Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Entertaining Thoughts...

Dear Helen Hartman,
      Like you, I am thinking of hosting a party to kick off the summer. But as soon as I mention the possibility all camps will be heard from and all expect me to cater to their tastes, diets, political leanings and schedules!
         Love the idea of having people over but am soooo over the idea of having to do something everyone will love!

Dear Over-Loved One,
You have come to the right place as Helen is the original party animal – meaning she is old as dirt and sometimes bites.  
That’s why no one contradicts her when she announces: “Y’all Come and Have a Grand Time… or else.”  
 But Helen knows that many people do not have the history, personality or pointy little pitch forks to enforce such demands. So once again she dragged out some resources to help out. Because I have still not recovered from trying to lift the thing to hasten a stink bug on to its great reward (do you think they still stink in the afterlife?) I am leaving the indomitable Amy V’s book (and booklets) on the shelf.

Let’s start with the obvious. It’s right there –
How to have Guests – and enjoy them… IT’s A COOKBOOK!! 
(Test: If you know that’s a reference to aliens who eat people, you, too, may be old as dirt)

Well, this isn’t as obviously helpful as I’d hoped as it does not have a lot of pictures.                                   
Though I did sense a certain open hostility toward children at adult gatherings that I can't help but admire:
Come on in, we've banished our young child to his attic prison and stashed those crazy teens in the dingy basement. Let the Fun begin!

But it does have this – Elegant Sandwich Loaf – in COLOR!!!
Helen may have to go lie down from the thrill of it all.

All right back to The Home and Garden’s Holiday Cookbook which has a handy list for what the hostess must do before a party. Among those are these helpful suggestions:

1) Invite people:

"Oh, yeah, Doris, it'll be keen! As long as my nosy man-hungry neighbor, Zelma,  doesn't call the cops on us... again! World's fastest towel? Just right for the world's fastest gal, I say!"

2)Be sure to tell guests what to wear:
 Helen would rather tell them what NOT to wear. For example, you know that outfit you're wearing right now? 
Not that.

 3) If you are new at entertaining organize your party early:
The back hedge is our most vulnerable spot for Zelma to get through 
and start her man-grabbing ways!
4)  Pick dishes you can fix ahead of time:
Yeah, you can make things with mayo waaaaay ahead of time. 
Look at it, it's not like anyone is actually going to EAT that stuff!
5)  As a rule men like simple fare (beer for the average Joe -- the average Joe for these guys!)
and women take to “something different” (your gorgeous houseguest, Armando, for example)

6) Keep track of special days to use as themes for parties
(IOW stop spending so much time thinking about yourself and look at a calendar from time to time)

7)  Use smart ovenware and electric skillets to save on dishwashing. Helen doesn’t know these strange words – Oven? Skillet? Dishwashing?

No idea... but I did notice that in 1968 a thoughtful hostess COULD order this handy FLAMETHROWER from the back of House Beautiful Magazine! Why not just use paper plates and torch them after the party? Now, that's a time saver!

8)Before the party split duties between host and hostess.
So, I'll do all the work and you'll sit back and criticize and make sexist jokes like always, then? 
9) Budget time – save an hour to relax before guests arrive!
Whatcha thinkin'?
Oh, I'm just wondering how long before my flame thrower arrives in the mail. 
Zelma's zippy dry towels are flammable, right?

Or how about this – relax more than an hour before people arrive. Start out relaxed and ready to have a wonderful time. Tell people to wear a smile (that does NOT mean clothing optional, Uncle Ernie) and come ready to have a good time. 
Life is too short and you are all too fabulous not to celebrate, whether the calendar says it’s a special day or not!
 Linking today for the first time to Coloradolady: Vintage Thingie Thursday


  1. This is all fabulous advice! Especially the flame thrower. And the frosted sandwich loaf, too. I'm sure I can use them both - if I think hard enough...

