Entertaining – 1960s Style!

Entertaining and need inspiration?

With the Festive Season rapidly approaching any decent historian who needs inspiration ignores the latest issues of Delicious or Good Living and heads straight back into the past by looking through the back issues of the Australian Women’s Weekly. All back issues from 1933 to 1982 are now available on Trove. You can make Word, PDF of JPEG copies of articles or recipes of interest.

A five-page special in the Women’s Weekly of Wednesday, 26 September 1962 provides the ingredients for your next  Mad Men-themed party- straight from the 60s!

This post explores the planning that went into the parties of the 60s. Cocktail parties were planned with military precision.Trove  Tuesday’s post will feature the recipes provided in this article- including the unique Moruya Slice – perfect for that cocktail party that you are planning.

Yes – there really is a slice called the Moruya Slice!

Womans Weekly_Headline
The article goes on to explain that:

FORTUNATELY, you don’t have  to be an Elsa Maxwell to mastermind a successful party. Good hostesses are made, not born. Once you know the rules, entertaining is easy, and whether it’s a dinner for four or a cocktail party for 40 you can make it an outstanding success.

It’s the planning that counts. Planning the people, the food, the cooking, the cleaning, the decorations, and the entertainment as carefully as a General plans a battle

Lists and More Lists: The exhaustive article provides many hints for the entertainer to be – and is aimed directly at the young wife. Planning and preparation play a huge role in the Women’s Weekly recipe for successful entertaining:

Lists are an invaluable part of the organisation. First a master list covering all phases of the party, then detailed lists for each separate activity. Pin them in a prominent position and cross off each item as you attend to it It’s the only way to be certain you have everything covered.

You’ll need separate lists for guests, food, drinks, equipment, decorations, and entertainment.

A table of tempting food!

The Critical Guest List – Hostesses are given helpful hints on who to invite and who not to invite. Some of thise suggestions hold true today!

The golden rule is never to invite more people than you can cope with comfortably. An ideal guest-list is a hybrid mixture, including talkers and listeners, some people who know one another, and some who don’t.

  1. Unless it’s a formal sit-down dinner, do invite at least one more man than there are women, and more if they are available. A lone man never looks so forlorn as a lone woman.
  2. Don’t invite anyone who is feuding with someone else, or the party may deteriorate into two armed camps.
  3. Avoid a “life-of-the-party” guest at small dinners-nobody else will get a word in. Keep him (or her) for bigger gatherings, where his act will have a wider audience and be really useful!
  4. Don’t mix age-groups drastically. Teens and children have more fun on their own and adults can find rock-‘n-roll tedious.
getting the mix right is all important according to the Women's Weekly!
Getting the mix right is all important according to the Women’s Weekly!

About Drinks: Just as it does now,back in the 60’s the same rule applied- Get the drinks right! The only major difference is that in the 60’s it was definitely the husband’s domain!

  1. Drinks are easy to prepare beforehand, but be sure you’ve got enough working space. An old garden table, provided it’s firm, is just the thing. Cover it with a floorlength white plastic cloth (there are many on sale which look like material).
  2. Discuss the menu with your husband or a man friend and let him select and order drinks and serve them during the party. It’s your job to see that he has plenty of bottle openers, trimmings for drinks (lemon peel, mint, etc.), and clean glasses, and to remove empty glasses unobtrusively for washing.
  3. Unless it’s a very special dinner party, don’t use your best glasses-you won’t have to worry about breakages.
  4. Cater for soft-drinkers with a delicious fruit punch or tomato-juice cocktail. And because there are few things more uninviting than a lukewarm drink, make sure there is plenty of ice (many garages supply it by the bagful specially for parties).
A 'husband or man friend's'  job in the 60's!
A ‘husband or man friend’s’ job in the 60’s!

Decorations: While the man’s role in the 60’s was to look after the drinks the wife is guided in this article to set an arttractive table and several cour schemes are proposed:

Unless it’s a Christmas party there’s no need for lavish decorations. The two area; to concentrate on are the entrance hall ant the party table.
A spectacular arrangement of fruit, flowers dried leaves, grass, and berries, or ever vegetables, will give the hall a festive look
Table settings should be gay and attractive, with a thoughtful selection and blending of colors for tablecloths, mats, and napkins china, glassware, and flowers.
Here are some suggestions for colour schemes:

  1. Pale aqua cloth; violet or deep blue napkins; purple, red, and blue anemones in :milk-glass bowl; clear or amethyst glasses.
  2. White damask cloth crossed in the centre with red ribbon runners; white napkins, red and white roses in a silver bowl; clear or red glasses.
  3. Lemon-yellow cloth; cinnamon napkins orange and yellow marigolds and nasturtiums yellow and white daisies in a wicker basket brown eathenware; amber or clear glasses .
  4. Cocoa brown cloth; hot-pink napkins; pink geraniums in a pewter jug or bowl; clear or blue glasses.
  5. Violet cloth; lavender-pink napkins; purpl and white violets, lavender, and hyacinth in an amethyst glass bowl; clear or green glasses.
  6. Mint-green cloth; dark green napkins; purple and green grapes, aubergines, and granny smith apples bedded on ivy leaves on a milk-glass compote; clear or green glasses,
  7. Pale pink cloth; cocoa-colored napkins; deep pink roses, in a brown earthenware con- tainer; Italian green glasses.
  8. Red hessian cloth; bread rolls tied in individual red-and-white-checked napkins; yellow and white daisies in » white jug; green or clear glasses.
Some colour on the table is important
Some colour on the table is important

A Good Hostess: This Women’s Weekly issue was quite instructive on how to be a good hostess. Some of the rules are still practical today while some are just ridiculous!

1. Guests should never be aware of the work their hostess is putting into a party. Outwardly at least you must be always amiable, no matter what crises eventuate.
2. Boost your morale by wearing your most attractive outfit – casual or formal as the occasion demands – and have your hair done the day before. Be sure the clothes you wear are comfortable. Nothing induces an expression of strain more quickly than tight shoes or an uncomfortable dress.
3. Allow a good two hours for getting yourself ready.
4. At the party the hostess meets guests at the front door, takes them to the cloak- room to leave their belongings, sees they get a drink, and introduces them.
5. While the party is in progress she is constantly on the alert to see that conversation is running smoothly, no one ts left out, and empty glasses are refilled.
6. Never let the party split into men in one corner, women in the other. Be smiling but firm and mix them up. Your timing and instinct have to be good, because nothing is more infuriating than to be dragged away from an interesting conversation to make small talk with a stranger.
7. Ask guests you know well to help by moving around and breaking up groups where conversation is obviously nagging

Let the party begin!
Let the party begin!

Coming up on Trove Tuesday-get the recipes for your Mad men cocktail party- including the Moruya Slice – 1962 style!

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