Monday, January 24, 2022

Gilded Age Specialty Utensils

Etiquette class students of mine have always been terribly confused as to why everyday fruits and vegetables, like tomatoes and cucumbers, would have utensils made specifically for them. I have to explain that these were perishable and without refrigeration, would spoil quickly. Perishable vegetables and fruits were also quite expensive. Showing them off by using beautiful utensils to serve them was another way of gilded age “one-upmanship” and showing off one’s wealth. The photo and the information below, is from the book, What Have We Here?: The Etiquette and Essentials of Lives Once Lived, from the Georgian Era through the Gilded Age and Beyond...” from Etiquipedia Site Editor, Maura J. Graber


What have we here?

Gilded Age, sterling cucumber and tomato servers. The smaller, cucumber servers (and in some patterns these were sold as “cheese servers”), have little “teeth” that tomato servers normally don’t have. These servers fell out of fashion as refrigerators became more common in people’s homes. Perishable foods were no longer a tremendous concern. The round servers which once served up tomato slices were found to be perfect, however, for serving slices of canned, jellied cranberry sauce at holiday dinners, and soon they were being marketed as “cranberry servers.” — From 
What Have We Here?: The Etiquette and Essentials of Lives Once Lived, from the Georgian Era through the Gilded Age and Beyond..., 2021


Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Dinner Party Manners and Diet

Not so long ago, people with special dietary needs politely (and quietly) made do at dinner parties. But today, the dictum ''eat what's on your plate'' is rapidly being eclipsed by a ''have it your way'' mentality, and the changing social order poses questions of etiquette and presents new quandaries in entertaining.

'I Don't Eat … ' Plays Havoc With Parties


CHICAGO'S premier caterer, John Calihan, still remembers the nightmare. It was to be a dinner party a la Gatsby, a black-tie evening for 20 of the local Jays and Daisys. The hostess, a Chicago socialite, had enlisted Mr. Calihan to prepare her family bouillabaisse recipe. Spare no expense!

Mr. Calihan arranged for the proper species of seafood to be flown in from France, Maine and Nantucket. While the engraved sterling silver place cards were being polished and the flowers fussed over, the caterer (and six cooks hired for the occasion) painstakingly prepared the fish stew. It was a perfect bouillabaisse. And it was a perfect disaster. ''I'm allergic to shellfish,'' announced a guest as the waiter attempted to ladle the stew from a steaming tureen. The next guest said, ''I don't eat fish.'' Another said, ''I don't like fish.'' Two others demurred with a shake of the head. ''The hostess nearly fainted,'' Mr. Calihan recalled.

This happens at the finest tables these days. The national preoccupation with dietary restrictions - born of food allergies, health concerns or religious constraints - is changing the American dinner party. Mr. Calihan and caterers and hosts from other cities say guests have become more vocal about their food preferences, and an a la carte attitude is encroaching on the the last preserve of the communal feast.

Not so long ago, people with special dietary needs politely (and quietly) made do at dinner parties. But today, the dictum ''eat what's on your plate'' is rapidly being eclipsed by a ''have it your way'' mentality, and the changing social order poses questions of etiquette and presents new quandaries in entertaining.

Not long ago, hosts routinely called guests to discuss dress and seating arrangements. Today, ''those who wish to entertain practically have to ask for a medical history when inviting people to dinner,'' said Gail Banks, a Boston hostess.

Divergent diets complicate menu planning for the host. ''Mrs. Burlingham can't eat salt, the Jaynes are on Pritikin and the Hirschorns keep kosher,'' said Michael J. Anderson of New London, Conn., a 37-year-old lawyer who is planning a dinner party for October. ''What am I? A cafeteria line?''

Manners mavens agree that guests should inform hosts ahead of time of severe allergies or life-threatening medical conditions and that hosts should accommodate these, as well as religious restrictions, to the best of their abilities.

