Reference > Etiquette > Management and Direction of Dinners and Receptions on State Occasions at the White House

Management and Direction of Dinners and Receptions on State Occasions at the White House

Etiquette as observed in European courts is not known at the White House.

The President's Secretary issues invitations by direction of the President to the distinguished guests.

The Usher in charge of the cloak-room hands to the gentleman on arrival an envelope containing a diagram of the table (as cut shows), whereon the name and seat of the respective guest and the lady he is to escort to dinner are marked.

Seating plan

A card corresponding with his name is placed on the napkin belonging to the cover of the seat he will occupy.

The President's seat is in the middle of the table. The most distinguished guests sit on his right and left. If their wives are present they will occupy these seats, and the gentlemen will be seated next to the President's wife whose seat is directly opposite the President.

Official dinners all over the world are always served after the French fashion, and are divided into three distinct parts. Two of them are served from the kitchen, and the third from the pantry.

The first part of the dinner served French style includes from oysters on the shell to the sherbets.

The second service continues to the sweet dishes.

The third includes ice, cakes, fruits, cheeses, which are all understood as desserts, and are dressed in the pantry.

All principal dishes which are artistically decorated are shown to the President first, then are carried around the table before being carved by the Steward in the pantry.

Fancy folding of the napkins is considered out of fashion; plain square folded, so as to show monogram in the middle, is much preferred.

The following diagram will illustrate the arrangement of the glasses on the table.

Diagram illustrating how to arrange glasses on table.

A—Plate.
I—Glass for Sauterne.
II—Glass for Sherry.
III—Glass for Rhine Wine.
IV—Glass for Water.
V—Glass for Champagne.
VI—Glass for Burgundy.

Flower decorations on the table are to be in flat designs, so as not to obscure the view of the guests.

Corsage boquets for ladies consist of not more than eight large roses tied together by silk ribbon, with the name of the lady stamped on in gold letters.

Gentlemen's bouttonieres consist only of one rosebud.

Boquets for ladies are to be placed on the right side; for gentlemen, on the napkin next to card bearing his name.

Printed menus are never used on any official occasion.

The private dinners menus are either printed or written on a plain card and placed on each cover.

Liquors, cordials, cigars are served on a separate table after the ladies have retired to the parlor.

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Source

The White House Cookbook (1887).


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