfast, the menu is correspondingly less elaborate. Once again it begins with fruit, and it may be followed by the good old-fashioned course of ham or bacon and eggs with johnny-cake and potatoes; or the simple breakfast may be started with cereal, served with cream, and followed with broiled finnan haddie and baked potatoes. Eggs, quail or chops, and a crisp salad is another menu often adapted to the late informal breakfast. Desserts should be simple; sweets are seldom indulged in at breakfast. Buns with marmalade or honey are always acceptable, and frozen puddings seem to be a just-right finish to a delicious breakfast.
The informal breakfast is given at ten or eleven o'clock in the morning. It is never very elaborate; it is, in fact, one of the simplest, yet most dignified of informal meals.
DRESS FOR LUNCHEONS AND BREAKFASTS
Whether she is hostess or guest the woman at a breakfast or luncheon should wear an afternoon gown of silk, crepe-de-chine, velvet, cloth or novelty material. In the summer preference may be given organdies, georgettes, etc. The simpler the affair the simpler the costume should be.
Men may wear the cutaway coat if the luncheon is a formal one while for simpler affairs the sack coat or summer flannels, when the season is appropriate, may be worn.
TEAS AND OTHER ENTERTAINMENTS
EVOLUTION OF THE AFTERNOON TEA
Of course one cannot mention the words "afternoon tea" without immediately associating it with merry England. For it was there that, over two hundred years ago, a dreamy-eyed Dutchman (dreamy-eyed because he had lived many years in China) brought with him from the Orient a peculiar little leaf which, with a little hot water and sugar, made a delicious drink. At first lordly Englishmen would have none of him—but he didn't care. He exhibited the powers of the little leaves, made his tea, and drank it with evident relish. Others were curious; they, too, drank, and once they started it was difficult to do without it.
Someone spread the rumor that this new drink from China contained drugs and stimulants—and no sooner was this rumor spread than everyone began drinking it! Even the ladies and gentlemen of better society finally condescended to taste "the stuff"—and lo! before they realized it, it had been unconsciously adopted as their very own beverage! Through two generations the idea of the afternoon tea has been perfected, until to-day we have cosy, delightful, ceremonious five-o'clock teas that are the pride of the English and the joy of everyone who follows the custom.
And so we find the afternoon tea enjoying a vogue of unrivaled popularity here in America. When a debutante daughter is to be introduced to society, the mother plans an elaborate afternoon tea (and they can certainly be elaborate!) When guests from out-of-town are visiting, the hostess can think of nothing more appropriate than a chummy tea to introduce them to her friends. So charming a way of entertaining is the afternoon tea that it has usurped the evening reception almost entirely, except when the occasion requires special formality.
THE SIMPLER TEA
Then, too, there is the simpler tea so dear to the hearts of our hospitable ladies of good society. It was George Eliot who earnestly inquired, "Reader, have you ever drunk a cup of tea?" There is something undeniably heart-warming and conversation-making in a cup of steaming hot tea served with delicious cream; it is an ideal prescription for banishing loneliness. Perhaps it is not so much the tea itself, as the circle of happy friends eager for a pleasant chat.
As the simple tea does not require very much preparation or planning, we will discuss it briefly here and take up only the formal tea in detail. The simple tea may be served for any guest who chances in between four or six o'clock in the afternoon. Sometimes a hostess devotes a stated time each day or on certain days in the week which are known to her friends, to tea, and she lets her friends know just what the hour is and that they are welcome to join for a bite and a little chat whenever they feel so inclined. There may be one or several little tea tables which are brought into the drawing-room when the guests are ready for tea. Covering each one is a dainty lace or linen doily, or an embroidered tea-cloth. If tea tables are not available, one large table may serve the purpose, but it also must be covered with small doilies at each cover instead of one large table-cloth.
The hostess and one or two of her friends may serve. The tea is made at the table and served with very small, dainty sandwiches and all kinds of quaintly-shaped cakes. Bonbons, salted nuts and sometimes ices are also served.
If the hostess does not own dainty tea equipage, the beverage may be made in the kitchen and brought in ready to serve, fragrant and steaming. The custom of the afternoon tea is confined almost wholly to women, though it is not bad form by any means to have gentlemen present for tea.
A tea wagon offers the most attractive service for an afternoon tea. It should not be in the room where the hostess receives but should be wheeled in from an adjoining room (the dining-room usually). The maid, if there is one, performs this service, the hostess herself if there is no maid. The table should not be overcrowded and if there is not ample room for sandwich trays these should be brought in separately.
The china should be thin and of the same general kind though not necessarily of the same pattern. There should be sugar—preferably block sugar with tongs, a pitcher of cream, slices of lemon, mint leaves and cloves. If the hostess makes the tea herself she adds sugar, cream, lemon or whatever else the guest may desire before she passes the cup. The hostess who cares about her reputation for hospitality will perfect herself in the gentle art of making delicious tea before the day comes for her to prove herself before her guests.
THE FORMAL TEA
When the afternoon tea becomes formal and ceremonious it takes the place of the customary "at home." Invitations must be sent a week or ten days in advance, and if one is unable to attend, a polite note of explanation must be sent. However, no answer is necessary if one intends to be present.
With this more pretentious affair, the refreshments are served in the dining-room instead of in the drawing-room or outdoors as is sometimes done at simpler teas. The hissing urn always holds the place of honor (except on very warm days when iced tea or iced coffee may be served). Trays of thinly sliced bread are on the table, and dainty sandwiches in large variety. Fruit salads are never amiss, and strawberries with cream are particularly delightful when in season. Then, of course, there are cakes and bonbons and ices, although the latter are usually confined to warm days.
At a ceremonious tea, the hostess stands near the drawing-room door to greet each guest as she arrives. If her daughters receive with her, they stand to her right, and help in making any necessary introductions. As many guests as can be conveniently entertained may be invited to the formal tea; but the refreshments must never be so substantial that they will interfere with dinner. In fact, the tea must be kept true to its name, for if other eatables besides those fashionable to the tea are served, it is a reception in substance if not in name.
When one wishes to invite eighteen or twenty friends, and does not wish to undertake the trouble or expense of a dinner, the "high tea" is in order. It is usually held on a Sunday evening. At these "high teas" small tables are invariably used, four guests being placed at each table. It is customary to allow the guests to form their own quartettes, for in this manner they will usually find table companions who will be congenial—and a most unfortunate occurrence at a "high tea," or in fact any reception, is a seating arrangement untasteful to the guests themselves. The little tables are covered with snowy tea cloths and decorated with a sprig of flowers in a colored vase occupying the position of honor.
Perhaps more important than the tea itself, is the appearance of the tea-table. The well-equipped table is adorned with fine china and gleaming silver, and there are always a few flowers to add to the beauty of the setting. Ferns may be used instead of flowers, but there must be no elaborate ribbons or decorations such as appear on the dinner-table.
As a matter of fact, the tea-table should always present an appearance of unpremeditated simplicity. It must never seem as though it had been especially prepared and planned for the occasion. Candles, dimmed with pale shades, may be on the table when the day is gloomy and dark. In winter, for instance, when the days are shorter, softly-glowing candles aid considerably in the cheerful ness of the afternoon tea. Tea napkins are used instead of those of regular dinner size.
A pretty manner of serving sandwiches or cakes is to have them in silver-rimmed wicker baskets which can be passed easily from one guest to another. If the tea is informal, wicker chairs and tables may also be used. This is especially pleasing and appropriate when the tea is served on the porch or in the garden.