The ever-widening ethnic mix at dinner parties poses new cultural considerations. And by adapting to these, as well as to food allergies (which range from the potentially lethal to very mild), lactose intolerance, high cholesterol, hypertension and vegetarian and kosher restrictions, the modern host may have opened the floodgates for more idiosyncratic concerns about consumption.

Letitia Baldrige, the author of ''Letitia Baldrige's Complete Guide to the New Manners for the 90's,'' to be published by Rawson next year, recently dined in the home of friends who offered fresh-caught swordfish for dinner. As the fish was served, a fellow guest appraised the menu. ''I'm surprised,'' he murmured. ''The waters around here are polluted.'' The comment, Ms. Baldrige said, ''took the joy out of the dish and focused all the attention on one person.''

Not long ago, hosts routinely called guests to discuss dress and seating arrangements. Today, ''those who wish to entertain practically have to ask for a medical history when inviting people to dinner,'' said Gail Banks, a Boston hostess.

Divergent diets complicate menu planning for the host. ''Mrs. Burlingham can't eat salt, the Jaynes are on Pritikin and the Hirschorns keep kosher,'' said Michael J. Anderson of New London, Conn., a 37-year-old lawyer who is planning a dinner party for October. ''What am I? A cafeteria line?''

Manners mavens agree that guests should inform hosts ahead of time of severe allergies or life-threatening medical conditions and that hosts should accommodate these, as well as religious restrictions, to the best of their abilities.

The ever-widening ethnic mix at dinner parties poses new cultural considerations. And by adapting to these, as well as to food allergies (which range from the potentially lethal to very mild), lactose intolerance, high cholesterol, hypertension and vegetarian and kosher restrictions, the modern host may have opened the floodgates for more idiosyncratic concerns about consumption.

Letitia Baldrige, the author of ''Letitia Baldrige's Complete Guide to the New Manners for the 90's,'' to be published by Rawson next year, recently dined in the home of friends who offered fresh-caught swordfish for dinner. As the fish was served, a fellow guest appraised the menu. ''I'm surprised,'' he murmured. ''The waters around here are polluted.'' The comment, Ms. Baldrige said, ''took the joy out of the dish and focused all the attention on one person.''

''No matter what the menu is, we don't go to a party without plenty of extra-virgin olive oil, vegetables, fish and plain fruit,'' she said. This holistic ammunition, she said, ''really cools out everybody with special dietary needs.''

But Mr. Savoca, the New York caterer, believes that a la carte accommodations erode the communal nature of the dinner party. ''The best host figures out how to accommodate special needs on one menu,'' he said.

Along with other inveterate dinner-givers, he outlines the parameters of inoffensive dinner party fare: avoid pork, shellfish, duck, lamb and fried food. Emphasize starch, whether pasta, potatoes or bread. Focus on salad and vegetables. Exercise restraint in the use of butter, animal fat, eggs and salt. Fruit should always be offered in addition to a very rich dessert. Always have mineral water on the table and freshly brewed decaffeinated coffee on hand.

Impressive menus can be created within these restrictions, but some hosts say meals designed to be inoffensive are boring. ''I call them dry-cleaned menus,'' Mr. Calihan said. ''They sound interesting, but they all end up tasting the same.'' Hosts, he said, can battle the blands with interesting garnishes and dramatic presentations.

Several recent changes in serving customs also help soothe the Me-Me dinner guest. Platter service, for instance, is being revived across the country. ''This allows guests to select discreetly,'' Mr. Savoca said. A renaissance of dinner buffets allows the same latitude for both picky and medically restricted eaters. Choice is the most gracious response to dietary restrictions.

But setting aside the white gloves and cream sauces will not placate the truly food rude. With them, Ms. Baldrige said, a host ''must hang tough.''

