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Monday, 22 December 2014

Dinner at eight , or: surviving skills for a dinner-party

Hello everybody.

Since holidays are nearing fastly, and some of us migh attend dinner(s) - some may evey brave out being the hostess.. let us spend this day pondering about "do's" and "don't" of a formal dining. With that in mind, I decided to dedicate the next couple of days to proper (old school) dining rules.

Now - there's a dinner party to remember! :)

Emily Post, as she has many times, jumps in to infom us on "how to" of a most complicated task of all: being the Dinner Hostess.

To give a perfect dinner of ceremony is the supreme accomplishment of a hostess! It means not alone perfection of furnishing, of service, of culinary skill, but also of personal charm, of tact. The only other occasion when a hostess must have equal—and possibly even greater ability—is the large and somewhat formal week-end party, which includes a dinner or two as by no means its least formidable features.

The requisites at every dinner, whether a great one of 200 covers, or a little one of six, are as follows:
  1. Guests. People who are congenial to one another. This is of first importance.
  2. Food. A suitable menu perfectly prepared and dished. (Hot food to be hot, and cold, cold.)
  3. Table furnishing. Faultlessly laundered linen, brilliantly polished silver, and all other table accessories suitable to the occasion and surroundings.
  4. Service. Expert dining-room servants and enough of them.
  5. Drawing-room. Adequate in size to number of guests and inviting in arrangement.
  6. A cordial and hospitable host.
  7. A hostess of charm. Charm says everything—tact, sympathy, poise and perfect manners—always.
First of all: 
a hostess must show each of her guests equal and impartial attention. 

Taste In Selection Of People
The proper selection of guests is the first essential in all entertaining, and the hostess who has a talent for assembling the right people has a great asset. Taste in house furnishings or in clothes or in selecting a cook, is as nothing compared to taste in people! Some people have this "sense"—others haven't. The first are the great hosts and hostesses; the others are the mediocre or the failures.
It is usually a mistake to invite great talkers together. Brilliant men and women who love to talk want hearers, not rivals. Very silent people should be sandwiched between good talkers, or at least voluble talkers. Silly people should never be put anywhere near learned ones, nor the dull near the clever, unless the dull one is a young and pretty woman with a talent for listening, and the clever, a man with an admiration for beauty, and a love for talking.
Most people think two brilliant people should be put together. Often they should, but with discretion. If both are voluble or nervous or "temperamental," you may create a situation like putting two operatic sopranos in the same part and expecting them to sing together.

The Menu
Under no circumstances would a private dinner, no matter how formal, consist of more than:
- Hors d'oeuvre
- Soup
- Fish
- Entrée
- Roast
- Salad
- Dessert
- Coffee
The menu for an informal dinner would leave out the entrée, and possibly either the hors d'oeuvre or the soup.
As a matter of fact, the marked shortening of the menu is in informal dinners and at the home table of the well-to-do. Formal dinners have been as short as the above schedule for twenty-five years. A dinner interlarded with a row of extra entrées, Roman punch, and hot dessert is unknown except at a public dinner, or in the dining-room of a parvenu. About thirty-five years ago such dinners are said to have been in fashion!

...and never forget, one thing:
Unless a woman's loveliness springs from generosity of heart and sympathy, her manners, no matter how perfectly practised, are nothing but cosmetics applied to hide a want of inner beauty; precisely as rouge and powder are applied in the hope of hiding the lack of a beautiful skin.

We will continue this...


  1. We always have a big meal for friends between Christmas and New Year. It takes a lot of preparation, but we all really enjoy it. (Well, I don't enjoy in the next day when I have all the washing up to do.) I've never bothered with a fish or salad course, though.

    1. The washing up, my dear, is a dreary task - left after all the guests are gone. What helps me, is to play some (funky) music while I do so - makes it easier. :)

  2. I love this! Thanks for sharing. And I adore the woman's dress in the second photo :-) ::swoons::

    1. You are most welcome, darling!