FORMAL AND INFORMAL AFTERNOON TEAS. BUFFET LUNCHEON AND EVENING SPREADS
SERVICE FOR AFTERNOON TEAS
FOR the informal afternoon tea no table is set. The maid brings to the drawing-room, living-room, sun-parlor, or piazza. — in fact any place but the dining-room — the tray with the tea-service, which she places on a table previously made ready to receive it. The tray may be of either silver, mahogany, or lacquer. The hostess either makes the tea and pours it or has it made and brought in for her to pour. Of course the former service is more graceful and personal. If tea is made by the hostess, the maid must see that the equipment for making and serving it is complete. A teakettle for boiling water, an alcohol lamp filled, and a box of matches, a tea-caddy with teaspoon and a tea-ball are essential. The tea-ball is convenient when making a few cups of tea, but when several cups are to be poured at once, a teapot is necessary. Cut sugar or rock crystals, a pitcher of cream, a small dish of sliced lemon, and cups and saucers, spoon on saucer, and tea napkins should be in readiness on the tea-tray. Hot water should be brought in, in the teakettle, and placed over the lamp, as it soon reaches the boiling point and the tea is prepared quickly. Plain bread and butter sandwiches or sandwiches of the simplest kinds — olive, nut, or lettuce — should be served, also small cakes or wafers. Care should be taken not to have anything elaborate. A curate's assistant for convenience in passing all sandwiches and wafers at the same time is much in use for informal afternoon teas.
Out of doors, in summer, iced tea, iced chocolate, or punch is often more convenient, as well as more acceptable than hot tea. For out-of-door service, the tea- wagon will be found most useful, as the entire service may be placed upon it and wheeled to the chosen spot with little trouble.
A tea for which cards are sent out is a formal occasion, really an afternoon reception. Friends of the hostess serve all the refreshments, but maids should be in attendance to remove used cups and plates and to bring in fresh ones; also to replenish all dishes of food. The table is laid either with a luncheon cloth or with doilies, and is decorated with flowers and candles. At one end is the tea-service, a large tray holding teapot, hot-water pot, sliced lemons in dish with a small fork, sugar-bowl holding cut sugar, sugar-tongs, and a cream pitcher. As many teacups as possible (each with teaspoon on saucer, the handle being parallel to handle of cup) should be placed on tray, others being brought as needed. At some teas, the cups and saucers are used without plates. At the opposite end of the table is the coffee, chocolate, or bouillon service. Here are placed tray, urn, cream, and sugar for coffee; the chocolate urn, and whipped cream in a bowl with ladle, if chocolate is the chosen beverage ; or the urn alone, if bouillon is served. Cups, saucers, and spoons are arranged the same as for tea.
Friends of the hostess preside at each end of the table. Often four different ladies are asked to pour, two for the first hour and two others for the last hour. A large dinner napkin to protect the pourer's gown should be near the tray. Plates filled with sandwiches, others filled with cakes, and dishes holding candies, with others containing salted nuts, are arranged symmetrically upon the table. Cakes are also disposed upon the frappe table and on serving- table and passed from there. One must avoid having a crowded table. Individual ices are sometimes served, although frappe (or some frozen cream, not too rich) is usually preferred, served in frappe glasses from a frappe bowl by some friend of the hostess.
If possible the frappe table is in some room other than the dining-room, as this arrangement relieves a sometimes congested spot. The frappe table should be covered with a luncheon cloth and be equipped with punch or frappe bowl and ladle, and frappe glasses. There should also be small plates in piles with plate doilies between, always linen, if possible. Paper plate doilies aTe permissible only when one is entertaining one hundred or more guests. Upon each of these doily-covered plates a frappe glass is placed for serving, filled with sherbet, and a sherbet spoon placed on right-hand side of plate. A tray holding sherbet spoons should be upon the frappe table. A filled cake basket and dishes of candy may be placed there for convenience in serving. Piles of plates and small napkins (never of paper) are arranged on serving-table. Young girl friends of the hostess see that guests reach the dining-room and are served. To serve, they should take a napkin and a plate to a guest, or a napkin only, as the service demands, ask her which beverage she prefers, and then serve it, passing sandwiches and cakes to her also. Sometimes a maid stands at each side of the door at the entrance of the dining-room and presents a napkin and plate, or a napkin, to each guest entering, after which the young girls act as the servers.
