Etiquette for Parties
I love revisiting my 1929 copy of 100 Points in Etiquette and 100 Don’ts to be reminded and delight in the details of the once very formally stated rules of polite society, many of which are now obsolete. Nowadays, our culture is decidedly less formal, which has its charms, but invariably breeds ambiguity. Regardless of evaporating guidelines, I believe that being a lady is as relevant as ever and kindness and showing respect for other people is the best guiding light in navigating etiquette, be you a guest or a host. The chapter of this book concerning parties was full of delightful information.
“What’s a fine person, or a beauteous face, Unless deportment gives them decent grace? Blest with all other requisites to please, Some want the striking elegance of ease; The curious eye their awkward movement fires; They seem like puppets led about by wires.” — Churchill
86. The wedding reception and the affair at which your young daughter of the household is formally presented to society are always formal functions, but can be made none the less enjoyable. Invitations to such affairs are sent out at least two weeks in advance. Any one of a variety of affairs may be chosen to introduce the débutante— a large ball, a formal tea, a tea-dance, a small tea, a small dance.
87. The difference between a formal tea and a reception is mostly a matter of refreshments and the way they are served. At a reception the guests are seated in chairs placed around the room or at small tables, napkins are passed, and plate refreshments served. These consist usually of creamed chicken and peas in white paper ramekins, hot rolls, or sandwiches, scalloped oysters, followed by ice cream in molds, individual cakes, and coffee. Nuts and candies are also passed by the waiters. Refreshments of the same nature are appropriate for the afternoon or evening wedding reception. At the formal tea refreshments are served buffet style. The refreshments are much simpler than for the reception, and the guests remain standing while eating.
88. A hostess giving a dinner dance at home frequently issues two sets of invitations, one for those invited to dinner and one to those who are invited to dance only. A dinner dance may be small and informal, or it may be given at a hotel or club and become a very large and elaborate affair.
89. One place where full evening dress is the rule is the opera. At certain opera houses in Europe there was a time when one was not admitted unless in full evening dress. The rule may still stand. But one is always expected to dress for the opera and this does not apply just to the occupants of the boxes and orchestra. The tuxedo, or dinner coat, while worn more and more to such functions, is not strictly full dress.
Editorial note: The above photo is a scene from a lovely bridal shower given for me by Nathan’s most fabulous aunt (Hi, Auntie Jo! :)