A Sparkling Vintage Life

downton abbey dinner partyAre you aching for an opportunity to trot out your Lady Mary drop-waist dress, your Carson-like encyclopedic knowledge of etiquette, or your Lady Violet zingers? Try throwing a Downton Abbey dinner party! Go here for some inspiration.

Here are a few additional dinner-party hazards to avoid, courtesy of our dear friend Florence Hartley:

    • Be careful in selecting the guests for a dinner party. Remember that conversation will be the sole entertainment for several hours, and if your guests are not well chosen, your dinner, no matter how perfect or costly the viands, will prove a failure. The most agreeable dinners are those whose numbers will allow all the guests to join in a common conversation, and where the host has spirit and intelligence to take the lead, and start a new subject when the interest in the old one begins to flag. Dinners where the guests depend entirely upon the person next them for conversation, are apt to be stupid, as it requires marvelous tact to pair off all the couples, so that every one will be entertaining in tête-à-tête conversation.
    • As the time just before dinner is very apt to be tiresome, you should bring forward all the armor against stupidity that you possess. Display upon tables arranged conveniently about the room, curiosities, handsome books, photographs, engravings, stereoscopes, medallions, any works of art you may own, and have the ottomans, sofas, and chairs so placed that your guests can move easily about the room, or rooms.
    • When you take your seat, be careful that your chair does not stand upon the dress of the lady next you, as she may not rise at the same instant that you do, and so you risk tearing her dress.
    • If, by the carelessness or awkwardness of your neighbors or the servants, you have a plate of soup, glass of wine, or any dish intended for your mouth, deposited upon your dress, do not spring up, or make any exclamation. You may wipe off the worst of the spot with your napkin, and then let it pass without further notice. If an apology is made by the unlucky perpetrator of the accident, try to set him at his ease by your own lady-like composure. He will feel sorry and awkward enough, without reproach, sullenness, or cold looks from you
    • Never examine minutely the food before you. You insult your hostess by such a proceeding, as it looks as if you feared to find something upon the plate that should not be there. Never use an eye-glass, either to look at the persons around you or the articles upon the table.
    • And finally . . . to carry away fruit or bonbons from the table is a sign of low breeding.”

There, now. Doesn’t that sound like jolly good fun?