    How I love your blog! Thank you for a treat at the end of my day :)


  2. I can't get over that sandwich loaf!

    Once at a a family dinner my Mother-in-Law bought along a bowl of mashed canned asparagus with whole boiled eggs sticking out of the top of it! Stop reading and visualise for a a picture in your head? NOT a good look! I had to pinch my husband under the table to get him to eat some...she's not my Mum so I felt I didn't have to!

    Anyway your sandwich loaf reminded me of this so I thought I would mention it...

  3. Lidian - bwahahaha, give the lady a flame thrower and a frosted sandwich loaf and she can rule the world!

    Kylie - I tried. I REALLY tried to visualize it, but it kept triggering my gag reflex! Love that you made your hubby do the right thing, and realized you didn't have to!Thanks for the comments and the laughs.

  4. Hello Helen:
    What absolute fun your own parties must be and we are quite sure that the success of them entails ignoring all of the advice which you include here!! We did rather like, though, the idea of banishing children to the basement or attic, but then we are not really 'in' to children and would have no idea what to do with them.

    But, we strongly believe that there is no such thing as a free lunch. There is an obligation on the part of guests to make scintillating conversation and to be entertaining. We promise we will!!

  5. Another FABULOUS post. Flame thrower...really?

  6. Jane and Lance - for some reason wasn't able to leave a comment on your blog today but have missed some of your posts, which are always worthy of party conversation! These days we banish doggies because other people bring THEIR children. The dogs do NOT think this is fair, btw.

    Kim - MAIL ORDER flame thrower!

  7. Helen I would come to your party in am hert beat. I love the old cook book!

  8. These old ads are so funny. And the 'elegant' foods slay me. So many things we would never make now for our guests. Remember when (you're probably too young!), a classy dinner always started with a glass of tomato juice. And the choice of beverage was coffee, tea or water. I love I Love Lucy was like another world then. thanks for posting!

  9. That sandwich loaf was a dish on a recent TV cooking show, it looked horrific!
    I love your tips, sounds like a great excuse for another party (if I need an excuse). xxx

  10. Jeannie - my mom was truly an Emily Post girl, she did fancy dinners with a starter of tomato juice and being Southern, she big meals with a decanter of Cream de Menthe.

  11. Have no idea how one eats that sandwich loaf - I guess with a fork?

  12. Dear Helen, love the flamethrower! But what is the green stuff that looks like icing on the sandwich loaf? Can I come to one of your parties?

  13. That sandwich loaf is killing me! I guess I can't mock, as a child the only salad dressing we ever used was Miracle Whip! ewwwwwwwwwwwww!

  14. Jori - I LOOOOOVE Miracle Whip. It galled my southern mother to the core, especially when we kids called it mayonnaise. "It's Salad Dressing," she'd scold (she made salad dressing from a mix every evening,too, so miracle Whip was her sworn enemy on all sides and we demanded it)

  15. Hilarious! I love the flame thrower to burn the paper plates, esp. as my mother is actually obsessed with using paper plates at family gatherings, I'll have to email this post to her!

  16. Kitty, my mother too - she had multiple sets of dishes, including luncheon sets and, I think, a tupperware picnic set. She had been gone 5 years before I dared use paper plate at Thanksgiving... and then they were the Hallmark, fanciest kind.

  17. I Love your idea to make healthy breads in the pan! You are brilliant! I always called miracle whip mayo too! They are both white and squishy right? Same diff I say! :)

  18. Dearest Helen,

    Your wonderful posts are always such a delightfully fun spot in my week, and this awesome vintage cookery related gem is no exception (I have that very same cookbook and have made numerous recipes from it, each of which turned out great!).

    Big hugs & joyful Tuesday wishes,
    ♥ Jessica from Chronically Vintage

  19. I am of the era. I have made the sandwich loaf---four of them, for a baby shower. The only redeeming thing was that it wasn't my idea, and the three layers were filled with good homemade Paminna Cheese.

    I heard later that all the ladies (also, of course, of that era when it was a sin to eat bread) just scraped ALL the Paminna Cheese up with their forks and left the bread. I coulda just put the stuff out in a bowl to help themselves to a spoonful.

    I still blush, just thinking of it, but at least I didn't air-brush the cream cheese frosting.


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