An Afternoon “At Home”

This is the first article in March of the School for Housewives 1905 series published on Mar 5, 1905, and is an interesting article about receiving visitors at home. I can only imagine the sorts of wonderfully decorated calling cards ladies in fancy homes would leave behind.

School for Housewives – An Afternoon “At Home”

If your time is worth anything, and you have any system with regard to exercise in the open air and other duties, you will find an “at home” day an economical measure. It is, moreover, a convenience to those who really wish to see and talk with you when they call, since they are thus assured that they will find you “in.” Lastly, it is a neat method of purging your visiting list of acquaintances who would rather be represented by printed pasteboard than by their persons.

Let your friends know that you stay at home one afternoon or evening, or both, of every week during a term of months for the express purpose of receiving them. The fact is a compliment in itself.

Write out the names of those you wish to hold upon your “calling list” and enclose to each in a small envelope your visiting card, engraved after this fashion:

Tuesdays in Mach and April.
From 4 to 7 p.m.

Or “Tuesday afternoons in March.” Or “Tuesday afternoons and evenings in March and April,” as may suit your convenience. Send out cards at least one week before the date of the first “day.”

Upon the afternoons designated have your drawing room in dainty order, with a few flowers set here and there to add an air of modest festivity and of hospitable expectation. If your dining room adjoin the parlor, set out your refreshments there. If, as often happens, your apartments offer two reception rooms, one larger than the other, fit up the inner and smaller of the two as a tea room.

Tea is the feature of the preparations made for the physical refreshment of your guests. I hope you know how to make it.

First, and above all, have the water boiling. Not “just off the boil,” not already boiled, but actually boiling.

The only safe and the most convenient way is to make your tea on the table. To this end provide yourself with a brass, copper, or silver kettle, heated by a small spirit lamp. Pretty brass kettles range in price from $3.50 to $23. Some of them rest on a standard on the table, while others depend from a high crane set on the floor at the pourer’s right hand. These cranes are of iron, fashioned usually in the shape of the figure 5, and are ‘the thing’ for 5 o’clock tea.

Fill your kettle with hot water and light the lamp. Put into the teapot the requisite quantity of tea; when the water boils pour enough on the leaves to cover them, and put the kettle again over the lighted wick. Cover the teapot closely. At the end of five minutes the “steeping” process will be completed, and you may fill the pot with the still boiling water. After it has stood a minute longer the delicious drink is ready to be enjoyed.

One of the requisites in a good cup of tea is to have it very hot. This object should not be attained by allowing the pot to stand on the side of the range, or, after the manner of our grandmothers, on the hob, where it is almost sure to stew and be ruined, but by covering it while on the table with a “cosy.”

To make a cosy, cut two semi-circles of some thick, rich colored material, such as tricot, felt, plush, or velvet, and join there at the top and sides. Cut two half circles a little smaller than the others, of very heavy wadding, and still another pair of satin or sateen for the lining. Fit the wadding inside of this and quilt or tack the wadding to the lining to prevent its slipping. The seams at the sides and bottom should be finished with a silk cord fastened in loops at the tops and corners. When finished, the whole fits over the teapot lie a snug cap.

Do not make a toil of the weekly entertainment of your friends. Cover the table with a pretty white cloth, and arrange thereupon your choicest china and silver plates, cake basket and tea equipage, a pile of napkins, a bon-bon dish and two plates for sandwiches.

Marion Harland

Dainty Dishes to Serve When Friends Gather at Your Tea
The Housemothers’ Exchange
Some of the Things That Help with Informal Teas

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