Entertaining in the home

SOME people think that entertaining means getting out the best china and silver and making the family dress up until everyone is uncomfortable and irritable, and secretly wishing the coming guests far away.

But entertaining isn’t like that at all; it is just the fun of having a few friends in – folk like ourselves to take us as we are and share the warmth and hospitality of our home. So don’t think you cannot entertain until you possess lovely tablecloths, china, glass and silver. Probably the friends of your age haven’t got them either. Plan a nice little evening, with snacks by the fireside, and relax.

Keep the refreshments simple – three-tier sandwiches, tiny sausages on sticks, savoury sandwiches, biscuits with your own designs on the top of them, sweets and nuts.

And after the eats have fun – Twenty Questions, Guess Who, Mock Trial, a card game perhaps, and finish the evening with music. You can ask each of your guests to choose two tunes from your gramophone selection, then compose a programme and have a ‘party favourites ‘half-hour. End with a sing-song around the piano. Then before your guests go home let them have a cup of hot soup and toasted cubes if it is winter-time, and ice-cream if it is summer-time. If you have no refrigerator, get one of the men to pop out and get some ice-cream just before closing time.

And to end the perfect party, it makes things so much nicer if the host and hostess walk with their friends to the bus stop.

Of course there will be parties to which you will invite some strangers as well as friends. These occasions will be a little more formal and will require planning well beforehand if things are to go with a swing.

Games have to be thought out so that they will suit each guest, and when the party is composed of guests of all ages, excluding children, it is wise to keep to old games which will offend no one.

To make your guests chummy from the start and to break down any stiffness, try this method. Cut pictures from magazines or newspapers. Then cut each picture in two. Put one half of the picture into one hat and the other half into another. Let the guests pick from a hat, one for ladies, one for gentlemen, and let them find their partners. This starts off the party with merriment and there is no worry about the placing of guests at the table.

When the meal is over start the fun with the old-fashioned game of Spinning the Plate. A tray or wooden board (round) is used for the purpose. Start the game by secretly giving each guest the name of an article in a beauty parlour, dien read out the list of articles to the guests sitting in a circle. Stand in the centre of the room, spin the plate and call a name. The named person has to run quickly and pick up the plate before it stops spinning and call another name; if he fails to catch the plate while it spins he is out and must pay a forfeit.

Forfeits can be arranged to suit the company and it is wise for the host to have them thought out before the party. A lady stands behind the host, holds up the items one at a time and says,’ What is the owner of this pretty thing to do? ‘

Passing the Matchbox is a good game to follow forfeits, as it gets the company together again. Players form sides and kneel on the floor facing each other and with their hands behind their backs. The outer case of a matchbox is placed at the end of each row, in front of the first player, who has to pick it up with his nose and pass it on to the next player’s nose, and so on to the end of the row. If the box is dropped it must be picked up by the nose. If hands touch the box it must be returned to the first player and the side must start all over again. The first side to get the box on the nose of the last player wins the game. The next game should be restful to guests. Memory is good for that reason. A pad and a pencil are given to each guest. The host comes into the room carrying a tray with a large number of small items on it. Each guest is allowed to look at it while the host counts ten, at which he takes it out of the room. The guest who can write down the greatest number of items seen on the tray wins the prize.

The game of Winking follows merrily on and so the fun goes on, and no guest is allowed to feel out of things. For Winking, the ladies sit in chairs arranged in a circle, with a gentleman standing behind each chair. One gentleman stands behind an empty chair and he has to try to get a lady to his chair by winking at her. The gentleman behind her chair must try to prevent her from leaving. If the empty chair is filled, then the man losing his lady tries to get another lady to his chair, and so it goes on. It’s great fun if not allowed to lag.

The host could next try his skill as a conjurer. A coin and handkerchief could be shown to the guests (the handkerchief should be one with a deep hem). The host covers the coin with the handkerchief, allows those present to feel it in the handkerchief, and then with a wave the coin is gone. The host holds out the handkerchief to show no coin. What happens is this: the host slips the coin – a sixpence is best – into a corner of the hem, holds that corner between his finger and his thumb as he shows the empty handkerchief, then slips the coin into the handkerchief again as he shows its reappearance.

The best party is where one game follows another in rapid succession and where the host is a magician in ringing the changes, and the hostess a wizard with the ‘eats.’

A game for later in the evening is called Hotel. The guests sit in a circle. The host starts the fun. He tells a make-believe story about an hotel and every time he mentions ‘hotel ‘everyone must get up and turn round. The guest who fails to do so must take up the story. This game is grand fun if one or two of the guests are good at story-telling.

Statues is a game loved by all ages. Immediately the music stops everyone must stand still – if they either move or giggle they are out. Last one in gets the prize. Many amusing poses can be thought out to add to the amusement.

I have never allowed children to take part in grown-ups’ parties. I don’t think children and grown-ups mix well at such times.