Hello! As promised in my previous post, another look into some entertaining trends 60 years ago, courtesy of the Good Housekeeping Party Book.
My Part One post featured occasions in which there was a "guest of honor", like a mom, dad, mother-to-be or a child. So for this post, I thought it'd be fun to feature more general events. There's no shortage of ideas for round-the-clock, all-year-round gatherings!
For example, we're currently in the summer months, where outdoor entertaining is the norm. Anyone up for a Fashionable Five-O'Clock Party? "Slightly wilted businessmen, and ladies in full skirts and broad-brimmed hats, drop in for a cool drink before dinner...To forget the heat, the ladies and gentlemen languidly play darts." The only "food" at this event, apparently, was bits of fruit to eat and champagne or ginger ale to drink.
Rather just have "the girls" over? Then it's time for a Sociable Morning Session: "Brunettes sunbathe, and blondes relax in the shade of the forenoon, while they catch up on chatter or neglected darning...Serve refreshments from Junior's wagon, rigged up like an Italian street vendor's cart...To forget the heat, ask each guest to bring along the morning paper for reading aloud". Iced coffee and gingerbread were on the menu.
Want a bigger spread for your outdoor event? How about a barbeque? Ten such parties are mapped out, from a Share-The-Cost Dinner (everyone brings their own steak) to a Progressive Patio Party to a Fresh-Air Buffet (barbequed lamb shanks were the main course).
Then there's a Dozen Perfect Little Picnics, such as the Berry-Picking Picnic, a Sunrise Picnic, and a Lazy Day Picnic in which all the foods come from the store. But perhaps the most unusual of these is the Spaghetti Picnic: "A nice change from the usual picnic fare. Cook spaghetti at picnic; carry sauce in pot to warm over fire. Carry salad in vegetable crisper..." Huh? Here I'd always thought picnic food tended to be easy to serve - hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salad, brownies, stuff like that. Somehow cooking and draining spaghetti at a picnic spot, and warming the sauce over a fire, seems like a hassle to me!
And for Weekends Of Fun In A Cabin, there's a number of meals the hosts can serve to their guests, such as Tray Breakfasts (set food out for guests to serve themselves), We're Going To Live At The Beach (a spaghetti dinner on Saturday) and Sunday Dinner. The latter sounds rather formal: pork chops, rice, beets with spinach, sliced cucumber salad, cake and ice cream. Another Sunday Dinner features creamy lamb stew, and after a Berry-Picking Spree, a veal chop dinner awaited.
The only casual-sounding dinner was the one that followed We're Going To Spend A Lot Of Time Fishing. It must have been assumed that the fisherfolk wouldn't be successful, for no fish appears on the menu. Instead, it's country-style hash, chili sauce, garlic bread, a lettuce salad, a choice of several light desserts, and beverages.
Of course, there's three other seasons of the year, and naturally the Good Housekeeping Party Book know about them too. Several table centerpiece suggestions per season are offered. If it's a fall, a Little Luncheon table could show off red or yellow carnations, or dried grasses, or bayberries or sumac. Simple arrangements, but the meal itself doesn't sound so simple: Mixed Grill of Sausages,Peach Halves and Spiced Prunes, Tossed Water Cress with French Dressing, Hot Buttered Toasted Sprinkled With Parmesan Cheese, cake, pie or ice cream options and Coffee.
If this is a "Little Luncheon", I'd hate to see the menu for a big one!
For either a fall or winter dinner, Mrs. Busy Citizen can serve Chicken a l'Orange, Herb Peas With Zucchini, Tossed Greens With Ripe Olives, Broiled Buttered Rye Crisp, Glazed Chocolate Angel Food and Coffee. All this, with a table centerpiece that might feature white gardenias, red and pink carnations, or a bird cage filled with roses or freesia.
I'm not sure where "Mrs. Busy Citizen" was supposed to find the time to cook that sumptuous meal and arrange the table centerpiece, but we are told that the cake and chicken can be prepared ahead of time.
Lastly, spring! Yellow tulips, daffodils, white lilacs, violets, forget-me-nots, magnolias: these all sound like very typical flowers for that season. So perhaps to be different, it's also suggested that the hostess can create arrangements using fresh parsley or young carrot plants (seeds sown 4-5 weeks in advance of the event).
And to serve with these pretty posies or feathery greens? Well, there's a Favorite With The Girls: Cheese Souffle, Asparagus Vinaigrette or Green-Bean Salad, Toasted Herb-Buttered French Bread, Two-Tone Plum Bowl (two varieties of canned plums, topped with sour cream).
This menu has a nice "ladies who lunch" ring to it, but I'm not sure how to categorize Featuring Watermelon Pickle. For this dinner, one serves Plenty Of Fried Chicken, Hot Buttered Broccoli or Zucchini, Watermelon Pickle, Salted Almonds, Crisp Rolls, Unsweetened Coffee Jelly With Sweetened Cream and Coffee.
I'm not sure why watermelon pickle is featured in this dinner. Isn't the fried chicken (homemade, of course) actually the star of the meal?
I don't know - maybe featuring watermelon pickles made perfect sense 60 years ago, or maybe my head is just in a whirl after looking through the Good Housekeeping Party Book. And I didn't even touch upon the variety of teas one could host, or breakfast/brunch affairs, or the selection of Thanksgiving dinners or Christmas parties.
Yes, my head might be in a whirl with the sheer number of entertainment possibilities in this book, but I enjoyed myself anyway. It was a lot of fun for very little money!