Part 1 out of 3
This eBook was produced by Bruce Loving
BOOK OF ETIQUETTE
BY LILLIAN EICHLER
The Servant in the Household
A Word to the Mistress
A Word to the Servant
How to Address Servants
The Child and the Servant
The Invisible Barrier
When the Servant Speaks
The Servants of a Big House
Correct Dress for the Butler
The Second Man
Duties of the Chauffeur
Duties of House-Maid
About the American Hostess
Planning the Formal Dinner
Arranging the Table
Starting at the Center
Some Important Details
Use of the Napkin
The Spoon at the Dinner Table
The Fork and Knife
When the Guests Arrive
The Successful Hostess
Comments on Food
When to Leave
Inviting a Stop-Gap
Inviting Congenial Guests
When There are no Servants
Dress for Dinner
Purpose of the Luncheon
About the Table
The Formal Luncheon
The Table for the Formal Luncheon
Hostess and Guest
Formal and Informal Breakfasts
Dress for Luncheons and Breakfasts
IV. TEAS AND OTHER ENTERTAINMENTS
Evolution of the Afternoon Tea
The Simpler Tea
The Formal Tea
The Tea Table
Dress at Tea Time
The Garden Party
Receiving the Guests
On the Lawn
Dress for Garden Parties and Lawn Festivals
Woman's Garden Costume
The Man at the Garden Party
Sending the Invitation
When the Guests Arrive
Entertaining at the House Party
Hostess and Guests at the House Party
"Tipping" the Servants
V. WHEN THE BACHELOR ENTERTAINS
When the Bachelor is Host
Welcoming the Guests
The Bachelor's Dinner
Tea at a Bachelor Apartment
The Bachelor Dance
VI. MUSICALES AND PRIVATE THEATRICALS
Preparations for the Musicale
The Afternoon Musicale
The Evening Musicale
Card Parties at the Musicale
Duties of Guests at Musicales
Dress at the Musicale
Arranging Private Theatricals
Host and Hostess
Dancing as a Healthful Art
Dance-Giving No Longer a Luxury
The Debut Dance
Music at the Dance
When the Lady is Asked to Dance
When the Guest Does Not Dance
A Plea for Dancing
The Charm of Dress in Dancing
At the Afternoon Dance
Gentlemen at the Dance
Dress for the Ball
Dress of the Debutante
Wraps at the Ball
Ball Dress for Men
For the Simple Country Dance
VIII. GAMES AND SPORTS
Why the World Plays
Billiards and Croquet
Some Important Rules about Golf
Clothes in General
The Charm of Correct Speech
Courtesy in Conversation
Ease in Speech
Local Phrases and Mannerisms
Importance of Vocabulary
Interrupting the Speech of Others
Tact in Conversation
Some Important Information
What to Talk About
The First Impression
The Story of Dress
The Dawn of Fashion
The Fashions of To-day
Harmony in Dress
Importance of Color
The Charm of Personality
Gaudiness versus Good Taste
"Extravagance the Greatest Vulgarity"
Inappropriateness in Clothes
The Eccentric Dresser
Comfort in Clothes
If One is Not Average
Tall and Short People
The Well-Dressed Woman
Not a Slave to Fashion
The Well-Dressed Man
The Charm of Old Age
The Elderly Woman
Imitation and Over-Dressing
The Older Gentleman
A Trip to the South
For the Gentleman
III. THE BUSINESS WOMAN
Woman in the Business World
Following the Fashions
The Business Suit
The Business Dress and Coat
An Appeal to Business Women
IV. ON THE STREET
The True Etiquette
Poise in Public
The Charm of Courtesy
Ladies and Gentlemen
When to Bow in Public
Walking in Public
Stopping for a Chat
When Accidents Happen
Accepting Courtesies from Strangers
Raising the Hat
How to Raise the Hat
In the Street Car
Entering the Car
In the Taxicab
Some Social Errors
V. AT THE THEATER AND THE OPERA
Dress at the Theater and Opera
Entering the Theater
Order of Precedence
Before the Play
When the Curtain is Drawn
During the Performance
The Offending Hat
Leaving the Theater
VI. HOTEL ETIQUETTE
At the Hotel
The Woman Guest
Receiving Masculine Guests
Making Friends at the Hotel
How to Register
In the Public Dining-Room
Regarding the Servants
Leaving the Hotel
VII. TRAVEL ETIQUETTE
The Restless Urge of Travel
The Customs of Countries
The Traveler's Wardrobe
In the Train
In the Sleeping Car
The Woman Traveler
The Woman who Travels with an Escort
In the Dining-Car
Children on the Train
In the Taxicab
Bon Voyage Gifts
On Board the Ship
Courtesy of the Ship
The Woman Crossing the Ocean
A Concert at Sea
At the Journey's End
At Hotel and Restaurant
At Tea-Room and Roof-Garden
To Those Who Love to Travel
An Un-American Custom
In Dining-Room or Dining-Car
At the Hotel
On the Train
Crossing the Ocean
Tips in Foreign Countries
IX. ETIQUETTE ABROAD
The American in Foreign Countries
On English Soil
Other English Titles
-And Still Other Titles
Addressing Clergy Abroad
Lawyers, Statesmen and Officials-How to Address Them
At the Court of England
What to Wear to Court
The King's Levees
Addressing Titled People in France
Certain French Conventions
French Wedding Etiquette
About Calls and Cards
The American in Germany
The Perfect American Tourist
APPENDIX Foreign Words in Frequent Social Usage
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
READY FOR TEA Frontspiece Page
TABLE SET FOR DINER
THE PUNCH TABLE
THE BUFFET LUNCH
Repose and cheerfulness are the badge of the gentleman--repose in energy.
The Greek battle pieces are calm; the heroes, in whatever violent actions
engaged, retain a serene aspect; as we say of Niagara, that it falls
without speed. A cheerful, intelligent face is the end of culture, and
success enough. For it indicates the purpose of nature and wisdom
THE SERVANT IN THE HOUSEHOLD
"A mouse can look at a king, but a king won't often look at a mouse" says
the old proverb. Which is, sadly enough, the state of affairs between
servants and mistresses in many households.
A great many people feel somehow that those who labor in the capacity of
servants are inferior. But in most cases, it is those who place servants
on a lower plane who are themselves inferior. We owe those who take a
part in the household affairs of our homes, more than the wages we pay
them. We owe them gratitude, courtesy, kindness. Many elaborate dinners
would be failures if it were not for the silent members of our
households. Many formal entertainments would be impossible without their
help. They hold a certain place of importance in the home and it should
be recognized in the social world as a place worthy of every courtesy and
For those who are fortunate enough to have servants to help with domestic
tasks, it is extremely important that the correct etiquette of servants
be thoroughly known and understood. And those who serve as butlers and
maids and valets must also know the little rules of good conduct that
govern their duties and responsibilities. The information contained in
the following paragraphs is meant for both the servant and the mistress,
and we hope that both will find it valuable.
A WORD TO THE MISTRESS
In the home where guests are frequently entertained and where the hostess
holds many formal social functions, servants are essential.
Every family that can afford to do so, should have one, or two, or more
servants according to social requirements and the appointments of the
house. They should be well instructed in their duties and they should be
expected to carry them out faultlessly. Untidy, noisy, ill-trained
servants reflect upon the manners and conduct of the mistress herself.
The most common method of engaging a servant is through an agency. Here
different types of men and women can be found, and the mistress of the
household may be fortunate enough to find one suited to her requirements.
Sometimes she secures a maid or butler by the recommendation of some
other housekeeper. This method is usually more satisfactory than any
other because it puts things on a rather friendly basis from the start.
But whether the maid or butler be engaged by recommendation or through an
agency, it is important that it be clearly understood from the beginning
just what his or her duties will be. And the mistress should not engage
a servant unless she feels sure that be will be able to fill the position
satisfactorily, for it is both an expensive and provoking process to
change servants frequently.
The first few days in a new home are always difficult for the servant.
The mistress should be patient and considerate and do all she can to make
the newcomer feel at ease in her new surroundings. Her directions should
be requests, not commands, and she should overlook blunders for they may
be the result of the servant's unfamiliarity with the household and its
After the servant has been in the household three weeks or a month, the
mistress has every right to expect him to carry out his duties correctly.
But we are all human, and we all make mistakes. When a servant blunders
through carelessness a reprimand may be necessary, but to scold in loud,
angry tones is most ill-mannered. The well-bred woman will never forget
that there is as much demand for courtesy and kindliness in her relations
with her servants as in any other relation in which she is placed. There
is absolutely no reason why "please" and "thank you" should be omitted
when we speak to the people who live in our homes and labor for our
comfort and happiness.