DRESS AT TEA TIME
Tea time is always the fashionable time of the day and there is sufficient variety in appropriate materials and style for a woman to find a gown that is more than ordinarily individual and becoming. For an informal tea the hostess may wear a clinging gown of silk but she should not dress very sumptuously for her guests will come simply attired and it is hardly hospitable to be a great deal more elaborately dressed than they. Afternoon frocks of silk, velvet, cloth, etc., or of summer materials are suitable for the guest. When the weather demands it she wears an attractive wrap.
In selecting dresses for teas, and, indeed for all occasions, it is well to remember that the more ornamentation there is the less elegance there will be. The materials should be rich but not showy—the best-dressed person is the one who calls least attention to his or her clothes.
One may wear jewels but not heavy necklaces or glittering brooches or other flashing stones. If the affair is a formal one the hair may be as elaborately marcelled as for the evening. In this case the gown should be a rich creation of the kind suitable only for such events.
If the tea is given for a debutante it may be a very festive occasion and /decollete/ gowns may be worn. Dark colors are rarely worn and the debutante herself should be a fairy dream in a lovely creation of silk, georgette, crepe-de-thane, or something else equally girlish and appropriate.
Elderly women wear black lace or satin though certain shades of brown and blue and nearly all shades of gray are irreproachably good taste if—and this "if" is an important one—they are becoming.
THE GARDEN PARTY
Charming indeed is the simple entertainment of the garden party. It is an undebatable fact that informal entertainments are always more enjoyable than those that are strictly formal, and the easy harmony of the garden party is certainly informal to an acceptable degree.
Someone once said of the lawn fete (which is merely another name for a garden party) that "a green lawn, a few trees, a fine day and something to eat" constitute a perfect garden party. To this we add, that the guests must be carefully selected and the grounds must be attractive.
The garden party must be held in the open air; refreshments are served outside and the guests remain outside until they are ready to depart. At Newport, where garden parties are quite the vogue, the invitations are sent weeks in advance, and, if the weather is bad, the party is held indoors. But ordinarily it must be held entirely on the grounds. A large porch is a great advantage, for if there is a sudden downpour of rain, the guests may repair to its shelter.
There are many opportunities for the hostess to show consideration and hospitality at the garden party. Easy chairs arranged in groups or couples under spreading trees always make for comfort. Some hostesses have a tent provided on the lawn for the purpose of serving the refreshments—a custom which earns the approbation of fastidious guests who search the food for imaginary specks of dust when it is served in the open.
RECEIVING THE GUESTS
Invitations to garden parties may be sent ten days to two weeks in advance, and a prompt reply of acceptance or regret is expected. The hostess receives on the lawn—never in the house. The guests, however, drive up to the door of the house, are directed upstairs to deposit their wraps (if they wish they may keep them with them), and then are shown to the part of the grounds where the hostess is receiving. A servant should be in attendance to see that each guest is properly directed, unless the grounds where the hostess is receiving are visible from the house.
After being greeted by the hostess, guests may wander about the grounds, stopping to chat with different groups, and seeking the refreshment table when they are weary. The hostess must be sure that her lawns are faultlessly mowed, and that the tennis courts are in order. Lawn tennis has had a large share in the making of the garden party's popularity, and the wise hostess will always be sure that her courts are in readiness for those who enjoy the game.
Cold refreshments are usually served at the garden party. Salads, ham and tongue sandwiches, fruits, jellies, ices, cakes, candies and punch are in order. Particular care must be taken in serving the refreshments to avoid any accidents or mussiness. There is nothing more disturbing to both hostess and guest than to have a glass of punch or a dish of strawberries overturned on a lawn, and pains should be taken to avoid accidents of this kind.
ON THE LAWN
Music is a pleasing feature at the garden party. A pretty custom, now enjoying vogue among the most fashionable, is to have the orchestra hidden by a clump of trees or shrubbery, but near enough to be heard distinctly. In the outdoors music is never too loud to interfere with conversation, and it is always a source of keen enjoyment to the guests. Also, it adds a solemn charm to the natural beauties of the occasion.
In planning a garden party, it is best to hire all the glass, silver and china from the caterer, as there is always considerable breakage no matter how careful the servants may be. If the hostess does use her own china and glassware, she must never use her best unless she is willing to take the risk of having it broken. Undoubtedly, the garden party is troublesome, but it offers possibilities of tremendous enjoyment and amusement, and when properly arranged is always a success.
The correct time for a garden party is between three and six in the afternoon. Sometimes it lasts until seven if the day is long and the guests are congenial. It rarely lasts into the evening, however, unless it is in celebration of some special event. Sometimes evening lawn receptions are held, and they are remarkably pretty. An appropriate time to hold an evening garden party is in celebration of a summer wedding anniversary. The grounds are brilliantly lighted with many-hued Japanese lanterns or tiny colored electric lights twining in and out among the trees. Benches and chairs are set in groups or pairs underneath the trees. Music is usually or the porch instead of on the grounds. The house is open, and the younger guests may dance if they wish. Supper is served either outdoors or indoors as convenient. Altogether the garden party, whether held in the afternoon or evening, is a picturesque, charming and delightful affair and deserves the wide popularity it is enjoying both in America and England.
DRESS FOR GARDEN PARTIES AND LAWN FESTIVALS
Summer frocks, in their airy flimsiness and gay colors are ideally fitted for the colorful background of a garden or lawn party. And the lady's escort, in his white trousers and dark sack coat adds still further a note of festivity.
For the garden party, the woman wears her prettiest light-colored frock and flower-trimmed hat. Gay parasols may be carried if they match, or harmonize with, the rest of the costume. Light shoes are more attractive than dark ones with light frocks.
A garden party night be compared with a drama, the costumes of the guests deciding whether or not it would be termed pure romance or light comedy. Here, amidst summer flowers, woman's natural beauty is heightened, and the wrong color schemes in dress, the wrong costumes for the setting, jar as badly as a streak of black paint across the hazy canvas of a landscape painting by an impressionist.
WOMAN'S GARDEN COSTUME
Organdie seems to be the material best suited for the garden-party frock. For the younger person there could be no prettier frock for garden or lawn party, or indeed for any outdoor afternoon occasion.
For the older woman, a dress of dotted Swiss, pierette crepe, or French lawn is becoming. The color should be light and attractive, but the style may be as simple as one pleases. Lilac is a pretty color for the older woman, and sunset yellow is becoming both to age and youth alike, when it is appropriately combined with some more somber shade.
There are several color combinations that are very beautiful in lawn and garden settings. We will mention them here, as they might be valuable in selecting frocks for such occasions as mentioned. Violet and orange, both pale and not vivid, offer a delicate harmony of color that is nothing short of exquisite. Old rose and Nile green are equally effective. Orchid, for the person whose complexion can bear it, may be combined with such vivid colors as red, green and blue, presenting a contrast so strong and clear and beautiful that it reminds one of a glorious sunset. Black satin, for the elderly person, is quite festive enough for the garden party when it is combined with a pretty shade of henna or old blue or some other bit of color.
Styles may be simple, but colors must always be gay and rich as the colors from Nature's own palette. And the hat that is broad-brimmed and massed with bright flowers, is a fitting complement for such a costume.
THE MAN AT THE GARDEN PARTY
Of course the decorative art of dress has for a long time been entrusted wholly into the hands of woman, but man may be just as attractive on festive occasions, if he follows the rules of correct dress. For him there is less color to be considered, but just as much effect.
The younger man is well-dressed for the garden party when he wears a suit of white flannel or serge with colored or white linen, a bright tie, straw or panama hat, and oxfords of white or black, or a combination of white and black. Loose jackets of black and white striped flannel may also be worn with white duck trousers, if one is young. Then there are the attractive light suits of gray twillett that are so effective when worn with a white waistcoat and bright tie.
