Begging her husband to be back as early as possible from his business, she sets to work to make everything look as fresh, as dainty, as inviting as possible, and has a careful eye for any specks of dust which may happen to have escaped the attention of the housemaid's duster,
Her next care is to set out all the wedding presents that can be suitably displayed, remembering to give prominent positions to any given by the callers she expects. This is a form of gratitude not often practised, and yet it is a little attention that pleases the givers greatly.
Some recipients of presents think that when they have written a note of thanks or spoken a few words of appreciative acknowledgment, nothing more is necessary. Others, on the contrary, find a graceful word or two to say on the subject, perhaps even years after having received the gift. This gives great pleasure to the donor, especially since it does not belong to the form of gratitude that has been defined as "a lively sense of favours to come." Wedding presents do not always come twice in a life.
It is generally a little difficult in a party of this kind to know how many should be prepared for in the matter of refreshments. Answers to the invitation are not asked for, and very few write to say they are coming. Consequently, it is necessary to make provision for almost the whole number to whom cards have been sent. Much of the preparation can be managed at home, but there is one point on which there is usually a small difficulty. The young couple will seldom have enough cups and saucers for a gathering of the sort, and even teaspoons may run short. This possibility should be thought of in good time, and a sufficiency hired from a caterer.
Preparing for Quests
Of course, the whole affair can be undertaken by a caterer, but that is an extravagance which a newly married pair cannot always afford.
Bread-and-butter can always be cut at home, and plenty of it. Wafer-like slices of good bread with good butter are a form of food that never palls. Even children at a party choose bread-and-butter as a first course. An inexperienced hostess, who provided dainties only for her juvenile guests, was surprised at an almost general demand for bread-and-butter.
Sandwiches are almost as necessary, and there is practically no end to the variety that can be prepared-egg (in a paste), sardine (the fish skinned, boned, and reduced to a paste, with a very small quantity of cream), cucumber, potted meat or game, chicken-and-ham paste, shrimp or prawn, minced chicken or turkey, tomato (made into a puree with cream and carefully flavoured with salt and a touch of pepper), watercress-these and a dozen other sorts offer themselves for choice. I have not mentioned pate de foie gras because it is more expensive than any of the above, and we are supposed to be dealing with a young couple whose income is £300 a year, and who have, therefore, to be very careful about outlay. Flowers go far to make the room look nice, and, fortunately for all who love them, flowers are cheap almost all the year round. Even a few suffice to make a good effect. When they are skilfully arranged, each blossom tells, and there are now many pretty vases to be obtained which are also inexpensive.
In winter a softly shaded lamp and a glowing fire bestow an air of comfort that is in itself a greeting to the callers. A dainty teacloth should be chosen, and when all is arranged, the young hostess goes to make a careful toilette, one that will do equal honour to her guests and justice to her good looks.
Sometimes the going-away gown is donned for this occasion, or it may be one of the trousseau frocks is better suited for indoor wear. Choice will fall upon the most elaborate in the wardrobe. The occasion is unique, and the bride will be expected to dress up to it. Her friends would regard it as a bad compliment to them if she were to fail in this. But she is not at all likely to fail. The task will be a labour of love.
And now she stands ready, surveying with pleased eyes the room, the table, the flowers, the cakes, and with the entrance of her husband the pleasant circumstances are complete. Possibly she may never before have played the hostess, except in her girlhood's home, under the wing of her mother, and her enjoyment of the role is keen. Everybody is pleasant. The world always smiles upon the newly married. It is interested and curious. Every marriage is an experiment, and spectators wonder if it is going to be a success or otherwise. Bride and bridegroom are the objects of searching looks, veiled (sometimes but thinly) under a smiling pretence of carelessness. Women especially are keenly interested, the married because they know the pitfalls and chances of matrimony, the unmarried because they do not know and wonder if they ever will. The Good Hostess Equal attention will be paid to all. No one is neglected in the matter of refreshments. The happy host and hostess enjoy making much of their guests and looking after their comfort in every way. The host will see them to the door, while his wife remains with those who remain. Fresh tea is provided for newcomers, after the fashion of true hospitality. The bride is careful about this, for she has probably suffered in her time from the carelessness of hostesses who give their callers overdrawn tea loaded with tannin, bitter, tepid, unrefreshing. Our young bride knows better, and, with all the freshness and enthusiasm of her new position about her, means to keep well up to the mark in such matters.