The following book chapter called ‘Parties of All Types’ was written by Beryl Irving, grandmother and great-grandmother of the founders of Irving Scott. It is an extract from the ‘The Family Weekend Book’, published in 1949. You can find out more about the author on Berylirving.com. Illustrations are author’s own.
Cocktails, Snacks, Wine, Lunch-Parties, Picnic, Children’s Parties
”Let’s have a party. Let fun begin.” (Song.)”
Guest must join in, even if they don’t feel like. If they all get together and try, presently from their midst up floats the frail ethereal spirit – Enjoyment. The party’s going.
We may be very cheery on our upper halves, but underneath, do you not know there lies a profound melancholy which makes one above such things? It is best to think that this is not the soul’s dissatisfaction with living, but merely liver, for the latter is easier to cure.
Cocktails & Cups
Father, please attend! You will probably run this part of the party yourself, so leave the preparations of snacks to the Mistress of the House, and choose from the following:
- Cider Fruit Cup: Almost fill a large jug with cider, and for each pint of cider add a tablespoonful of brown sherry. Then add ice and fresh sliced fruit in season.
- Claret Cup: To a bottle of claret add a large bottle of soda water, a wineglassful of good brandy, half a wine glassful each of sherry and curaçao, several pieces of ice, two slices each of orange and lemon peel, and some sprigs of mint with sugar as required.
- Graves Cup: To a bottle of Graves add a small bottle of soda water, half a wineglassful each of brandy and curaçao, castor sugar to taste, a tablespoonful of diced pineapple, a strip of cucumber peel, some ice and a couple of slices of orange. Stir well.
- Morselle Cup: To a bottle of Moselle add two glasses of curaçao, the juice and thinly pared rind of a lemon, a few thin slices of cucumber, some crushed ice and a tablespoonful of castor sugar. Let this stand in a jug for a quarter of an hour, and then add a bottle of soda water just before serving.
- Shandygajf: Into a large jug lined with cracked ice pour equal quantities of good beer and ginger beer. Add a liqueur glassful of curaçao if desired.
- Gin & It: Two-thirds gin. One-third Italian vermouth. A dash of orange bitters.
- Gin & French: Two-thirds gin. One-third French vermouth.
- Gin & Mixed: Half gin. One-quarter Italian vermouth. One-quarter French vermouth.
- Mac: Two-thirds Scotch whisky. One-third Italian ver mouth. A dash of orange bitters.
- Bronx: Half of gin. One-quarter French vermouth. One-quarter Italian vermouth. Juice of quarter of an orange.
- Gimlet: Three-quarters gin. One-quarter lime juice. Soda water can be added.
- Rastus: “One of sour” (juice of fresh lime or lemon). “Two of sweet” (powdered sugar). “Three of strong” (best Jamaica rum). “Four of weak” (dry gin).·
- Rosemary: Half dry gin, quarter of noyeau, quarter of strained orange juice. Shake well with ice and serve with a cherry.
- Inca Special: Equal parts of dry gin creme de curaçao and milk. Should be well iced and shaken.
- Black Velvet: Half of stout, and half of champagne.
- Manhattan: Half of whisky. Half Italian vermouth, Two dashes each of angostura bitters and curaçao or maraschino. Squeeze of lemon peel on the top.
- Brandy Cocktail: Three-quarters of a wineglass of cognac brandy. Two dashes curaçao.
- Champagne Cocktail: Champagne. One lump of sugar soaked in angostura bitters. Squeeze of lemon peel on the top.
- Orange Blossom: Half of gin. One-quarter Italian vermouth. One-quarter cointreau.
- Clover Club: One white of egg. Juice of half a lemon. One-third Italian vermouth, Two-thirds gin.
- Sidecar: One-third cognac brandy. One third cointreau. One-third lemon juice.
- White Lady: Half of gin. One-quarter cointreau. One quartet lemon juice.
- Prairie Oyster (a reviver): One teaspoon Worcester sauce. One teaspoon tomato ketchup. Two dashes of vinegar, one of pepper, and a whole yolk of egg.
- Sacramento: Two-thirds pale sherry, one-third Bene dictine. Shake well with a little ice.
Or why not give them a Dog’s Nose (if it is that kind of party-very brightening)? Mix half a pint of beer with a tot of gin added.
Cocktails should be very cold and should be made at least half an hour before serving, if possible refrigerated, or a lump of ice at any rate placed in the shaker. Add a cherry for a sweet cocktail and an olive for a dry one.
A couple of varieties should suffice in a dignified and well regulated little party.
These should be the concern of the Mistress of the House. She will know just how much can be made in the kitchen and just how much can be bought. ·
You can buy amusing little snacks for cocktail parties at so much a dozen. They consist in the main of little puff pastries filled with savoury mixtures of cheese, anchovy, fish, onions or little chippolata sausages (these can be prepared more cheaply at home) served on cocktail sticks; prawns, potato crisps, salted almonds, olives, peanuts, smoked salmon, smoked cod’s roe, &c.
