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Merry Christmas 1909 -2009

I love reading the 1909 household companion . We think that we have it a little rough this time of year. Here is a little insight into what they were doing 100 years ago.

Dress for Various Occasions.

Morning dress should be faultless in its way. For young ladies, whether married or single, there is no prettier summer morning wear than white or very light dresses of washing materials. Yet those must be always fresh and clean, and the collars and cuffs irreproachable. For morning wear simplicity in attire is imperative. Silk should not be worn. Cotton and woolen are the proper materials.

The walking-dress should be quiet. A rich or showy dress in the street is apt to attract more attention than is desirable or always agreeable. For the carriage, however, a lady may dress as elegantly as she wishes.

Elderly ladies should dress as richly as their means permit. A thin old lady may wear delicate colors, while one of stout person or florid complexion will look best in black or dark grey. But for young and old alike the complexion and figure have much to do with determining the suitable colors. Rich colors harmonize well with brunette complexions, but for blondes and those of delicate tints of face the desirable colors to be worn are those of more delicate hue.

At dinner parties, unless they be small and familiar in kind, only the fullest dress is appropriate. But at unceremonious dinners demi-toilette can be worn, and high dresses if the material be sufficiently rich. Real flowers may be worn at dinner parties, but it is better to wear artificial ones at balls, since the heat and dancing are apt to cause real flowers to droop and shed their petals.

Gloves, shoes, and boots must always be faultless. Gloves cannot be too light for the carriage, or too dark for the streets. A woman with ill-fitting gloves lacks one of the essentials of suitable dress. It may be remarked, by the way, that perfumes should be used only in the evening, and with the strictest moderation, and that perfumes to be tolerable must be of the most delicate kind.

There has never been a more telling and sensible criticism than that made by Dr. Johnson on a lady's dress. " I am sure she was well dressed," he said, "for I cannot remember what she had on."

The hour for dinner should be fixed to suit the convenience of the guests and will vary in city and country. In the city it should be no earlier than seven nor later than eight o'clock, and the probability must be borne in mind that the guests will not all assemble till at least fifteen minutes after the hour named in the invitations. Tardiness of this kind was formerly considered rude, but has now become so common as to be expected and allowed for.

The number of servants necessary will depend, of course, on the number of guests. Three will be enough for a party of ten or twelve persons. On their training and efficient service the success of the dinner will largely depend.

What is above said about courses applies, of course, to a very simple meal. In those of more pretension the courses may vary considerably in number and character, though custom lays down certain fixed rules for the succession of viands. For an ordinary dinner the following will suffice as an example.

Retiring from the Table.

Then the hostess bows to the lady of most distinction present, and all the ladies rise and prepare to retire. The gentleman nearest the door opens it, and holds it open for them. The hostess is the last to go out. While they are going all the gentlemen rise, and remain standing until they are gone. It would not, however, be a violation of etiquette for the gentlemen to accompany the ladies to the drawing-room at once, and what is here said applies principally to formal dinners, and to families in which the gentlemen are accustomed to conclude the meal with cigars and wine.


As regards the use of wines at dinner, the following rules will suffice. They should be served in the following succession.


Sherry, which must be very cold and decantered. This to be passed with the soup. If a white wine is to be served, it should be given with the oysters and also very cold. This must not be decantered.


Champagne, which should be packed in ice several hours before it is to be used. Serve it in the bottle with a napkin held round it to absorb the moisture. Champagne is passed with the meat.


Claret, which must be decantered and warm, and served with the game and salad.


Madeira, also decantered but of its natural temperature and passed with the dessert.

Mineral waters, such as apollinaris, can be passed at dinner, as some prefer a mineral to natural water. As has been already said, a glass suitable for each variety of wine is placed on the table. This is not the case with the Madeira glasses, which are kept on a side-table, and brought to the table after the glasses previously used have been removed and before sweets are served.

After dinner, when the ladies have left the room and the gentlemen are preparing to smoke, coffee, without milk, is served and carried to the ladies in whichever room they may be.

It may be said in conclusion that the custom of wine drinking during dinner, and of drinking and smoking afterwards, is no longer of so ordinary application as formerly. While still generally retained in the case of large and formal dinners, it is frequently omitted in small, and commonly in family dinners, being considered by many a custom " better kept in the breach than the observance."


With regard to flirtation, it is difficult to draw a limit where the predilection of the moment softens into a more tender and serious feeling, and flirtation sobers into an earnest form of devoted attention.

We all dread for our daughters hasty and questionable attachments; but it must not be supposed that long-practiced flirtations are without their evil effects on the character and manners. They excite and amuse, but they also exhaust the spirit. They expose women to censure and misconstruction, and tend to destroy the charm of manners and the simplicity of the heart. The coquette should remember that, with every successive flirtation, one charm after another disappears, like the petals from a fading rose, until all the deliciousness of a fresh and pure character is lost. On all these points a woman should take a high tone in the beginning of her life. She will learn, as time goes on, how far she may consistently lower it into an easier and more familiar tone of social intercourse.

The bearing of married women should so far differ from that of the unmarried that there should be greater quietness and dignity; a more close adherence to forms; and an abandonment of the admiration which has been received before marriage. All flirtation, however it may be countenanced by the existing custom of society, should be decisively put aside, There is, man who is a gentleman by nature needs no suggestions on these small points; instinct will tell him how to act. Yet in all cases some training in the customs and observances of good society is of utility. The readiness to do the right thing is not all there is to consider. A knowledge of what is the right thing to do in the daily exigencies of life is of equal importance to all.

Times Certianly Have Changed !! Have a Merry Christmas ! XOXOX

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