Saturday, November 10, 2007

Meal Planning and Table Service

While shopping at an antiques store recently, I saw a book titled Meal Planning and Table Service. I have a small collection of older books on the subject of entertaining so I picked it up and discovered that the book's author is Beth Bailey! It was written in 1923 while she was a professor at Iowa State College. Since the author and I share the same name, of course I had to purchase the book.

I love the advice and guidance she gives throughout the book and marvel at the timelessness of the words. Here are some of my favorites lines from the chapter regarding the etiquette of being a guest:

* Having accepted an invitation, one assumes certain obligations. The first is punctuality. One should arrive 5-10 minutes before the luncheon or dinner. It is equally bad to arrive too early or too late.

* It is the duty of every guest to enter into the spirit of the occasion and do his best to make the party a success. If one is feeling out-of-sorts, it is far better to phone regrets rather than cast a shadow over the whole gathering by one's spirit of gloom.

* Never notice any irregularity in the working of a household. An outsider can seldom help in settling a family affair.

* Stand behind the chair until the hostess sits. Sit down from the left side of the chair. Do not move the chair unless it is necessary.

* Never put your finger in your mouth at the table nor pick your teeth. Do not touch or arrange your hair. Do not stir your food all together before beginning to eat. Your plate must never look unsightly.

* Watch not the table manners of others, lest in doing so you neglect your own.

* If a hostess has prepared the meal, it is gratifying to her to have a guest mention the excellence of a certain dish. Otherwise, it is not considered good form to discuss the merits of the food one is eating.

* At the close of a meal, a guest stays but half an hour unless asked to spend the evening. It is customary for all guests to leave when the first one leaves.

Since I witness the manners of hundreds of guests every weekend, these "rules" were a great read. The bad behavior of guests we see is mind boggling at times so here's to educating the masses on proper manners.

I'll post about the "rules" for a hostess soon. I found them equally entertaining!