A “Valentine High Tea”

This is the second article in February of the School for Housewives 1905 series published on Feb 12, 1905, and is a fun article on a Valentine’s Day party. I do remember from past Valentine’s day parties that we also played the cake game where your “fortune” was told by what item was found in your piece.

School for Housewives – A “Valentine High Tea”

Plenty of Fun, Little Ceremony and Far Less Trouble than a Formal Dinner

A high tea is less than a dinner, a trifle more ceremonious than a general “At Home” with tea, sandwiches and cakes.

Our young mistress, with the help of a maid-of-all work, may accomplish successfully a little dinner of four, or at most six, “covers,” as the English put it. We say “four or six people at table.” The hostess may be a clever manager, her maid expect in her part. Nevertheless, the dinner is an “undertaking.” Some day we will talk it over, for such functions must needs be, once in a good many whiles.

For one-fourth of the expense and one-third of the work our housewife may entertain three times as many guests and win golden opinions of her ability as caterer and entertainer. She scores not one but several good points in seizing upon an “occasion” to be “improved” by the festive gathering.

A “Valentine High Tea” sounds note of good, gay cheer, predisposing the prospective guests to hilarity. The idea is not hackneyed; the fact that they are bidden by other young people insures freedom from strict conventionalities. For it goes without saying that the guests must all be youthful – comparatively – and single.

St. Valentine has no dealings with the wedded. Mating is his business, and he sticks to it. There must, also, be an equal number of young men and maidens – ten or twelve of each, if our flat or cottage will hold so many. The decorations of table and rooms must be spring flowers. These need not be elaborate, for daffodils and hyacinths are expensive. Married Mary is fortunate if, in anticipation of the “festa,” she has raised a dozen hyacinths in glasses from budding bulbs bought six weeks ago. This inflexible needles of pine and spruce, even the more graceful running calendar, and inadmissible; the rubber plant would be a vile solecism. She many, however, wreathe pictures and candelabra with the complaisant smilax.

Before the Valentine rush begins let her provide herself with several sizes and patterns of heart-shaped cake cutters and molds. The day before the affair let her make bounteous store of small cakes, cut and molded with these. For reasons I will show presently, a liberal proportion of these should be sponge, therefore butterless, hearts.


When all are baked, have written ready upon slips of paper a given number of proper names, masculine and feminine; fold each neatly once across, not to take too much room; lay upon he underside of a heart, wash the inner edges of the cake with white of egg and fit another heart of the same size upon the first, inclosing the folded bit of paper. Have an equal number of masculine and feminine names thus hidden, keeping the sexes carefully separated as you go on. When each heart is “mated” and made fast to its companion, frost it all over, and let it dry. That there may be no confusion at the last, let the icing of one set of cakes by white, the other pink. When dry, heap those containing the men’s names in one dish, the women’s in another.

Split carefully and extract the kernels from as many English walnuts as there are gusts, tuck into each hollow nut a folded paper on which is written the date of a future year – “1906-1907-1910,” etc.; fit the sides together, lecture in place with mucilage or sealing wax and pile in a nut dish, wreathed with smilax. Another set of walnuts, similarly prepared, should contain couplets prophetic of the destiny of him or of her who may open it. These need not be wise. They will not be poetical. A little knack of stringing rhymes together and a keen sense of fun will make them amusing. When bashful Robert, who has found the name of “Elizabeth” between the two halves of his cookey, and learned from the open walnut that he will be married in 1906, is bidden by the second nut –

Brace your courage, sighing swain!
Eliza longs to heal your pain –

As Dr. Primrose said of the party at the parsonage – “here was not much wit, but there was a great deal of laughter, and that did almost as well.”

There are sharp edges to wit in which honest, happy funmaking is, happily, wanting.

Cut your sandwiches, also, into heart shapes. Recipes for a variety of these will be found in another column. Bonbons, fashioned into hearts, darts and arrows, are abundant at this season, and pink-and-white Cupids, that will swing airily from the central chandelier and balance themselves dizzily upon the pinnacle of ice cream “forms.” If you choose to order ices molded into hearts, any confectioner will supply them on Valentine’s Day.

A silver thimble, signifying bachelorhood or spinsterhood; a gold ring, foretelling matrimony; a dime, promising wealth, may be hidden in a large white fruit cake and cut for at random by the merrymakers.


Mrs. John’s fertile fancy will suggest twenty variations of and improvements upon he foregoing outline. Hearts may be interwoven in an intricate pattern upon the damask cloth with ivy or geranium leaves. A big bowl of salad may have a like device sketched upon the surface in the minced whites and powdered yolks of eggs.

Set the table in the dining room, but do not range chairs about it. Let the guests stand or sit where they like in parlor or drawing room, overflowing into the hall if crowded, the young men doing the waiting.

For beverages, have cafe au lait and milled chocolate. For formulas for these and for white fruit cake see recipe column.

Marion Harland