A WORD TO THE SERVANT
Among real Americans, with their democratic views, there can be no
objection to the word "servant." It is a noun, a name, to denote people
in a certain occupation; just as "brokers" and "salesmen" and
"housewives" denote certain people in other occupations. Therefore the
servants who read these sentences, and the women who have servants in
their households, should interpret the word in the spirit it is written,
that of true American courtesy and respect.
Domestic service requires a certain character lacking in most other
professions. As a servant, you care for the things of others and it
should be done with as much attention and regard as if they were your
own. You attend to your duties day after day, persisting in work which
may sometimes become monotonous and which would be easy enough to shirk,
but which you do for the comfort and pleasure of your mistress. You find
yourself in the position of keeping other people's property attractive,
putting other people's visitors at ease and being economical with other
people's money. And we repeat again that it requires a certain high
stamp of character that is not found in most professions.
Tidiness is very important in both men and women servants. The maid who
serves at the dinner table must wear a. fresh new blouse and a crisp
apron. Soiled finger-nails or unclean hands are inexcusable. The
well-trained servant presents always an immaculate, well-groomed
It hardly seems necessary to mention that the servant must be
scrupulously honest. Perhaps, in their capacity in the home, they are
exposed to unusual temptations, but that is just the reason why they
should refrain from dishonesty of any kind, even the slightest lie.
Gossip about the family life of the people they are serving should also
be avoided by servants.
The servant should remember that whether she be maid or mistress, she can
be _cultured_. The well-bred, well-trained maid is never sullen or
perverse. Nor is her manner servile or haughty. She is respectful to
her employers, but she does not cringe. She does her duties carefully,
conscientiously and thoroughly, and she carries out the commands of her
mistress without question. If, however, a maid thinks that a certain
task could be done much more quickly and satisfactorily in another way,
she may suggest it to her mistress and request her permission to do it in
that way. If she is reprimanded for a mistake, she should not become
rude or angry, but remain calm and answer quietly. It will not be long
before her mistress, if she is the right sort of mistress, recognizes her
superior qualities, her good manners and conscientious work, and will
respond by treating her in like manner.
Undue familiarity from the maid is not to be countenanced. But many
times a certain understanding friendliness develops between a "faithful
maid and a kind and courteous mistress." a friendship in which rigid
class distinctions are not sufficient to form a barrier.
Let those of us who are servants remember that it is only in helping
others that true happiness is found, and that the world is quick to
recognize and reward true, loyal, sincere service.
HOW TO ADDRESS SERVANTS
Household servants are usually addressed by their first names. It is
indeed bad form to address a servant by some abbreviated nickname, such
as Lizzy for Elizabeth or Maggie for Margaret. The full first name should
be used. A pleasant "Good morning, Margaret," starts the day right, both
for the mistress and the maid. In England the surname is preferred but
they do not have to contend with all the foreign importations in the way
of names that we have here in America. It is certainly better to call
John Soennichsen John, than to use his surname.
A butler or chauffeur is usually addressed by his surname unless he is a
man who has served the family for many years.
The golden rule of "Thank you" is just as golden when it applies to our
servants. It is only the extremely discourteous man or woman who will
address servants in a peremptory, rude tone. And it is especially
ill-bred and unkind to be overbearing to servants in the presence of
guests, or to scold one servant in the presence of another.
THE CHILD AND THE SERVANT
Insolence to servants on the part of children is as much a reflection on
the manners of the parents, as it is upon the breeding of the children.
The child that hears the servants addressed in rude, haughty manner will
quite naturally adopt the same manner towards them. And no one, child or
adult, can be considered well-bred unless he or she is courteous and kind
to everyone, especially to those whose social position is inferior.
In the park, recently, a little tot of six years or thereabouts had a bag
of peanuts which she offered to two little playmates and also to their
mother who was sitting near by. Seeing that she did not offer her
governess some peanuts, the woman inquired, "Why don't you offer Miss
Taylor some?" To which the youngster immediately replied, "Oh, she's only
This is the result of wrong principle in the home. No child is born a
snob. No child is born haughty and arrogant. It is the home environment
and the precedent of the parents that makes such vain, unkind little
children as the one mentioned above. It is actually unfair to the young
children in the home to set the wrong example by being discourteous to
the servants. They will only have to fight, later, to conquer the petty
snobbishness that stands between them and their entrance into good
THE INVISIBLE BARRIER
In the sixteenth century French women servants were arrested and placed
in prison for wearing clothes similar to those worn by their "superiors"
It developed that they had made the garments themselves, copying them
from the original models, sometimes sitting up all night to finish the
garment. But the court ruled that it made no difference whether they had
made them themselves or not; they had worn clothes like their
mistresses', and they must be punished! We very much wiser people of the
twentieth century smile when we read of these ridiculous edicts of a
long-ago court, but we placidly continue to condemn the shop-girl and the
working-girl if she dares to imitate Parisienne importations.
It is very often the same in the household. We ridicule the "class
systems" of other countries, yet we deliberately build up a barrier
between ourselves and those who work for us. Perhaps there must be some
such barrier to keep the social equilibrium; but is there any reason why
it should be unkind and discourteous?
The mistress should not, of course, confide in her servants, gossip with
them, discuss her affairs with them, enter their quarrels and take sides
with them. But she can be cheerful, polite, considerate; and invariably
she will find that this kind of treatment will bring an immediate
response even from the most sullen servant,
WHEN THE SERVANT SPEAKS
In answering the mistress or master of the household, it is customary for
the servant to say, "Yes, madam," or, "Yes, Sir." Old servants, who have
been for many years in the employ of the same people, may omit the
"madam" and use the name, in this manner--"Yes, Mrs. Brown." Such
slovenly expressions as "No'm" or "Yessir" show lack of good training on
the part of the servant, and poor judgment on the part of the mistress.
Brevity and civility are the two most important virtues of the speech of
the man or maid servant who answers inquiries at the door, admits guests
and takes messages. In the latter case, when a servant takes a message
for one of the members of the household, a polite "Thank you, madam" is
essential. If there is a doubt as to whether or not the hostess is at
home, the well-trained servant admits the visitor, asks her to have a
seat, and says, "I will inquire." He returns to say either that Madam
is not at home, or that she will be down directly. When announcing
guests, the butler should ask, "What name, please?" not in the
indifferent, sing-song manner so characteristic of butlers, but in a
cordial, polite tone of voice, and with a genial smile. Having been
given the names of the visitors, he announces them in clear, distinct
tones. These announcements are made while the guests are entering the
drawing room. A mother and two daughters are announced as: "Mrs.
Smith, the Misses Smith." If the given names of the young ladies are
called, the form of announcement is: "Mrs. Smith, Miss Smith, Miss Alice
Smith," the eldest daughter of a family being given the privilege to use
the title "Miss Smith." In announcing a gentleman and his son, the
butler says: "Mr. Blank, Mr. Francis Blank."
THE SERVANTS OF A BIG HOUSE
The small household must choose servants according to convenience and
requirements. Where there are three or four grown-up daughters and the
home is a small one, one maid and one butler are sufficient. But in a
very large house with numerous rooms, where many social functions are
held and many house parties are given by the hostess a full corps of
servants is required. Each one should have certain, definite tasks to
perform every day. In the luxurious American home, seven servants are
usually employed. They are a butler, a chauffeur, a parlor maid, a cook,
a laundress, a nurse-maid and a chambermaid. A lady's maid and a valet
are sometimes added. A footman, laundry-maid and scullery-maid are also
added, sometimes, to the corps of servants. But this list may be
increased or diminished according to the requirements of the individual
family. For instance, a second-man may be placed underthe direction of
the butler; a gardener and his assistants may be charged with the care of
the environs; while grooms may be employed to care for the horses in the
stables. But usually these additional servants are the luxuries of the
extremely wealthy and should hot be indulged in by those who cannot
afford them. In the home where there are several men servants and
several women servants, it is the best plan for the wife to supervise the
duties and responsibilities of the women, leaving the men to be directed
by her husband. It is important, though, for the mistress of the house
not to give counter commands to servants who are under her husband's
supervision, for this may cause a friction that is not conducive to the
best service on the part of the help.
The duties of the butler confine him to the drawing-room and dining-room.
The dining-room, however, is his particular domain; he sees that
everything is in order, that the table is laid correctly, the lighting
effect satisfactory, the flowers arranged, and in short that the room and
appointments are in perfect readiness for a punctual meal. In this work
a parlor maid assists him by sweeping and dusting, and a pantry-maid
helps him by keeping everything immaculate and in readiness in the
pantry. The butler serves at breakfast, luncheon and dinner.
