Everything you ever wanted to know about organizing a picnic

Probably most people have heard of Emily Post and her famous etiquette books…but have you ever cracked one open? Those babies are chock-full of gold, as I discovered when I snagged the eleventh revised edition at an estate sale last year.

Now it sits on the shelf and every so often Drew will read me a couple sections, which offer advice tell you exactly how to handle every situation from Introductions, Greetings, and Farewells (Part One, Chapter 1) to An Invitation to the White House (Part Eleven, Chapter 59), and it doesn’t stop there.

This edition, revised by Elizabeth Post (granddaughter by marriage of Emily Post), was published in 1965 and is 678 pages long, not counting the preface(s) and index.

I’m just going to crack it open and read you some paragraphs. I am not searching out specific passages.

Motels and hotels

To Assure Accommodations in Hotels:
It is well to write or telegraph in advance for accommodations in a hotel. A typical telegram reads:


A letter is a little more explicit:

Manager of the Lake Hotel,
Chicago, Illinois
Dear Sir:
     Please reserve two single rooms with baths or with a bath between for my daughter and me. We are due to arrive in Chicago at five o’clock on the afternoon of December sixth and shall stay a week.
     I prefer moderate-priced rooms not higher than the fourth floor.
Very truly yours,
Mrs. George K. Smith

(Note that this is one of the few occasions when “Mrs.” belongs with a woman’s signature.)

Tea Dances

An afternoon tea dance often takes the place of the old-fashioned debutante ball. <<See Chapter 27, “Balls and dances.”>> It may equally well be given to introduce a new daughter-in-law. On occasion, it may be your responsibility to see that someone who has moved to your community is properly introduced, and a tea dance serves this purpose very well.

Invitations, especially to a dance given to introduce the bride of a son, are usually written on the visiting card of the hostess with “To meet Mrs. Grantham Jones, Jr.” across the top. it is equally correct, however, to use the inside of a fold-over card or an informal. They may also be telephoned.

The arrangements for a tea with dancing are much the same as for an evening dance. A screen of greens in front of which the musicians sit, perhaps a few green vines here and there, and flowers on the tables form the typical decorations. Whether in a hotel, club ballroom, or a private drawing room, the curtains are drawn, and the lights lighted as though for a dance in the evening. Usually only tea, chocolate, breads, and cakes are served.

Picnics: A Check List

The perfect picnic manager, like the perfect traveler, has made simplification an exact science. She knows very well that the one thing to do is to take the fewest things possible and to consider the utility of those few.

Fitted hampers, tents and umbrellas, folding chairs and tables are all very well in a shop – and all right if you have a trailer or a station wagon for hauling them. But the usual flaw in picnics is that there are too many things to carry and look after and too much to clean and pack up and take home again.

Therefore, for those who organize picnics frequently, it is a good idea to make up a list of all items that may be needed and check it each time before leaving. All the equipment may not be necessary for every picnic, but a list will prevent the salt or the bottle opener from being omitted!


I don’t want to overwhelm anyone, but please, if you have any questions about how to handle anything (new baby, second wedding, audience with the Pope, anything), then just let me know and I’d be happy to see what Emily and Elizabeth Post have to say about it. I guarantee it’ll be interesting and give you a new perspective on it, even if you don’t necessarily take their advice.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go sit in my pajamas and eat crackers and Babybel while reading a paperback.


1 Comment

Filed under Awesome, Being a girl, Fashion, Self improvement

One response to “Everything you ever wanted to know about organizing a picnic

  1. My BlogJect

    this book sounds amazing. like a really classic coffee-table read…
    may have to look up on amazon and get myself a copy.
    thanks for spreading the etiquette word!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s