Parties and Visits · Vintage Entertainment

Your Afternoon Tea Shelf

top half of a tea cart, set with two cups and saucers, a creamer, a covered sugar dish, a large metal coffee server, and a bowl of fruit. From 1923.

What can you throw together when a friend stops by for a chat? If your pantry’s afternoon tea shelf is stocked, worry no more. Pull out a few tasty nibbles and treats you can combine quickly, assemble them on a tray, and pour the tea.

This idea comes from 1923, and like many ideas it needs resurrection from its current space, buried within the pages of a woman’s periodical. The general emergency shelf concept wasn’t new. It took its place among the solid advice offered to new homemakers: Always have a small shelf of ready to use foods for unexpected guests or that long day away.

Your Own Afternoon Tea Shelf

The afternoon tea shelf, however, gives a new twist to the idea. Especially if you like the idea of holding tea parties to entertain close friends, you might see the advantage in the suggestion. You clear off a shelf in your pantry or a small shelf in a corner cupboard that you don’t often use. Designate it the Tea Shelf. But what do you put on it?

Of course, you would include a box of crackers. Pour them into a bowl, set them out side by side covered with 1/4 slice of your favorite cheese, or spread with a bit of cream cheese and sprinkle with a flavoring spice like garlic, Italian seasoning, or your favorite mixture. (Better yet, combine the flavor with the cream cheese before spreading.) You may even want to include two boxes of crackers. Simple rice crackers always taste light and airy, while a heavier entertainment cracker like Ritz or an allergy-safe alternative creates a great base for simple spreads.

Another good idea is a box of favorite cookies that have a long shelf life. Oreos, chocolate chip, or Vienna wafers give you some ideas, but the cookie aisle is filled with options. Choose a favorite.

Easy Shelf Stocking Ideas

Here are some other ideas:

  • Make some cookies and store them on your shelf. It will ensure that you visit the shelf often as you eat them before they become stale.
  • Marshmallows, either mini or regular.
  • Chocolate in small bar or individually-wrapped form. You will want to unwrap the chocolate before you present it, however. Guests seem to have an aversion to opening sealed items.
  • Nuts, either one kind or mixed. Small containers don’t take up much space. This is not the time to buy a huge container of Costco peanuts.
  • A jar of marmalade or preserves.
  • Small jar of honey. Again, a small container works here. Store the 2 pound glass jar that you use for everyday cooking on another shelf.
  • Sugar, turbinado sugar, or brown sugar that you can use to sweeten the tea.
  • A small jar of mayonnaise if you don’t always have some in the fridge, for savory sandwiches.
  • Peanut butter
  • Dried fruit, with or without extra sugar: cherries, pineapple, crystallized ginger.

Once you have all these things, plus the refrigerated items you always keep on hand (like cream cheese), you can combine them into all sorts of novel treats.

Easy Combinations from Your Stash

Use the cookies as the base for a sweet sandwich. Take a couple tablespoons of cream cheese and stir in 1/2 teaspoon sugar and some melted chocolate or 1/4 tsp cocoa powder. Spread this on molasses cookies, vanilla wafers, or sugar cookies. Press two of them together to make a sandwich.

Stir a few chopped nuts into a spoon or two of honey and use that to glue two cookies together in a sweet sandwich.

To add spice to those plain table crackers, stir together some peanut butter, a teaspoon or two of half-and-half or full cream (if you have it on hand, milk or milk substitute if you don’t), and some confectioner’s sugar. Use it as a cracker sandwich filling. You can also mix peanut butter with honey for an excellent filling, or peanut butter and some leftover frosting from that cake you made a day or two ago (This is why I never throw away that 1/2 cup of leftover frosting. It may need to make its way to a cookie or cracker.)

Take a marshmallow, place it onto a cracker or round cookie, and stick it in the oven at 350° F for a few minutes until it puffs and begins to brown. Bring it out of the oven, and if you like, decorate the top with a nut or piece of dried fruit like a cherry or pineapple.

Bread slices, cut into 3/4-inch wide pieces, after de-crusting, can be toasted. Then while warm spread with butter and sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon. This is a grownup take on the ever-favorite childhood breakfast of cinnamon toast.

Adding Cake or Muffins

If you have time to whip up a cake (this is where boxed mixes can shine), bake it in one or two loaf pans. When it’s cool, cut it into thin bread-slice type pieces. Then mix together 1 cup powdered sugar with a Tablespoon or two of milk. Add whatever flavoring you like and stir in some chopped nuts for texture and added nutrition. Then use the frosting as a filling between two pieces of cake. Cut each sandwich into thin finger strips if you like.

Mini muffins can be made from the simplest recipe if you cut off the top, scrape out a bit, and fill the hole with a bit of marmalade or preserves before popping the top back on.

Savory Options for Your Table

Create a savory topping by mixing 2 hard boiled eggs, some diced or ground deli ham, a tablespoon or two of grated cheese, and either dijon mustard, mayonnaise, or a mixture of both to hold it all together. Spread on crackers, or take two to three slices of bread, remove the crust, cut into quarters, toast, and top with the mixture. Voila! Eight to twelve open faced sandwiches.

Top cheese crackers with mayonnaise mixed with nuts. Or spread them with mayonnaise mixed with minced celery. This, of course, will require a larger cheese wafer than your ordinary small 1-inch square cracker. If you have the small kind on hand, toss them into a bowl for free snacking.

Entertain with Impunity

Keep enough small, prepackaged things on hand that you can throw together a tea party at a moment’s notice, and with little to no anxiety. Life is too short to stress over cups of tea and finger sandwiches. Using only three of the ideas from this list will give you an inviting, tasty tea table. And because most of the ingredients came from your afternoon tea shelf, you have the time and energy to enjoy your friends.

If you want more complicated (and impressive) recipes for your afternoon tea party, check out this post on a collection of Recipes for Your Porch Party.

Parties and Visits · Vintage Entertainment

Party Gifts in the Depression

1920s photo of four cookies for a bridge party: a black spade, red heart, black club, and red diamond. Each sugar cookie has a layer of colored icing on top. Text: Bridge cookies have their frosting tinted with chocolate or red color paste.
Even the most frugal bridge hostess could manage bridge cookies, iced or not.

We know about the Depression. It’s that time from the end of the Twenties through the early Forties that tried the souls of citizens around the world. We hear about sparse meals, clothing budgets, and jobs. But sometimes we miss the details of what it was like to survive the Thirties. For instance, gathering together for a night of bridge or other game qualifies as cheap entertainment. But what to give as party gifts in the Depression?

Bridge and club parties meant gifts for participants

Immensely popular during the Thirties and Forties, bridge allowed groups of four to twelve people to gather once a month. Every month brought a predictable card game, a small prize for the winner, and simple refreshments at the end. Usually these clubs met in the afternoons, in between morning work and dinner preparation. (Of course, a bridge club can have as many members as it likes, but as a child of the Sixties I never saw more than four card tables set up inside a home at one time.) During the Twenties through the Fifties, clubs that met in homes kept their membership low so everyone could fit inside at once.

So card game parties with coffee and a few cookies at the end provide an inexpensive evening or afternoon of fun. However, what does one do for the day’s winner when money is tight? Prior to the Depression, Twenties card clubs gave all kinds of gifts. A club might arrange a shower where everyone brought a gift to the new homeowner, bride, or mother –– the member of honor for the month.

Or the winner might go home with a travel book to record vacation wanderings. It came complete with a leather cover and helpful maps. Maybe the winner scored enough to snag a nice leather address book. Perhaps she took home a new set of bridge cards or an at-home book that visitors filled out like a guest register when they called upon her. These gifts ranged from $3.00 to $7.50 in 1928. These gifts were worth $48 to $120 in today’s dollars.

What’s a hostess to do?

All this stopped when the Depression hit. Imagine being able to afford a $75 gift when you host a card party during a recession or depressed economy. You can’t. There’s no way.

However, club members found ingenious ways to save their meetings. Party gifts in the Depression would continue. They required some creativity, however.

