What not to do at a tea party
Who doesn't love a tea party?
The modern European tea party is believed to have started in the 1840's, but the rules were a bit fussier then. Here's a few of my favourites from Lady Constance Howard (1885):
1. Ladies may ask for a second cup of tea if they are thirsty, but it would “look peculiar” if they ask for chocolate, milk, soda, cider, or some other beverage not usually served at a tea.
(so no champagne then??)
2. Conversation should be in a low tone so as not to disturb those who are doing their best to amuse the guests, and guests should at least try to look as if they are listening to the performances.
(easy, we've all done this one before..)
In our house of three girls we would arrange all of our soft toys in a big circle on a rug and kick off our tea parties. Apparently this is a no-no:
3. The absolute worst idea is to let the guests form themselves into one big circle. This leads to an "immediate depression," since "few people have the sang froid to talk, much less freely and well, when everyone can hear their remarks." The hostess must keep an eye out to prevent this catastrophe. If she does not, "a gloom pervades, hilarity ceases, only an occasional remark is ventured upon, and the party is converted into a Quaker's meeting." (Lady Campbell 1893)