Where there is a second-man, he may assist the butler with the serving
at dinner; and at large entertainments the maid who assists in the pantry
may also be requested to serve. The butler also is in charge of the
afternoon-tea duties, in homes where this custom prevails. He brings in
the tray, arranges it for the hostess and sees that everyone is served.
Where there are only a few servants, the butler may be expected to help
with the dishes, polish the silver and assist in the pantry. But if
there are maid servants, and a second-man to do the heavier work, then he
is expected to serve in a small measure as the valet for the master of
the house. He lays out his evening clothes, brushes and presses the
garments worn in the morning, and draws his bath. Sometimes, when his
domestic duties are very light, the butler is requested to serve as
footman to the mistress when she goes riding in the afternoon. An
important duty of the butler is to answer the door bell whenever it
rings. He must see that the front door and the hall is in order and
well-swept, and that the drawing-room door is locked every night after
the family has retired. A great deal of the comfort and pleasure of the
family depends upon the manner in which the butler attends to his duties.
CORRECT DRESS FOR THE BUTLER
Neatness of attire is extremely important. The butler should be
clean-shaven, and he should not fail to be fresh-shaven every day. His
hair should not be closely cropped, but cut loosely, and it should be
well-brushed at all times. Well-kept nails are, of course, very
important not only for the butler but for anyone who serves at the table
or has anything to do with the food. As nearly as possible, the butler's
costume should parallel the following description, but each passing
season finds some minor detail slightly changed, and each new season
finds a slight variation from the costume of the season before. So the
best thing to do is to find out definitely from a reliable clothier or
from the men's furnishing department of a large department store, just
what the butler's costume of the present time consists of. Ordinarily,
the butler wears white linen in the morning, with black or dark gray
trousers, a black waistcoast that buttons high, and a swallow-tail coat.
It is also permissible for him to wear a short roundtail coat in the
morning hours; it is similar to the gentleman's tailless evening coat,
but it is not faced with silk. A black or dark tie and black shoes
complete the outfit, which is worn until after the midday meal. If
guests are to be entertained at luncheon, the butler wears his afternoon
and evening livery. Otherwise he dons it only after luncheon or about
three o'clock in the afternoon. It consists of complete black evening
dress similar in cut and style to that worn by gentlemen. There are no
braidings or facings, though the material of the suit may be every whit
as excellent in quality as that worn by the master of the house. The
butler does not wear a white waistcoat, a watch chain, or jeweled studs
with his after noon or evening livery. Nor may he wear a boutonniere or
an assertive tie or patent leather shoes. And it is extremely bad taste
for him to use perfume of any kind. He wears white linen with plain
white studs in the shirt front, a standing collar, white lawn tie and
plain black shoes. His watch is slipped into his waistcoast pocket
without chain or fob. White gloves are no longer the custom for men
servants in the private home. When acting as footman to his mistress in
the afternoon, the butler wears the livery described for the second man.
In cold weather he is supplied with a long footman's coat; and he is also
supplied with a top hat and gloves, all matching in color and style those
worn by the chauffeur.
THE SECOND MAN
The second man may be employed exclusively for the house, or he may be
employed solely to serve as footman, sitting next to the chauffeur when
the mistress is motoring. In the latter case he wears the regular livery
matching that worn by the chauffeur. But usually a second man is expected
to help in the house besides serving as footman, He assists the butler by
answering the door bell whenever the other is busy or occupied elsewhere.
He washes dishes and windows and polishes the silver. He tends to the
open fireplace in winter, and to the arranging of the flowers in the
summer. The veranda, front steps and courtyard are also in his care.
And when there are guests for dinner, or at a large entertainment, he
helps serve at the table. The livery of the second man is the same
indoors all day; he does not change for the evening. It consists of coat
and trousers of one solid color determined by the heads of the house. It
is usually a very dark green, brown, gray or blue, and the outside edge
of the trouser leg is piped in some contrasting color. The coat is
usually swallowtail in cut, and is ornamented with brass or silver
buttons on the tails, on the cuffs and down the front. Lately this vogue
of the brass and silver button is disappearing. The color worn by the
second man should be the predominating color worn by all the other
liveried servants in the household. It is certainly not good form to
have the chauffeur wear one color of livery, and the footman next to him
wear livery of an entirely different color and cut. With his livery
described above, the second man wears a waistcoat of Valencia, striped in
the two colors that appear on the coat and trousers. It is usually cut V
shape, disclosing white linen in which are fastened two plain white
studs, a standing collar, and a white lawn tie. When he serves as
footman, the second man may either be requested to don complete car
livery, or he may wear a long footman's overcoat; top hat and gloves over
his house livery. A clean shaven face and well-brushed, close-clipped
hair are pleasing characteristics of the second man. Untidiness, ill-
kept hands and nails, and the use of jewelry or perfume should not be
tolerated in the second man, whether be serves only as footman, or in the
house. When he helps the butler at the dinner table, he should be
especially immaculate in appearance.
The gallant coachman of a decade ago has given way to the chauffeur of
to-day. But we find that his livery is no less important. It is governed
by a very definite convention. In winter, for instance, the chauffeur
wears long trousers of melton or kersey or similar material and a
double-breasted greatcoat of the same material. The collar and cuffs may
be of a contrasting color or of the same color as the rest of the
material. He wears a flat cap with a stiff visor and a band of the same
contrasting color that appears on the collar and cuffs of the coat. Dark
gloves and shoes are worn. Sometimes, instead of long trousers, the
chauffeur wears knee-trousers with leather leggings. It desired, a
double row of brass, silver or polished horn buttons may decorate the
front of the greatcoat, but this must be determined by the prevailing
custom. If the weather is extremely cold, the chauffeur should be
provided with a long coat of goat or wolf-skin, or some other suitable
protection against the cold and wind. During the summer months, the
chauffeur usually wears gray or brown cords, developed in the
conventional style. His cap and gloves match.
DUTIES OF THE CHAUFFEUR
The complete care of the car or cars devolves upon the chauffeur. He
must see that it is always spotless and shining, that it is in good
condition and will not break down during a trip, and that it is in
readiness whenever the owners want to use it. When the mistress goes
motoring, the chauffeur stands at the door of the car until she enters,
arranges the robes and sees that she is comfortable before taking his own
place. Upon receiving her orders, he touches the rim of his cap. It is
not necessary, however, upon reaching the destination for the chauffeur
to descend and open the door for his mistress. His place is at the wheel
and that is where he remains. But if there is a second man to assist the
chauffeur, who accompanies him on every trip as a motor footman, he
should descend and stand at attention while the mistress emerges from the
car. The footman dresses like the chauffeur. He leaves cards when the
mistress makes her social calls, and he rings house bells for her. He is
also expected to be useful in performing personal service for the
masculine members of the household. Very often it happens that a
tourist, instead of hiring a car and chauffeur when he reaches a strange
country, desires to take his own car and chauffeur with him. He must be
sure to arrange beforehand to have the man admitted to the foreign
country, for negligence may cause him much delay and trouble when he
reaches the borderline. He must also arrange for the sleeping and eating
facilities of his chauffeur when they stop for a day or two in a town or
village. It is not right to expect him to eat with the servants, nor
will he wish to eat at the same table with his employer. It is wisest to
give him an allowance and permit him to eat and sleep where he pleases.
The business of the valet is to attend to all the comforts and desires of
the master of the house. He takes no part in the general housework,
except in an emergency. The valet does not wear livery. Indoors, in the
evening and during the day, he wears dark gray or black trousers, white
linen, a high-buttoned black waistcoat and a plain black swallow-tailed
coat or one cut with short rounded tails. He wears a dark tie and dull
leather shoes. He may also wear an inconspicuous pin in his tie and
simple cuff-links; but a display of jewelry is not permissible. It may
happen that a butler is ill or called away, or that there is a shortage
of servants during a large entertainment. In this case the valet may be
called upon to serve as a butler, and he then wears complete butler's
dress, with the long-tailed coat. When traveling with his employer, the
valet wears an inconspicuous morning suit of dark gray, brown or blue
tweed in the conventional style. He completes this outfit with a black
or brown derby hat and black leather shoes. The duties of the valet are
as follows: he brushes, presses, cleans, packs or lays out the clothes of
his employer, draws the water for his bath, and assists him to dress. He
keeps his wardrobe in order and packs and un-packs his trunks whenever he
is traveling. He does all his errands, buys his railway and steamship
tickets, pays his bills, and carries his hand-luggage when they are
traveling together. Sometimes he shaves him, orders his clothes, and
writes his business letters. But these duties are expected only of
accomplished valets. He does not, however, make the bed or sweep or dust
his employer's room.
