Hello! I'm fascinated by the vast amount of entertainment ideas in older cookbooks, so naturally I snapped this up a few days ago at a local thrift store:
The Good Housekeeping Party Book, edited by Dorothy Marsh and Carol Baker. It was published in 1958.
A LOT of information was packed into the 270 pages of party planning, with chapters covering such topics as "Little Luncheons And Dinners", "The Business Couple Entertains", "Come To Tea", "Come For The Weekend", "When The Club Meets" and more. There's three sections on children's birthday parties, divided by age groups. And speaking of clubs, there's even advice on parties hosted by teen clubs and college groups.
And of course, there's advice on preparing for holiday gatherings, showers, Mother's Day, Father's Day, "Bon Voyage", housewarmings, adult birthday parties, and more. It would have been quicker, it seems, to list the days on which no party is necessary!
Some of the party suggestions still sound like they'd work today, 60 years later. For instance, a mother-to-be would probably still enjoy a "Lady-In-Waiting" shower: "Ask guests to bring gifts to glamorize (the mother-to-be) during the last months of waiting, in the hospital and in her first days of parenthood: A bed jacket, a necklace, hair ribbons, nail polish, etc." Invitations were designed to look as from a royal house, and the guest of honor got a corsage too. Sounds like a nice bit of pampering!
So after the "Lady-In-Waiting" has become a mother, then what? Mother's Day, of course! A deluxe breakfast in bed is one possibility: dipped strawberries, sauteed ham, scrambled eggs, hot biscuits and honey, and choice of coffee, tea or cocoa. All this is delivered in a tray, "complete with a rosebud".
Sigh - I've been a mom for 23 years now and have yet to receive a breakfast like that on Mother's Day. But I guess I shouldn't complain about that, as I've never served a big breakfast like that either. My husband and daughter aren't big breakfast eaters. I've treated houseguests to eggs and sausage, but it hadn't occurred to me to fix them biscuits and honey as well. And never a dipped strawberry either (that's just strawberries accompanied by a bowl of powdered sugar).
I like one of the other Mother's Day party suggestions even better than the nice breakfast, though: "A Drive In the Country". For this event, the family drives off to the country after church. "A picnic basket (its contents a mystery to Mother) is stowed in the luggage compartment..." The book goes on to give the menu, which has five eatables and two beverages.
Now, my question is this: how could the rest of the family prepare or bring in all that food and drink in advance without Mom finding out about it? That wouldn't have worked with my mom, and it wouldn't have with me either! But I do like the idea of the surprise picnic lunch.
What about Dear Old Dad? Of course, the Good Housekeeping Party Book has several ideas for Father's Day. One of them is cute, like a party for several dads along with their sons. Thus, dessert is "Initial Apple Pie" (cut initials of each man in piecrust).
However, "Something For The Boys" had me scratching my head. For this party, "Dad's old buddies" have been invited over as a surprise for him. What, they have to give up Father's Day with their families?!
But "A Midnight Raid" sounds just plain sad to me. "Everything goes on as usual on Father's Day, and Dad feels like the forgotten man. When he finally consoles himself with a trip to the refrigerator, he finds on a tray the makings of a Dagwood special". And along with the sandwich fixings, Dad is also left a note telling him where to the find the cake that has been hidden from him.
Poor Dad, feeling forgotten! Maybe his surprise upon learning Father's Day had been remembered after all would have been worth it, but I wouldn't try something like this to find out.
Moms and dads, of course, have those titles because they are parents. So let's not forget their kids! As I'd mentioned, there's three sections on kids' birthday parties. I had to chuckle at the admonishments for simple parties for one-year-olds, like "keep it small". When our daughter turned one, she was part of a playgroup that included five other kids, and the playgroup events were always at night so all the parents could attend. This meant that our daughter's first birthday wasn't exactly small.
The book also advises: "Omit candles for children 2 years or less". Phooey on that! I used to enjoy buying those number-shaped candles for our daughter's birthday cakes, beginning with her very first birthday.
But moving on, this party book continues with several birthday celebration ideas for every year on up through the teen years. A lot of fun ideas here for younger kids, like cookie making/decorating, a bike theme (just for boys, though; girls get a dress-up party instead), puppet-making, backyard sleepover, pirate fun, soda parlor party, and more. Most of the parties don't sound much different from the ones highlighted in Family Fun magazine. That is, except for the mention of providing a victrola for record-playing. Victrola? Records? I'm guessing those words don't show up in Family Fun!
Not sure if the teen party ideas have held up as well, though. A pie party theme? "Pancake Parade"? Come dressed up as a magazine title?
Coat-hanger Party? (the attendees craft things out of coat hangers. Why?)
I've only scratched the surface of the Good Housekeeping Party Book, so I'll describe more gatherings in Part Two.