Despite what some purveyors of entertainment would have you believe, a lack of funds doesn’t necessarily mean a lack of fun. At least that’s what Ellye Howell Glover claims in her 1907 book, “Dame Curtsey’s” Book of Novel Entertainments for Every Day in the Year. No need to sell the farm for an afternoon of novelty, Glover insists. Consider hosting a ludically themed gathering … say, Christmas in July!
Glover praises the ingenuity of the woman who first envisioned this unorthodox entertainment: “That matron was surely abreast of the times who issued invitations to a dozen of her friends to come to a Summer Christmas Party to be held on her porch on a day in mid-July.” She executed everything with imagination and wit, covering porch chairs, tables, and a wicker couch with “snowy white towels and spreads” to create a wintry scene. All the pillows were white, and “great bunches of wild grasses” had been dipped in alum water to mimic the effect of frost. A Christmas rose, transplanted from the forest six months too soon, sagged under glass icicles and diamond dust.
The hostess and her guests were also frostily attired. They drank chilled claret and filled white tarlatan stockings with popcorn and candy for the charity wards of several city hospitals. While doing so they nibbled peppermint bars, gelatine plum puddings filled with fruit and nuts, and star-shaped white cakes from plates sporting cheerful sprigs of ersatz holly.
Christmas in July proved a smashing success, and Glover recommends following such an economical and fun-filled fête with an “Arctic Luncheon” in August. But that novel entertainment, “evolved by a young hostess forced to remain in the city all summer,” must remain matter for a later post.
If Yuletide poolside tickles your fancy, make sure your feast spotlights something peppermint-flavored and sweet like the delicious candies featured in the recipe below, which appears in another of Ellye Howell Glover’s books, “Dame Curtsey’s” Book of Candy Making.
Delicious Peppermint Candies
PEPPERMINT patties are made by breaking off a piece of firm fondant and placing it in a cup set in boiling hot water; add one or two drops of oil of peppermint and stir until somewhat melted; take it out of the water and stir until smooth; drop quickly from a spoon, or with a funnel and stick, or in any way desired, on waxed paper in drops about the size of a silver dollar. When the candy gets too thick to work this way put the cup back in the water and let it melt again. If it will not get soft enough one or two drops of water can be added, but be careful not to use too much. In an hour these patties should be ready to eat, but they may require a little more time. If allowed to stand oyer night they will probably be found all right; if not, take them up and melt again. These are never hard enough to pile in a dish and leave in a warm room. Their nicety consists in having them very delicate in flavor and color. Wintergreen patties are made pink with a fruit coloring, strained cranberry jelly, or any harmless red coloring, flavored with oil of wintergreen.