Thursday, June 12, 2014

Tea & Evening Parties

This article continues where last week's Thursday article left off with Miss Beecher's Domestic Receipt Book ©1871

Tea Parties and Evening Company.
In one respect, fashion has aided to relieve a housekeeper of much care in providing evening entertain ments. It is now fashionable to spread a table for evening parties, and not to serve tea and coffee, as was formerly done. As this is the easiest, and most rational way of entertaining evening company, no other method will be so minutely described.
If a lady designs to invite from forty to sixty friends to pass the evening, or even to have a much larger company invited, the following would be called a plain but genteel arrangement, for company in New York, Philadelphia, or any of our large cities.
Set a long table in the dining-room, and cover it with a handsome damask cloth. Set some high article containing flowers, or some ornamental article, in the centre. Set Champagne glasses with flowers at each corner. Set loaves of cake at regular distances, and dispose in some regular order about the table, preserves, jellies, lemonade, and any other articles that may be selected from the abundant variety offered in the collection of Receipts for Evening Parties in this book.
Where a very large company is to be collected, and a larger treat is thought to be required, then a long table is set in the centre of the room, as above, and on it are placed cakes, pastry, jellies, and confectionary. Then smaller tables are set each side of a mantle, or in corners, one of which is furnished with sandwiches, oysters, salad, celery, and wine, and the other with coffee, chocolate, and lemonade. Sometimes all are placed on one long table, and in this case, cakes, jellies, and confectionary are put in the centre, coffee and lemonade at one end, and oysters, sandwiches, celery, and wines at the other. A great deal of taste may be displayed in preparing and arranging such a table.
As it is often the case, that the old mode of serving tea and coffee will be resorted to, one modification is proposed, which decreases the labour and anxiety to the housekeeper, and increases the enjoyment of the company. It is this. Set a table in one of the parlors, and cover it with a damask cloth. Let the tea and coffee be served at this table, the lady of the house presiding. Then let the gentlemen wait upon the ladies around the room, and then help themselves. This is particularly convenient when it is difficult to get good waiters.
Most of the articles used for evening parties (with the exception of rich cakes, wine, and high-seasoned chicken salad) are not unhealthful, if taken moderately.
When these parties break up at seasonable hours, they may prove one of the most rational and harmless modes of securing social enjoyment; but when connected with highly exciting amusements, and late hours, they are sure to wear upon the constitution and health, and rational and conscientious persons, for these and other reasons, will avoid them.

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