For the older man, a jacket of black and white homespun is extremely appropriate. It is smart when worn with a waistcoat of white flannel, white shirt and collar and gayly figured tie of silk foulard. Trousers of white flannel would complete this excellent costume for the elderly man, and with a panama hat that boasts a black band, and black-and-white oxfords he is ready for the most exclusive garden or lawn party.
No one should attempt a house party whose home is not comfortably large enough and who is not able to provide every convenience for the guests. One need not necessarily be a millionaire to hold a successful house party, but it is certainly necessary to have a spacious home and sufficient means to make things pleasant for the guests every minute of the time that they are in the house.
While the success of a house party rests directly on the host and hostess, it also depends largely upon the guests themselves. They are expected to contribute to the entertainment. They may be good conversationalists, or witty humorists, or clever in arranging surprises. A man or woman who is jolly, eager to please is always invited to house parties and welcomed by both hostess and guests with equal pleasure and cordiality.
SENDING THE INVITATION
The invitations to house parties are important. While it is complimentary for a guest to be invited to "spend a few days with me next week" he or she will undoubtedly be ill at east during the visit and fearful of encroaching upon the hospitality of the hostess. It is always more considerate and better form to state the definite duration of the visit, for instance, mentioning that a train leaves the guest's town at eleven-thirty on a certain day, and that another train leaves for that same guest's town, at a certain hour on the day he is to leave. Thus gives the guest clearly, and without discourtesy, the precise time he is expected to remain at the home of the hostess, and he may remain the full time without any vague pre monitions of undesired presence. If the hostess did not state the time of arrival and departure the guest should in her acceptance give suggestive dates leaving them subject to change at the discretion of the hostess. Any other plan is embarrassing to both hostess and guest since neither can make plans for the future until she finds out what the other intends to do.
The usual duration of house party visits are three days—often they last for a week end—although some continue a week or even longer. The lady of the house usually writes a note in the name of her husband and herself both, inviting Mr. and Mrs. Blank to her house for three days or three months as she (the hostess) pleases. A clear explanation as to how to reach the house is given, and also the necessary information regarding trains and schedules.
These invitations must be answered promptly and if for any reason the invited one cannot attend, the reason should be given. If there is any doubt as to how to get to the house of the hostess; questions may be asked in the answer to the invitation, and the hostess must answer them at once.
WHEN THE GUESTS ARRIVE
If the hostess cannot be present to receive her guests, the duty devolves upon the daughter of the house or an intimate friend. As soon as a guest arrives he is shown to his room for after the long railroad trip one is usually dusty, tired and not in the mood for conversation or pleasantries. A bath, a nap, and a cup of coffee or tea, or, if the weather is warm, an iced drink are most welcome.
The taxi fare from the station may be paid by either hostess or guest. The former may consider that the other is her guest from the moment she arrives and the latter may include this item in her traveling expenses. Generally speaking, the hostess bears all of the expenses of the guest while she is in her home but special services such as laundry work, pressing, etc., may be paid for by the guest herself.
It is bad form to invite numerous friends and then to crowd them two in a room to make a place for all. Of course a mother and daughter may be asked to share the same room if individual beds are provided; but two women, meeting at the house party for the first time, cannot be expected graciously to accept and enjoy sharing the same bed and room together.
The furnishing of the guest chamber may be modest, but it must always be neat and comfortable. To make the visit a pleasant one, the room that the guest will occupy during his stay must be one that invites memory—one that by its very cheerfulness and comfort remains fondly in one's memory. The personal tastes of the guests themselves should be ascertained in assigning rooms to them; some may like a sunny room, others may not be able to endure it; and the considerate hostess will so arrange that each one of her guests is pleased.
There are numerous little services that the hostess must make sure are provided for her visiting guests. Scissors, thread and needles should be in one of the dressing-table drawers; stationery, pens, ink, and a calendar should be in the writing-desk. Books, chosen especially for the occupant, should be scattered about. The thoughtful hostess will make a round of the rooms before the arrival of the guests and make sure that every detail is attended to. Fresh flowers should be placed in the vases.
It is the duty of the guest to see that her room is kept in order. If there is no maid she should attend to it herself and in any case she should keep her own things in place and watch carefully to see that the room is at all times exquisitely neat.
ENTERTAINING AT THE HOUSE PARTY
At eight o'clock, or a little later if it is more convenient, all the guests meet in evening dress at dinner. It is then that the necessary introductions are made and the guest of honor, if there is one, is presented. Plans may be made for the next day or two, the hostess offering suggestions and deferring to the wishes of her guests when they have attractive plans to submit. The hostess also informs the guests at what time breakfast and luncheon is served. It is not obligatory for every guest to be present at luncheon, but it is strictly so at dinner.
The considerate hostess, while endeavoring to fill every moment of her guests' stay with her, with pleasure and happiness, does not overdo it to the extent that they will have no time for writing their correspondence, reading a bit, or taking their customary nap. Unfortunately many of our hostesses who entertain lavishly at house parties and spare no expense or effort in making the party a brilliant success, spoil it all by trying to crowd too much entertainment into the day, forgetting that their guests need a little time to themselves.
In planning entertainments for the morning, the hostess must remember that breakfast will be preferred late, and that the women guests, especially, may prefer to forego breakfast entirely and keep to their rooms until just before luncheon. Thus it is always best to start any entertainment in the afternoon. Long drives through the country, tennis, hockey, golf, card parties—all these are appropriate for the afternoon.
The evening is usually devoted to some special entertainment prepared sufficiently in advance to render it an important occurrence. A dance after dinner, a fancy dress ball, or private theatricals are suitable; and often long moonlight drives, ending with a jolly little picnic, are planned with great success.
HOSTESS AND GUESTS AT THE HOUSE PARTY
The first duty of the hostess is personally to meet or have her husband meet the guests as they arrive at the railroad station. It is better form to have him meet them while she remains at home to receive them.
There are several important rules that the guest must observe. In the first place, he must not fail to arrive and depart at the exact time signified in the invitation. If a train is missed, the correct thing to do is wire immediately so that the host and hostess will not be awaiting the arrival in vain. Another important rule for the guest is rigidly to follow and adhere to the laws and the customs of the house: thus if smoking is not allowed in the bedrooms, the gentlemen must be sure to refrain from so doing and each guest should adapt his hours to those of the host and hostess.
One of the most difficult of guests to entertain is one who is peculiar about his eating. It is an awkward situation and the guest if he can should eat what is set before him. If this is impossible he may speak quietly with his hostess, explain the situation and make special arrangements for food that he can eat. This is excusable if he is on a diet prescribed by a physician but not if he is simply expressing a fastidious preference. So many people are vegetarians nowadays that the hostess will make provision for them and she should in planning her menus consult the individual tastes of the guests who are under her roof.
Perhaps a guest is unwisely invited to a house-party where someone he or she particularly dislikes is also a guest. In this case it is a mark of extreme discourtesy to complain to the host or hostess, or in any way to show disrespect or dislike towards the other guest. To purposely ignore him or her, obviously to show one's prejudice, is very rude. It is most disconcerting to the host for either of them to show discontent or to leave the house party because of the unwelcome presence of the other. It is best for them to be formally courteous to each other and not in any way to interfere with the enjoyment of the other members of the house party or of the host and hostess who are responsible for it.