Raid the flower garden

The town master gardener could always turn to her flowers when she hosted. Many flowers planted in vintage gardens were perennials. They came up every year. Not only that, but they spread every year, too. Everybody in the community might have spearmint outside the back door for use in recipes, but not everyone had lilies, gladiolus, cosmos, or coneflowers. One of the easiest and least expensive gifts from the gardener is a beautiful planter of starts that the winner could take home and transfer to her own garden.

Periodical pleaser

Anything new was unique to many during the Depression. One thoughtful hostess purchased a handful of current magazines from the news shop. A club hostess knew the general reading tastes of her club, so she could choose unusual titles with interesting reading. Five current magazines from the shop cost about fifty cents, a far cry from the $3.00 price tag of earlier times. These might even be read by the winner and passed among club members for a good many months afterward.

Bake the best

If you baked the best angel food cake in town, and had eggs to spare from a backyard coop, a beautiful angel cake might elicit delight and envious looks. A nice tall cake covered with fluffy white frosting and decorated with candy rosebuds available at local stores –– what a nice gift! For the winner of the day, dessert is solved. This solution worked well for the groups whose members already had everything.

Eggs-actly the thing

One hostess was the wife of a poultry farmer. She dressed an eight pound hen (this had to be a duck or small turkey!) and gave it along with a dozen eggs to the winner of her bridge party. Her second-place winner received a chicken fryer, cut up and ready to cook, and she also sent half a dozen eggs home as a booby prize! While unconventional, she said the gifts went over well. It would be hard to top that the next month, to be sure.

Baskets of deliciousness

Another hostess found herself with an overflowing vegetable garden. She decided to put this to good use while she served as club party hostess. She gave the first prize winner a large basket filled with golden peaches and purple grapes. The second prize winner took home a golden squash surrounded by red apples. Her third prize winner took home a bouquet of autumn flowers. And finally, as a consolation prize the last place “winner” received a bouquet of carrots tied to look like a bunch of flowers. The carrot leaves surrounded the vegetables to frame them. These items would be cherished party gifts in the Depression.

Creativity in times of lack

These show just a few examples of hostess ingenuity as they searched for party gifts in the Depression. These women had very little during the Depression, yet they still managed to create a fun and memorable party out of almost nothing but what they had lying around.

What might today’s guests appreciate from a limited-budget host? Here are some ideas:

  • Homemade Chex Mix in a jar or container
  • A cookie platter of family favorites, with or without the recipes
  • Flowers from your garden is an eternal pleaser
  • A start or two from your prized plants, whether they be pothos or cactus
  • Knitted or crocheted pot holders or dish cloth from cotton yarn you have stashed away
  • A silly chick flick from the $2 bin at your local store, along with a package or 1/2 cup popcorn
  • A few unusual colored pencils from the art store, sold separately, if your group contains artsy members

When money is tight, make it useful; make it edible; or make it beautiful. You can’t go wrong following these criteria.

Find out more

If you want to read about parties in an earlier time, see this short series on Halloween parties in the Twenties. And if the idea of hosting a bridge club party interests you, the American Contract Bridge League was formed in 1937, during the Depression… exactly the same year that offers these gift suggestions above..

Parties and Visits · Vintage Entertainment

Vintage Halloween Party Games

Twenties illustration of two jack o'lanterns looking down at the head of a small child who is pretending to look scared.

You’re planning a great vintage Halloween bash. You gathered and made the decorations (in Halloween Party Part 1). You mastered the menu (in Halloween Party Part 2). But what are you going to do? That’s where the vintage Halloween party games list comes to your rescue.

Fortune telling

Fortune telling is, hands down, the favorite activity at 1910s – 1930s Halloween parties. Some partygoers read tea leaves, while others burned chestnuts in the fire in pairs to determine the “fate” of two partygoers. Others used special or not-so-special decks of cards.

An easy way to “tell fortunes” is to come up with a list of silly or serious fortunes. Print them one per line and cut them into strips, then fold them and put them into a bowl or Halloween container. Let everyone pull one and read their fortune to the group.

Another option is to designate one of the participants the Fortune Teller. This person should come dressed appropriately for the role, or assume it right before fortune telling time. A long cape is nice; a dark shawl would work too. This doesn’t have to be fancy to be vintage authentic. If your fortune teller is known among friends as a master of improvisation, then they can wing it with each seeker. Otherwise, providing a bowl of pre-made fortune slips like those mentioned above would help.