Pamela Black, a 28-year-old fund-raiser for the Children's Aid Society in Manhattan, learned that lesson when she gave her first sit-down dinner party. Ms. Black was familiar with the diets of each of her 12 guests and spent three days marinating a leg of lamb, preparing ratatouille, cleaning lettuce and making a peach tart. When she presented the platter fanned with rosy slices of lamb, one guest arched an eyebrow. ''Bambi,'' he said. Ms. Black corrected him. ''Mary's little lamb,'' she said, ''followed by salad from Peter Rabbit's patch.'' You Name It, It's Off Limits For Someone 

HERE is a list of caveats for the sensitive host, based on suggestions from caterers and others. Items that may cause allergic reactions: 
  • Shellfish 
  • Nuts 
  • Red wine 
  • Cheese 
  • Tomatoes, eggplant and other members of nightshade family
  • Garlic 
  • Monosodium glutamate 
Items that may be proscribed by religion: 
  • Shellfish 
  • Pork 
  • Meat and dairy products in combination 
  • Caviar 
  • Meats 
  • Alcoholic beverages 
Items health-conscious people may try to avoid: 
  • Animal and saturated fats 
  • Sweets 
  • Dairy products 
  • Starches and breads 
  • Fried foods 
  • Beef and other red meat 
  • Sauces 
  • Butter 
  • Caffeine 
  • Alcoholic beverages 
Items that people may avoid for social or political reasons:
  • Veal 
  • Meat in general 
  • Any food targeted for boycotts 
Foods some people do not like to think about eating: 
  • Rabbit 
  • Squid 
  • Snails 
  • Sweetbreads 
  • Venison 
  • Organ meats 
  • Snake 
Foods that people may be embarrassed to eat at a party because they are messy: 
  • Bony fish 
  • Artichokes 
  • Corn on the cob 
  • Fried chicken 
  • Soups 
  • Ribs 
  • Poultry with bones 
  • Spaghetti or other long pasta 
  • Tacos 
  • Lobster. – By Molly O'Neill, Sept. 13, 1989


Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Etiquette and Offensive Terminology

This question isn’t about a child’s card game, but the label that unmarried women above the age of 24 or 25 years old acquired socially, from the 17th C. onward.— Is the term “Old Maid” offensive? In many circles and in Etiquipedia’s mind, yes! But “spinster” or “thornback” are even more offensive than “old maid.” 


Gallant Defense of Old Maids

Alderman Donahue of Wilkesbarre, Pa., rises to the defense of the maiden lady of advancing years and declares it a criminal offense to call her 
“old maid.” Thus the gallant Alderman: A woman has a perfect right to be an old maid if she wishes. It takes considerable courage to be one. Any old thing can get a man these days and marry him, and yet women who, rather than lose their independence, remain unmarried are called old maids. Instead of being frowned upon they should be applauded. They are more to be honored than pitied. Therefore the Alderman held it a breach of the peace to call an elderly unmarried woman by this injurious name. 

To be sure, the magistrate’s reasoning is a little confused, because on his own showing the name should be a guerdon of honor rather than a term of reproach; but it may be presumed that it is the malicious intent of the offender, that he reprobates in such striking language. But now that Alderman Donahue has laid down the law, the gospel and the etiquette and set us all right, what of the future? It is the difference between flattering unction and throwing a brick. It would be embarrassing and annoying to go to jail for the use of a term of endearment. – San Francisco Call, 1907


Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

Friday, January 21, 2022

Etiquette Picks at Toothpick Use




A Pick at Toothpicks and a few General Remarks on Picking Teeth 

“Some to conceit alone their taste confine,” and some— too many, by far— confine their conceit in taste to chewing toothpicks —a very bad habit, execrable, indeed, and inexcusable. 

A good daily newspaper authority tells us that three billions of wood toothpicks are made in this country, but there is no known authority for enumerating the number of people who turn their mouths into pulp mills by reducing wooden toothpicks into fibrous splinters, damaging to the gums and throat, to say nothing of the disgusting offensiveness, when mixed with saliva, in the process of expectoration.