Here are good sandwich fillings to be prepared at home They are most of them equally good on little wafers or cheese biscuits.
Tomato Spread: Skin (by soaking one minute in boiling water and then peeling) and pulp three tomatoes. Melt together over a low flame, a knob of butter and a knob of cheese each the size of three eggs. Add the three tomatoes, and some finely chopped onion to taste (perhaps one). Add two and a half teacupfuls of breadcrumbs and season to taste. Stir with two beaten eggs over fire until nicely blended (a few minutes will suffice), and use when cold.
Curry & Egg Paste: Hard boil three eggs. Chop finely and mix with one to two tablespoonfuls of curry powder, two or three ounces of margarine or butter and seasoning. If too stiff, moisten with milk. Another more inexpensive version of this recipe is to soak some lentils overnight, boil them till soft, then mix with curry powder, butter or margarine and hard-boiled eggs and heat over fire till blended; use cold.
Mock Crab: To four ounces of grated stale cheese add half an ounce of margarine, one teaspoonful of made mustard, one and a half tablespoonfuls of vinegar, cayenne, and salt to taste. If served on biscuits, top in centre with chopped capers.
Tomato, Cheese & Vinegar: This is not unlike tomato spread, but substitute a few drops of vinegar for onion and omit the breadcrumbs.
Egg & Anchovy: Spread with a layer of thick anchovy paste and then a layer of chopped, seasoned, hard-boiled egg.
Cream Cheese & Chopped Walnut: This explains itself.
Other good fillings or “spreads” are of prawns and anchovies sprinkled with curry powder or Worcester: sauce; or mashed, cooked kipper seasoned with vinegar and cayenne pepper.
Store your bottles horizontally, labels uppermost. Sparkling wines suffer particularly by standing upright.
Be careful when decanting not to disturb the wine-crust or deposit. Ice slightly your white and sparkling wines, but, of course, do not put ice in the actual wine. Champagne is not, of course, decanted.
Red wine should be decanted a little while before serving to allow it to absorb the warmth of the room, but should not be exposed to artificial heat. If it can be allowed to stand an hour or more in a normally warm room, it will be enough.
Here is a list of wines you can serve during your lunch or dinner-parties, but for a small household it generally suffices to serve claret or burgundy throughout the meal, unless you can run to champagne.
- Hors d’OEuvres and Fish: A white wine such as Graves, chablis, moselle or hock.
- Entrée: A red wine such as burgundy, claret, or chianti.
- Meat or Poultry: As entrée.
- Game: As entree.
- Sweets: Sauterne or champagne.
- And top off the meal with port, madeira, or old brown sherry.
- With the Coffee: Liqueur brandy. The rest of the great host of rich, sickly liqueurs may be forgotten.. Their charming bottles and seductive colours are their only recommendation.
The Vintage to Choose
Champagne: 1917, 1919, 1923, 1926, 1928, 1929, 1933.
Port: 1904, 1908, 1912, 1917, 1920, 1922, 1927, 1935.
Claret: 1916, 1917, 1919, 1922, 1924, 192.6, 1928, 1929, 1934.
Burgundy: 1919, 1923, 1926, 1928, 1929.
*You may wish to check here for a more recent chart as this extract was originally published in 1949.
A Lunch-Party For Four
Summer: In a house with curtailed domestic help.
Tinned Clear Soup, or Fresh Tomato Soup, or
serve Hors d'(Euvres, instead.
Fish in Cheese Sauce or Salmon Mousse.
VeaI Cutlets or Chicken Casserole.
Mashed Potatoes. Peas.
Black Currant Fool, or
Cold Chocolate Pudding.
The alternative dishes are given in order that one may follow out the good rule of making each dish vary in sauce or consistency from the preceding one.
Fresh Tomato Soup: One pound of tomatoes. One pint of weak stock; one large onion; one carrot; half a turnip; one lump of sugar; three-quarters of an ounce of margarine or butter; seasoning. Slice all the vegetables, fry gently in the fat for fore to ten minutes, the tomatoes going in last as they “catch” more easily. Add stock, seasoning and sugar over closely. Simmer one and a half hours. Remove and sieve vegetables, return all to stewpan, add half a pint of min, thicken with one dessertspoonful of flour mixed to a thin paste with a little cold milk. Then a small piece of cheese. Simmer a little longer and it is then ready.
Hors d’oeuvres: Here is a list of some easily arranged home-made hors d’oeuvres.
Sardines. Anchovies. Picked shrimps or prawns tossed in cream with a dash of vinegar and pepper. Sliced hard boiled eggs in mayonnaise. Raw shredded cabbage in vinegar, salt and pepper. Pickled shallots. Sweet corn. Any cooked or uncooked vegetable such as peas, beans, carrots, and turnips cut into dice feasible and, dressed with mayonnaise. Chopped parsley added, helps to vary the dressing. Olives, stuffed with yolk of egg (hard boiled), and pounded anchovies. Tomatoes hollowed out, with a pickled walnut in the centre, topped with mayonnaise.
