I found two booklets that my grandmother kept in her files. One is called “Amy Vanderbilt’s Hostess Guide and Party Diary”. The other is called “Amy Vanderbilt’s "How to give Successful Dinner Parties”. They are a hoot! (To use a word probably from that era.) They were published in the early '60s. I have to share with you the page entitled “Welcome your guests”. I think I’ll definitely share more tidbits in the future because they are so different from how we entertain now. I would have hated to be a party-giver during that time because if I had to follow all these rules, I would be tired before the party even started!

Here are just a few of my favorite 'basic rules' Ms. Vanderbilt's books:

  • Be trigger quick to open your door. The waiting guest feels unwelcome if he has to shuffle about waiting hopefully for the sound of life behind the door.

  • Do you have a place for umbrellas?... A handy spot to take off galoshes so they don’t tract into the bedroom?... Are there enough – and heavy enough – hangers for the men’s overcoats?... For a big party do you have a rack for women’s coats?...

  • Are guest combs and brushes fresh and clean – a baking soda bath will make them so in a second…Are the following handy for guests in your bath and powder room: aspirin, dental floss, guest powder puffs, loose powder… Are there plenty of guest towels – pretty paper ones will do…

  • Are the hallways and stair wells carefully lighted?... Would it be better to edge the little step-down into the living room with masking tape for the evening than to risk someone’s tumble?...

  • Are there enough – and big enough – ashtrays everywhere including the entrance hall and the places your guests will leave their coats?...

"Are you in a state of happy anticipation now that your party’s about to start?... It’s too late to be nervous now!” - Amy Vanderbilt

Ok, so nowadays rules are a bit more lax; however, there is something to be said about being prepared for your guests. I truly do feel that people feel the amount of time and energy that you have put into having them over. So while we may not have enough, and big enough, ashtrays everywhere, maybe next time you have people over you'll remember just how much effort hosts used to put into their guests feeling welcome and you too will put forth just a bit more than usual.

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