Salads are offered for an evening spread or possibly for a light spread after an afternoon at cards, but not at a tea. Music is frequently provided, but the musicians should be stationed far enough from the guests so that only the suggestion and charm of the music are evident. It should not be overpowering enough to make conversation difficult.
At a buffet luncheon or spread, the guests are not seated but partake of the refreshments standing. When "buffet service" is used, the food is placed upon an attractively laid table, usually all at the same time, although it may be brought to the table and served in courses. Plates, silver, and napkins are arranged upon the table to make the service as quick and easy as possible.
When luncheon is served at small tables to many guests, the service is the same as though all were seated at one table, but it requires a number of maids to carry out this arrangement. The buffet luncheon table is preferable to small tables for many reasons ; it requires less space, can be made to look more attractive, and calls for much less china and silver and for less service. The luncheon cloth is the preferred covering and no centerpiece is necessary. There is so much silver to be laid for serving that the cloth is not only a protection to the table, but it lessens the noise of handling the silver.
The arrangement and service of a buffet luncheon and a buffet spread or supper are practically the same, except that the luncheon often presents heavier and more varied courses than would ordinarily be given at night, and that in the evening lighted candles are used. The table decoration previously planned by the hostess is placed after laying the luncheon cloth. The arrangement of the dishes depends largely upon the menu and upon the number of guests to be served. It is better to have the maids replenish dishes and supplies from serving-table or pantry than to give the table the appearance of being crowded.
The menu might consist of two hot and two cold dishes and two frozen desserts, or one frozen dessert and one attractively garnished mold of jelly or cream. One only of each kind mentioned may be the choice of the hostess, if the occasion does not demand more, though in providing for many persons it is advisable to present two hot dishes. All food should be such as. can be easily eaten with a fork, as the use of a knife is impossible. Rolls, sandwiches, and perhaps olives, are upon the table, and cakes, candies, and salted nuts are passed. Both hot and cold dishes are on the table at the same time, ices being brought in as a separate course. Whether the ot and cold refreshments are served on the same plate or in two courses depends entirely upon the preference of the hostess. If presenting one hot and one cold dish, serve each kind from two platters, as by this arrangement the table appears better balanced, and the service is facilitated. A good arrangement of the table is as follows : at the ends and directly opposite each other place the two platters or chafing-dishes from which is served the hot course ; and on the other sides of the table the two dishes containing salad or cold entrees. Around these platters group the plates and silver, placing the serving silver in the most convenient position. On two opposite corners of the table place the small napkins in neat piles not too high. Plates of rolls and sandwiches are placed not too far in from the edge of table. Rolls are served with the hot course, and sandwiches accompany the salad. After the hot and salad courses have been removed, the ices are brought in. Cakes previously arranged on the serving-table are passed and then placed on the dining-table. For beverages, coffee alone, or coffee and chocolate may be provided. Either one or both may be served from an urn, or the filled cups may be brought on a tray from the pantry.
Friends of the hostess usually serve, sometimes the host and hostess assisting, although occasionally waitresses are expected to do the serving. The waitresses must always be observant and prompt to remove soiled dishes, bring fresh ones, and replenish supplies.
A wedding breakfast may be served much like the formal luncheon, unless the number of guests is so large that it takes the form of a buffet spread. The buffet spread for a large reception where people are coming and going during certain hours varies from the buffet spread served at a certain hour to a definite number in that all refreshments, hot, cold, and frozen, are put upon the table at once.
A list of dishes suitable for buffet spreads or luncheons includes the following suggestions :