Salmon Mousse: Take three-quarters of a pound of cold cooked salmon, sieved and mixed with nearly a cupful of fish stock in which been melted three-quarters of an ounce of gelatine. (Fish stock is the water in which fish has been boiled.) Add eight ounces of whipped cream or whipped cream and a good thick white sauce can be more economically substituted. Season with lemon juice or vinegar; or Worcester sauce, salt and pepper; or with anchovy sauce (all to taste). Set overnight or in the refrigerator and serve in individual soufflé cases.
Veal Cutlers & Peas: Dip the cutlets into a mixture made of minced bacon, breadcrumbs and minced onion one tea spoonful of lemon juice and seasoning. Then dip into beaten egg. Cook till brown in butter. Serve with a little gravy made in the pan, peas and mashed potatoes.
For the Casserole of Chicken see COOKERY.
Cold Chocolate Pudding see COOKERY.
Black Currant Fool: Stew and sieve enough black cur rants; whip up with whipped cream; or fresh egg custard; or custard made of custard powder; or cornflour custard, and serve in individual glasses.
A good part of this meal can be prepared the day before.
A tinned clear soup has been suggested as it takes a good deal of time to prepare a really successful fresh clear soup.
The thick tomato soup can be made the day before, and if you have refrigerator, tor the hors d’ceuvres can also be prepared then. The cheese sauce for the fish can be made the day before; the whole salmon mousse must be done overnight also.
The casserole can be made the day before; and if you have no reliable maid you will have to have this dish instead of the veal cutlets as there will be no one to cook them at the last moment. Both sweets should be made overnight.
Lunch-Party For Four
Winter: In a house with curtailed domestic help.
Thick Oxtail Soup.
Hors d’oEuvres, or
A Kidney Omelette,
or OEufs en Cocotte.
Boiled Turbot and Shrimp Sauce, or
Lamb Cutlets, Spinach, and Tomato Sauce, or
Casserole of Duck.
Oxtail Soup: Cut up the oxtail and fry until brown in fat. Remove from pan, then brown in same fat two large carrots, two or three medium-sized turnips, two onions one stick of celery, all chopped. Remove from pan. Now add two ounces of flour and brown in pan, then gradually add two pints of stock, the oxtail, one teaspoonful of mixed herbs, one bay leaf, two ounces of lean ham, two cloves, one lump of sugar, salt and pepper. Simmer in covered pan until the oxtail is tender, three to four hours. Cool, skim off fat; add a glass of port just before serving. Cut a few pieces of the tail into dice and add to soup. (This, by the way, is too much for four people, but as you cannot buy half an oxtail, you will have to make the whole lot and use it up after the party. Or you can halve these quantities and use the rest of the oxtail for lunch the next day.)
Kidney Omelette: Cut up three sheep’s kidneys very small and fry in butter or margarine one minute or more. Beat up four or five eggs for the party, with seasoning. Pour into a pan, with two and a half ounces of hot melted butter in it. Cook in the usual manner, and when ready turn out, add the chopped kidney and fold over. Serve sprinkled with chopped parsley.
Oeufs en Cocottes: Break enough eggs into little pots season with salt and pepper, cover with cream and stand in a pan of boiling water about five to ten minutes.
Turbot & Shrimp Sauce: Rub the fish in salt and wash well. Then rub in cut lemon to whiten flesh. Bring to the boil in salted water and simmer for fifteen to twenty minutes. For the Shrimp Sauce make a white sauce, using milk and water in which shrimp shells have been simmered, and the usual flour and butter. Add shrimps and anchovy essence to taste, lemon juice, and cayenne pepper if the latter is liked.
Baked Scallops: Cut off the beards and black parts of the scallops, and place scallops in shells which have been buttered and strewn with white breadcrumbs. Put two scallops to each shell, season with pepper and salt and a little lemon-juice. Cover with white sauce (it is worth while using butter for this sauce if possible), white breadcrumbs, and dabs of butter. Bake twenty minutes in a moderately hot oven.
Lamb Cutlets: Everyone knows how to cook these.
To Make Tomato Sauce: Fry gently in margarine, one ounce of chopped lean bacon, and two small onions. Add salt and pepper, a bouquet garni (parsley, thyme an bay leaf) and one pound of tomatoes chopped small. Stir well and boil twenty minutes then sieve.
Casserole of Duck: Cut up the duck, season well, add two large onions, a little chopped parsley, a pinch of thyme and one bayleaf, one pint of claret and two small wine-glasses of brandy. Let this soak for two hours or more, then melt in a casserole four ounces of fat, and brown the pieces of duck in it, for about twenty minutes. Then add the wine mixture in which the duck has been soaking and half a pound of peeled mushrooms and if liked, a suspicion of Cover and simmer gently for one hour or more. Serve in the casserole, with small slices of fried bread.
Of these recipes for a winter lunch-party the oxtail soup and the casserole of duck can be prepared the day before, also the apricot eggs if you have a refrigerator.
