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Abigail Grotke
Silver Spring, MD
email: missabigail at missabigail dot com
twitter: @DearMissAbigail

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Miss Abigail has a collection of over 1,000 classic advice books, spanning from 1822 to 1978 and covering a variety of topics, from love and romance to etiquette and charm. The collection sparked the idea for this site, then a book, Miss Abigail's Guide to Dating, Mating, and Marriage, which has inspired an off-broadway production of the same name!

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Archive for November, 2011

1930: How to Be a Successful [November] Hostess

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

In honor of Thanksgiving week, and since many of you are probably entertaining friends or relatives in the coming days, I thought I’d bring you a bit of advice from a book I picked up while on summer vacation: How to be a Successful Hostess. Published in 1930 and written by Charlotte Clarke and Thelma B. Clarke, the book is subtitled “What every woman should know about entertaining and etiquette.” Still confused about what the the purpose of this book is? Never fear, it opens with a section titled just that (“The Purpose of This Book”):

"To be known as a brilliant entertainer is the sincere wish of each hostess. Beyond measure she covets the high opinion of her friends regarding her ability to carry on social activities in a competent and winning manner.

Always, everywhere, does she want to do the correct thing and say the correct word. She knows that there is a code of etiquette which must be followed; she knows, too, that she must be charming in personality, possess the ability to be pleasing and bright in conversation, and be so well informed as to how to provide entertainment for her guests that they will leave her home wishing the visit had not come to a close and gladly accepting her invitation to “come again.” She fully realizes the embarrassment and the loss of social prestige and standing which follow any incompetency on her part.

The art of entertaining successfully may be cultivated. The object of this volume is to aid the hostess in her endeavor to acquire this art. We have tried, in a clear and understandable way, to present the subjects contained herein so that they will be a source of reference that is at all times helpful and valuable to the woman who takes pride in being a successful hostess and entertainer. "

Chapters include “The Art of Conversation,” “Unexpected Callers,” and “Entertaining the Week-End Guest,” among others. A good chunk of the book (about 90 pages) is devoted to games you can play at your parties. Anyone for a rousing game of “Seeing Snakes” or “Twisted Names,” “Balancing Candy,” “Spearing for Peanuts,” or “Banana Diet”?

But I digress. This is Thanksgiving, after all, so what I meant to share with you are some hints about November parties, from a chapter titled “Menus for Special Occasions.”

"Many hostesses give a Thanksgiving Day Party in honor of those members of the family who have returned home for the holiday.

Mr. Turkey himself, the fellow who has been fed all summer so you might enjoy your Thanksgiving Day mean, is universally accepted as the best centerpiece for the table. If, however, the turkey is already carved, the hostess might substitute an attractive basket of fruit and candies, or flowers would be pleasing an affective.

Any number of favors are obtainable for the Thanksgiving Day meal and the hostess will have little trouble on this score. The place cards may be in the shape of a turkey or pumpkin.

MENUS

Shrimp Cocktail
Stuffed Olives | Sweet Gherkins
Roast Vermont Turkey | Cranberry Sauce
Mashed Potato
Asparagus Tips | Buttered Squash
Alligator Pear Salad
Pumpkin Pie
Hot Mince Pie
Fruits | Nuts | Raisins
Cheese | Toasted Crackers
Coffee

—–

Consommé Vermicelli
Queen Olives | Iced Celery
Roast Vermont Turkey
Cranberry Sauce
Giblet Gravy
Sweet Potato | Baked Potato
Cauliflower | Eggplant
Boston Lettuce, French Dressing
Banana Ice Cream | Tiny Cakes
Fruit | Nuts
Cheese | Crackers
Coffee

—–

Creamed Turkey on Toast
Green Pepper Sandwiches
Tiny Biscuits | Cheese
Mince Pie | Coffee

—–

Fruit Cup
Chicken Cutlets | Potatoes Saratoga
Tomato Salad
Pumpkin Pie | Nuts
Tea "

 

The original owner of my book must not have been much of an entertainer herself ~ she was creative in other ways. The back of the book, meant for the jotting down of favorite recipes, is filled with silly nonsensical poetry. Perhaps an output of one of the games in the book? Or a woman who was pretending to jot down recipes so her family would think she cared, but was instead really writing poetry? That story sounds more entertaining to me.

Happy Thanksgiving, all!