The dress for receptions is, for men, morning dress; for ladies, demi-toilet, with or without bonnet. No low-necked dress nor short sleeves should be seen at day receptions, nor white neck-ties and dress coats.
The material of a lady’s costume may be of velvet, silk, muslin, gauze or grenadine, according to the season of the year, and taste of the wearer, but her more elegant jewelry and laces should be reserved for evening parties.
The refreshments for “morning receptions” are generally light, consisting of tea, coffee, frozen punch, claret punch, ices, fruit and cakes. Often a cold collation is spread after the lighter refreshments have been served, and sometimes the table is set with all the varieties, and renewed from time to time.
Invitations to a reception are simple, and are usually very informal. Frequently the lady’s card is sent with the simple inscription, “At Home Thursday, from four to seven.” No answers are expected to these invitations, unless “R.S.V.P.” is on one corner. One visiting card is left by each person who is present, to serve for the after call. No calls are expected from those who attend. Those who are not able to be present, call soon after.
A matinee musicale partakes of the nature of a reception, and is one of the most difficult entertainments attempted. For this it is necessary to secure those persons possessing sufficient vocal and instrumental talent to insure the success of the entertainment, and to arrange with them a programme, assigning to each, in order, his or her part. It is customary to commence with a piece of instrumental music, followed by solos, duets, quartettes, etc., with instrumental music interspersed, in not too great proportions. Some competent person is needed as accompanist. It is the duty of the hostess to maintain silence among her guests during the performance of instrumental as well as vocal music. If any are unaware of the breach of good manners they commit in talking or whispering at such times, she should by a gesture endeavor to acquaint them of the fact. It is the duty of the hostess to see that the ladies are accompanied to the piano; that the leaves of the music are turned for them, and that they are conducted to their seats again. When not intimately acquainted with them, the hostess should join in expressing gratification.
The dress at a musical matinee is the same as at a reception, only bonnets are more generally dispensed with. Those who have taken part, often remain for a hot supper.
PARTIES IN THE COUNTRY.
Morning and afternoon parties in the country, or at watering places, are of a less formal character than in cities. The hostess introduces such of her guests as she thinks most likely to be mutually agreeable. Music or some amusement is essential to the success of such parties.