The page is a very convenient servant to have when there is no second-man
or when there are no men-servants at all. His duties are many and
varied. He runs errands for everyone in the house, assists the
parlor-maid, looks after the open fire places and opens the door to
callers. Sometimes he even serves as a sort of miniature footman,
sitting next to the chauffeur in complete footman livery. The livery for
the page boy is the same during the day and evening. It is a simple,
neat coat and trousers of dark cloth piped with the contrasting livery
color of the family in which he serves. The coat fits the body snugly,
and ends at the waistline except for a slight point at back and front.
Metal buttons set as closely together as possible fasten the coat from
top to bottom. The trousers are piped or braided in the contrasting
color down the outside of the leg. White linen should show at the wrists
and above the high collar of the coat, but there should be no tie. Black
calf skin shoes complete the outfit, and when the page is out of doors,
he wears a round cap to match his suit. The bullet-shaped metal buttons
down the front of the coat, and three of the same buttons sewed on the
outside seam of the cuffs, have earned for the page the rather
appropriate name of "Buttons."
Whether there is only one maid-servant in the house, or many, their
duties should be clearly defined and understood. It is the only way to
avoid quarreling and misunderstanding among the servants themselves. Let
each one understand from the very first day he begins work just what his
duties are. In this case as in many another an ounce of prevention is
worth a pound of cure. If there are quarrels among the servants the
mistress should not interfere nor take sides. If possible she should
remove the cause of the friction, and for a serious fault she should
discharge the one that is causing the disturbance.
The services of the waitress are confined to the drawing-room floor. She
serves breakfast, luncheon and dinner, and afternoon tea where it is the
custom. This is assuming, however, that there is no butler in the home.
In this case she attends to all the other duties that would ordinarily
fall upon him. She answers the doorbell, polishes the silver, helps with
the washing of the dishes and sees that the table is correctly laid for
The parlor maid is a luxury enjoyed only by families of great wealth.
She is expected to devote her time and attention wholly to the
drawing-room and dining-room, assisting the waitress in the pantry and
keeping the library and drawing-room in order. But in the average
comfortable home of America there are usually only two maids, a housemaid
and a waitress (with perhaps the additional services of a cook) and these
two maids have the care of the dining, living and bedrooms divided
The dress of the house-maids is very much alike. The waitress, or parlor
maid, wears a plain, light-colored dress in the morning with a rather
large apron, and a small white cap. The chambermaid's costume is very
much the same. In the afternoon the parlor maid or waitress changes to a
black serge dress in winter, or a black poplin in summer, with white
linen cuffs and collars and a small white apron. [The costumes for
maid-servants change frequently, only in slight details, but enough to
warrant specific research at the time the servant is outfitted. A large
department store, or a. store devoted exclusively to the liveries of
servants, will be able to tell you exactly the correct costumes for
maid-servants at the present time. Or you may find the desired
information in a current housekeeping magazine.]
The maid-servants never wear jewelry or other finery while they are on
duty. One very simple brooch, or perhaps a pair of cuff links, is
permissible; but bracelets, rings and neck ornaments are in bad taste.
Elaborate dressing of the hair should also be avoided, and careless,
untidy dressing should never be countenanced.
The lady's maid does not take part in the general housework. Her duties
are solely to care for the wardrobe of her mistress, to assist her at her
toilette, to draw her bath, to lay out her clothes and keep her room
tidy. But she does not sweep or dust the room or make the bed--these are
the duties of the chamber-maid. If she is an accomplished maid she will
probably do a great deal of sewing, and perhaps she will massage her
mistress' hair and manicure her nails. But these duties are not to he
expected; the mistress who finds her maid is willing to do these things
for her, is indeed fortunate.
A black dress in winter, and a black skirt and waist in summer, worn with
a small, dainty white apron comprises the costume of the lady's maid.
Stiff white cuffs and collar add a touch of prim neatness which is most
desirable. At the present tune, the tiny white cap formerly worn by
lady's maids has been almost entirely dispensed with.
When traveling with her mistress, the lady's maid should wear only very
simple and inconspicuous clothes. A tweed suit worn with a neat blouse,
or a tweed coat worn over a simple dress, is the best form. Anything
gaudy or elaborate worn by a lady's maid is frowned upon by polite
The nurse-maid should be very particular about her dress. She should
always be faultlessly attired, her hair neat and well-brushed, her
entire appearance displaying a tidy cleanliness.
In the house the nurse-maid wears a simple dress of wool or heavy
material with a white apron and white collar and cuffs. In warmer weather
she wears linen or poplin with the apron and collar and cuffs. Outdoors,
she wears a long full cloak over her house dress.
DUTIES OF HOUSEMAID
The cook, who is always dressed spotlessly in white, does nothing outside
the kitchen unless special arrangements have been made to the contrary.
She keeps the kitchen tidy and clean, cooks the meals, helps with the
dishes and perhaps attends to the furnace.
The waitress opens and airs the living-rooms, dusts the rooms and gets
everything in readiness for breakfast. It is customary to excuse her as
soon as the principal part of the breakfast has been served, so that she
may attend to her chamber-work and be ready to come down to her breakfast
by the time the family has finished. However, before she goes to her own
breakfast, she is expected to clear the dining-room table and take the
dishes into the kitchen.
If the waitress does not help with the chamber-work, this duty falls
entirely upon the chamber-maid. She must make the beds, sweep and dust
the bedrooms, and keep them immaculate. The mistress should inspect the
chamber-work occasionally for servants must not be permitted to feel that
carelessness in details will be overlooked And the mistress should also
take care of her own linen closet, unless she has a very trustworthy and
competent servant; for linens should be worn alike, and not some worn
constantly and others allowed to lie forgotten in corner of the closet.
A good servant--and by "good" we mean a man or woman who goes about
duties cheerfully, is respectful and willing, who is neat, well-mannered
and well-trained must be treated in the right manner if he or she is to
remain such. There are so many blunders the mistress can make, so many
mistakes that bring the wrong response from those who are temporarily a
part of her household.
For instance, a haughty, arrogant manner towards a servant who is
sensitive will by no means encourage that servant to do his or her best
work. And on the other hand, a servile manner towards a good servant one
is afraid of losing, encourages that servant to take liberties and become
It is as difficult to be a good mistress as it is to be a good servant.
Both duties require a keen understanding and appreciation of human
nature, a kindliness of spirit and a desire to be helpful. Both the
servant and the mistress have their trials and troubles, but they should
remember that it is only through mutual helpfulness and consideration, an
exacting attention to duties and responsibilities, a wise supervision and
a faithful service, that harmony and happiness can be reached in the
home. And both should bear in mind that this harmony and happiness is
something worth-while striving for, something worth-while being patient
and persistent for.
There is an old proverb which literally translated means, "By the servant
the master is known." It is a good proverb for both the servant and the
mistress to remember.
ABOUT THE AMERICAN HOSTESS
The greatest pride of the American hostess is her formal dinner. And it
is to her credit that we mention that she can hold her own against the
most aristocratic families of Europe.
There is a story told of a well-known New York society matron who gave a
formal dinner party on every occasion that warranted it, no matter how
trivial, for the reason that it gave her keen pleasure and enjoyment to
do so. At one of her dinners recently a famous world-touring lecturer
was the guest of honor--and the hostess was as happy and proud as it is
possible for a hostess to be. Especially was she proud of the delectable
menu she had ordered prepared for the occasion.
But much to her chagrin, she noticed that her distinguished guest was not
eating the tempting hot dishes--only the vegetables, and relishes and
fruits. She did not wish to appear rude, but she could not wait until
dinner was over before asking him why he was not eating. "I am a
vegetarian," he answered, "and I never indulge in meats."
The hostess-of-many-dinners had an inspiration. Here was an opportunity
to give a unique dinner-and nothing could be more delightful for her. A
week later, she sent out invitations to all her friends requesting their
presence at another formal dinner to be held in honor of the visiting
lecturer. This time it was a vegetarian dinner. Suffice to say that it
was a huge success.
Such is the hospitality of our American hostesses that they will concede
to every whim and desire of their guests. They must be pleased at all
costs. The dinner is not a success unless each guest leaves a little
happier than when he came and incidentally a little better pleased with
the person who happens to be giving the dinner.
PLANNING THE FORMAL DINNER
First in importance, of course, is when shall the formal dinner be held?
Any evening of the week may be selected--although Sunday is rarely
chosen. The hour is usually between seven and eight o'clock.
Invitations should be mailed a week or ten days before the date set for
the dinner. The hostess may use her own judgment in deciding whether the
invitations should be engraved on cards, or hand-written on note paper.
