Holiday Entertaining, Part 0.5 of 2.5: Trivia Time Answers!

Have you finished yet? Or are you holding on to test your mettle against family and friends? If you are in the latter scenario, you’ll want to stop reading here, at least for now. (And if you have no idea what any of that means, check out the previous post from Monday.) Go on, we’ll wait…

Last chance to not look. 😉

Mental Cocktails, 1933. Answers to Test #2.
Mental Cocktails, 1933. Answers to Test #2.


Mental Cocktails, 1933. Answers to Test #6.
Mental Cocktails, 1933. Answers to Test #6.

Here’s hoping you all got a perfect score!

And more importantly, we here at Special Collections hope you have had wonderful holidays you may have already celebrated wonderful holidays just ahead! The university, which, of course, includes the libraries and Special Collections, will be closed for about nine days starting on Thursday. But, just in case you can’t go without your History of Food and Drink Collection fix, there will still be a feature post next week! It’s all written and scheduled to go out. No card games or trivia, but it *might* contain a few recipes for some sweet treats to share on New Years’ Eve….


Holiday Entertaining, Part 2 of 2.5: Trivia Time!

Maybe card games aren’t your thing. Maybe you thought you had a handle on entertainment. Or maybe you just have unexpected company. Whatever the case, Part 2 of our holiday entertaining series is here to help. This week, it’s trivia. Well, our feature publication calls them “tests,” but Mental Cocktails, published in 1933, is really sets of trivia questions.

Mental Cocktails, 1933
Mental Cocktails, 1933


Mental Cocktails contains 6 different trivia tests. The first is allotted 10 minutes, the other five allotted 20 minutes. The first one is a bit of a warm up, but I know our readers are quite capable, so I’ve skipped over it. As you may have noticed, the pages above includes two of the tests, but no answers. You may also recall that last week, I mentioned this was a 2.5 part series. There’s no fun in my giving you the answers up front! With the holiday this week and the library closing on Thursday for the next nine days, this post is going up earlier in the week than usual, on Monday, with good reason. The pages with the answers to both of the tests above (aka Part .5) will come out in a post on Wednesday. Think of it this way: you have WAY more than 20 minutes to solve the trivia, but you don’t have to be as generous with your guests. We’ll keep that between us. 🙂

On a side note, the book says that this is the first series and more volumes were expected. Our copy of this book is the only one I found cataloged in public or academic library hands and I wasn’t able to locate any additional volumes in the series. Part of that could stem from the lack of publisher and publication location information, but it leaves us with the trivia question that isn’t answered in the back: Were there more Mental Cocktails or not?!?


Holiday Entertaining, Part 1 of 2.5: Card Games

The holiday season is in full swing and I thought it might be a good idea to talk about entertaining. Many of us will be hosting guests or be hosted by someone else and there can  With part of my family, we usually hit a point where some sort of game comes out. When I was younger, I remember learning lots of card games, most of which I couldn’t tell you the rules to now. In the last few years, it’s been word games: Scrabble, Bananagrams, and, for a short time, Master Boggle. (I say “for a short time” on that last one, since after a few rounds with your favorite culinary blogger who happens to have an English/Literature background, some family members won’t play with me anymore.) But that’s neither here nor there. 🙂 If YOU are entertaining, or looking to be entertained in the next few weeks, I’ve got a 2.5 part series of blog posts for you! This week, it’s How to Entertain with Cards!

How to Entertain with Cards, 1921
How to Entertain with Cards, 1921

This lovely little booklet covers card parties for formal clubs, special events, and the everyday. There is information on creating and managing a club, foods to serve, game to play, and even how to send invitations. Everything a person could need to keep the guests busy!

How to Entertain with Cards, 1921. Table of contents.
How to Entertain with Cards, 1921. Table of contents, page 1.
How to Entertain with Cards, 1921. December parties.
How to Entertain with Cards, 1921. December parties.
How to Entertain with Cards, 1921. January parties.
How to Entertain with Cards, 1921. January parties.

With 43 pages of information, there is plenty of be learned and put to good use, but for this week, I’ve focused on the relevant details for this time of year. The booklet gets a little more obscure with suggestions for October Nut parties, Rose parties, and Seashore parties. Oh, and in case you haven’t guessed–we certainly talk about advertising and motivation enough on the blog–this booklet was published courtesy of the U. S. Playing Card Company.

This publication, and the one we’ll look at next week (for those really last minute trivia games), are both part of the History Food and Drink Collection AND the Cocktail History Collection. Why? Because the idea of the cocktail party as it evolved in the 20th century was about much more than just a cocktail. It was about drinking, true, but also eating, socializing, and sharing good times. There is a great deal of social history tied to cocktails, dining, and entertaining visitors and How to Entertain with Cards gives us a little insight.

Food AND Fun? In One Book? :)

Food & Fun for Daughter and Son was published in 1946. We acquired a copy last year, but it slipped off my radar until recently. I must not have had the time to take a good look, or I undoubtedly would have shared it sooner!

