In giving a dinner party, the first and often the most important question is, whom to invite. How many to invite follows as a problem of little less importance. For a pleasant dinner the number should be small rather than large, eight or ten being a fair average. An even number seems preferable, though this is not a matter of essential consideration.

Of course, large dinners are often a necessity, when given for business, family, or other reasons; and when display is the leading motive in giving the dinner, the number may be as great as the resources of the establishment will permit. But if comfort and the pleasure of social intercourse are the objects proposed, the number will need to be limited.

As to who should be invited, we have here a question that has sadly troubled many generations of hosts and hostesses. To bring together an incongruous mass of people is simply to invite failure. Guests should be selected with strict attention to a sense of fitness; and equal attention should be given to placing those of similar tastes together at table. The ease of conversation and the enjoyment of the dinner depend largely on this. Clever conversationalists are always most desirable guests. These are not always to be had, but even a single fluent talker often acts as a leaven that will rouse to speech a whole company of ordinarily quiet people. The invitation should be sent a week or two before the time fixed, or as much as three weeks if the affair is to be one of great formality.