To return to the hostess, she has two very important duties—not to neglect her guests, but to provide them with ample amusement and entertainment, and again, not to weary them by too much attention. She may go out during the day if she pleases, either to visit friends or to do shopping, but she must always be at home for dinner. And she must not go out so often that the guests will begin to feel slighted.
The good-natured and hospitable host and hostess will put at the disposal of their guests their entire house and grounds, including their books, horses, cars, tennis courts and golf links. The duty of the guest is to avail himself of these privileges with delicacy, neither abusing them nor hesitating to use them at all. There are some guests who have a tact of perception, an ease and poise of manner, a savoir faire and calm, kind disposition that makes them welcome everywhere. They are never petty, never disagreeable, never quarrelsome, never grouchy. It is a pleasure to include them in the house party—and they are invariably included.
"TIPPING" THE SERVANTS
The question of feeing or "tipping" the servants has always been a puzzling one. It may be of advantage here to give an approximate idea of what the fees should be and to whom they should be given. Attending circumstances, of course, always govern the exact conditions. Very often guests, both men and women, unable to estimate correctly what amount is befitting the servants' services, tip lavishly and without any regard for services. This borders on the ostentatious, and hence, may be considered vulgar.
Here are the recognized tips expected of a single woman: for the maid who keeps her room in order, one dollar or a dollar and a half. (These figures are based on a period of a week's stay). If this maid has also helped the guest in her dressing, and preparing the bath for her, two or two and a half dollars are the customary fee. A tip of from one to two dollars must be given to the maid who waits on the guest at the table, and if a chauffeur takes her from and to the station, a dollar is his usual fee.
A bachelor is expected to be somewhat more generous with his tips. The boy who cleans and polishes his boots and shoes receives a fee of fifty or seventy-five cents.
When a married couple is visiting, they usually divide the tips between them. The wife gives the maid a dollar or a dollar and a half, and the husband tips the men servants. The butler should receive two dollars at least, and if he has rendered many special services both to the man and his wife, he should undoubtedly receive two or three dollars more. On some occasions the cook is remembered, and the gentleman sends her a dollar or two in recognition of her culinary art. It must be remembered, however, that there are no established rules of tipping, and no precedent to go by. One must be guided by the extent of his income and by the services rendered.
One more word in closing this chapter. Not everyone can afford to give elaborate house parties. But this need not interfere with one's hospitality. The host or hostess who is discouraged from offering friends simple entertainment because of someone's else magnificent parties, should cease being discouraged and take pride and pleasure in the knowledge that they are entertaining their friends as hospitably as they can. To do a thing simply and sincerely is infinitely finer than to do a thing extravagantly merely for the sake of ostentation and display.
In homes where there are no servants the guests should take part in the work around the house unless the hostess shows distinctly that she prefers for them not to do it. After the visit the guest may send some little gift in appreciation of the hospitality enjoyed. A bit of household linen, a book, flowers, or candy are most appropriate. This is one case where an unsuitable gift is inexcusable for ample opportunity has been given the donor to study the needs and desires of the hostess.
Within ten days after her departure the guest should write a bread-and-butter letter to her hostess. This is simply a grateful expression of appreciation for the hospitality which she enjoyed during her visit. Great care should be taken to avoid stilted forms.
WHEN THE BACHELOR ENTERTAINS
WHEN THE BACHELOR IS HOST
Until very recently, the bachelor was rarely a host, was rarely expected to entertain. In fact, some people considered it unconventional to attend a bachelor entertainment. But with the tremendous increase of bachelor apartments and bachelor hotels and even bachelor clubs, it is now quite the usual custom for him to entertain friends at dinner parties, theater parties, teas and in almost any other way which strikes his fancy.
However, no bachelor should invite guests to his home unless he has a full retinue of servants to care for their wants. There should be no confusion, no awkwardness. If he is a professional man—an artist, author or musician—he may entertain guests at his studio without servants, except perhaps one to attend to the buffet supper which is most usual at such functions. But that is the only exception; a large entertainment in a bachelor's establishment requires as careful preparation as a fashionable social function in a well-regulated household.
When an unmarried man gives house parties, dinners or entertainments of any kind whatever, he always asks a married woman of his acquaintance to act as chaperon. She should be the first person invited, and the usual method of invitation is a personal call at her home.
WELCOMING THE GUESTS
The host receives his guests at the door, welcoming each one with outstretched hand, and introducing immediately to the chaperon or chaperons those guests whom they do not already know. When the reception is a particularly large one, a man servant usually awaits the guests at the door and the host receives in the drawing-room.
The question has arisen on various occasions, whether or not the bachelor is expected to provide dressing-rooms for his guests. If as many as thirty or forty are expected the bed-rooms may be made to serve the purpose of dressing-rooms for the evening. The matter is one entirely dependent upon circumstances and convenience when the entertainment is held in the home of the bachelor himself; but when a large entertainment is given in a hall, dressing-rooms are of course essential.
Very often, when the reception is held in the bachelor's own apartments, where there is only one servant, the chaperon is asked to pour the tea while the host himself serves it. This is a very pretty custom; it certainly lends dignity and impressiveness to the bachelor entertainment to see a charming, matron at the head of the table. And having the bachelor himself serve the refreshments, a certain companionship and friendliness is created among the guests.
THE BACHELOR's DINNER
Although he is not expected to retaliate in the matter of invitations to dinners and luncheons, the bachelor often gives dinner parties. For the host is no less eager to entertain than the hostess, and many unmarried men find keen pleasure in gathering their friends about them for a pleasant evening.
In detail, the bachelor's dinner, formal or informal, is very much like the ordinary dinner. The same holds true of the luncheon or supper party. The menu may be identical, if he pleases; but often an elaborate Chinese, French or Italian menu is decided upon as a novelty.
If the guests are all gentlemen, one butler may attend to all their wants, including the serving of the courses. But if there are ladies in the party, the chaperon must be present, and perhaps one or two white-capped maids to serve the dinner.
If the dinner is given in honor of a lady, her seat is always at the right of the host at the table. If there is no guest of honor, this place is filled by the matron who is serving as chaperon.
It is she who makes the first move to leave the dining-room.
The host must extend cordial thanks to the chaperon when she is ready to depart. It is usually upon her good judgment and influence that the success of the dinner depends, and surely the host owes her a debt of gratitude if everything has run smoothly and pleasantly. He also bids his guests a cordial adieu and graciously accepts their thanks for a pleasant evening.
Music is often provided for the entertainment of the guests after a dinner-party. It is not unusual for the host to obtain the services of well-known professional singers and players for the evening.
TEA AT A BACHELOR APARTMENT
The bachelor who feels that he must be hospitable to his friends and entertain them at his home, may safely choose the afternoon tea without apprehension as it is the simplest of entertainments. Of course a chaperon is necessary, as she is at all his entertainments; but there is less restraint and less formality at a tea than at almost any other social function.
Invitations should be issued a week or ten days before the day set for the tea. Guests may include both sexes; but if there are only gentlemen, they may be invited verbally. The tea is served in the dining-room, or if he wishes, the host may have small tea tables laid out in the drawing-room. A silver tea service is always attractive and pleasing, and the host may pour the beverage if the guests are all gentlemen. If ladies are present, either the chaperon may pour, or a servant. Refreshments should consist of delicate sandwiches, assorted cakes and wafers, salted almonds, confections and tea. If there are some among the guests who do not drink tea, chocolate may be served.
As they depart the bachelor host accompanies each one of his guests to the door bidding him or her a cordial goodby. The chaperon must be especially thanked for her service and shown particular deference. Indeed, her host should accompany her after the reception, to her own door if she is without car or escort.