Costumes can be fancy, not fancy, or not at all. If the idea of authentic crepe paper costumes interests you, this How to Make Crepe Paper Costumes from 1925 is a treasure of information. This, and several others like it, live at the Internet Archive.

The general idea behind costumes in the 1920s was thrift. Costumes could be made from almost anything as long as the materials didn’t cost too much. Since this usually proved a one-time wearing, the Twenties denizen wasn’t about to spend a lot of hard-earned cash on something that would end up in the fire or in the back of a very narrow closet. Manuals on masquerade from the period begin with a statement on purchasing the cheapest stuff available to make a costume that will only last one night. Whether a Santa costume or a Halloween harlequin, the feeling remained the same.

If everyone wears costumes of some kind, it’s traditional to send them home with some kind of prize. Possible categories include: Best Vintage Costume; Scariest Costume; Funniest Costume; Least Expensive Costume; Most Traditional Costume, etc. A great prize would be a taffy apple on a stick. They’re already taking home candy from the dinner table place settings, if you made the favors from a previous post. Door prizes during the Twenties were useful, ornamental, or edible. Think handkerchiefs, small potted plants, and seasonal food.

Candy pulling

Many autumn and winter parties included candy pulling during the Teens and Twenties, and Halloween parties were no exception. Candy pulling gave partygoers something to do and they took home some of the spoils. Odd as it seems, this is one of the vintage Halloween party games that people looked forward to. Taffy is easy to make and fun to pull with a group. Make sure you have a lot of cold butter on hand, or a nondairy equivalent, to keep the candy from burning your hands if you grab it when it’s too hot.

Here’s a recipe for pulled taffy:

Molasses Taffy

1 1/2 cups Molasses
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons butter

Combine molasses, sugar, vinegar, water, and salt into a large heavy saucepan. Place over low heat and stir constantly until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil, and keep at a light boil until the mixture reaches 240º F (soft ball stage).

Add the butter. Boil slowly until mixture reaches 265º (hard ball stage). Stir frequently while it reaches the target temperature.

Remove from the stove. Wipe any crystals from the top of the pan and pour the taffy quickly onto an oiled or buttered surface. You can use a shallow pan with sides, a platter, or a marble candy making slab.

Pull that taffy

Let set until cool enough to handle. Everyone pulls off a handful and works it between their hands, pulling it into a strand, folding back upon itself, and pulling again. You will pull and fold, pull and fold, pull and fold until the taffy becomes lighter in color and with a glossy, satin sheen. This will take a while… you and your party guests will pull for about 20 minutes.

If you find the taffy sticky, butter on your hands should help. Laughter and chatter add spice to the candy making time.

Once the taffy is soft, light-colored, and shiny, you can stretch it out into a long rope. Make it the diameter of the candy you want to eat. Use kitchen shears to cut the candy into bite-size strips, and roll in waxed paper squares.

Here’s a great little video that shows the process of making taffy.

Ghost stories

Telling ghost stories at Halloween parties is as old as Halloween parties themselves. Just like ghost stories were a tradition at Christmas time, they also became a tradition for Halloween.

Look no further than Project Gutenberg for more ghost stories than you could use in a lifetime of Halloween parties. Whether you want modern stories from the Twenties by Dorothy Scarborough or traditional stories by Charles Dickens, you have your pick at this Project Gutenberg page. Select a few of your favorites and be prepared to share them with your guests. Or enlist another partygoer who tells tales really well to locate a few stellar stories and share them with the crowd.

A few of these stories, told while everyone waits for the taffy to cool before pulling, will help while away the waiting minutes.

Or gather round the fire, turn the lights low, pass around the Witches’ Brew cider, and tell tales that will make your guests shudder in the half-light.

Best wishes

I hope you have a tremendous time with your vintage Halloween party games as you recreate a truly vintage Halloween party.

Parties and Visits · Vintage Entertainment

Vintage Halloween Party Menu

Halloween menu list bordered by a jack o'lantern, a bet in a spider web, and a cake with a witch on it.