If your house is small, better choose the baked scallops as these have quite a palatable smell when cooking, but the smell of boiling turbot would not be a good idea with which to greet your guests’ nostrils on arrival.
New Year’s Eve
(Not for Children)
What to Do: Indulge in some superstitions for foretelling the future. This will help to while away the feeling of suspense until midnight, and will keep at bay that secret awe and gloom which tackles the primitive depths of our minds at the thought of what the future may have in store.
Get someone good at it to tell fortunes, or do it yourself from the chapter on that subject given in this book.
Place twelve candles on the pavement or a stone floor and and jump over them. Each is for a month in the year and you will have luck in each month that remains alight. The men must wear skirts to play fair and that generally livens up the party. You might borrow from the Halloween party by melting down lead and throwing it into cold water, one piece for each person. The shape it takes indicates something connected with his or her future.
Prepare the mulled claret or drink with which you propose to drink in the new year. If you do this before the guests they will be interested and enjoy the Pickwickian smell.
To Mull Claret, or Other Wine: Boil in one cup of water to every pint of wine spice to taste-cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and mace. Add the wine, and sugar also to taste, bring all to boiling-point. Claret needs more sugar than port. It is rather difficult to say how much spice goes to each pint, but three cloves, half a teaspoonful of grated nutmeg and half a teaspoonful of cinnamon might prove a starting-point.
Just before twelve o’clock your guests may walk upstairs backwards, saying aloud the word ”Hares.” After that they must not speak until the midnight chimes have died away when they may say ”Rabbits”” thereby ensuring good luck for the coming month.
While the clock is chiming, open the windows to let out the old year and let in the new. After that everyone will wish each a “Happy New Year” and sing “Auld Lang Syne.”
They may then take your big gong out on the pavement and sound the ship’s bells with it. They may scout the roads seeking for a dark-haired man if there is none present. If they cannot find one the police station will generally send round a dark-haired policeman for you if you ring them up (if you are on good terms with them). He must be the first to cross the threshold, so don’t let your fair-haired guests in again until the matter is fixed up. He should carry bread and salt with him.
Now finish the mulled ale or hogmanay, and after that the guests will seem inclined to depart, for ’tis a sleepy, comfortable drink. But do not look out on the dark roads if you are superstitious, and warn your guests not to look about on their way home, for ’tis now that the souls of those about to die within the year walk abroad.
For Young or Old
Not so popular as they were, perhaps, but still fun if you can collect the tight people. Gone are the old days up the river with straw-hatted young men saying, “Good afternoon, Miss Maggie” (so reverently and respectfully), and their strolls by the river banks with Miss Maggie, quoting poetry to her, as she holds up her sunshade. Bathing in some clear spot, across which blows that unforgettable river-smell of waterlilies and bulrushes, the water itself all ruffled into tiny ripples. Children wading around the stern of the family tub or punt which has been pulled up half on to the bank, and which those ardent swains have rowed or punted so hotly up the river. Children falling in so that their knickers are hung up to dry, flapping in the eyes of those modest young men, embarrassing them beyond all measure so that they cannot remember where they had got to in their quotation. But food still remains good to eat out-of-doors and here are some suggestions:
Take lemonade or fruit drinks, and coffee and tea in thermos flasks, and remember to take the milk separately, as both tea and coffee acquire a very unpleasant flavour when mixed with milk in a thermos flask.
You can choose your sandwich fillings from the recipes given further back. Lots of little patties will be popular with fillings as follows: Any minced meat moistened with white sauce and to which chopped parsley, onion, grated nutmeg and seasoning have been added.
You can make a nice cheese filling of grated and seasoned cheese stirred into white sauce, with yolks of egg beaten in when off the boil, and lastly, stiffiy-whipped egg whites. Bake in a hot oven.
Chopped mushroom in similar sauce (omitting cheese) and baked in patty-cases of cheese-straw pastry.
Lobster patties, crab patties, prawn patties, shrimp patties, all made on the above lines.
Hard-boiled eggs (don’t forget pepper and salt), tomatoes, lettuce. Caviare. Tinned foods. Smoked salmon. Cardboard cartons of chicken or salmon mousse (the chicken is made on the same lines as the recipe for salmon mousse given under “Lunch-Parties”); or cartons of diced cooked vegetables; or salad in mayonnaise. Sausages, ham, tongue, any meat your guests’ appetite demands.
Fruit, jellies, chocolate biscuits. Strawberries and cream. Raspberries and cream.
Take lots of cigarettes.
Keep all your drinks in a different basket to the food. You are then not so likely to get them upset by the exploratory fingers of any children you have with you.
Pack bread-and-butter face to face. Pack sandwiches in greaseproof paper, labelling those with mustard. Old cardboard egg-boxes are useful to pack crushable patties in if you have no patent gadgets. Don’t forget to order your bread the day before from the baker, otherwise you will be faced on the day of the picnic with the well-nigh impossible task of cutting your sandwiches for twenty or thirty people from new bread. Melt the butter to spread the sandwiches, and do be generous with the fillings; it is boring to eat dry sawdust for lunch.
Don’t give the crushable patties to the lovesick members of the party to carry.
Trust all men, but carry the corkscrew and the and the tin-opener yourself; also the salt and pepper.
The Halloween Party
For Young or Old
Firstly, christen, your dishes with names of portent, of omen. Everyone has got to be worked up, to a superstitious frame of mind. Names such as: Devil’s Scream. Future Bliss. Past Agonies. Good Luck. A Handsome Husband. A Rich Wife. A Bite into the Future. Tall Dark Strangers. Gipsy’s Warning. Tortured Skulls. Witch’s. Wounds.” There are all sorts of names, once your imagination gets going.
Apples play a great part in Halloween parties.
Make your guests (if you can) kneel down round a tub of water and snatch at apples with their teeth, their hands being bound behind them. Assure them that they will get good luck if they succeed, speaking to them fair words, kindly.
If their make-up won’t stand this, make them do the same thing with apples depending from a string across the room.
Make them go into a dark room, one at a time, alone, to gaze into the well of the future. This should be a draped bowl. While they gaze they must comb their hair and eat an apple. Then if they have done it tightly they should see the face of their future husband or wife looking over their shoulder. You can always make it come right for them by creeping up silently behind them and displaying either the face of your black cat over their shoulder or a nasty phosphorus-painted face on a stick. Or perhaps a girl or boyfriend who is not afraid of being committed, will oblige.
Then you must manage the lead trick as mentioned under New Year’s parties. I refer to the dropping of small portions (one for each person) of boiling lead (melt it down in an old spoon over a flame) into a pan of cold water. Its Macbethian sizzle will add to its portent as it writhes into strange shapes.
For Grown Ups Only!
Now is the time for someone to come shrieking into the room to say that there has been a murder committed upstairs. All in the dark, as in “murder” parties, your guests must go up preferably to the attic, where you have worked a good dodge. This is how:
A person with a good high forehead must lie down on his back on the floor with his head towards his expected audience. Nearly all of him must be under a table, from which hangs a tablecloth completely screening him as far as his nostrils. Now his eyes look at you with unpleasant effect, upside down. Above the bridge of his nose, on his forehead, paint with lipstick, a ghastly mouth. You now have the effect of a beheaded head looking at you, bearded by his hair. From the hair stretch out towards his audience an obviously dummy body. The more dummy the body the more nightmare the effect, when too it is realised that the head is alive and not a dummy. If done properly the whole scene is delightfully appalling and therefore fit only for grown-ups.
A hooded person may take in one guest at a time to consult the “Oracle” or view the corpse. They must be sworn to secrecy on their exit. They may ask the oracle or corpse for advice on their future love affairs, love and marriage being the chief concern of Halloween parties. The guest who has probably not yet made up her mind as to whether the head is real or guttapercha, gets a delicious shock when it speaks or rolls its eyes. But let the Head beware lest some high-spirited damsel kicks it in the eye with her high heels just to see if it is real.
Halloween is, of course, the night when devils, witches, mischievous and, let us hope good ones too, are all abroad on midnight doings. The fairies too get to work that night. Burns has a lot to say about it in a Halloween poem and gives us some good superstitions to follow out. Of course the main theme of each superstition is still the getting of a husband or wife.
The first superstition mentioned is that each must go out into the garden and pull up a kail plant. They must go out hand in hand, eyes shut, and pull up the first one they find. Its size and condition indicate the type of mate they may expect.
Big, or little, crooked, or straight! If earth sticks to the roots that is good luck, and the state of the inside of the stem shows the state of the future mate’s disposition and temper.
Then the stems in order are to be placed above a door, and the Christian names of those who enter by chance are, in order, those of the future beloved.
Next comes “burning the nuts.” Name a “boy friend” and “girl friend’ one for each nut, lay the nuts in the fire, and the behaviour of the nuts will indicate the way their courtship will run. The nuts may lie harmoniously together or start apart and so forth.
You may also provide your guests with hempseed, the girls particularly. They should take the opportunity to steal away unperceived from the party and sow in the den a handful of hemp, saying as they do so, “Hempseed I saw thee, hempseed I maw thee, and him (or her) that is to be my true love come after and pou’ thee.” The ambitious maid or man should then look over his left shoulder when he should have a vision of the person invoked, in the attitude of pulling hemp. It seems that there must be a certain amount of collusion over all this to make the charm amusing. Here’s a good superstition which might be adapted for parties. You should go three times round a barley stack and the last time round you will catch in your arms the appearance of your future husband or wife. Well, you can’t have a barley stack in the drawing-room, but you might rig up a curtain or a hatstand or a cupboard somewhere about the house.
