One of my favorite finds is a giant tome (423 pages!) called “A Secretary’s Guide to Beauty, Charm, Poise” from 1962.

That’s right, not only did Secretary’s need to know how to take dictation, write shorthand and fetch coffee they had to do it all with Beauty, Charm and Poise.

This “bible” covers:

  • How to do your makeup
  • How to hold your hands in a feminine manner
  • How to hold your purse
  • How to hold a conversation
  • How to improve your voice
  • How to eat and exercise
  • How to smoke without looking masculine!

And SO much more! I will definitely be diving into this book a lot during this series! There are so many gems. But for now we are focusing on Parties so “Let’s Go to a Party!”

It is considered rude to arrive late when a specific hour is mentioned. True. Especially if the smoothness of the entire event is dependent upon a particular number of people. This would include a card party, a dinner, a shower, etc. In fact, it is good manners to arrive about 10 minutes early. Better early than late.

(I know some people that would disagree with this but let’s go with it…I would add, if you show up early definitely offer to help the hostess).

If the affair is an open house or a cocktail party and the invitation states from “six to seven-thirty,” you may arrive during this time and stay not more than one hour.


You accept the refreshments offered even though you do not eat or drink them. You mingle with the other guests and you keep in mind that the success of the party is as much your responsibility as it is your hostess’s. When it is necessary for you to balance your refreshments on your lap, you do so as carefully as possible. You may assume that anything served without flatware is a finger food. For instance, wedding cake is an item that you eat with your fingers. Be sure to help yourself to a napkin or ask for one. It is wise to keep one hand free to balance your plate so you may have to find some flat surface for a glass. This could be a table or the floor. Be sure that you have a coaster under your glass. Use a napkin or ask for permission to put your glass on your hostess’s mahogany. It may be that she has moisture-proof furniture and therefore doesn’t serve coasters.

If iced tea is served, the spoon will be removed and placed on the coaster provided. If there is no coaster, hold the spoon in your hand until you have asked for one.

Be considerate about using a linen napkin to wipe your mouth. Lipstick stain is hard to remove. Of course, if you have followed all the hints given in the makeup section (oh yes, we will be sure to dig deep in that!!) you will have no problem with lipstick on napkins, glasses, cups, spoons and what-not.

Meeting New People

With more and more women working after marriage, with more and more companies interviewing the wife as well as the husband, with more and more people in the world with whom we will have social contact, the more important it is for us to be “hip” and in the know.

We could stay in our own small world, associate with the same people, do the same thing year in and year out, and probably never make any faux pas. But life will be fuller and more interesting if we expand our horizons, make new friends, and acquire new skills. In doing so, we will make mistakes, but then, we can take heart in the fact that no one is so well traveled or so well informed that she always knows what to do.

In addition to meeting people and learning to introduce them with confidence, we should learn to eat graciously and within the bounds of social usage.

Let’s Leave a Party!

A guests responsibility is to her hostess. It is not necessary to say goodbye to others present unless for some reason or other you must leave early and thereby inconvenience them in some way. Don’t ooze out the doorway, go. Do this immediately after saying something nice to your hostess about the food, the music, the company or whatever single thing you have enjoyed more than any other. Don’t leave it unsaid just because you are shy. Even if you must force yourself the first few times, get the habit of complimenting. Do it sincerely.

This book also covers tips on how to go out to dinner and to the theatre. I’m so excited to share them with you!

Audrey Jean

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