As you can see, this book is a blend of “how-to/advice for parents,” meal planning guide, nutrition manual, and cookbook. Typically, we have a wide range of recipes and menus, some more intriguing that others. (I’m curious about a lunch of beef broth, potato salad, and cake…but also not saying I’d turn it down.) What I found more interesting, though, was everything else. The intended audience is adults, but it sometimes results in seeming non-sequiturs like:

“To limited degree and in a kind, friendly way, table manners should be taught at an early age to avoid embarrassment when he comes in contact with older, well-behaved children.

Your immaculate, regular care of the refrigerator will prolong its efficiency and life.”

There are a few more pieces of advice about the kitchen, then it jumps to advice for caring for a child with a cold. I see the general connection, but the first couple chapters are a conglomerate of advice on a range of subjects that contribute to raising healthy children.

We’ve definitely looked at books for/about children that featured party themes and planning, but I think this is the first time we’ve come across a book with section devoted to “Diversions for an Only or Lonely Child.” The suggestions themselves may seem outdated or silly, but it was neat to see the topic addressed in conjunction with entertaining kids who are sick or stuck in bed.

So, until next week, if you’re missing us, don’t worry! There’s an imaginary pony of your own that needs training!

Yes, You Really Can Have MORE Fun at Cocktail Time

If you’re New Year’s Eve festivities are lacking this evening, we offer our last post of 2014: More Fun at Cocktail Time. Published in 1935, it includes drink recipes, party games, magic tricks, and even a few canape recipes.

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Whatever you’re doing to celebrate,

Happy New Year and we’ll see you in 2014!

Parties are for Kids, too!

With the holidays upon us, it’s important not to neglect the kids! So this week, we’re sharing the Children’s Party Book  from 1935. It includes games, decor, recipes, menus, and activities for kids parties. It not only covers major holidays (Valentine’s Day, Halloween, St. Patrick’s Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, 4th of July, and New Years), but birthday parties and “just because” events, too.

Surprisingly few of the games are really outdated, though some would need updating. The “States Game,” which requires children to write down the names of all the states may be a bit more challenging in 2013 than in 1935. But many of the word and puzzle games are still the same.

The Childrens’ Party Book  was produced by the A. E. Staley Company, so you will find a few “sponsor” elements to it. There’s an introduction and a post script by company people and  many (but not all) of the recipes are based on Staley products, but the advertising isn’t as invasive as some publications we’ve seen on the blog before. The focus really does seem to be on keeping kids (and adults!) occupied.

Over the next two weeks, Special Collections may be closed, but we won’t leave you without a couple of holiday surprises. Just be sure to enjoy the rest of 2013!

On Table Settings and Party Games

As the table of contents suggests, The Perfect Hostess covers a lot of bases: tableware, table settings/decor, menu planning, meal parties, and theme parties. I suspect 1946 was a popular year for entertaining, following the war. Since I am away at a conference this week (likely indulging in some good food!), I’m hoping the book will keep you all adequately amused…

With all the variety, I did chose to scan two specific types of pages: table decorations and settings and party games.

When it comes to table decor, we aren’t in new territory. We’ve seen strange arrangements with and without food, dolls and other figures, flowers, and candles. In The Perfect Hostess, we are given LOTS of details: which silver and plate settings one might want to own, how many candles a table should have at a formal event, the necessity for careful planning, sample menus, how to serve a multi-course dinner with only two trips to the kitchen…Many of these little details are the things that caught my attention. For example, when it comes to centerpieces:

Right: Few fruits chosen for their color relationship. Wrong: Too much fruit, too great a variety…Right: At least four candles tall enough to be out of the line of vision. Wrong: Only two candles, burned down so they shine in the guests’ eyes.

As regards this last point, we can only assume you must encourage your guests to eat quickly, before the candles burn down. Or hope for a lull in conversation while they burn at eye level.

While there are lots of details about creating table decor to match the party theme (and presumably you should own the tableware and linens to coordinate, as well), the “Special Decorations for Special Occasions,” I admit, sent me into some giggles (except for the clowns). I can’t decide if the Halloween scarecrows are involved  in an interpretive dance or if they’re just stepping over fallen corn. Who has this many wooden or porcelain dolls, waiting to be re-purposed for seasonal and themed displays? And if you are throwing a Mother Goose party, do you have artificial turf on hand, or do you dig up the lawn? Maybe that’s part of a game…

We haven’t talked too much about party games yet. We have a new acquisition for the cocktail collection that includes some drinking games, but this is the first discussion of party games for adults. But, as author Nancy Prentiss informs us:

Time was when party games were restricted to the teen-age group but grown-ups are rediscovering them as a sure fire method to keep a party going. In the following group you should find enough ammunition to pep up even the dullest affairs.

I’m not sure what kinds of the games the teen-agers were playing in 1946, but watch out for these grown ups! Card games, musical chairs (with music played on the piano–non piano owners, this may not be the game for you!), scavenger hunts, celebrity quizzes and more!

The post this week is a little indulgence in social history. While our party games may not be the same and our table decorations a little less creepy, the spirit is the same: A few guests and some good food can make for a pleasant evening. And if you’re lucky, those guests will be sure to compliment your exquisite taste in tableware and linens or your choice of games. Besides, even a game of “Know Yourself” is all in good fun…right?