Bring vintage entertainment right into your living room when you host a vintage Halloween party. This is the second installment of a series on throwing a Halloween party, Twenties style. If you missed the first part, you can find it here. This time we’re going to focus on food: adding a vintage Halloween party menu to your plans.

When you plan a vintage party menu, the first thing you have to remember is to keep it simple. Gathering people together for an evening of fun trumped ornate, formal entertaining. Most party hosts bought some crepe paper in the appropriate holiday colors (in this case, black and orange). They then spent a few evenings crafting party decorations at home.

Although paper companies released catalogs and idea books filled with ways to decorate with pre-packaged paper items, most party hosts preferred a handmade touch. While a vintage homemaker might buy a printed crepe paper with pumpkins on it, she would be likely to cut out those pumpkins and use them as part of a larger decorating scheme. It created a handmade I cared enough for you that I made it myself touch. Plus, those preprinted sheets of crepe were eye-crossingly busy. A partygoer could only take so much.

Your vintage Halloween party menu

1924 brings you not one vintage Halloween party menu, but two. The first one is very informal and would welcome breaking into the popcorn table centerpiece mentioned in the first Halloween party section.

Menu One

  • Jack O’Lantern Salad
  • Brown Bread Sandwiches
  • Cake of Fate
  • Orange Ice
  • Witches’ Brew

Jack O’Lantern Salad

For Jack O’Lantern salad, select as many large, red apples as there are people to be served. Cut off the top of each one and scoop out the inside. Carve eyes, nose, and mouth on one side like a Jack O’Lantern.

Chop the apple you removed and mix it with an equal amount of diced celery and chopped ripe (black) olives. Put the mixture back into the shells and serve with a dollop of mayonnaise dressing piled on top.

Note: If you want to keep your apple from turning brown, dip it in a little lemon juice. Mix a small amount, a teaspoon at a time, into the cut apple before you combine it with the other ingredients.

Brown Bread Sandwiches

You can use whole wheat, rye, or any other bread that you think would go well with the filling. A bakery loaf is best for this recipe, because you want it whole when you begin.

Slice the bread very thin (in about 1/4-inch slices) and cut the slices into circles with a round biscuit or cookie cutter. For the filling, use 8 oz cream cheese mixed with 2-3 Tbsp drained, shredded pineapple and 1-2 Tbsp chopped pecans.

The Cake of Fate

1920s illustration of a Halloween cake. Layer cake covered in white icing, with a bat, cat, and owl drawn onto the side with chocolate. On the top a witch cut from black paper flies vertically over the top of the cake which is designed like a sundial.
The Cake of Fate……

To make the Cake of Fate, make a two layer cake from any recipe and cover it with firm, white icing. After the icing sets, pipe or draw the clock face, cats, bats, and owls with either a fine clean paint brush dipped in melted chocolate (semi sweet chocolate chips would work well), or chocolate icing in a decorating bag with a fine round tip. The paint brush and melted chocolate is traditional; the cake decorating bag with tip is a modern application.

The witch decoration for the cake is made from black card stock. Print the illustration below and use it to trace onto the sheet of card stock. Cut two witches, and glue them back to back with a wooden chopstick or skewer between. Stick that in the top of the cake.

Traditionally, three items were placed inside the cake: a ring, a thimble, and a silver coin. They were placed inside after baking, as the cake was assembled. Often they rested in the icing between the two layers.

If you want to continue this tradition, you can cut small pictures of a ring, thimble, and silver coin into about 1″ x 1″ squares. Wrap them in Saran wrap or a comparable cling wrap, and slide them between the two layers in three different places before icing the final covering layer over the cake. If you do this, you must tell your guests to look for a piece of paper in their cake. I don’t recommend using the real items because they are all serious choking hazards for a population not accustomed to looking for metal or plastic items in their desserts.

Another option is to get an assortment of cake decorations in the shape of rings, thimbles, and coins and use those to decorate the top of the cake outside the clock. That way everyone gets a “fortune” and they can see it as soon as they look at their piece of cake.

Witch illustration for the Cake of Fate.

