A Thanksgiving Day Reception: 1896

Art and Picture Collection, The New York Public Library. "Thanksgiving greetings." The New York Public Library Digital Collections. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e3-52e4-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

Art and Picture Collection, The New York Public Library. “Thanksgiving greetings.” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e3-52e4-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99


Thanksgiving Day Receptions Are the Latest Fashionable Fad From the Windy City.

Many Chicago women will give Thanksgiving Day receptions today. They are distinguished chiefly by appropriate decorations, costumes and refreshments. The rooms can be completely transformed by taking down all the portieres and replacing them with others made of cranberries strung on a fine but stout twine, red in color. Popcorn strung alone and alternately with the berries makes a pleasing variety. Loop some of the strands back and let others hang straight, like the portieres of beads and glass of Japanese manufacture. Strings of the cranberries are very effective when festooned over white lace curtains.

Cover the lamps with shades of red, white and blue crepe tissue paper. In place of the large chairs and divans put large, golden pumpkins. They make charming dashes of color and are very comfortable seats. From the flour and feed store beautiful ears of red and white corn may be procured to be hung form the gas fixtures with red, white and blue ribbons.

If the reception is given in the afternoon, tea with wafers and pumpkin chips will be sufficient refreshments if dainty bonbons which can be purchased in the national colors about Thanksgiving time, are added. “Nutted dates” make a delicious confection for the tea table and are easy to prepare. Purchase the best dates (there are three grades), remove the pit and fill the vacancy with a pecan nut rolled in granulated sugar.

To make “pumpkin chips,” which are often mistaken for the most expensive imported preserves, take a deep yellow pumpkin, peel and slice very thin; to each pound of chips add a pound of sugar and a gill of lemon juice, with the grated lemon rind; stir well and let them stand over night; the next day cook very slowly until tender; then skim the chips out and let them stand two days to cool and become firm; then put them in a jar with enough of the sirup poured on to keep them moist.

If the Thanksgiving reception is given in the evening the guests should be requested to come attired in Colonial costume. The refreshment table can be decorated with broad ribbons of red, white and blue, and candles used of the same color; but strange to say, blue candles are hard to find, though they can be specially ordered. A tiny silk flag at each place makes a pretty souvenir for the guests to carry home.

The floral decorations should be entirely of chrysanthemums, the November flower. The ice cream is served in forms representing the autumn vegetables, such as pumpkins, squash, carrots, etc., in their natural colors. Coffee, with whipped cream, and cakes will be sufficient, as the guests will doubtless have partaken of a bountiful dinner.

Music, consisting of national airs, should be given during the evening, beginning with “America” and ending by the guests all joining hands and singing “Auld Lang Syne.”

Boston [MA] Journal 26 November 1896: p. 7

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: While this information is given for those of her American readers who wish to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday in old-fashioned style, Mrs Daffodil will be spending the day at the Hall drawing up battle-orders for the coming Christmas house-parties.

No matter how festive the look of cranberry portieres, Mrs Daffodil draws the line at draping them over white lace curtains. The possibility of staining is far too great and it is as much as Mrs Daffodil’s job is worth to explain to the laundry that they must re-wash and starch all the drawing-room lace curtains as a result of their mistress’s fruit-whim.  Perhaps the meat-packing millionaires of Chicago have more amenable laundry staff.

As for seating one’s guests on pumpkins—well, really. If one could actually locate a quantity of giant squashes sufficient to furnish the drawing room, what would the harvest be? Tippings and frustration one fears! Any novelty is far outweighed by the discomfort.

In any event, if any of her readers use these ideas for their Thanksgiving or Harvest-Home parties, Mrs Daffodil urges them to send photographs.

Mrs Daffodil also wishes her readers a happy Thanksgiving. She herself is most thankful for their kind attention.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.



2 thoughts on “A Thanksgiving Day Reception: 1896

  1. Debbi Decker

    Oh yes, if you do find your readers sending pictures of costumed ladies and gents sitting upon pumpkins while eating their snacks, do please share! As for the dates, I actually saw those for the first time ever in the grocery store last night! Had never heard of this recipe before.


    1. chriswoodyard Post author

      You have Mrs Daffodil’s word on it! Mrs Daffodil was familiar with the date receipt, but not that of “pumpkin chips,” which seem to be a variation on “watermelon pickle.” Perhaps more of a New World speciality.
      With best wishes,
      Mrs Daffodil



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