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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Entertaining With Elegance "F"

Today I made a concerted effort to tidy my fabrics. I can once again see within a colour group what I may bring together in my projects.
As "F" is for fabric I shall regale you with another excerpt from the book "Entertaining With Elegance" by Genevieve Antoine Dariaux, Chapter F
F is for entertaining Family 
" can organise the service in a simple and informal manner, and unless the guests are very elderly, you can usually get by without professional help. Family-style service generally means that the serving-dishes are passed round the table by the guests.....the hostess need not feel shy about asking one of the children to help serve the dishes and clear the table"
" it is simpler and more elegant to serve coffee and liqueurs from a tray in the living room ....this is one of the rare occasions when it is perfectly permissible to stage a showing of home films after dinner (remember slide nights!!!)
F is for Farewell
"It is a mark of respect for a hostess personally to accompany her guests to the door when they are ready to leave, and she should make a point of doing so with all elderly and distinguished persons...(who should be the first to leave a dinner party). At a cocktail party or a large reception, accompanying each guest is impossible. On these occasions it is the duty of the guests to seek out the hostess in order to express their thanks and adieu."

F is for Films
"The pride and joy of the amateur producers and the bane of the well-bred guests, home films are of interest nine times out of ten only to those who play a role in them and family films only to family members....Before they are fit to be shown....should be properly cut and spliced (love it)...." 
F is for Finger-Bowls
"...are an essential element of a formal dinner service especially whenever you serve a food that is taken into the fingers, such as unshelled shrimp, lobster, clams and oysters on the half shell and artichokes and fresh fruit....finger-bowls are placed on a doily on the dessert  plate, with the dessert fork and spoon on either side. They should be half filled with warm water and garnished with a floating flower petal or a thin slice of lemon or a mint leaf. They are served by the waiter, and each guest places the bowl and it's doily to the upper left of the dessert plate. Crystal finger-bowls are prettiest but they may also be of silver. There is no reason to have a complex about finger-bowls merely because they are unfamiliar to you. They are a highly practical accessory and not an affectation."   
F is for Flowers
an exhaustive subject but here goes:
"Whenever you give a formal dinner, you will probably want to order special flowers.....however it is not elegant to fill every vase in the house with florist bouquets simply because you are having a dinner party. if a guest has sent you flowers before a party. they must be prominently displayed." 

(And for pity sake, take the wrapping off them before arranging in a vase, it is very poor form.) 

"Flowers on the dining table should not be too high or massive, nor too strongly perfumed.....It is easier to form a balanced composition with an odd number of flowers than with an even number."
F is for Funerals
"Because relatives and close friends may come from far away to attend a funeral, it is considerate for the bereaved family to prepare a meal following the ceremony in order to fortify those who have a long journey home....the meal may be a luncheon or a high-tea,....the menu should be comforting rather than gastronomic which would be very poor taste. Wine is not offered as it interjects a certain warmth and cheer into the atmosphere....considered unseemly for the widow and closest members of the bereaved family to be present at the reception and the role of the host is therefore assumed by a more distant relative, while the widow/widower is served in a private room accompanied by a few close family members."
Some things change, some things stay the same. I find it fascinating to look back in this book and read about entertaining standards of 1965.
What about you? Do you still use finger bowls and arrange flowers for the dining table?


  1. I organised my fabrics at the weekend too! Yours look lovely :)
    As for entertaining, no finger bowls for us but there are often flowers from the garden.

  2. Oh oh Tanya - I found this book in amoungt my grandmas stuff that is about Mothercraft by Trudy King in 1934... Oh man I am so glad things have changed!!!

    This book sounds like a good read. Some of the things I still try to do... Though not often we have fresh flowers - I so so like it... I still d the farewell thing. Only polite! As a child I OFTEN had to serve and clear the table... As I was the youngest it totally sucked!

    That is my bit...

  3. What a giggle Tanya.........if I ever need to set the table with finger bowls I've got plenty of doilies to put under them, hehehe............

    Funny thing, I tidied up my fabric stash today as well, it looks so neat and tidy.

    Enjoy your week,

    Claire :}

  4. Great job tidying and sorting those lovely fabrics, Tanya. When we have guests I put out serviettes (sometimes pretty paper ones, other times cloth ones) but hardly anyone ever uses them. They stay folded and unused...Maybe I'm a dinosaur! lol We have finger bowls with lemon floating when we have prawns as part of Christmas eve dinner. :-)

  5. What a great stash you've got there Tanya!

    No finger bowls in this house.

  6. We use cloth napkins, and it's funny to see the varying reactions from guests. Some think we're 'oh so elegant,' while others think it's part of our 'hippy lifestyle.'
    Wait, does punctuation go to the outside of single quotation marks? I know it does on double...


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