Orange Ice

Mold the orange ice in cone shapes. You can get paper ice cones at Amazon. If you look during the summer you can probably find them locally and stash them away for Halloween ice treats. If you want to use a silicone mold that’s cone shaped, Wilton has one but it forms a cone only 2.5 inches high.

To mold an ice, you will make the mixture by the directions and then pack it solidly into whatever mold you are using. In a pinch, a muffin tin would work. Cover the top of the mold with wax paper and then put it into the freezer to freeze for at least two hours. Unmold by turning the container upside down on a platter and wrapping each section with a towel dipped in hot water and wrung out.

In the top of each cone put a crepe paper (or card stock) cutout of a bat, a witch, or an owl.

Since you probably don’t have a recipe for Orange Ice sitting around in your household cookbook, here’s one:

Orange Ice Recipe

2 cups sugar 2 1/2 cups orange juice
4 cups water Grated rind of one orange
3 Tbsp lemon juice

  1. Boil the sugar and water together for five minutes.
  2. Cool the syrup mixture, and then add the fruit juices and orange rind. Let stand an hour.
  3. Strain, and then freeze in an ice cream maker.
  4. Pack into molds as described above or place in a freezer-safe container with a lid. Cure in the freezer at least 2 hours before serving.

Witches’ Brew

For the Witches’ Brew, use any cider punch recipe that you have and love. If you need a recipe, you can use this one:

Cider Punch

2 oranges, juice 1 quart grape juice
2 lemons, juice 1 cup sugar
1 quart cider 2 quarts water

  1. Grate some of the lemon and orange peel, and set aside.
  2. Juice the lemons and oranges. Add the grape juice.
  3. Add the peels to the juices.
  4. Stir in the cider, sugar and water.
  5. Pour in a punch bowl in which you have floating a block of ice.
  6. Serve in small punch glasses.

Menu Two

The second menu is a bit more formal than the first.

  • Creamed Chicken in Cream Puffs
  • Apricot Ice
  • Gold Cake with Chocolate Icing
  • Nuts
  • Popcorn Balls
  • Coffee
  • Cider Punch

Creamed Chicken in Cream Puffs

Creamed Chicken in Cream Puffs is the autumn version of chicken salad in cream puffs. If you don’t know where to find cream puffs locally, and you are up for some invigorating stirring, A Pretty Life in the Suburbs posted a good, doable recipe. I have made cream puffs before from scratch, and this looks similar to the recipe I used.

Creamed Chicken Recipe

3 cups cold cooked chicken, diced
2 1/2 cups milk
5 Tbsp flour
1 pimiento cut into tiny pieces (optional. This is a roasted red bell pepper.)
1/8 tsp pepper (feel free to use more if you like)
5 Tbsp fat (oil, butter, ghee, etc)
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon celery salt

  1. Scald the milk.
  2. In another saucepan or skillet, melt the fat/heat oil over medium heat and add the flour, salt, and pepper. Use a whisk to get the lumps out.
  3. Add the milk slowly to the flour mixture. Stir constantly until the mixture bubbles and thickens.
  4. When thick, add chicken and cook long enough to heat the chicken. Add the pimiento last if you are using it.
  5. To fill cream puffs with the creamed chicken, cut the top off the puff, hollow out the puff leaving 1/4 inch or so around all the edges, and fill with a spoon of warm chicken mixture. You can replace the top of the puff or leave it off, as you please.

Apricot Ice

A fruit flavored ice provided a unique, light dessert for the vintage host.

You will need:

1 1/2 cups apricot pulp, 1 20 – 28 oz can or 2 15 oz cans
2 cups sugar
3 cups water
1/2 cup lemon juice

Use canned apricots and put through a coarse sieve. If you have neither the patience nor the equipment for that, give them a whir in the blender or food processor.

Boil the water and sugar together for ten minutes in a large saucepan. This makes a syrup.

Cool the syrup and add with the lemon juice to the apricot puree.

Freeze in an ice cream freezer to a mush. Transfer to a freezer-safe container let stand one hour or more in the freezer to ripen. Or freeze in individual molds as detailed in the Orange Ice instructions above.

Gold cake with chocolate icing

This is simply a yellow cake with chocolate frosting. Use whatever recipe you have. Even a boxed cake with canned icing will work. Keep it simple.

