Christmas 1930s style

(58 Posts)
LauraChant Mon 07-Oct-13 13:33:38

I am in possession of a falling-apart book published in 1932, called The Perfect Christmas (by the author of The Perfect Hostess, apparently.)

It has handy sections on what gifts are appropriate for the domestic staff, how to cope when your "nice but inpecunious country cousin comes to stay (give herbthe money for a permanent wave among other things) and what gifts to send to a "come down in the world" in the workhouse.

Here are the suggested gifts for the lady of the house, in case anyone is looking for inspiration:

Linen table mats
Silk stockings
Large glass flower bowls
A brass toasting fork
A blue Morocco suitcase, costing about a pound
A set of address books marked Friends- Tradesmen- Hotels etc
A set of scissors
Fantasie bath salts - be careful of the brand
A year's subscription to "Vogue" or "The Times' Literary Supplement" - or both
A box of large assorted envelopes, together with a sealing set
A cover for her Telephone Book

Seen anything you fancy? If anyone wants 1930s inspiration for "the head of the house", the domestic staff, schoolgirls, schoolboys, or stockings, or advice onvwhat to do in advance, how to cope if you are short of cash, or what to do when all the servants ate out on Boxing Day, let me know.

LauraChant Mon 07-Oct-13 13:34:42

All the servants are out. Though they probably ate out also

nomorecrumbs Mon 07-Oct-13 13:36:21

I'm surprised there were still enough domestic staff in the 1930s to warrant a chapter about them. I thought they were eradicated with WW1.

I want that book smile

I never have any idea what to get for my servants. ;)

LauraChant Mon 07-Oct-13 13:42:06

It was probably aimed at quite a small market nomorecrumbs , and probably also has an aspirational/ nostalgic element!

The domestic staff would enjoy a pretty blotter and inkpot - but not handkerchiefs as they are too hackneyed. Also a small Tea-set of their own, Pretty Bedroom Shoes and a comfortable Armchair (!) or Cushion.

nomorecrumbs Mon 07-Oct-13 13:43:20

I quite fancy silk stockings!

LauraChant Mon 07-Oct-13 13:47:46

Me too. I am intrigued as to why one must be careful of the brand of bath salts also. Would the wrong brand mark you out as an arriviste or nouveau riche? Or were the cheap ones just minging?

nobutreally Mon 07-Oct-13 13:53:27

I have a rather fabulous book of wedding etiquette, published in the 50s. My absolute favourite line is about making sure both parties sort their honeymoon clothing far enough in advance, "as happiness depends so much more on suitability and comfort of clothing than an engaged young man is likely to realise".

mumtosome61 Mon 07-Oct-13 13:56:05

I was thinking perhaps certain bath salts had erosive chemicals in them (hence watch out for...) but I think that is my 21st century fear speaking....

OhBabyLilyMunster Mon 07-Oct-13 14:05:57

Oooo head of the house!

Tiredemma Mon 07-Oct-13 14:09:18

whats the 'blue morroccan suitcase' for??

am i missing something?

LauraChant Mon 07-Oct-13 14:13:17

OK, the head of the house would like:

A new or old book on his favourite subject - Bridge, golf, travel, fishing, shooting, dogs, wild animals, warfare, gardening or flying
Golf balls
Pot of foie gras
Two tickets for any play he likes to choose
Ki-uma bath tablets or a large sponge
An order on the hat shop in St James's Street for a new hat
Cigarettes, or six super-superb Cigars
1/2 ton of Peat to make him happy, and revive memories. (???? - I think this is supposed to be a joke but have no idea)

LauraChant Mon 07-Oct-13 14:14:46

I don't know what the suitcase is for!

And I have just noticed "be careful of the bramd" actually has an asterisk and is supposed to apply to the cigars not the bath salts. Phew.

Can you do schoolgirls and stockings? I need to know whether my stash on top of the wardrobe would pass 1930s muster.

LauraChant Mon 07-Oct-13 16:12:55

Schoolgirls: Stuffed Comic Animal, Extra long-legged doll, Own Tea-set, Book (if carefully chosen), Bright Scarf, Hockey Stick, Autograph Album, a ticket for herself and a friend (to be chosen by herself) for a play, Chocolate Drops covered with hundreds and thousands.

Stocking: A tangerine ( wrapped in gold paper) and a tinsel ball in the toe and heel, chocolate letters that spell the owner's name, a purse with a new sixpence in it, a box of Dominoes, Happy Families, a walnut with either a thimble or toy soldier inside, chocolates covered in gold or silver that look like money, a magnet, some wite puzzles, a little box of "transfers" and gay crackers sticking out of the top.

LauraChant Mon 07-Oct-13 16:14:38

wire puzzles.

Sorry, phone and fat fingers.

DS is sick today so am tied to sofa soothing fevered brow.

Chubfuddler Mon 07-Oct-13 16:22:47

I would like a years subscription to vogue

So they still gave vouchers in ye olden times, just a St James' St milliners rather than Next grin

The stocking sound lovely.

bigTillyMint Mon 07-Oct-13 16:31:02

The stocking sounds just like what my DM did for me in the 60's/70's. Obviously what she grew up with as she was born in 1931smile

adalovelacelaptop Mon 07-Oct-13 16:33:55

Would like to hear more about the impecunious cousins

LauraChant Mon 07-Oct-13 16:41:26

I hope that everyone has made a note to send out the Christmas Pudding in good time to sons and nephews in regiments and ships abroad (the Post Office thoughtfully supplies a list of dates).

And do you know any old soul in an Almshouse who would be cheered all through the year by a subscription to a weekly newspaper? Say a sporting paper to a bedridden jockey, or a "fashion and society" weekly to a retired lady's maid or some Australian or Canadian paper to an old Colonist.

LauraChant Mon 07-Oct-13 16:46:05

Ah, the nice but impecunious country cousin.

In your invitation, make it quite clear you intend paying her railway ticket and incidental expenses.

On receiving her acceptance, send her the money promptly. Don't wait for Christmas Day, but let her have her presents at once. The most useful thing you can possibly send her is a black lace evening frock, and the most useless is a gorgeous feather fan.

Don't take too much advantage of her terrible good nature in doing odd jobs.

Give her a gas fire in her bedroom and a hot water bottle in her bed.

If you are going to have her at all, do her handsomely! (!!!)

Damnautocorrect Mon 07-Oct-13 16:46:33

Can I have the large flower bowls please?!
Love it, what's for Christmas lunch?

LauraChant Mon 07-Oct-13 16:50:32

Oh autocorrect, there are menus for lunch and dinner for SIX DAYS of Christmas.

Christmas Day is celery soup, roast turkey, plum pudding, mince pies and "dessert" (?) for lunch. Dinner is tomato soup, sole a la Cobert, Canard Sauvage a la Norvegienne, Pouding glace a la Noel and pate de foie gras.

Not sure why the party comes over all French in the evening.

PoppyAmex Mon 07-Oct-13 17:00:05

That fabulous, thanks for sharing Laura.

I like the generosity towards the impecunious country relative; very thoughtful!

What's the advice on how to cope when the servants are out?

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