Afternoon-Tea On The Veranda
Fancy Cakes Tea, or Coffee, or Chocolate
These menus may be modified in many ways. Other varieties of sandwiches may be provided. Both tea and coffee, or tea and chocolate, may be offered. Plain cake may be supplied instead of the fancy cakes, and a good tea biscuit may be given instead of one kind of sandwiches. Little dishes of bonbons may stand by to supplement the feast.
For these, as for the ordinary afternoon tea where there are no invited guests, the preparations are the same. The tea-table is not to be left standing fully equipped to gather dust when it is not in use. The cups and saucers and other tea plenishings are brought in on a tray and placed on the table. This may be a regular tea-table, or it may be the table one finds in every drawing-room where are piled the magazines and books of the day. These may be swept to one side to make space for the tray. The hostess may make the tea and pour it, or it may be brought in ready from the kitchen.
When tea-time extends over the whole afternoon, a tea-ball will prove of value. Then each guest is sure of a fresh hot cup of tea, and while the alcohol lamp holds out to burn the supply will not fail.
If there are a good many guests there may be a maid at hand to pass cups and offer the plates of sandwiches and sweets. But, as a rule, the affair is so informal that hostess and guests wait on themselves.
With the cup and saucer there may be offered a plate, and some hostesses offer doilies as well, but this is not obligatory. The maid is chiefly needed to replenish the hot water, to take away empty cups and the like, and if she is within sound of the bell, it answers as well as though she were at the elbow of the hostess.
When the tea is to be a larger and more formal function, matters are differently arranged. In those cases where a hostess gives perhaps two days, and invites all her dear five hundred friends to be present at one or the other of them, there is not room in the drawing-room for the tea-table nor place for the chatty informality of the simpler afternoon tea. The table is laid in the dining-room, or the library, and a friend is invited to "pour." If there are two beverages, - as there are, almost invariably, - one friend takes each end of the table, and there may be even a third, presiding over another hot drink, or over the punch bowl. A waitress or two must be at hand to take away the dishes that have been used and bring fresh, and to see that the guests have enough to eat and drink. The hostess has no time to see to anything beyond the salutations of the guests as they come in, and can only suggest to them that they go out to the dining-room and find something to eat.
Once in a while, a hostess will give no more than is contained in the menus already suggested, except that the supplies of all kinds may be increased, and that there may be three kinds of sandwiches, instead of one or two, and a larger choice in the matter of cake. Two hot drinks, at least, must be supplied.
But in so large a function the bill of fare is more likely to be something like the following: