Montreal Daily Star, 16 March 1911, page 8
GIVING A DINNER
So many enquiries come in as to the proper manner of giving a dinner that some directions on the subject from a reliable woman’s magazine may be of use. It is always a good plan to cut useful articles out of the paper and paste them in a family scrapbook.
The favourite hour for a formal dinner at present is either half-past seven or eight o’clock. Less formal dinners are usually served at seven.
When all have arrived the maid, standing just outside the door, announces quietly, “Dinner is served.” The host then offers his arm to the woman guest of honor, the men follow his example, and the hostess enters the dining room last, with the man she wishes to honor. Guests of honor are always seated at the right of the host and hostess. When there are so many guests that the hostess cannot conveniently indicate unostentatiously where she wishes them to sit, she has small place cards with the names written on them so they can find their places.
Much of the success of a dinner lies first in the selection and then in the arrangement of the guests. The group invited must be congenial, and those who are sure to enjoy each other must be seated side by side.
The lights for a dinner should be very soft. There should be no glaring top light, as it is unbecoming to guests and table alike. Candles under delicately colored shades, the shades matching the flowers, give the softest and most beautiful light. A glass bowl filled with a lose graceful mass of flowers makes the most attractive centerpiece. It should be low, so that the guests can see each other.
The greatest beauty of the table lies in its spotless linen and shining silver and glasses. The table should be covered first with a thick silence cloth and then with a heavy damask cloth hanging almost to the floor. In the centre under the bowl of flowers [illegible] should be a beautiful centerpiece of pure white embroidered linen and linen and lace. The most beautiful napkins are those matching the cloth with a monogram embroidered in the corner.
For the service “a la Russe” no food is placed on the table other than small dishes of nuts, bonbons, etc. everything is passed by the waitress. This service is used almost entirely for large dinners. For home dinners and by most dinners where there is only one maid the other service is easier.
In this service the host carves and the hostess serves the salad and dessert. The vegetables are passed from the serving table by the maid.
The service a la Russe seems much simpler, and may be made to go more smoothly and more quickly, but it almost necessitates a second maid in the kitchen to carve and prepare the food for the waitress. The great secret of good table service is rapidity and absolute noiselessness without any sense of hurry. Silver must not be rattled, the step of the waitress must be noiseless, and the door into the pantry must not slam.