The writer hereof is cognizant of a case of serious damage to teeth arising from a confirmed habit of chewing toothpicks. The teeth of the victim had become so seriously affected as to call for the services of a dentist frequently, but without avail. No permanent remedy could for a long time be found. 

At last a Hartford, Ct., dentist, who made a specialty of a peculiar branch of the dental profession, was enabled to give relief and remedy. His methods, however, were harsh and prostrated temporarily the nervous system of nearly all his patients who passed through the fiery ordeal. 

The gums were loosened and the roots of the teeth laid bare. By the aid of an exceedingly delicate instrument the teeth were scraped and cleaned of an accumulated bone fungus, after which the gums were again drawn back to their accustomed place. The disease for which this treatment was had was pronounced to have been caused by chewing toothpicks made from wood highly charged with a solution of an acidulated nature. 

Toothpicks are at once a convenience, a comfort, a necessity— so convenient, indeed, that the repulsive habit of chewing them, not only at meal time, but “between meals,” not only in private, but “before folks” as well, has grown upon us unawares. 

Toothpicks, as toothpicks, are all right, but the general habit of chewing them is all wrong. They should never be used or held in the mouth at table, or while conversing with any one, either at or away from the table. 

A forcible writer in the Boston Daily Advertiser says: “Every civilized man, woman and child has the right to use a toothpick, but they have no right to use toothpicks to the discomfort of others.” And to fine organizations the visible use of a toothpick is a source of disgust. A man who uses a toothpick in public shows either that he is not aware of the annoyance he gives to others, or he defies good manners, and prefers to be set down as indelicate and gross.” 

And again: “The truth is the associations of a toothpick are necessarily indelicate, for the toothpick reminds one of bad teeth or food particles held in the wrong place.” The toothpick is, therefore, a toilet article, and ranks with the tooth brush, the nail-cleaner and the ear-spoon. 

These articles have to be used, but not in public. Every hand is marred by unclean finger nails, but the nails ought not to be cleaned in public; nor should the teeth be brushed in public. In hotel lobbies there are always men —not really gentlemen— and, alas! occasionally women, with a toothpick in their mouth. Quite likely these same people eat with their knives and cut their finger nails at the dinner table.”

Toothpicks should never be kept upon a table where meals are served. There should be a convenient place near at hand where one can be conveniently taken in passing out of the room after meals. They should then be used as quietly and privately as possible, and when used, religiously thrown away. 

Good shaping of the “human face divine,” good manners, good taste and good health forbid the touching, tasting or handling of toothpicks as an article of diet, or as a sweet morsel of wood pulp to roll over or under the tongue. Tobacco chewing is vile, unanimously so pronounced, and toothpick chewing is villainous, whether the verdict against it be unanimous or not. “Chaw-ing gum” is decidedly neater and preferable.

Wood toothpicks “chewed,” or carelessly or unduly used, are unquestionably a source of damage to the teeth, the throat and the stomach, and a squeaking quill toothpick so held in the mouth that the squeak may be heard, or the “mouthings” seen by others, is too sickening a subject to pursue in detail with any degree of complacency. If the present growing custom must be continued, let us, by all means, have treatises on “How to Chew Toothpicks,” and teachers of the art, so that we may chew them gracefully at least. Chewing toothpicks! Picking the teeth publicly! Faugh! —Mary Methodical, 1885


Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Table Manners of the “Charming”

The woman who forgets that napkins have a use at table, dissects a soft-shell crab as recklessly as though she might be conducting an exercise in zoology; puts her fingers in dishes with that air which bespeaks their importance as ingredients; reaches with her fork to the opposite extremity of the table for a biscuit, because she “never did like to trouble folks at the table;” she thinks the man who manipulates the carving knife and fork a martyr; as though it were anything but a pleasure to serve our own at table or elsewhere.



At My Own and My Neighbor's Table


“You're going out to tea to-day,
Be careful what you do;
Let all accounts that I shall hear
Be pleasant ones of you.
Don't spill your tea or gnaw your bread.
Or pester one another.”

