The serving of afternoon tea with its dainty accompaniment of sandwiches or cake is coming into ever greater popularity, Whether at an entertainment to which cards for "Afternoon tea at four o'clock" are sent or during the customary afternoon calls. In the former case, naturally, the refreshments are usually more elaborate, though in no case should they be heavy, as dinner is so close at hand.
For the small reunion of friends the tea should be made and served by the hostess in the drawing-room or living-room or in summer weather out of doors. Simple sandwiches and cakes are served with hot tea, coffee or chocolate, though tea is preferable.
Buffet Supper For An Evening Company Oyster Patties Olives Rolled Chicken Sandwiches Maple Mousse Fancy Cakes Bonbons Coffee Chocolate because less rich and held by most women in high esteem. As Edmund Waller puts it:
Tea does our fancy aid
Repress those vapors which the head invade.
And keeps that palace of the soul serene.
In hot weather, however, iced coffee, tea or punch is usually more acceptable. No service or assistance is necessary except to bring in the required articles; the hostess or a friend makes the tea and the guests help each other and themselves.
For the more pretentious afternoon tea, refreshments are served in the dining-room, from a table made beautiful with flowers, lights and tempting viands. At one end of the table is usually a tea-service and at the other a service for chocolate; each is presided over by a friend of the hostess. The refreshments include sandwiches, fancy cakes, olives, bonbons, etc. These are passed to the standing guests by waitresses or young girls, also friends of the hostess. Napkins are a convenience, but not a necessity; sandwiches and cakes are usually placed on the saucer or a plate under it. Frappe is sometimes served in addition to the other delicacies.
Evening refreshments may be of infinite variety - from the very simple to the most elaborate - without regard to appetite or digestion. The menu may include hot bouillon, hot entrees, sandwiches, cold entrees, salads, coffee, salted nuts, ices and cakes. Coffee may be served in teacups with the supper or in after-dinner cups as a last course. The second way is necessarily customary where guests are not seated at tables.
Only the daintiest of china, glass and silver should appear on the table, and all crowding should be avoided: dishes can be replenished from the pantry if necessary. The table may be simply or elaborately decorated according to the kind of entertainment, the season, and the inclination of the host. Candlelight is to be preferred to any other, both because it is softer and because the candlesticks assist in making the table pretty.