The former is preferred for an elaborate dinner, the latter for a small
It must be remembered in inviting guests to dinner, that it is a breach
of etiquette to invite a wife without her husband, or the opposite. A
married couple must always be invited together. If there are other
members of the family who are desired as guests at the dinner, separate
invitations must be sent to them. A dinner card is always addressed to a
husband and wife, and individually to single persons.
For the convenience of the host, it is a point of courtesy for every
recipient of an invitation to dinner, to answer promptly. A good rule is
to decide immediately upon receiving it whether or not you will be able
to attend, and follow it with a cordial answer within the next
twenty-four hours. If you find that you must refuse, there must be a
very good reason for doing so.
In planning the dinner party, the hostess must go over her list of
friends and carefully select six or eight who would naturally be most
congenial together. The number may even be as low as four, and while
there can be no absolute limit to the number one may invite, there must
never be more than the hostess can handle easily. If the guests are
chosen carefully, with a regard for their likes and dislikes, the dinner
is bound to be a happy one.
ARRANGING THE TABLE
To set the formal dinner table correctly is an art in itself.
The appointments of the modern dinner table are a delight. Services are
of silver and china is of the finest. Both the square or round table are
appropriate, the latter being the most popular since it is easier to make
attractive. A mat of asbestos or a thickness of canton flannel is first
spread on the table. Over this comes the snowy, linen table-cover,
falling gracefully over the sides with the four points almost touching
the floor. A place is laid for each guest. The most fashionable method
is to have a large lace or embroidered doily in the center of the table,
and smaller ones indicating the position of the guests. A centerpiece of
glass, china, silver, is usually used, over the doily or without it, and
on top of this, flowers. Delicate ferns are sometimes used instead of
flowers, although roses (hot-house roses when no others are obtainable)
are always the favorite at an elaborate dinner.
STARTING AT THE CENTER
When the center ornament has been adjusted, it may be used as a
mathematical base for all the rest of the table appointments.
Candlesticks, either of silver or bronze, are artistic when placed at
equal distance around the flowers. They diffuse a soft light upon the
table, and by being an incentive to the recalling of old memories, they
invoke conversation when there is danger of its lagging. It is one of
the charms of candlelight--thus power to bring up pleasant reminiscences.
Between these stately guardians of the floral centerpiece may be placed
small dishes containing preserved ginger, macaroons or bon-bons.
Salt-cellars and pepper-boxes are next located on the table, and the
places are laid for the guests. The proper number of forks is placed to
the left. The knives and spoons are placed at the right. They are
placed in the order in which they are to be used. Not more than three
forks should ever appear on the table at one time. If others are needed
they should be placed with their respective courses. A small square of
bread, or a roll, is in the center, covered with the folded napkin, and a
little to the left are the several glasses.
Care must be taken in arranging the dinner table to have both sides
balanced. There is an old maxim that says, "There must be a use for
everything" and this holds especially true of the table of good taste.
It must not be littered with useless articles, no matter how artistic or
odd, for they hamper the movements of the guests and make things
unnecessarily crowded. Butter rarely appears on the table at the formal
dinner; and condiments are brought in by the servant only as they are
SOME IMPORTANT DETAILS
Menu-cards are no longer used at the formal dinner, unless it is in
celebration of some auspicious occasion and honored guests are present.
In this case, the hostess has the menus printed or engraved in a delicate
script and has one placed beside the plate of each guest. A favorite
fashion is to have them printed in French. Sometimes one of these cards
serves for two guests, although the hostess who takes a pride in her
dinners will provide each guest with one, as it serves as an appropriate
souvenir of the occasion.
The lighting effect of the dining-room is important. Instead of the
candles on the table there may be an electric cluster high above the
table, or small candle-power electric lights on the walls. These latter
produce a soft effect which is most pleasing. Glaring lights of any kind
should be avoided. Candles and electric lights should never be used in
There is nothing more conducive to thorough enjoyment of an evening, to
the thorough enjoyment of a menu, than when table and appointments are
perfect and artistically simple. The hostess should give as much time
and thought to the preparation and arrangement of the table, as she does
to the planning of the menu. She will find that her guests will
appreciate novel lighting effects, surprising color tones, unusual
serving innovations. And she will find that a correctly laid table will
add surprisingly to the entire success of her dinner party.
The importance of correct table etiquette cannot be over-emphasized.
Nothing is more vulgar, than clumsy, awkward movements at the table, and
it is certainly a sign of ill-breeding deliberately to fail to act in
accordance with the rules of table etiquette. The rules of dinner
etiquette should be studied carefully and just as carefully followed, if
one wishes to be--and everyone does--a lady or a gentleman.
Perhaps the most important thing is one's bearing at table. Very often
you see a seemingly cultured gentleman in a hotel dining-room or
restaurant playing with the table silver or absent-mindedly clinking
glasses together. This may be overlooked in the restaurant, but at a
formal dinner it is essentially bad form. When the hands are not being
used, they should rest quietly in the lap--never should the elbows be
rested on the table. The chair should be neither too near nor too far
from the table; both are ungraceful and awkward.
The dinner napkin is from twenty to twenty-four inches across. It is
folded square unless the table is somewhat crowded, when it may be folded
diagonally (after having been folded square) so as to give more space
around the board. If the napkins are monogrammed the monogram should be
placed so as to be in plain view.
At a formal dinner the first course is on the table when the guests enter
the dining-room. It consists of oysters, a canape, a fruit cocktail,
grapefruit or something else of the same kind. Oysters on the half-shell
are served bedded in crushed ice in a soup plate. This is placed on the
service plate. A cocktail is served in a cocktail glass which is placed
on a doily-covered plate which in turn is placed on the service plate.
The silver for the first course may be on the table beside the soup spoon
or it may be served with the course.
The waiter removes the first course entirely before the soup is placed.
He stands at the left of each guest and removes the plates with his left
hand. The soup in soup plates (not in a tureen) is placed on the service
plates and when this course is over service plates as well as soup plates
are removed and the entree is served. If the plates for it are empty
they are placed with the right hand but if the entree is already on them
they are placed with the left. If empty plates are supplied the waiter
passes the entree on a platter held on a folded napkin on his left hand,
using his right hand to help balance it. Each guest serves himself.
At the conclusion of this course the plates are removed and empty warm
plates placed for the meat course. The meat should be carved before it
is brought to the table and after the waiter has served each person he
serves the vegetables. If there is only one waiter it is more convenient
to have the vegetables placed on the table in large vegetable dishes from
which each guest serves himself. After the vegetables have gone around
once they are removed but they may be passed once or twice again before
the conclusion of the meal.
The salad follows. It may be served on each plate (and this is surely
the more artistic way) or it may be served from a platter. After the
salad the table is cleared of all plates that have been in use, of salt
and pepper shakers or cellars and is crumbed before the dessert is
Usually the dessert which is nearly always ice-cream or something else
frozen is served in individual dishes. Small cakes are passed with it.
Other desserts besides ice-cream are served in much the same way.
When the dessert has been removed, finger-bowls half filled with water
and placed on a small doily-covered plate are set before each person.
Coffee may be served at the table but it is more often served in the
USE OF THE NAPKIN
What can be more unsightly than a napkin tucked carefully in the top of
one's waistcoat? And still, how often one sees it done among men who
believe that they are impressively well-bred! The proper way to use a
napkin, whether it is at a formal dinner, or in a restaurant, is to
unfold it only half, leaving the center fold as it is, and lay it across
the knees. It may be used constantly during the meal, whenever the guest
finds need for it, but it must never be completely unfolded.
When rising from the table, the napkin is placed as it is on the table.
It is never folded again into its original form, as that would be an
assumption on the part of the guest that the hostess would use it again
before laundering. A reprehensible habit is to drop the napkin
carelessly into the finger-bowl, or over the coffee cup. It should be
laid on the table, at the right of the finger-bowl.
THE SPOON AT THE DINNER TABLE
Spoons are used when eating grapefruit and other fruits served with
cream. Jellies, puddings, custards, porridges, preserves and boiled eggs
are always eaten with spoons. Also, of course, soup, bouillon, coffee
and tea. In the case of the three latter beverages, however; the spoon
is used only to stir them once or twice and to taste them to see that
they are of the desired temperature. It is never allowed to stand in the
cup while the beverage is being drunk. Nor is it permissible to draw up
a spoonful of soup or coffee and blow upon it; one must wait until it is
sufficiently cooled of itself. In taking soup, the correct way to use
the spoon is to dip it with an outward motion instead of drawing it
towards one. The soup is then imbibed from the side, not the end.
THE FORK AND KNIFE
In using the fork and knife, one can display a pleasing grace, or just
the opposite--awkward clumsiness. It depends entirely upon how well one
knows and follows the correct rules. The first rule to be remembered is
that a knife is never used for any other purpose than cutting food. It
is unforgiveable to use a knife to convey food to the mouth--
unforgiveable and vulgar. The knife is held in the right hand and
the fork in the left. When the desired morsel of food is cut, the knife
is laid aside temporarily and the fork is shifted to the right hand.
The knife and fork should never be held in the same hand together, and
when not being used, one or both of the utensils should rest on the
plate. They should never be allowed to rest against the edge of the
plate with the handles on the table; when one is through with both the
knife and fork, they should be placed entirely on the plate, their tips
touching at the center, their handles resting against the edge. They are
never placed back again on the table.
The foods eaten with the fork are meats, vegetables, fish, salads,
oysters and clams, lobster, ices, frozen puddings and melons. Hearts of
lettuce and lettuce leaves are folded up with the fork and conveyed uncut
to the mouth. If the leaves are too large to be folded conveniently,
they may be cut with the blunt edge of the fork--never with a knife.
Various foods are eaten with the fingers instead of fork or spoon.
Bread, for instance, is never cut but always broken into small pieces and
lifted to the mouth with the fingers. Butter is seldom provided at the
formal dinner, but if it is, each little piece of bread is buttered
individually just before it is eaten. Crackers and cake are eaten in the
same way; although some cakes and pastries are eaten with the fork.
Those that can be eaten daintily with the fingers such as macaroons,
lady-fingers, cookies, etc., should be eaten so while layer cake and
elaborate pastries should be eaten with the fork.
Corn on the cob is without a doubt one of the most difficult foods to eat
gracefully. And yet it is too delicious to forego the pleasure of eating
it at all. It is entirely permissible to use the fingers in eating corn,
holding it lightly at each end; sometimes a napkin is used in holding it.
Many a foresighted hostess, when serving corn on the cob, provides each
guest with a short, keen, steel-bladed knife with which the kernels may
be cut from the cob easily. This is by far the most satisfactory method.
French artichokes are also difficult to eat. The proper way is to break
them apart, leaf by leaf, dip the tips in the sauce and lift them to the
mouth with the fingers. The heart is cut and eaten with a fork.
Lobster claws may be pulled apart with the fingers. Shrimps also, when
served whole in their shells, may be separated, peeled and eaten with the
fingers. Fruits such as oranges, apples, grapes, peaches and plums are
all eaten with the fingers. Celery, radishes and olives are similarly
eaten. Sometimes there are other relishes on the dinner table, and the
guest must use his common sense to determine whether they are eaten with
the fork or fingers. Bonbons, of course, are always eaten with the
Whenever fruits are served the finger-bowl should follow. It is always
used at the completion of the dinner. The bowl is half filled with tepid
water and set upon a plate. A fragrant leaf may be added to the water.
The fingers are dipped lightly into the bowl, one hand at a time, and
then dried on the napkin. It is a mark of ill breeding to splash the
water about, to put both hands into the bowl at once, or to wet the
entire palm of the hand. Only the finger tips should touch the water.
"Accidents will happen"--at the dinner table as well as anywhere else.
The duty of the guest and the hostess both is to see that no confusion
and embarrassment follows.
If a spoon or fork or napkin is dropped, the proper thing to do is to
allow the servant to pick it up; the well-trained servant will not return
it, but place it aside and give the guest another one. If a glass or cup
is dropped and broken, embarrassed apologies will not put it together
again, but a word of sincere regret to the hostess will relieve the
awkwardness of the moment, and will be as gratifying to her as profuse
apologies. If the article broken is a valuable one, the guest may
replace it by sending, a day or two later, another one as nearly like it
as possible. A cordial note of regret may accompany it.
Sometimes a cup of coffee or a glass of water is overturned at the table.
This is, of course, a very serious and unpleasant accident, but there is
no necessity in making matters worse by fussing about it and offering
several exaggerated apologies. A simple word or two to the hostess will
suffice; but it is really quite important that one should be careful not
to let an accident of this kind happen too often, otherwise one will soon
acquire the reputation of being a clumsy boor.
There is certainly no reason to feel embarrassed when an accident occurs
at the dinner table that is, of course, if it was not due to
carelessness. It is not the accident itself that will cause the guests
and the hostess to consider one ill-bred, but continued mention of it and
many flustered apologies. "I am sorry" or "How careless of me!" are
sufficient offers of regret--the matter should then be forgotten.
Important indeed are the duties of the hostess, for it is upon her that
the ultimate success of the dinner depends. It is not enough to send out
the invitations, plan a delectable menu and supervise the laying of the
table. She must afford pleasant diversion and entertainment for her
guests from the minute they enter her home until they are ready to leave.
The ideal hostess is the one who can make her guests, one and all, feel
better satisfied with themselves and the world in general when they leave
her home than they did when they arrived.
WHEN THE GUESTS ARRIVE
The duty of receiving and welcoming the guests rests with the host and
hostess. They receive in the drawing-room until fifteen or twenty
minutes after the time mentioned in the invitations. Then, even if there
is still a guest or two missing, it is customary for dinner to be served.
Only on one occasion does this rule vary; if the dinner is being held in
honor of some celebrated guest, it may not be served until he has
The hostess, in inviting her guests, should be sure that there is an
equal number of men and women. Husbands and wives should never be sent
into the dining-room together. The usual order of precedence is as
follows: The host leads with the lady who is to sit at his right; if the
dinner is in honor of a married couple, the host goes in to dinner with
the wife of the honored guest; the hostess ending the "procession" with
that lady's husband. When there are no guests of honor the host takes the
eldest lady present. Usually a lady visiting the house for the first
time is the first to enter the dining-room. If there is one more woman
than men in the party, the customary thing is for the hostess to enter
the dining-room alone after all her guests have entered it. She must
never take the other arm of the last gentleman.
The seating should be arranged by placing cards bearing the names of each
guest next to each plate if the party is a large one. This method may be
pursued if the party is small, though, in this case it is quite possible
for the hostess to indicate gracefully the place where she wishes each
guest to sit. The guests who enter the dining-room together sit side by
side; the hostess always waits until everyone is seated, before she takes
her place and motions that the dinner is to proceed.
When a guest arrives late, the hostess must endeavor to make him feel at
ease and unembarrassed. If the guest is a woman, she rises, greets her
cordially and conducts her to her place without mentioning her lateness.
If it is a man, she merely bows and smiles without rising and immediately
starts a lively discussion or interesting conversation to draw attention
away from the late arrival. In this manner he is put at ease, and the
incident is promptly forgotten.
THE SUCCESSFUL HOSTESS
The hostess must see that all her guests are comfortable and well taken
care of. She must stimulate conversation and help things along by
herself relating amusing little anecdotes or experiences. She must not
introduce any topic, however, that would in the least detail suggest
scandal or gossip.
Nothing is more delightful, at the dinner table, whether formal or
informal, than the interesting little chats between old friends and new
acquaintances. Special musical programs always please dinner guests, and
when held after dinner are usually appreciated. In selecting musical
numbers the hostess should bear in mind the personal likes and dislikes
of her guests. Music during the meal if it is soft enough not to
interfere with conversation is pleasing, though it is not essential. The
musicians should be hidden behind palms.
Happy is she, who, at the conclusion of the formal dinner, can say to
herself that everything was as it should be; that each of the guests had
an enjoyable time; that the entire dinner had been a success. And she
may claim the success of the evening as her own, for it is upon the
hostess that each phase of successful dinner-giving devolves, even when
most of the actual entertaining is done by one or more of the guests.
When Gung-Yee-Far-Choy (the Chinese two-week New Year) comes, our yellow
cousins make their formal visits. It is a time of extreme convention,
and despite the seeming revelry and celebration, the strictest rules are
observed. The calls are made according to the caller's rank. One pays
visits to those superior, receiving in turn those inferior. It is
perplexing to know just how they decide which is superior and which
inferior in each case. Perhaps it is their Oriental instinct.
But the American guest does not have to determine whether he is superior
to his host and hostess--or the opposite. It is already decided for him,
by the laws of etiquette. For the guest at the formal dinner must accord
every respect and honor to his host and hostess not in the servile manner
of the coolie towards the mandarin, of course--but in the captivating and
charming manner that bespeaks the fine lady and gentleman.
COMMENTS ON FOOD
Men and women of cultivation rarely make comments on food except to
praise. It is better to accept a little of each course on one's place
and eat a bit of it although one does not particularly care for it, than
to refuse it entirely. A highly amusing story is related of a guest who
was invited to a formal dinner given by a prominent New York woman who
had gained a reputation for the savory qualities of the soups she served.
On this occasion she was especially proud of her Grun Yung Waa
(Bird's-Nest Soup)--and really, from all reports, it must have been
remarkably delicious. But the guest we are writing about, sniffed at the
soup disdainfully and asked, "Is this some of that new canned soup they
are advertising?" The hostess blushed--as any conscientious hostess
would--and the next time she issued invitations for dinner, she somehow
forgot to include the guest who read the advertisements so diligently.
A guest at a formal dinner should never ask for a second helping of any
dish. This holds equally true for an elaborate luncheon. However, the
host or hostess may offer to provide a second helping to any one of the
guests who has disposed of his first helping. In this case, the guest
may acknowledge it with a smile, or if his appetite is entirely
satisfied, he may refuse it with a polite word of thanks.
To insist, on the part of the host, after the guest has refused a second
helping, is overdoing the bounds of hospitality, and perilously borders
on the verge of incivility.
The hostess must be careful not to apologize profusely for things which
are not as she would like to have them; it is better form completely to
ignore the fact that the salad is not crisp enough or that the entree is
too highly seasoned. The entire time spent at table should be no more
than an hour and a half. An hour is usually sufficient if the courses
are served with expedition. But there must be no semblance of haste.
Good cook books are full of suggestions for delectable menus and for the
order of service. The butler or maid takes complete charge and it is
better to have a less elaborate dinner than to have so many courses that
he or she cannot manage without haste, noise, or confusion. The order of
service depends upon the number of courses. The cook book will help
here, also. Generally speaking, oysters on the half shell buried in ice,
a cocktail, or a fruit cup constitutes the first course. This is
followed by soup, game or fish, a salad, the roast and vegetables,
dessert and coffee.
In presenting the first course the lady at the right of the host is
served first. After that the order is varied so that the same person
will not be served last every time. The butler serves dishes from the
left and removes them from the right. No plates for any course are
removed until everyone has finished. It is not necessary to wait until
everyone is served to begin eating but it is most vulgar to show undue
It is the duty of the butler to keep the glasses filled with water and to
see that nuts, bonbons, etc., are passed frequently.
When fruit is served, the butler places a glass dessert plate on which is
an embroidered doily and finger-bowl, before each guest, and next to it a
small fruit knife. Then the fruits are offered to each guest; and when
the hostess is quite sure that everyone has finished, she makes the sign
for retiring. The usual manner of doing this, is to catch the eye of the
lady who is the partner of her husband for the evening, nod and smile to
her, and they both rise together, followed immediately by the other women
guests. They adjourn to the drawing-room, where coffee is served and
light conversation ensues until the men join them. The latter, in the
meanwhile, remain in the dining-room to smoke their cigars and drink
their coffee. Usually they will leave their original seats and move up
to the end of the table, gathering around the host, whose duty it now is
to entertain them and to keep pleasant conversation going. Fifteen
minutes is an ample time for the gentlemen to smoke and chat by
themselves. Then they are expected to join the ladies in the
Some hostesses like to provide special entertainment for their
guests--professional dancers, elocutionists, or singers. But here
"circumstances must alter cases." As a matter of fact, not very much
entertainment is really required, for if the guests are congenial, they
will no doubt enjoy conversation among themselves. It is, of course, not
necessary to limit one's conversation to the lady or gentleman with whom
one's lot has been cast for the evening. However, special attention
should be paid to that person.
WHEN TO LEAVE
It is only an extremely rude and discourteous guest who will leave
immediately upon the conclusion of the dinner. The correct thing to do,
when invited to a dinner that begins at eight o'clock is to order one's
car to appear at the door at ten-thirty. In most cases, however, when
the guests are brilliant and pleasant, and when conversation holds one in
spite of the desire to leave, it is customary to remain until eleven
o'clock when the party will, no doubt, break up entirely.
In these days of gay festivities and continual hospitalities, it is not
unusual for a popular guest to be invited to two receptions in one
evening. Even this urgent responsibility, however, does not warrant the
guest's hurrying away while the dinner is still serving--though it may be
the last stages. The courteous way is to wait until all the guests have
adjourned to the drawing-room, remain fifteen or twenty minutes
conversing with one's partner or other guests, and then with a fitting
apology and brief explanation, order one's car. If this is followed, the
hostess cannot feel any dissatisfaction or resentment; but the guest who
insists on rushing away, shows ill-breeding and inconsideration.
The lady, whether she be wife, sister or fiancee, is the first to express
a desire to depart. When she does, she and the gentleman will seek out
the host and hostess, thank them cordially for their hospitality, and
take their leave. Here are some accepted forms that may be used with
variations according to the guest's own personality:
"Good-night, Mrs. Carr. I must thank you for a perfectly delightful
To which the hostess will no doubt answer something to this effect:
"We were glad to have you, I'm sure, Mrs. Roberts."
Here is another manner in which to extend one's thanks, and how to accept
"Sorry we must start so soon, Mrs. Carr. Thank you so much for your
"Good-night, Mrs. Roberts. I hope to see you soon again."
It is also very important to bid one's partner for the evening a cordial
good-night. In fact, it is a flagrant breach to leave without having
thanked one's partner--and a gentleman will never do it. A word or two
is all that is necessary.
The hostess, in taking leave of her guests, will gratefully acknowledge
their thanks and say a word or two expressing her pleasure at their
presence. It is not civil or courteous on the part of either host or
hostess to attempt to prolong the presence of any guest after he has made
it known that he wishes to depart.
INVITING A STOP-GAP
If the hostess finds, almost at the last moment, that one of her guests
is unavoidably detained and will not be able to attend the dinner, she
may call upon a friend to take the vacant place. The friend thus invited
should not feel that he or she is playing "second-fiddle" and the fact
that she was not invited at first should not tempt her to refuse the
invitation which would be a serious discourtesy, indeed. Quite on the
contrary, she should accept cordially, and then do her utmost to make her
(or his, as the case may be) presence at the dinner amiable and pleasant.
The invitation is usually in the form of a hand-written note, explaining
the reason for its last-minute arrival, and frankly requesting the
presence of the lady or gentleman in the place of the one who cannot
appear. The answer should be brief but sincere; there must be no hint in
it that the recipient is not altogether pleased with the invitation and
with the idea of dining in someone's else place. To refuse an invitation
to serve as a stop-gap, without an acceptable reason for doing so is an
inexcusable violation of the rules of good breeding.
Of course, it is not always agreeable to the hostess to call on one of
her friends to attend her dinner in the place of someone else; but it is
certainly a better plan than to leave the guest out entirely, and have
one more lady than gentleman, or vice versa. If the note is cordial and
frankly sincere, a good friend will not feel any unreasonable resentment,
but will, in fact, be pleased to serve.
The simple dinner, perfectly achieved, is as admirable a feat as the
elaborate dinner, perfectly achieved. The hostess who has attained the
art of giving perfect dinners, though they are small, may well be proud
of her attainment.
If the cook knows how to cook; if the maid is well trained, and correctly
attired in white cap and apron and black dress; if the table is laid
according to the rules of dinner etiquette; if the welcome is cordial and
the company congenial--the simple dinner may rank with the most
extravagant and elaborate formal dinner. The cover may contain fewer
pieces and the menu may contain fewer courses, the setting may be less
fashionable, though not less harmonious, and still the dinner may be
extremely tempting and enjoyable.
INVITING CONGENIAL GUESTS
Perhaps it is more important to select the guests wisely at a small
informal dinner than it is at a formal one. As there are usually only
four or six guests, they will undoubtedly become well acquainted by the
time the dinner is over, and in order to have agreeable conversation it
is necessary that they be congenial.
In a week or two, one generally forgets just what food was eaten at a
certain dinner--but if the guests were all amiable and pleasing, the
memory of conversation with them will linger and be constantly associated
with the hostess and her home. Many a hostess would be happier (and her
guests, too) if less time were paid to the planning of a menu, and more
time spent in choosing guests who will be happy together.
WHEN THERE ARE NO SERVANTS
There is no reason why lack of servants should prevent one from
entertaining friends and extending one's hospitality. The ideal hostess
is not the one who tries to outdo her neighbor--who attempts, even though
it is beyond her means, to give elaborate dinners that vie favorably with
those given by her neighbors. The simplest dinner has possibilities of
being a huge success, if it is given in the spirit of true cordiality.
For instance, a dinner which the writer attended recently was given by a
young woman who did not have any servants. There were six guests who all
had mutual interests and with very little help from the hostess they were
not long in finding them.
