Who is Miss Abigail?

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!


Posts Tagged ‘Halloween’

Hallowe’en Suggestions

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

Hi kids! It’s Halloween time again (or Hallowe’en, if you celebrated this back in 1905). I consulted with Mrs. Herbert B. Linscott’s Bright Ideas for Entertaining to find some fun party tips for you this year. First, some decorating ideas:


Have mirrors everywhere: big mirrors, medium-sized mirrors, and little, wee mirrors, all reflecting and multiplying countless candles that burn in candlesticks of every description (most novel are those made from long-necked gourds and tiny squashes).

Across the top and down the sides of each doorway hang festoons of yellow and white corn and turn the husks back to show the firm, glistening kernels. Each window can be garlanded in like manner as well as the tops of mantels and picture frames. Here and there, in the most unexpected corners, can be placed Jack-o’-lanterns, smiling or gnashing their teeth, amid great shocks of corn. The great hall and stairway can be draped with fish-nets through the meshes or which are thrust many ears of corn. A stately Jack must point the guests up the stairs where two other individuals will usher them to the dressing-rooms.


And now, for some games!


In [a] doorway hang a big pear-shaped pumpkin, on whose shining surfaces all the letters of the alphabet have been burned with a hot poker. Keep this rapidly twirling while the guests, in turn, try to stab some letter with long meat-skewers. The  letter that is hit will establish beyond question the initial letter of one’s fate.

Place in a tub of water red, yellow and green apples. Provide each guest with a toy bow and arrow. The young man or maiden who succeeds in firing an arrow into a red apple will be assured of good health; plenty of money is in store for shooting arrows into yellow ones; and good luck is in store for those hitting the green ones.

Blindfold each girl present and, presenting her with a wand, lead her to a table on which have been placed flags of the different men’s colleges. The flag her wand happens to touch will indicate the college of her future husband.


And finally, the author rounds out the party plan with some food suggestions: “Browning nuts, popping corn, roasting apples, and toasting marshmallows will add a great deal of pleasure to the evening.”  Yum!

For more Halloween tips, visit this earlier post.

Happy Halloween!

It’s Halloween Party Time!

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

which witch is which?Ah, fall is upon us yet again. And what does that mean? After reading these party ideas, get out your costumes, rake the leaves, and carve those pumpkins, because . . .

1948: It’s Halloween Party Time!

Spooky Welcome: The hostess or chairman of the committee should greet the guests one at a time, in order to give them a novel hand-shake. An old glove is stuffed with cotton and a short stick, which is held by the hostess inside a coat-sleeve. When the unsuspecting guest takes hold of the gloved hand extended to greet him it comes off in his grasp.

Ghost Story: Secure a copy of Ellis Parker Butler’s delightful story, “They Ain’t No Ghosts”; and have it narrated by a good speaker, while all lights are extinguished.

Goofy Graveyard: In a room apart from the general festivities arrange a woodland scene, with lights covered with blue paper, and tombstones of white cardboard, having the sides and top folded back about two inches to give the effect of depth, some having curved tops and some being square. The jingles are clearly printed with black crayon. Invite all the guests to stroll through the place, while someone behind the scenes makes sounds of moaning and

Source: Githens, Harry. Everybody’s Party Book. Franklin, Ohio: Eldridge Entertainment House, 1948.
~ pp. 128, 130-31 ~

1963: Spooke Party

Not necessarily for Halloween, you understand, but very appropriate then. Masks are a must, and the best kind for this party is made from a pillowcase with slits cut for eyes, mouth and breathing space ~ very scary with no face marked on at all, possibly very funny if you mark once with felt-tipped ink pens, and very pretty if you add glitter for eye shadow, upholstery fringe for eyelashes, sew on beads for earrings and a necklace. Add a hank of thick black cotton rug yarn and you could be Cleopatra.

Have a cauldron of water bubbling in the fireplace, on a grill or on the kitchen stove to cook frankfurters in, and let each guest spear his own with a long-handled fork or sharpened branch. Relishes, hot-dog rolls, baked beans and other yummies team with the witches’ brew of cider or orange-cranberry punch.

Ghost stories (if you’re low on these, try the library), bobbing for apples carved with the initial of your true love’s first name, and fortunetelling add to the fun. If one of your friends has the gift of fast, comic patter, he might be the fortuneteller; or you might write simple funny predictions in plain old milk on slips of paper and let each guest pass his slip over a candle flame to read the message. (Messages? “You will be asked to baby-sit next Thursday.” “Richie awaits you.” “You will own a basset hound before you are 30.” “There is a cloud in your life at present, but it has a silver lining.” “Within seven years a sports car will be made with your initials on it.” “You will get through high school by the time you are 25.”)

A good game to play is “Which Witch is Which?” Hang a sheet across a doorway, allowing just enough room for feet and ankles to be seen. Each girl appears barefoot ~ one girl at a time. The one who keeps the boys guessing longest is the winner.

Source: Haupt, Enid H. The Seventeen Book of Etiquette & Entertaining. New York: David McKay Company, Inc., 1963.
~ pp. 274-75 ~