THE person who takes dinner or tea at home in a disorderly, uncouth manner and surly mood, 300 days in the year, is far from being the charming companion at neighboring dinner or tea tables during the remaining sixty-five and one-quarter afternoons. Have you sat at table with the man who goes about his breakfast, dinner and supper as he would clear up a blackberry field, every bush of which he owed a particular grudge, slashing here and there, snapping his fingers at the waitress who may happen to be delinquent or careless, or eating the entire contents of the pickle jar while waiting, because that was near and nothing else happened to be within reaching distance?



This is the man who causes you to feel homesick ; you lose your appetite and long for a beautiful picture, a glimpse of the ocean, a dish of violets or daisies anything devoid of animal life, for if the first element that goes to make a perfect man is a perfect animal, we are not content to have him rise no higher than the animal. This man is a trifle less obnoxious than the woman who forgets that napkins have a use at table, dissects a soft-shell crab as recklessly as though she might be conducting an exercise in zoology; puts her fingers in dishes with that air which bespeaks their importance as ingredients; reaches with her fork to the opposite extremity of the table for a biscuit, because she “never did like to trouble folks at the table;” she thinks the man who manipulates the carving knife and fork a martyr; as though it were anything but a pleasure to serve our own at table or elsewhere.

‘Twas Matthew Prior who said: of nervous, tired, critical people meet. That human being who is naturally indelicate, will be doubly so at table, the indelicacy increasing with age. For spilling tea there may be an excuse; for gnawing bread only a slender one, and that when the staff of life comes out with hard crust; but for “one another” who that has witnessed the process pestering would extenuate or palliate the offense? A wise man once expressed his preference for a dry morsel taken quietly, over a house full of sacrifices accompanied by strife, which, no doubt, means that he would will ingly see every drop of the tea spilled and gnaw his bread silently, crusts and all, rather than be pestered.

But why not have the tea (dry morsels are not conducive to health), the bread, a choice bit or two, dainties, if you will, to coax the appetite, all flavored with such conversational delicacies as are spontaneous, such side dishes of mirth as contribute to good digestion; for a laugh is scarcely less beneficial to the man or woman physically or mentally overworked than the dessert of ripe fruit. If you would be happy at your own table and contribute to the happiness of others there:
  • Spare a few thoughts to the needs of others.  
  • Make guests at home. 
  • Give your special aversions a rest. Discuss such subjects as – well, anything that admits of being talked over good-naturedly. 
  • If you have not the happy faculty of the first Lord Houghton in selecting your guests, consider well their adaptabilities. 
  • Provide palatable and digestible food; not a stingy allowance, neither an overpowering quantity. 
  • Give children a little license in table manners, not compelling them to use any one form, as, “I'd thank you for the butter,” or, “Will you please to pass the oranges?” Set forms destroy all sociability. 
  • At breakfast, refrain from telling how many times you heard the clock strike during the night. 
  • Remain silent rather than allude to your false teeth, if you are so fortunate as to own a set. 
  • Smile your sweetest in declining what disagrees with you, never troubling yourself or others with the recital of its effects on the system. – Mrs. Anna P. Payne, 1892


 Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Gilded Age Foods and Cooking

Fannie Farmer casually called for a can of “Kornlet,” a commercially processed pulp made from the inner kernel of sweet green corn. But the industrialization of the food supply was hardly complete in the Gilded Age.



Beyond the precision of modern recipes, we also know an unusual amount about Gilded Age eating because for the first time in American history people were regularly publishing menus. That is, they were recording detailed descriptions of meals, including information about which dishes were paired with which, in what order different dishes were eaten, and what time of day people were eating certain foods. Menus show up all the time in Gilded Age sources on food, in descriptions of banquets, in suggestions about how to entertain, and in cookbooks proposing recipe pairings. Menus make clear that meal planning in this era was influenced by the changeable availability of different foods in this era, as reflected in Christine Herrick's seasonal menus, for instance.

