After some consideration, I have decided to rerun a series that I wrote on my previous blog. It was a series based on a 1948 Home Economics book that I found during one of my vintage shopping excursions. I adore this book. Although dated in some content, it is spot on for much of today’s living as well as it’s intended 1948 audience. I hope you will enjoy this series. (click here to read my original introduction)
(why fall behind in class?)
The following was originally written on March 19, 2011:
Now, it is time for our lesson. We previously considered manners and introductions. We will continue with our discussion of “the happy way of doing things” with parties and dating. (note: please pay attention to my use of quotations–I am trying to give the book credit where due but of course I am adding my little comments in the mix).
Ms. Greer states: “Whether a party is given at one’s home or elsewhere, it is well to know how to entertain when the occasion arises.”
Guests and Invitations: It is noted that there are three types of invitations mentioned: the verbal, the informal note and the formal invitation. In each instance, a reply should be like form. And a reply, in any given instance, should be “definite, that is, there should be no question about whether or not the guest will accept.” Is it just me or is this a totally foreign concept to the common people of today? I do home party shows as part-time work. I can not even begin to tell you the complete annoyance I feel when a hostess tells me 15 people replied that they are coming yet only 3 show up. Seriously?! This is complete rudeness and unacceptable behavior (obviously we are hitting an extremely sensitive and exposed nerve here). Let your “yes mean yes and your no, no” (and no, I am not quoting Ms. Greer, rather Jesus Christ @ Matthew 5:37–just clarifying). It is also important that the hostess is clear when she expects guests to arrive. In turn, the guest should arrive on time. The scenario given is that of a dinner or luncheon party–it is in good form and mannerly to arrive “five minutes before that hour, not earlier, unless the hostess makes such a request, and certainly not later, unless unavoidably prevented from arriving on time.”
(a “formal” tea party at chez moi)
Here is an example of how an informal note may read (taken directly from the book):
On Thursday afternoon, at two o’clock, I am having a few friends to play bridge, and , of course, want you to come. A dessert will be served before we begin to play. I do hope you will be able to join the party.
Very sincerely yours,
I shall be thrilled to come next Thursday afternoon at two o’clock. I always have such good times at your home.
Isn’t that just the loveliest exchange? It sure beats the super informal FaceBook invite.
It is also mannerly to reply to an invitation if you can not attend. Don’t leave your hostess guessing. It is so not cool.
Arriving at the Party: A guest should be greeted at the front door (another pet peeve of mine are people coming to my back door, whether invited or just stopping by, as a first time guest–I will let you know if you can use my back door or not). A hostess should greet her guests with a handshake and direct them where to go to remove coats or wraps. The guest will then assemble with the others.
Being a Successful Guest: This section deserves some direct quotes. The information echoed what Fiona recently posted about as well. Since we can’t all go to finishing school, please pay attention. “The success of the party depends a great deal upon a friendly and cordial attitude of the hostess. However, the guests have some responsibility in this matter. When one person accepts another’s hospitality, he should co-operate with the hostess in every way. If games have been planned for entertainment, the guests should enter heartily into playing them. When refreshments are served, the guests should eat them. In case there is food which is distressing to the guest (perhaps haggis or sheep’s testicles would qualify), he should pretend to eat it (how one does this is not explained). Keeping in mind the basis of good manners, one does nothing to make the hostess feel her hospitality is not appreciated.” There is no way I could have stated any of this better than Ms. Greer.
Saying Good-bye: It is important to remember the effort and expense the hostess has put forth when saying “bonne nuit”. It may do well to add a remark as: “‘I have had a grand time’, or ‘I won’t forget what a good time I’ve had. Thank you for inviting me.’”
When a Girl Has a Date with a Boy: This next section actually made me sad because it really feels like this is a lost ritual or tradition. In our day of hooking-up, casual sex, and friends with benefits, the art of wooing, the beauty of courtship is gone. I read an interesting article this morning that claims there is whole new generation of men who are lost, not knowing or understanding (or being given the opportunity) to be a man (and it is not all his fault). This section goes step by step on how a boy should treat his girl on a date. First, if he invited her out, he should treat her as his guest and “do his best to make her comfortable and to give her a good time”. When getting into a streetcar or auto, he should let her precede him…”to help her when getting out, he should go first”. This was really cute, “At a movie or theater, the girl follows the usher (almost had to look that word up…usher? where are all the ushers? I want them back…them and the full-service attendants at the gas station) down the aisle to the seats. The boy walks directly behind the girl. In the absence of an usher (so they were starting to disappear back in 1948–tragic) he goes first down the aisle. In being seated, the girl precedes the boy. He does not sit down until she is seated. He helps her remove her wraps.” This is just ooey, gooey sweetness, isn’t it? Further similar instructions are given for attending a dance, going out to dinner. And here is the “cherry on top” sweet ending to a date: “In connection with the discussion of the proper manner of saying ‘good-bye’ to a boy, the kissing matter looms up. There are at least two disadvantages in an escort kissing a girl to whom he is not engaged. (1) The kiss that belongs to romantic courtship days becomes an ordinary, commonplace thing. (2) An escort who finds it easy to kiss a girl may tell other young men. A self-respecting girl cannot afford to have the reputation of dispensing kisses to any boy who dates her.” How in the world did we come so far away from these moral guidelines?
Guess what? There is actually more information to consider in the chapter, “The ‘Happy Way of Doing Things’”. However, my butt is no longer happy sitting at this computer….way to slam us back to 2011, huh? So, I will leave you hanging for the conclusion to our Lesson 3. Next time we will see how we can be thoughtful hostesses and a welcomed house guest. I promise, it will not bore.
Are you good about responding to invitations? Do you keep your word about attending an event, showing up on time? Do wish dating would make a comeback?
Stay tuned for more in the coming weeks. Always be graceful.