THE BACHELOR DANCE
Wealthy bachelors find pleasure and diversion in giving huge balls and dances. Dinner or a midnight supper may be a delightful adjunct to the dance. A fashionable ball of this kind is sometimes given for the important purpose of introducing a young sister or another relative to society.
The ball is rarely, if ever, held in the bachelor's own apartments. He hires a hall for the occasion, and arranges with several of his married friends to act as chaperons. They also receive with him and help him introduce the guests. As these arrive, they divest themselves of their wraps, in the dressing-rooms provided for the purpose, and then are received in the ballroom by the host and the chaperons. Introductions are made, and the music and dancing begins.
There are not very many bachelors who can entertain in this lavish fashion; but the simpler entertainments, if they have the correct spirit of cordial hospitality, go a long way in establishing the desired relationship between the host and his friends. After all, it is the little things that count; and little courtesies may fittingly repay elaborate ceremonials and fashionable functions, if they are offered in sincere friendliness and warmth.
Always a favorite with the bachelor, the theater party has recently become his main forte. First in importance, of course, is the selection of a play, a matter which is largely determined by the kinds of visitors the host intends to invite. There is nothing more disturbing than to invite one's friends to a play, and then to feel that they have not enjoyed it. In selecting something light and amusing, or else the performance of some celebrated star, the host is comparatively sure of pleasing most of his guests.
Another important point is to bring together only congenial people for the theater party. One person out of harmony with the rest will spoil the whole evening as certainly as a sudden summer shower spoils the most elaborately planned garden party. It is important to select only those people whose tastes and temperaments blend.
Invitations are informal. A brief, cordial note handwritten on personal stationery is preferred, although some men like to use their club stationery. The name of the play may be mentioned in the invitation. An immediate response is expected, as the host must be given sufficient time to choose another guest, if for some reason, the one invited cannot attend. Men and women may be invited to the theater party, and if there are married couples in the party, a chaperon is not particularly necessary.
When a bachelor invites several men and women friends to dine on his yacht, or to take a short cruise, it is absolutely bad form to omit the chaperon. She must be a married woman, and she may join the party with or without her husband. Another important point regarding yachting parties; the host must supply a gig or rowboat to carry his guests to and from the shore, and he must stand on the gangway to greet each one as he arrives, and assist him to the deck of the yacht.
In giving entertainments, the bachelor must remember at no special social obligations are expected of him. He need not be lavish in his dinners and parties, unless he wishes to and can afford it. Simple entertainments, given the spirit of good fellowship and hospitality, are always appreciated and tend to substantially strengthen friendships.
MUSICALES AND PRIVATE THEATRICALS
PREPARATIONS FOR THE MUSICALE
The only time that music is not subordinated to other purposes of the evening's gathering, is at the musicale. Here it is the sole entertainment of the evening, and it reigns supreme.
In preparing for a musicale, invitations should be engraved and issued at least ten days in advance of the time chosen for the occasion. In inviting her guests, the hostess must be sure that she includes only those among her friends and acquaintances who understand and appreciate good music, and who enjoy it for itself alone. It is not wise to include people who are not fond of music (if there really are any such people!) for they are likely to be bored, and instead of listening quietly to the selections, talk and fidget and so disturb the other guests who are anxious to give their undivided attention to the musicians.
The invitations to a musicale require prompt answers. The third person should be used in both invitations and answers, as the occasion is strictly a formal one.
The drawing-room, in which the musicale is ordinarily held, should be bare of all unnecessary furniture save the piano, chairs for the performers, and seats for the guests. Programs may be printed sufficiently in advance to distribute at the musicale; they always serve as appropriate mementos.
THE AFTERNOON MUSICALE
The usual time for the afternoon musicale is from four to six. It is considerably less formal than a similar affair in the evening, although still requiring strictly formal third-person etiquette in invitations and replies.
It is usual, in issuing invitations for musicales, whether held in afternoon or evening, to have the word "Music" engraved in the lower left-hand corner. If a famous musician is to play his name may appear on the invitation.
The musical selections include various numbers to suit the tastes of the hostess, and those of her guests if she happens to know what they are. Sometimes there are vocal selections in addition to the instrumental selections. All professional singers and players are paid for their services, unless they themselves offer them free. It is very bad form indeed, to invite a singer or player as a guest, and then expect him to give his services. And yet it is done so often, by hostesses who think that they are following the dictates of etiquette to the highest letter of its law! If the performers are friends of the hostess she should present each one with a gift of some sort as an expression of her gratitude for their services.
The lighter music should always be played first, retaining the important numbers for the end. Many hostesses, when they have a famous professional for the afternoon's entertainment, start the musicale with singing or playing by unimportant persons, and end it with the performance of the celebrated professional. It is always pleasing to the guests—and also the professional himself.
The hostess, in receiving her guests, stands in the drawing-room and greets each one as he or she arrives. When the music begins, she seats herself near the door, and whenever a tardy guest arrives, sees that he is comfortably seated. Incidentally, it is bad form to come late to a musicale; it is disturbing to the performers and guests alike.
Guests do not remain long after the afternoon musicale. The chairs are removed from the drawing-room and ices, punch, little cakes and bonbons are served. As the guests leave, it is customary for them to thank the hostess for her entertainment.
THE EVENING MUSICALE
Similar in general aspect is the evening musicale and yet there are several details that are strikingly different.
It may be held any time in the evening. Again the hostess receives in the drawing-room, and again the selections may be either vocal or instrumental. But the general appearance of the entire affair is more ceremonious, more formal. And after the musicale, instead of simple refreshments, an elaborate supper is usually given.
This supper may consist of jellied bouillon, roast meats, salads, ices, confections, punches and coffee. If an important singer or player contributes to the share of the evening's entertainment he is invited to join the guests. After supper the guests converse for a half hour or so, and depart.
CARD PARTIES AT THE MUSICALE
Very often, instead of giving a dinner, a hostess will arrange several small tables at which four guests can be comfortably seated. She will serve light refreshments, such as dainty sandwiches, salads, muffins, bouillon and perhaps ices or coffee. After the light repast, the tables will be cleared and cards brought out.
If the hostess decides to have cards, after the musicale, she must mention it in the invitation. The guests may attend only the musicale, if they wish, and leave when the other guests begin the card game. But if the musicale is held in the evening, and supper is served, the guest who remains must also remain for the card games as a matter of courtesy and politeness. If he does not wish to play he may watch the others and join in the conversation during the intervals between games.
DUTIES OF GUESTS AT MUSICALES
The one important rule of conduct at the musicale is to maintain absolute silence during the selections. It is an unforgivable breach of etiquette to speak, fidget or otherwise disturb the guests while the numbers are being performed. Encores are permissible, but loud applause is undeniably vulgar. Silence, interest and attention characterize the ideal guest at the private concert.
Another duty of the guest is to be prompt. It is very disagreeable to the performers, and to the hostess, to have guests arrive late and disturb everyone. However, if one is unavoidably late, to offer profuse apologies, while the musicians are performing, is to make matters worse by prolonging the disturbance. Instead the guest should nod, take his or her seat, and after the musicale, seek out the hostess and offer apologies for not having been on time.
In taking leave of the hostess, cordial thanks for her entertainment are in order. Remarks about the playing of the guests are not very good form, especially if they are in adverse criticism. A word of sincere praise, however, is never amiss.
DRESS AT THE MUSICALE
Dress at the musicale is essentially what it would be if the occasion were an elaborate reception, and if it is given in the evening formal evening dress is worn. In the summer this convention may be set aside in favor of comfort.
ARRANGING PRIVATE THEATRICALS
Everyone enjoys private theatricals, amateur and otherwise—the hostess, the guests, and the actors and actresses themselves. It is an ideal means of entertainment.
In arranging a private theatrical, which is almost invariably an amateur venture, the first important thing to do is to find a play which is adapted to that talent which is available. It is wise to appoint a committee to read numerous plays and select for final consideration those that seem best fitted to the type of actors and actresses available. If one of the young men is naturally witty and bubbling over with hilarity and good fun, he must not be given a part that necessitates grave and solemn behavior. If he, and the other actors, are given parts not suited to them, the play is doomed to failure before it is even staged.
Unless the performers have had some experience in theatricals it is best to choose a comedy—for even a Greek tragedy in all its poignant simplicity may become a farce in the hands of unskillful actors.
Rehearsals are of vital importance. The members of the cast must rehearse and rehearse and rehearse again until they know their parts perfectly. They must be punctual and regular in their attendance of the rehearsals; continually to miss them is to spoil the play and a lack of preparation on the part of one actor is unfair to the others, for ultimate success depends on each one of the players.
The performance is usually given in the drawing-room of the host who issues the invitations, which, by the way, must be sent out two or three weeks in advance. The host must arrange for stage, lighting effects, seating facilities and all the other incidental details.
In assigning parts care must be taken, as was pointed out above, in selecting that character which is most in accord with the player's own character. This is so important that it cannot be overemphasized. And when finally the correct part is chosen for him, he must learn his lines so thoroughly that he will be able, figuratively, to "say them in his sleep."
Costumes for the play may be obtained from any theatrical supply house. They must be of the style prevalent at the date of the play; Colonial clothes in a Mid-Victorian setting foredoom the play to failure. A curtain may also be hired from a theatrical supply house, but it is very simple to adjust one made at home by means of brass rings such as are used in hanging portieres. There should be a separation in the center so that the curtain may be drawn back from both sides.
Footlights may consist of a row of small electric lights, or a row of reflector lamps will impart the desired effect to the improvised stage. For wings, large Japanese screens will do or they, too, may be hired from the people who supply the costumes.
To give the effect of lightning, a magnesia torch is most effective. Thunder is simulated by beating slowly on a bass drum. Hoof beats seem quite real when produced by beating two cocoanut shells on marble.
The danger of stage fright can be lessened and almost obliterated after a sufficient number of rehearsals, and with that poise and self-confidence that comes with true culture, one should be able to stand before the largest audience without embarrassment or nervousness. It is one of the rewards of correct training.
As in the musicale, silence is essential. There is nothing more disconcerting to actors than to notice whispering, giggling or lack of interest in the audience. Whether the play is worthy of interest or not, courtesy towards guests and performers demands the appearance of interest.
Guests must answer invitations promptly. In fact, in almost every detail, attending a theatrical given in the home of a friend requires the same etiquette as is observed at a fashionable evening musicale. In departing, the hostess must be cordially thanked for the pleasant evening, and if the actors are friends of the assemblage and join the guests after the play, they, too, must be thanked for their share of the entertainment.
HOST AND HOSTESS
The host and hostess usually receive together at private theatricals. They stand together at the door of the drawing-room, welcome each guest and make the necessary introductions. When the curtain is drawn, they take seats near the back and rise to greet any delinquent guest.
After the play a supper may be served. If the actors are friends they join in the supper. But sometimes these private theatricals are not amateurish, but given by professionals, in which case the etiquette is somewhat different, and the performers may or may not be invited, as the hostess chooses.
Engraved cards are issued, and in the lower left-hand corner appears the name of the play and the leading actor (if he happens to be a celebrity). The guests are expected to arrive at a definite hour, and lateness in this case is inexcusable. If the professional players do not offer their services free, they must receive remuneration for them.
DANCING AS A HEALTHFUL ART
Dancing is an art. More than that, it is a healthful art. In its graceful movements, cadenced rhythms, and expressive charms are evident the same beautiful emotions that are so eloquently expressed in music, sculpture, painting. And it is through these expressions of emotion, through this silent poetry of the body that dancing becomes a healthful art, for it imparts to the body—and mind—a poise and strength without which no one can be quite happy.
It is because the vital importance of dancing on the Mind and body has been universally recognized, that it has been added to the curriculum of public schools in almost every country. We find the youngsters revelling in folk-dances, and entering dancing games with a spirit that gives vigor to their bodies, balance and grace to their movements.
Consider, for a moment, the irresistible witchery of music, of rhythmic cadences. We hear the martial note of the drum, and unconsciously our feet beat time. We hear the first deep chords of the orchestra, and involuntarily our fingers mark the time of the measure. With the soft, mellow harmony of triplet melodies we are transported to the solemn vastness of a mountain beside a, gayly rippling stream. With the deep, sonorous bursts of triumphant melody, we are transported to the ocean's edge, where the rumbling of the waves holds us in awed ecstasy. Thoughts of sorrow, of gladness, of joy, of hope surge through us and cry for expression. Dancing is nature's way of expressing these emotions.
Then let us dance, for in dancing we find poise and strength and balance. Let us dance for in dancing we find joy, pleasure, hope. It is the language of the feelings, and nature meant it for the expression of those feelings.
It is only when dancing is confined to hot, crowded rooms where the atmosphere is unwholesome, that it loses its healthful influence on mind and body. But where there is plenty of room and fresh air, plenty of good, soul-inspiring music—we say dance, young and old alike, dance for the keen pleasure and joy of the dance itself, and for the health that follows in its wake!
DANCE-GIVING NO LONGER A LUXURY
The day of the strictly formal dance, entailing elaborate suppers, pretentious decorations and large orchestras has passed. In its place is the simple, enjoyable, inexpensive dance which is at once the delight of the guests and the pride of the hostess.
Simplicity is the keynote of the modern ball. A piano and two stringed instruments usually comprise the entire orchestra. The charm of the home is no longer spoiled by over-decoration; a vase or two containing the flowers of the season offer the sole touch of festivity. There are, of course, numerous personal innovations that may be instituted; but as the guests are assembled for dancing, space and a good floor and plenty of fresh air are the primary and paramount requisites.
Light refreshments have taken the place of the large suppers of not so long ago. Hostesses no longer feel overburdened with a sense of obligation. The dance has become simple and inexpensive; and because it is also so thoroughly enjoyable and healthful, it has become a favorite sport, especially during the cooler months.
THE DEBUT DANCE
Perhaps the most important dance of all is that given in honor of the /debutante/. No matter how large or formal a dance may be, it is never called a "ball" in the invitation. The latter is used only in case of a large public dance or function. The usual "at home" form of invitation is used, and in the lower left-hand corner the word dancing is printed. The name of the young debutante may be included if it is so desired, although it is not essential. But if it is an evening occasion, the name of both host and hostess must appear on the invitation.
Whether the dance is held in her own home or in a hall hired for the occasion, the hostess receives and welcomes each guest. She may be assisted by several of her friends who are well-known in society. Her daughter stands beside her and is introduced to those of her mother's guests whom she has not already met.
The debutante has her first partner selected for her by her mother. She may not dance with one man more than once on the occasion of her introduction to society. But she is expected to dance every dance, returning to receive guests during the intervals. Sometimes the young debutante has several of her chums receiving with her for the first half hour. She offers her hand to every guest who arrives, and introduces in turn the friends who are assisting her.