It might all be rather fun for the grown-up sons and daughters. And if your guests are staying in the house the party can be continued for into the night, thus’: Go out to a “south-tunning rivulet where three lairds’ lands are in sight.” (More prosaically the kitchen sink and through the scullery window you can see the three bungalows built at the bottom of the next road.) Dip your left shirt-sleeve. Go to bed in sight of a fire and hang the wet sleeve in front of it to dry. At midnight you will see the form of your future, spouse come and turn it round to dry the other side.
This is really a family affair and the advice given is mainly for such, although ingredients may be used as desired for a non-family Christmas party.
Ingredients: Carols. Holly, mistletoe, turkey, plum pudding with holly stuck in it and flaming in brandy. Mince pies, muscatels and almonds, tangerines, dates, figs, preserved fruit, ginger, crackers, snapdragon and pills. (Snapdragon is a dish of raisins carried into a dark room after the feast, floating in lighted brandy. The brave snatch them out of the flames for luck.)
Sea-boots, silk stockings, socks, pillow-cases, or socks hung outside doors according to taste (or on the end of the bed). On Christmas Eve to be read to the young ones that intriguing poem written by Clement Mbore who was born in 1779, entitled The Night Before Christmas. It contains the whole childish thrill of Christmas Eve and never fails to work the young up to an ecstasy of anticipation. For reasons of space we can only quote the first verse here:
‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.
If You Should Prefer to Give Your Guests Old-time Drinks
Here are recipes
two hundred years old, some still in use. One for the Road? Offer them a glass of shrub!
Shrub: “To one gallon of good rum put a pint and a half of juice of seville oranges, and half a pint of the juice of lemons, strain the juice through a thick hair sieve, and be careful not to put in any sweet or pinked fruit, when you put in the juice shake the vessel well, let it stands till it is clear, which will be in about a month, then bottle it. The common custom is to put in a quantity of sugar, but ’tis to be observed that the fruit retains its flavour much better without it.”
Barbadoes Water: “Pare the rind very thin of an hundred lemons as you pare ’em put ’em into a small quantity of brandy, to which you must add as much as will make three gallons, let ‘em steep forty-eight hours at least close stop’d, then slice half a pd. of citron, a fourth part of which stick in the neck of the Alembick, the rest put into the pot with the peels and brandy, and then distil it, keep each quart by itself and mix it to your liking, putting a lump of white sugar candy into each bottle.”
Marigold Brandy.-” Pick fresh marigolds of the stalks, fill a bottle half full of them, fill it up with good brandy: cork it and let it stand till you see the flowers perfectly white, then pour it off, add to it sugar to your taste.”
Mead: “To every quart of honey put four quarts of water, put it into a copper or brass pan to boil stirring it well to dissolve the honey before you set it on the fire or till the fourth part or better if boiled away scumming it confidently, when any scum rises when boil’d enough set it to cool till next day then turn it into a very stanch vessel or twill be very apt to leak for ‘tif very searching liquor let it run thro’ a flannel as you turn it into the vessel let a paper lye on the bung hole till next day then stop it very close. If you make half a barrel or more it must stand a year before it is bottled, & the vessel must be quite full.”
Other Recipes (dates unknown)
Elderflower Champagne. “Place in a bowl three full-blown heads of elder blossom, add one and a half pounds of sugar, juice of one lemon and the rind cut up, and lastly two tablespoonfuls of white wine vinegar. Steep in one gallon of water for a day and a night, then strain and bottle. After ten days you will have a pleasant fizzing drink.”
Apple Cup: “Wash well four well-flavoured apples, slice with skin on and place in a jug with one thinly peeled lemon rind and enough sugar. Steep in one quart of boiling water till cold, then add a few more drops of lemon juice if desired.”
Cowslip Wine: “First make a syrup of one quart of boiling water to three-quarters of a pound of sugar. When luke-warm add a piece of toast spread thickly with brewer’s yeast. Two days later pick your cowslips very fresh and early. Stalk them and put the heads in a cask; a quart of heads to a quart of water. Add the syrup strained and add thinly cut rind and sliced fruit of two oranges. Stir daily for seven days then add a bottle of brandy to each five or six gallons of liquid. Bung the cask and after six weeks strain into the bottles.”
Dandelion Wine: “A bitterish wine suitable for livery people. Use six quarts of good dry petals to a gallon of water. When the water is boiling pour over the petals in a pan cover and stand for ten days stirring daily. Strain then on to four pounds of preserving sugar and the rinds of two lemons then add two pieces of bruised ginger. Some people add the juice of the lemon too, and also rind and juice of an orange. Boil three-quarters of an hour, cool, add a toast of brewer’s yeast as above, cover with a cloth and leave for four days. Pour into a cask and bottle for two or three months.”
Gooseberry Wine: “Use unripe green gooseberries. Wash, top and tail, bruise well. Add to a quart of cool boiled water for each pound of fruit. Do not boil at all. Stir daily for three or four days then strain and add three pounds of sugar to the gallon. Stir till dissolved then put in cask, and add a bottle of gin to every five gallons and one-quarter of an ounce of isinglass. Leave in a cask six months or more till clear, then bottle. This wine improves with keeping, and can be kept two or three years.