But while seasonality still mattered, by the late nineteenth century more and more foods were becoming available year round, thanks to the growing reach and speed of food transportation networks and the expansion of cold-storage facilities. Note, for instance, the Florida oranges, California pears, and other fresh fruits served at one February banquet in Detroit in 1891. National distribution of industrial food products was also changing how Americans cooked and ate. Note how regularly the cookbook authors here assumed readers would have access to brand-name products like Maillard’s chocolate, Cerealine, or Quaker Oats, or how regularly canned goods appeared in these recipes. 

For instance, in one of her recipes Fannie Farmer casually called for a can of “Kornlet,” a commercially processed pulp made from the inner kernel of sweet green corn. But the industrialization of the food supply was hardly complete in the Gilded Age. Some items we may think of as exclusively industrial products —like noodles and yeast— would have regularly been made at home in the late nineteenth century, while other products would have been less processed than we would expect: many cooks were still shelling peas and removing spinach roots themselves, for instance, and many still had to singe and pluck pinfeathers every time they wanted to cook a chicken. Sometimes, too, a recipe calling for a can of food was not referring to an industrial product at all, but to food canned at home, as in the Kentucky Housewife recipe for Canned Turtle Soup that was followed by instructions on how to can turtle meat by hand. — From Food in the American Gilded Age, edited by Helen Zoe Veit, 2017



Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Madame Chic’s “Manners 101”

Communicate your grace by employing common courtesy on a daily basis.