Nuts and coffee

Meals like this typically ended with nuts or mints, little nibbles to clear the palate. Serve whatever nuts you like as long as your guests aren’t allergic to them. They can go in a small bowl in the center of the table or into individual nut cups at each place setting.

Coffee is self explanatory. Serve whatever you like, however you like it.

Popcorn balls

The original article offered no recipe for popcorn balls. This recipe from Taste of Home is pretty standard. Popcorn balls last for several days wrapped in cling wrap film, so you can make them in advance.

Cider punch

See the recipe above under Witches’ Brew.

Next time

Now that you have the decorations and your vintage Halloween party menu under control, the next thing we need to discuss is games for the evening. Stay tuned for the next installment!

Parties and Visits · Vintage Entertainment

Host a Twenties Halloween Party

Photo of 1920s dining room. A long table is set for six places at dinner. In the middle of the table sits a large ball of popcorn wearing a large party hat. Windows behind the table provide light into the room.
Host your own vintage Halloween party

Want to get into the true vintage spirit? Host a Twenties Halloween party! Whether you plan a large gathering or merely entertain your own household, you can throw a Twenties Halloween party to delight your vintage-loving heart.

Halloween gatherings were hugely popular from 1910 through the 1950s. Some were simple, others more involved, but all provided a delightful evening of fun. Informal food, games, and decorations ruled the night.

When you recreate the Halloween parties of yesteryear, you bring vintage quirky, light-hearted entertainment into today’s drawing room. Or dining room. How do you host a Twenties Halloween party? First, the decorations.

Decorating for your vintage party

An illustrated row of halloween decorations. An owl, a witch, a girl doll wearing an apron with a cat's face on it, and a boy doll dressed like a clown stand in a line. Most of these are made from crepe paper.
Vintage Halloween decorations

Some parties took place over an entire house, but more often the living room and dining room were set apart for the festivities. Then as now, the Halloween party colors were black and orange. You can also throw in some ghostly white, but here are some additional suggestions for Twenties decorating flair:

  • Red or brown autumn leaves
  • Pumpkins
  • Corn stalks
  • Crepe paper decorations

Crepe paper was everywhere. Revelers used it for decorations, costumes, and party favors. Crepe paper used to be available at every five and dime store for party creations. Not so much anymore, but you can still find an assortment of colors at Amazon. Or, if you like, you can also substitute decorations made from card stock in the relevant holiday colors. Card stock is available from every craft store and online.

The table

The table can be as elaborate as you like. In the photo above, the centerpiece is made from popcorn. First you pop a large quantity of popcorn, using salt or flavored salt and seasonings to flavor it (garlic, dill weed, etc — not all at the same time!). If you include butter flavored oil or butter with the popcorn it will become greasy as it sits. Best to make this one simple.

Once you have 1 – 2 gallons measure in popped seasoned corn, wrap it in clear cellophane. Again, Amazon to the rescue. You should be able to find this locally in a party store or craft store as well. Your goal is a ball about a foot in diameter.

When you have the popcorn properly contained in the sealed cellophane (I have no idea how they did this before the advent of clear tape!) you can decorate it. A simple set of round eyes, triangle nose, and smiling mouth are cut from black paper or crepe paper and taped or glued onto the ball.

For the hat, use a large sheet of paper to cut a half circle and roll a cone hat. A sheet of white poster board would work well. If you like you can cover it with crepe paper and use crepe paper for the brim. Since you form the hat from a half circle of paper, you will probably want to make the brim separately and staple it on. Here’s a simple YouTube video that shows you how to make the cone if you’ve never done it before.

Attach the hat at a rakish angle for the full effect of your popcorn head centerpiece.

You can break open the cellophane and share the popcorn at the end of the party.

The favors

The dolls that appear in the second photo are all made from crepe paper and a little card stock. And candy. Did I mention the candy? The doll in the apron and the one in the clown suit both have limbs filled with stick candy. You can use any long thin candy that you like: Tootsie rolls would work well, using two stacked for the leg and one for the arm. Or you can use the stick candy if you can find it.