The father of the debutante may receive with his wife, but his duty is more to see that all the women have partners, and that the chaperons are taken into supper. He also sees that the gentlemen do their duty as dancers instead of remaining in the dressing room to smoke and chat. The hostess does not dance at all, or if she does, it is usually late in the evening. She remains at her post at the door, welcoming guests and seeing that all shy men get partners and all the young girls have a good time. One paramount duty of the hostess is so to arrange her invitations that there will be very many more men than women; this eliminates the chance of there being any unhappy wallflowers. Another consideration is to arrange the chairs in informal little groups instead of close to the walls in a solemn and dreary line.
The costume ball is conducted very much on the same order as the formal ball. The invitations are issued two or three weeks before the date set for the dance, and as for the debut dance, the word ball does not appear on it. Instead the words "Costumes of the Twelfth Century" or "Shakespearean Costumes" or whatever may be decided upon are printed in the lower left-hand corner of usual "at home" cards.
In selecting a fancy costume, one must be careful to choose only what is /individually/ becoming. It must be in perfect harmony with one's personality. To assume a character that is in every way opposed to one's own character is unwise and ungratifying. A sedate, quiet young miss should not choose a Folly Costume. Nor should a jolly, vivacious young lady elect to emulate Martha Washington, And furthermore, a character must not be merely dressed—it must be lived. The successful costume ball must be realistic;
What is the purpose of the subscription dance? The question is a common one. And the answer is simple.
A subscription dance is given for the same reason that any other dance is given—to be surrounded by one's friends, to enjoy music and dancing, and generally to have a "good time" It is conducted very much on the order of the formal dance, except that it is semi-public and is usually held in a public hall. There is no host or hostess, of course; their place is held by an appointed committee or by the patronesses of the dance. They stand at the door of the ballroom to welcome guests, and they may either offer their hands or bow in greeting. It is the duty of the patronesses to introduce those of the guests who are not already acquainted.
Each subscriber to the dance has the privilege of inviting a certain number of friends to the function. Or, if the membership decide to give several periodic dances, he is entitled to invite a certain number of friends to each one of them. The invitations are issued two weeks ahead and require a prompt acceptance or regrets.
Sometimes elaborate suppers are served at the subscription dance, the money for the expenses having been appropriated from the subscription fees for the entertainment. Or simple refreshments, such as dainty sandwiches, salads, ices, cakes and punch, may be served at small, round tables.
In departing, it is not considered necessary to take leave of the patronesses. However, if they are on duty at the door, a cordial word or two of consideration for their efforts may be extended.
Everything in the ballroom should suggest gayety, light and beauty. The floor, of course, is the most important detail. A polished hardwood floor offers the most pleasing surface for dancing. If the wood seems sticky, paraffine wax adds a smoothness that actually tempts one to dance.
Flowers are always pleasing. Huge ferns may grace unexpected corners and greens may add a festive note, if the hostess so desires. But there must not be an obvious attempt at decoration.
Rather nothing at all, than so very much that it borders on the ostentatious.
In fact, the dance is tending more and more to become a simple and unpretentious function. The elaborate decorations and fashionable conventions that attended the minuet and quadrille of several decades ago have given way to a jolly informality which makes the dance so delightful and popular a way of entertaining.
MUSIC AT THE DANCE
The music, of course, is important; A piano and one or two stringed instruments are sufficient. The musicians should be hidden behind a cluster of palms, or placed in a balcony.
Ordinarily the selections are arranged previously by the hostess. She must also arrange for encores, and should make provision for special selections which the guests may desire.
The dance program is rarely used now except at college dances, or army and navy dances. It has lost prestige with the passing of the old-fashioned ball. But sometimes there are special occasions when the hostess wishes to have programs, in which case they serve not only as pretty and convenient adjuncts to the occasion, but as appropriate mementos.
Gilt-edged cards attached with a silk cord and provided with a tiny pencil are pretty when an attractive little sketch or a bit of verse enlivens the front cover. Each dance is entered on the program—and many a delightful memory is kept alive by glancing at these names days after the dance was held. These programs may be filled beforehand or they may be filled at the dance.
At the dinner dance, the hostess issues two sets of invitations, one for those whom she wishes to invite for dinner and dance both, and one for those whom she wishes to invite to the dance only. For the former the ordinary dinner invitation may be issued, with the words "Dancing at Nine" added in the left-hand corner. For the latter, the ordinary "at home" invitation with the same words "Dancing at Nine" added also in the left-hand corner is correct form.
Often the hostess has a buffet supper instead of a dinner. All the guests partake of this refreshment. On a long table, decorated with flowers, are salads, sandwiches, ices, jellies and fruits which may be partaken of throughout the entire evening. Sometimes hot bouillon is also served, and very often a midnight supper is given at which hot courses are in order.
If a dance is scheduled to be held in the ballroom of a hotel, the guests who are invited to dinner may be served in the dining-room of that hotel. The small tables are usually decorated with lamps and flowers for the occasion, and the dinner may be ordered by the hostess several days in advance.
Whether the dance be large or small, dressing rooms, or coat rooms, as they are sometimes called, are essential for the convenience of the guests. There must be one for the gentlemen and one for the ladies, each properly furnished.
It is usual to have a maid servant in attendance in the dressing room set apart for the ladies. She helps them relieve themselves of their wraps when they arrive, and to don them again when they are ready to depart. A dressing-table, completely furnished with hand-mirror, powder, perfume and a small lamp, should be provided. A full-size mirror is always appreciated. Sometimes, when a great number of guests are expected, a checking system is devised to simplify matters and aid the maid in identifying the wraps.
The men's dressing room may be provided with a smoking table supplied with all the necessary requisites for smoking, matches, ash-trays, cigar-cutters, etc. Here also a servant is usually on hand to offer the gentleman his service wherever it is needed.
There is a lesser formality, a greater gayety in the ballroom of to-day. The dance-card and program are no longer enjoying unrivaled vogue as they did when our grandmothers' danced the waltz and cotillon. The pauses between dances are shorter. Something of the old dignity is gone, but in its place is a new romance that is perhaps more gratifying. It is not a romance of the Mid-Victorian period, or a romance that carries with it the breath of mystery. It is a strangely companionable and levelheaded romance which pervades the ballroom and makes everyone, young and old, man and woman, want to get out on the floor and dance to the tune of the pretty melodies.
But the ballroom of good society, must retain its dignity even while it indulges in the new "romance of the dance." It must observe certain little rules of good conduct without which it loses all the grace and charm which are the pride and inspiration of the dancing couples. There is, for instance, the etiquette of asking a lady to dance, and accepting the invitation in a manner graciously befitting the well-bred young lady of the twentieth century.
WHEN THE LADY IS ASKED TO DANCE
Before asking anyone else to dance, the gentleman must request the first dance of the lady he escorted to the ball, Then he takes care that she has a partner for each dance, and that she is never left a wallflower while he dances with some other lady.
At the conclusion of the dance, the gentleman thanks the lady for the dance and goes off to find his nest partner. The lady does not seek her partner for the next dance, if she has promised it to anyone, but waits until he comes to claim her. A man should never leave a woman standing alone on the floor.
A modern system of "cutting in" seems to be enjoying a vogue among our young people. While a dance is in progress, a young man may "cut in" and ask the lady to finish the dance with him. If the dance has not been very long in progress, and the young lady wishes to continue it, she may nod and say, "The next time we pass here" The dance continues around the room, and when the couple reach the same place again, the lady leaves her partner and finishes the dance with the young man who has "cut in."
Perhaps this custom of "cutting in" carries with it the merest suggestion of discourtesy, but when we consider the informal gayety of the ballroom, the keen and wholehearted love of dancing, we can understand why the privilege is extended. Like many another privilege, it becomes distasteful when it is abused.
It is not good form for a couple to dance together so many times as to make themselves conspicuous.