The table was laid for eight. A silver bowl containing delicate ferns
graced the center. The lights were shaded to a soft radiance. The
entire dining-room had an atmosphere of quiet and restfulness about it.
Each guest found, upon taking his place for dinner, a tall fruit glass at
his cover, containing crushed grapefruit and cherries. When this first
course was finished, the hostess placed the glasses on a serving table
and wheeled it into the kitchen. The kitchen adjoined the dining-room,
which of course facilitated matters considerably. And yet it was
sufficiently separated to exclude all unpleasant signs of cooking.
There was no confusion, no haste, no awkward pauses. Somehow, the guests
seemed to forget that maids or butlers were necessary at all. The quiet,
calm poise of the hostess dominated the entire party and everyone felt
contented and at ease.
There was a complete absence of restraint of any kind; conversation
flowed smoothly and naturally, and in the enjoyment of one another's
company, the guests were as happy and satisfied as they would probably
have been at an elaborate formal dinner.
A table service wagon is most useful for the woman who is her own maid.
It stands at the right of the hostess and may be wheeled in and out as
she finds it necessary, though for the informal dinner it should not be
essential to move it once it is in place. In the drawer should be found
one or two extra napkins and extra silver for each course in case of
accident or emergency. The coffee service may be placed on top of the
table with the dishes for the several courses arranged on the shelves of
the table from top to bottom in the order in which they are to be used.
The table should not be too heavily loaded. It is much more useful when
things are "easy to get at."
If your home is small and inconvenient, if you become easily flustered,
if you don't find intense pleasure in making others happy, then don't
invite friends to dinner--and discomfort. But if you are the jolly,
calm, happy sort of a hostess, who can attend to duties quickly and yet
without confusion, if you have a cozy little home and taste enough to
make it attractive--then give dinners by all means--and your guests will
not object to their simplicity.
With the servant problem growing more complex every year, more and more
hostesses are turning to hotels to provide their special dinners. These
cannot rival a successful dinner at home but often they are much easier
to arrange and even the most conservative of hostesses may entertain
dinner guests at a hotel. Private dining-rooms are a luxury but much
more charming than the public room. The latter is, of course, the one
used by the large majority of people.
Most hotels provide comfortable lobbies or lounges in which guests may
wait for each other. But if the hotel is a big one and crowded it is
pleasanter to meet elsewhere and arrive together.
The etiquette of the hotel dining-room is that of the home dining-room.
Nothing should ever be done to draw attention to the group of people who
are dining there. Quiet behavior is more than ever valuable.
DRESS FOR DINNER
For an informal dinner a woman may wear a semi-evening dress of the sort
suitable for afternoon while her partner wears the regular dinner jacket.
For a formal affair formal decollete dress with the hair arranged
somewhat more elaborately than usual is required. Jewels may be worn.
Gloves are always removed, never at a dinner should they be tucked in at
the wrists. Men, of course, wear full evening dress to a formal dinner.
In hotels and other public dining-rooms there is more freedom of choice
as to what one shall wear but it is in bad taste to attire oneself
conspicuously. A woman dining alone should always wear her hat into the
dining-room even if she is a guest of the hotel.
It is amazing how much the little niceties of life have to do with making
a dinner pleasant, and in every home the family should "dress for dinner"
even though this may not mean donning regulation evening dress. Formal
or informal, in the intimacy of the family circle or in a large group of
friends the meal should be unhurried and calm.
PURPOSE OF THE LUNCHEON
In England, and especially in London, the luncheon is held in quite as
high esteem as our most formal dinners. For it is at the luncheon, in
England, that distinguished men and women meet to discuss the important
topics of the moment and exchange opinions. It is indeed easy to
understand why this would be a delightful meal, for there is none of the
restraint and formality of the late dinner. But in America, perhaps
because most all of our gentlemen are at business "down-town" during the
day, perhaps because we disdain to ape England's customs, the luncheon
has not yet reached the point where it rivals the formal dinner. And yet
it holds rather an important place all its own.
The "place" is distinctly feminine. The ladies of America have taken the
luncheon in hand and developed it into a splendid midday entertainment
and means of hospitality. The gentlemen are of course welcome; but they
are rarely present. It is usually among themselves that the ladies
celebrate the ceremony of the luncheon--both formal and informal--and
that it has survived, and is tending to become permanently popular, is
sufficient proof of its success. It is often preceded or followed by
cards or other simple entertainment.
Invitations may be sent only a few days before the day set for the
luncheon, and are usually written in the first person instead of the
third which is the convention for more elaborate functions. The hour of
luncheon is stated, but need not be as rigidly followed as the dinner
hour. If guests are reasonably late they may be excused, but the late
dinner guest is correctly considered discourteous. Lord Houghton, famous
in England's social history, used to word his invitations simply "Come
and lunch with me to-morrow" or "Will you lunch with me Tuesday?" He
rarely mentioned the hour. Incidentally, Lord Houghton's unceremonious
luncheons earned for him widespread comment, and they had much to do with
the ultimate popularity of the informal luncheon in England.
The informal luncheon lost none of its easy congeniality in traveling
across the ocean. There is a certain friendliness that distinguishes
this meal from all others. Sometimes, in fact, the hostess dispenses
with the ceremony of service altogether, and her guests help themselves
from the buffet or side-table. If such is the case, the luncheon
consists of cold meats, ham, tongue, roast beef, etc.; salads, wine
jellies, fruits, cakes, bonbons and coffee. The most usual way, however,
is to serve a more substantial luncheon, retaining just that degree of
dinner formality that is so gratifying to the social sense.
ABOUT THE TABLE
Often the informal luncheon is served on the bare table, making use of
numerous lace or linen doilies instead of the usual table-cloth. (This
does not hold true of the formal luncheon and may not be true even of the
The menu must be appropriate to the season. Tea or coffee are never
served in the drawing-room after the in formal luncheon. If at all, they
are served right at the table at the conclusion of the meal.
The informal luncheon guest never remains long after the luncheon unless
the hostess has provided special amusement. If the luncheon lasts an
hour the guests may sit around and chat with the hostess for about a half
hour; but they must remember that she may have afternoon engagements, and
it would be exceedingly inconsiderate and rude on their part to delay
THE FORMAL LUNCHEON
The formal luncheon is very much like the formal dinner, except that it
is not so substantial as to menu. The table is laid the same, except
that linen doilies are used in preference to table-cloths. The latter
are in good form, however, and it is merely a matter of taste in the
final selection. Then too, there is never any artificial light at a
luncheon, whether it be simple or elaborate.
The formal luncheon usually opens with a first course of fruit--
grapefruit, ordinarily, but sometimes chilled pineapple or fruit
cocktails. When the fruit glasses are removed, bouillon in two-handled
cups is served. Some-times a course of fish follows, but it is really
not essential to the luncheon and most hostesses prefer to omit it. An
entree is next served--chicken, mushrooms, sweetbreads or beef according
to the taste and judgment of the hostess; and usually a vegetable
A light salad, prepared with a regard for harmony with the rest of the
menu, is always acceptable at the luncheon. Desserts may be the same as
those served for dinner, jellies, frozen puddings, ice-cream, tarts,
nuts, etc. It is not customary to retire to the drawing-room for coffee;
it is good form to have it served at the table. If the weather is
tempting, and if the hostess is so inclined, coffee may be served on the
porch. However, these lesser details must be decided by personal taste
It may be taken for granted that the hostess would not give a formal
luncheon if she had afternoon engagements. For that reason, the guests
may stay later than they would at an informal luncheon. Sometimes music
is provided, and often there are recitations and dramatic readings.
Usually the hour set for a ceremonious luncheon is one-thirty o'clock; it
is safe to say, then, that three o'clock or half-past three is ample time
to take one's departure.
THE TABLE FOR THE FORMAL LUNCHEON
The appointments of the formal luncheon table are, as was pointed out
above, almost identical with those of the dinner table.
In the first place, butter may be served with the formal luncheon and
rarely with dinner. Thus we find tiny but ter dishes added at the left
of each luncheon cover. These plates are usually decorative, and
sometimes are made large enough to contain both the bread and butter,
instead of just the butter alone, Another difference, though
slight.-cut-glass platters for nuts and bonbons take the place of the
silver platters of dinner.
Candles are not used; nor is any other artificial light whenever it can
The formal luncheon offers an ideal time for the hostess to display her
finest china, her best silver. It is an occasion when dignity and beauty
combine with easy friendliness to make the event memorable, and the wise
hostess spares no effort in adding those little touches that go so far
towards making any entertainment a success. Menu cards and favors, of
course, are "touches" that belong to the dinner table alone; but flowers,
service and general setting of the dining-room are details that deserve
considerable attention and thought.
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
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
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
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
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