Rhubarb Wine: “Take four pounds of rhubarb to every gallon of water. Wash and cut up small, pour boiling water over it and let it stand ten days stirring daily. Strain, add four pounds of sugar to the gallon, stir till dissolved, add lemon rind thinly pared and sliced lemon fruit for each gallon, and let stand a month. Then remove the scum, pour into bottles, adding a few large raisins to each bottle and a little isinglass; the latter will clear it. Leave the bottles uncorked, then carefully leaving all sediment behind, pour into fresh bottles and cork well.”
Coltsfoot Wine: “Gather two and a half quarts of coltsfoot blooms, dry in a warm oven, turning them once or twice. When dry mix with two pounds of old raisins. Boil the rind of a lemon, and two and half pounds of sugar in one gallon of water, then pour over the flowers and raisins then stir and squeeze. When cooling add a toast with brewer’s yeast. Cover from ten to fourteen days stirring daily, Strain, pour off into a cask, add the juice of a lemon and bung lightly. When it has ceased fermenting bung tightly and bottle after about four months.”
To Make Clary Wine: ” Boil clary flowers in fair water till it tastes pretty strong of the clary, then make a mead of it with either honey or sugar. Make it strong enough to bear an egg, then take out the clary and boil it again and scum it clear, then take it off and when cold put some barm: smoak the vessel you design to put it in with brim stone, then tun it up; this will drink like rhenish wine. If you find it does not taste enough of the clary, put some of the clary flowers in the vessel.
(A clary is a kind of pot-herb with pale blue flowers.)
To every quart of fruit you must pour boiling hot a quart of water; cover it very close, let it stand twenty-four hours then strain it, and to three quarts of liquor put two pound of good sugar stir it together, spread a toast with yeast, set it to work and pour it off the lees, put it into the vessel, and when it has quite done working stop it up, if ’tis fine in six or seven months you may bottle it, or keep it a year in bottles.”
To Recover Wine or Ale that is Sour in Bottles: “Put half a pound of chalk scraped very fine in the barrel, taste it in a month, and iif it is not come to itself put in half a pound more as before.”
Elderflower Wine: “Take six gallons of water ten pound of powder sugar and six pounds of raisins, of the sun ston’d and cut, put them into a large pot and boil them for an hour, take it up, and when it is perfectly cold put four spoonfuls of fresh barm, six spoonfuls of sirup of lemons and quarter of a peck of elder flowers, well picked from the seeds, mix them all together and let it stand two days then tun it. It will be fit to bottle in six months, the flowers must not be gathered till they are ready to shred, and sift them to take out the weeds.”
Blackberry Wine: ” Pour a quart of boiling water on to each quart of blackberries, well bruised. Stand for twenty four hours stirring now and then. Strain on to sugar, a pound to each quart of fruit, let stand until dissolved. Keep one year in a cask then bottle.”
Two Essex Recipes given me by an Essex woman :
Parsnip Wine: “Three pounds of parsnips to every gallon of water. Scrub and halve the parsnips and boil for three-quartets of an hour then strain and add three pounds of sugar, with a round of toast spread with brewer’s yeast. Bottle, and let it work for three weeks then cork down and leave for six months. Do not peel the parsnips and always allow a little extra water for boiling away.”
Potato Wine: “Five pound of small potatoes, three and a half pounds of sugar, two lemons and two oranges to each gallon of water. Scrub and cut potatoes then add cut oranges and lemons and boil for quarter of an hour. Strain and let stand in pan with one ounce of yeast on a round of toast then bottle and let work for three weeks. Cork down, leave for about three months then use.”
We will take for granted that it is a birthday party.
In the centre is the birthday cake decorated probably with candles and sweets. Here are some dishes to go round it:
Banana Candlesticks: Place a ring of tinned pineapple on a saucer or plate. In the center put a half banana. On the top of that stick a little strip of black currant lozenge to represent a wick, and top with a fragment of glacé cherry for the flame. Stick in the side of the banana for a handle a strip of green angelica.
Pear Mice: Use fresh or tinned pears for the body of the mouse Almonds (skinned) for the ears, currants for the eyes and angelica for the tails.
Apricot eggs: Soak enough slices of sponge cake in the juice from a tin of apricot. Then place in centre one portion of apricot to represent the yolk of the egg. Now pipe whipped cream round it and you have a “fried egg.” (N.B. Young children do not care for this so much as the older ones, as they are rather afraid of “what it is going to taste like.”) –
Mushrooms in Grass: Make a green jelly for grass. When half set, stand in it half bananas, upright, topped with half meringues.
Banana Boats: Set a green jelly (for the sea) and pipe with swirls whipped cream like white horses on a rough sea. Cut bananas in half lengthways, scoop out centre, and set an angelica mast in them threaded through a paper sail.
Orange Baskets: Scoop out enough halves of oranges, fill with jelly made of a packet dissolved in orange juice and water. Make an angelica handle, or a handle of orange peel. Top in centre of jelly with whipped cream and chopped cherries and angelica or jelly sweets.
You will have to use your discretion about the above dishes if your party is for tinies. If it is, it is no good loading your table with rich dishes and sending the poor mites home all sick and miserable. Besides you may meet their mothers in the town the next day. It is best to give them their usual foods, crisp toast, or bread and butter if allowed, with jam, honey or syrup; sponge fingers and sponge cakes, and simple pretty jellies of different colours, chopped up and mixed together; and carefully chosen biscuits.
For the Older Children: In addition to the pretty dishes mentioned above have: Bread-and-butter, not much, or you will be eating it all next day. Buttered buns ad lib. always popular. Lots of plates of various biscuits, chocolate, fancy, &c. Sandwiches of banana and strawberry jam. Buttered bridge rolls filled with cress and hard-boiled egg, or cress and potted meat, &c. As with the tinies, jellies are very popular, in fact, they seem to go for these more than any other dish. Fruit salad, too. Trifle. And to drink, orangeade, lemonade, tea, or milk.
To Make a Good Orangeade: Peel some oranges thinly. Boil the peel in enough sugar and water to make a thick syrup then add the juice the oranges, sweeten more if necessary, and water down. The peel should simmer for about twenty to thirty minutes, not more, in case it tastes bitter.
For the lemonade slice thinly four lemons, remove the pips and put in a jug with a quarter to half a pound of sugar. Pour over three pints of boiling water. Cover with a cloth and when cold use.
Don’t forget crackers for the party, or a big joke-bomb containing “novelties” (awful word). But the latter is not popular with very young children as they are afraid of the pop and also fear that they may be hit on the head with a “novelty”.
For Games see Chapter on “Recreations for All.”
For a boys party, as has been mentioned under “Recreations, we must remind you of three peculiarly horrid games, which they like: Cock-fighting, Balloon bursting, and “Is that you, Sambo?”
There are also two party tricks which little girls hate having played on them, but which big boys like. One is to tell the boy to look up a coat sleeve which you are holding out to him, and he will then “see stars”. While he is looking , someone pours water down in his eye. The second one is the Queen of Sheba, and is arranged as follows: Two chairs are placed in a line with a gap between and chairs and gap covered all over with a sheet. Two, people sit on them and a boy is brought into the room to visit “King Solomon” and the “Queen of Sheba,” the two seated players. They converse with the boy for a while, then graciously ask him to sit between them. As he sits they rise rapidly and the cloth over the chairs sags, throwing him to the ground. Little girls will have their patty spoilt if you do this to them, for like cats they hate being made fun of, but big boys generally enjoy the joke.
Children’s parties not infrequently fall into two categories.
- The party at which some strong-minded grown-up seizes the children willy-nilly and organises them into playing games. Where boys are in the majority this is particularly necessary, otherwise they are apt to become just little hooligans, run amuck, and spoil it for the girls, thus making it category (2).
- The party at which the grown-up is not strong-minded and the children do run amuck. They will entertain themselves, and the fit who survive will have a glorious time, possibly ruining their best clothes in the cellar to which your be-birthdayed child has casually conducted them, or falling in the mud at the edge of the pond in the garden, or throwing your cushions about until they burst and the younger members are choked with the fluff.
Nowadays children seem to have been encouraged by their elders into taking up a very mercenary attitude in regard to patties. They always expect to come home with a present and think it a pretty poor sort of party if they don’t. This adds materially to the expense of the party. If you have not the moral courage to help to break this iniquitous and rather vulgar custom by, giving none, at least refrain from the bald handing out of presents at the front door as they depart. It’s too blatant! Make the little beggars work for it as of old. Have a treasure-hunt, either for numbers which correspond with a number on a parcel elsewhere. Make the little beggars work for it or for the parcel itself with their name on. Or have competitions with prizes. You can always shuffle things about a bit so that the less sharp ones get a prize too. In our opinion the only legitimate exceptions to working for their presents are those provided by the Christmas Tree and the Bran Tub.
Procedure for Children’s Parties
When they arrive the children will be taken upstairs, the boys and girls, of course, separately, unless they are toddlers. Someone must be present to help the younger ones to change their shoes if necessary, and arrange the pretty dresses the little girls are so anxious to show.
It is always a bit heavy starting off a children’s party, especially if they don’t know each other. The wise hostess will generally only inflict about a couple of games on them before tea; really until all are arrived. Do not be discouraged if the first half of the tea is partaken of in almost complete silence; the children are merely taking in stories, fuelling and victualling so to speak, ready for the fray; also they are taking stock of each other. Quite suddenly they will begin to enjoy themselves.
If possible don’t throw a party for all your children together if there is a big gap in the ages. The older boy’s friends will spoil it for the little ones and will be equally bored at the “cissy” games the latter play.
If your child’s party falls at Easter, why not have an Easter Egg hunt party, either in the house or garden? Children all love this. If the children are old enough you can arrange clues to the hiding-places.