Men should not neglect their duty as dancers because they prefer to smoke or simply to act as spectators.
Dancing has been revolutionized since the day when the German waltz was first introduced to polite society. And it is safe to say that some of our austere granddames would feel righteously indignant if they were suddenly brought back to the ballroom and forced to witness some of the modern dance innovations!
There seems to be an attempt, on the part of the younger generation (although the older generation is not so very far behind!) to achieve absolute freedom of movement, to go through the dance with a certain unrestrained impulsiveness unknown to the minuet or graceful quadrille. These newer dances and dancing interpretations are charming and entertaining; and yet there is the possibility of their becoming vulgar if proper dancing positions are not taken. The position is especially important in the latest dances.
In guiding a lady across the polished floor to the tune of a simple waltz or a gay fox-trot, the gentleman encircles her waist half way with his right arm, laying the palm of his hand lightly just above the waist line. With his left hand, he holds her right at arm's length in the position most comfortable for both of them, taking special care not to hold it in an awkward or ungainly position. His face is always turned slightly to the left, while hers usually faces front or slightly to the right. The girl should place her left arm on her partner's right arm. She must follow him and not try to lead the dance herself.
When the dance requires certain swaying movements, as almost all modern dances do, the lady inclines her body in harmony with that of her partner, and if the proper care is taken to retain one's poise and dignity, not even a most exacting chaperon can find fault with the new steps.
WHEN THE GUEST DOES NOT DANCE
Always at a dance, formal or informal, there are guests who do not dance. Usually they are men, for there is rarely a woman who does not know the steps of the latest dances—that is, if she ever does accept invitations at all. But "the guest who does not dance" is one of the unfortunate things the hostess has to put up with at every one of her dances.
And there is rarely ever an excuse for it. Every man who mingles in society at all, who enjoys the company of brilliant women and attractive young ladies, who accepts the invitations of hostesses, is failing in his duty when he offers as an excuse the fact that he doesn't know how to dance for there are sufficient schools of dancing in every city and town where the latest steps can be learned quickly.
If for any reason, a gentleman does not know how to dance, and does not want to learn, he may make up for it by entertaining the chaperons while their charges are dancing—conversing with them, walking about with them and escorting them to the refreshment table, and altogether show by his kind attentiveness that he realizes his deficiency and wishes to make up for it. To lounge in the dressing-room, smoking and chatting with other gentlemen is both unfair to the hostess and essentially rude in the matter of ballroom etiquette. The true gentleman would rather decline an invitation than be unfair to his hostess and her guests in this respect.
Very often public dances are given in honor of some special occasion or a celebrated guest. They are very much like private dances, except that a specially appointed committee fulfills the position and duties of the hostess. At most public balls, the committee is composed of men and women who wear badges to indicate their position, and who stand at the door to receive and welcome each guest. These men and women do not dance the first dance, but wait until later in the evening when they are quite sure that all the guests have arrived; and then they are always back at their duty during the intervals between dances.
Guests arriving at a public dance greet the patronesses with a smile of welcome and a word or two, but rarely offer their hands to be shaken unless the ladies serving as patronesses take the initiative. They may stay for one or two dances, or throughout the whole evening, as they prefer; and when departing, it is not necessary to seek out the patronesses and bid them good-by.
Engraved invitations are usually issued three weeks before the date set for the ball. On these cards the names of the patronesses are also engraved. If the entrance to the ball is by purchased ticket, such as is always the case when the ball is given for some charity, the invitations must be preserved and shown at the entrance.
Sometimes a supper is included in the arrangement of the public ball, and in such case a caterer is engaged to attend to all details, including servants. A buffet supper is always the most pleasing and satisfactory as the guests may partake of the foods when they desire and there is no confusion or interruption to the dance. Hot bouillon, various meats, salads, cakes, ices, fruits and confections are an ideal menu. Coffee or punch is sometimes added.
When a public ball is given in honor of some special person, that person must be met on his arrival and immediately introduced to the women on the reception committee and escorted to the seat reserved for him. He must be attended throughout the evening, introduced to everyone he does not know, and all his wants carefully taken care of. When he departs, he must be escorted to his carriage, and if he is a celebrated personage thanked for his presence—although truly cultured gentlemen prefer not to have this honor paid them.
A public ball is either a tremendous success or a miserable failure. There is no in-between. And the success or failure rests solely on the good judgment and influence of the ladies and gentlemen of the committees, including, of course, those who receive. To mingle freely among the guests, to join in the conversation, to introduce guests to each other and find partners for the "wallflowers" all these little services tend to arouse a spirit of friendliness and harmony that cannot but result in an evening that will be long remembered in the minds of every guest.
A PLEA FOR DANCING
Lately there has been a great deal of unfavorable criticism directed against the modern dances. There have been newspaper articles condemning the "latest dance fads" as immoral and degrading. There have been speeches and lectures against "shaking and twisting of the body into weird, outlandish contortions." There have been vigorous crusades against dance halls. And all because a few ill-bred, fun-loving, carefree young people wrongly interpreted the new dances in their own way and gave to the steps the vulgar abandon appropriate only to the cheap vaudeville stage or the low dance hall.
Dancing, even the shoulder-shaking, oscillating dancing of to-day, is really not intended to be vulgar or immoral at all, despite the crusades of the anti-immorality dancing committees! What is dancing, after all, if not the expression of one's ideals and emotions? It is only the man or woman with a vulgar mind, with base ideals, who will give a vulgar interpretation to a dance of any kind. But the essentially fine girl, the really well-bred man, the people who, by their poise and dignity have earned for America the envied title of "Republic of the Aristocrats"—they dance these latest creations for the sheer joy of the dance itself, reveling in its newness, enjoying the novelty of its "different" steps, seeing nothing in its slow undulations or brisk little steps, but art—a "jazzy" art, to be sure, but still the beautiful art of dancing.
And so we plead—let the younger generation enjoy its giddy waltzes and brisk-paced fox-trots and fancy new dances just as grandmother, when she was young, was allowed to enjoy the minuet and the slow waltz. They are different, yes, and rather hard to accept after the dignified dances of not so long ago. But they are picturesque, to say the least, and artistic. The gracefully-swaying bodies, keeping step in perfect harmony to the tunes of the newer symphony orchestras, are delightful to watch; and in good society, young men and women can always be trusted to deport themselves with utter grace and poise.
The minuet was decidedly graceful. The old German waltz with its dreamy, haunting melody was beautiful as it was enjoyable. But they have been relegated into the days of hoop skirts and powdered wigs. To-day the "jazzy" dances are in vogue, and society in its lowest and highest circles is finding intense pleasure in the whirling, swirling dances decreed by fashion as her favorites. Why complain? Perhaps in another year or two, these giddy-paced dances will be "out of style" and in their stead will be solemn, slow dances more graceful and stately than even the minuet of yore.
THE CHARM OF DRESS IN DANCING
Immediately after the Reign of Terror, France was plunged into a reckless round of unrestrained gayety that can come only from love of life and youth and laughter long pent-up. It was as though an avalanche of joy had been released; it was in reality the reaction from the terrors and nightmares of those two years of horror. The people were free, free to do as they pleased without the fear of the guillotine ever present; and all France went mad with rejoicing.
It was then that dancing came into its own. Almost overnight huge dance halls sprang up. The homes of wealthy aristocrats who had been sacrificed to the monster guillotine, were converted into places for dancing. Every available inch of space was utilized for the dance. And the more these freed people danced, the more their spirits soared with the joy of life and living, until they found in the dance itself the interpretation of freedom and all that it means.