Common Courtesy
~~~~~~

Common courtesies are the Manners 101 of the etiquette world. Sadly, it's a course that most of society is currently flunking. Common courtesy is saying “please” and “thank you.” Saying “excuse me” when you bump into someone. Holding the door open for the person behind you. Common courtesy should govern the way you interact with everyone from the grocery checkout person to the janitor at your office. I include common courtesy in this chapter on communication because manners communicate respect to other people.

Because common courtesy is so rare nowadays, your manners will stand out like a rare gem to the person you are extending them to. How many times have you seen someone completely ignore the grocery clerk as the person chats on the phone? I'm sure this irks the grocery clerk to not be acknowledged. None of us are too busy or important to acknowledge with eye contact or a smile the people with whom we interact.

Common courtesies include the manners we were taught as children. Whenever I hear someone say, “Give me a cup of coffee,” to a barista, I want to say, “What's the magic word?” “May I have a cup of coffee, please” is much more polite. When ordering at a restaurant, I used to say to the waiter, “I want.” One day my husband (who knew!) said to me, “‘I would like’ is a much better way to phrase your request.” Point taken. “I would like” does sound much more polite than “I want.”

Have you ever let someone into your lane and not been thanked with a wave? If you're driving and trying to get into a lane, have you ever had someone speed up so you couldn't get in? When we practice common courtesy, we can change the climate of our neighborhood and in our small way inspire others to do so as well. Just a small wave of thanks to another driver might make that driver more likely to let others into his or her lane in the future. You never know what a small wave could mean.

Perhaps every morning you pass a neighbor on the sidewalk who ignores you. You could consistently say good morning to that neighbor each day with a cheerful smile. Don't worry if the neighbor responds to you or not. That is none of your business, and don't take offense if he or she doesn't. You are “keeping your side of the street clean” by greeting your neighbor. Sometimes when I encounter a grumpy neighbor who is intent on staring at the sidewalk intensely rather than greeting me, I shrink back and think I better not. But this doesn't feel natural to me. It feels very unnatural to ignore my fellow man. So I always say “hi.” This usually brings the neighbor out of his or her funk, and that neighbor either says a belated “hello” or just looks at me in shock. Has life on earth become so impersonal that a simple greeting has be come shocking? Perhaps.

As a poised person, practice common courtesy. Don't worry what others are doing or not doing in your vicinity. They will either come around or they won't. The point is to not compromise your integrity. Don't let other people get you down! Communicate your grace by employing common courtesy on a daily basis. — From Jennifer L. Scott’s “Polish your poise with Madame Chic, 2015


When she arrived at Madame Chic’s Parisian apartment as a foreign exchange student, Jennifer Scott was a casual California girl who thought sweatpants were appropriate street attire. Madame Chic took Jennifer under her wing and tutored her in the secrets of how the French elevate the little things in life to the art of living. Years later, Jennifer was back in California with a husband, two young daughters, a dog, and her first home. Every day she confronted mundane duties like folding laundry and unloading the dishwasher, and she began to think about Madame Chic’s home—how the breakfast table was set beautifully the night before, the music that always played in the background, the calm of Madame and Monsieur Chic’s ritual cocktail hour together. Jennifer wanted that life. She decided to see what would happen if she didn’t perform her chores impatiently or mindlessly, if, instead, she could live like Madame Chic… This is just one of the books from her marvelous series.



Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia



Monday, January 17, 2022

Etiquette Necessities for the Schoolgirl




Social Amenities Young Girls Need

ONE of the first rules of etiquette that a younger girl has to learn is the acknowledging of invitations, accepting: or declining. An invitation should be answered at once, whether it be formal or informal, and must be answered in the same manner in which it is given. A formal luncheon invitation, “Miss Laura Smith requests the pleasure of Miss Barclay’s company at luncheon Friday, March 4, at one o’clock,” requires answering in the same formal fashion: “Miss Barclay accepts with pleasure (or regrets extremely that she is unable to accept) Miss Laura Smith's kind invitation for luncheon Friday, March 4, at one o'clock.”

If the invitation is for dinner it is worded precisely the same, with “dinner” substituted for luncheon and the different hour.
“My Dear Miss Barclay:—Will you give me the pleasure of your company at luncheon, most informally, Friday, March 4? Trusting that you have no engagement for that date and that I may surely see you, believe me, sincerely, Louisa Jones.” 

The acceptance or regret must be in precisely the same form, for there is no rule more strict than that invitation and answer shall have the same wording. Invitations given by telephone should always be followed by a note of invitation, but it is not necessary to write an answer to an invitation given by telephone. Like almost every rule of etiquette, there is a good reason for the written invitation following the telephone message, that it shall serve as a reminder of the day and hour. 

The prompt acknowledgment of any and every invitation is considered a mark of good breeding, and a young girl should never, be permitted to neglect her invitations. This winter many hostesses who gave dances, were so annoyed at the neglect to answer their invitations, that notes were sent asking the reason for the delay, and the girls who had not answered were severely criticised as not having understood one of the first rules of society.

The importance of a note of acknowledgment not only of an invitation but of courtesy received can not be overestimated, and the few graceful words of thanks for the pleasant evening pleases the hostess and gains for the young girl the reputation of having been well brought up and also of being appreciative—two most valuable assets. In these days, when attractive stationery can be bought for so little, every girl should take care to select attractive note paper. 

The cost of marking the address is also very trifling, and a dainty note, well written and well expressed, always makes a good impression upon the recipient. Small note paper and the oblong cards should always be kept at hand so there can be no excuse for not answering an invitation promptly or in acknowledging acts of courtesy or kindness, and just such trifling acts as these do more to make or mar a girl's popularity than she realizes.

Young girls should not send invitations in their own names to any entertainments formal enough to demand a written invitation. The invitation must be in the name of the girl’s mother, excepting in the case of a girl’s luncheon. This may seem somewhat arbitrary, but, like all accepted rules of etiquette, is eminently practical. The entertainment is provided by the mother; it is her house, and it is she who will receive the guests. Furthermore, for a young girl to send an invitation to a young man savors of independence and a lack of knowledge of what is considered good form.

The remark that such a girl is too “old fashioned” and “too particular” is never heard in that set of persons which has for generations been prominent socially and where rules and regulations, unwritten but understood, have and do prevail and where etiquette has been proved essential to a well ordered existence. – San Francisco Call, 1912


Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia