The invitation to a tea-party may be less formal. It may take the form of a friendly note, something in this manner:
Dear Miss Summer:
have some friends coming to drink tea with us
to-morrow: will you give us the pleasure of your
company also? We hope you will not disappoint us.]
FAILING TO FILL AN ENGAGEMENT.
When it becomes absolutely necessary to break an engagement once made for dinner or tea, a note must be sent at once to the hostess and host, with full explanation of the cause, so that your place may be supplied, if possible.
The hour generally selected in cities is after business hours, or from five to eight o’clock. In the country or villages it may be an hour or two earlier. To be punctual at the hour mentioned is obligatory. If you are too early you are in the way; if too late you annoy the hostess, cause impatience among the assembled guests, and perhaps spoil the dinner. Fifteen minutes is the longest time required to wait for a tardy guest.
THE SUCCESS OF A DINNER.
A host and hostess generally judge of the success of a dinner by the manner in which conversation has been sustained. If it has flagged often, it is considered proof that the guests have not been congenial; but if a steady stream of talk has been kept up, it shows that they have smoothly amalgamated, as a whole. No one should monopolize conversation, unless he wishes to win for himself the appellation of a bore, and be avoided as such.
THE TABLE APPOINTMENTS.
A snow-white cloth of the finest damask, beautiful china, glistening or finely engraved glass, and polished plate are considered essential to a grand dinner. Choice flowers, ferns and mosses tastefully arranged, add much to the beauty of the table. A salt-cellar should be within the reach of every guest. Napkins should be folded square and placed with a roll of bread upon each plate. The dessert is placed on the table amidst the flowers. An epergne, or a low dish of flowers, graces the centre; stands of bon-bons and confectionery are ranged on both sides of the table, which complete the decorations of the table. The name of each guest, written upon a card and placed one on each plate, marks the seat assigned.
ASSIGNING PARTNERS FOR DINNER.
The number at a dinner should not be less than six, nor more than twelve or fourteen. Then the host will be able to designate to each gentleman the lady whom he is to conduct to the table; but when the number exceeds this limit it is a good plan to have the name of each couple written upon a card and enclosed in an addressed envelope, ready to be handed to the gentleman by the servant, before entering the drawing-room, or left on a tray for the guests to select those which bear their names.