Snap headed dolls

Originally these dolls would be made with a paper snap, like a Christmas cracker. The snap would be attached between the head and the body. You’d glue the head to one end of the paper snap and a body piece to the other end. Then after the meal all the guests would hold onto one part of the doll, their neighbor the other, and give a pull. Snap! The head comes off with a pop and everyone giggles.

If this idea appeals to you, you can still get cracker snaps from Amazon.

Heavy paper or card stock makes the owl and the heads of the dolls. Draw a circle or oval and sketch the facial features. Then small pieces of crepe paper make up the rest of the dolls. Roll the candy in the crepe paper and tie the ends for arms and legs. The witch is made from a long thin piece of crepe paper that’s gathered at the neck, with a smaller piece gathered for her cape. Hats are cut from paper or crepe paper.

Easy pumpkins

The candy stick pumpkin favor

If you want a simpler favor, cut a circle of orange crepe paper 6-7 inches in diameter. You can use a 6-inch plate as a pattern if you have one. That’s what a vintage host would do.

Cut the circles from the crepe paper. Place something to weight the favor, such as beans, nuts or rice (M$Ms are good!). Gather up the edges of the pumpkin like you see in the illustration, and tie the top with string, ribbon, or another strip of crepe paper. Place a stick of candy in it as a table favor. These can go at each place or around the popcorn head centerpiece. Little pieces of colored paper make the eyes, nose, and mouth.

If you want your pumpkin to be nice and fluffy, a bit of crumpled tissue (facial or gift wrapping) will fluff the top out. You will still need something to weight the ball, though, or the candy stick will make it fall over.

The glimmer

Keep the lights low and set candles around. These add an atmospheric flicker to your room and enhance the vintage spookiness of it all. Your party will be just as nice if you opt for battery-operated candles instead of the real thing. It will also be a lot safer. Although real fire would be truly vintage, the truth is that the Twenties partygoer routinely interacted with flames more often than most of us do. Flameless candles will work just fine, and you can use them again next year. Double win.

Next time: food

Decorating for a vintage party is relatively simple, but it does require some hands-on crafting since none of the original store-bought decorations are still available. In the next installment I’ll give you menu options. Stay tuned, and have fun with that crepe paper! When you host this Twenties Halloween party, people will remember it.

Parties and Visits · The Vintage Kitchen · Vintage Entertainment

Plan a Summer Automobile Picnic

Family of five enjoying a picnic outdoors in the 1920s. Mom unloads the hamper while little sister enjoys a drink, little brother munches a sandwich, and dad talks to big sister, who sits with a warm cup of coffee or tea.. She holds a teacup in her hand and an insulated Thermos bottle sits in front of her.
Ah….. enjoying the great outdoors and meal at the same time!

Wide automobile ownership brought the great outdoors within reach of a whole new audience. Previously, people could go as far as the local streetcar, the interurban, or the train could take them. Or they could ride a horse if they had one. For short excursions a bicycle would work well. But nothing beat an auto when you wanted to plan a summer automobile picnic an hour or so away from home.

Taking off in your auto

The automobile picnic actually became a term on its own in magazine articles. With the extra space afforded by the car, owners could pack it to the windows and take practically every luxury with them when they headed out for their nature dinner.

When you think of supplies, you may want to use fabric shopping or tote bags instead of hampers if your car space is small. Bags can be hung from the clothing hooks or tucked into places that a large hamper will not go.

The prepared picnic addict kept a special shelf of supplies, plus more hidden away in the automobile trunk. If you wanted to pull a picnic together on short notice, you needed a few items on hand. Here is a bona fide Twenties picnic list that will help you plan your summer automobile picnic.

Supplies that make easy work of the picnic lunch

Wherever you store your seasonal things, you should have these available:

  • Paper plates
  • Tablecloth
  • Napkins
  • Cups
  • Doilies
  • Empty cracker boxes
  • Rolls of paraffin (waxed) paper
  • Strong market bags with handles (paper or burlap are good materials. Today I’d suggest a reusable fabric shopping bag. The Twenties picnicker would have loved such a light and useful item.)
  • Thermos bottle
  • Lemonade pail (a covered/lidded pitcher with ice makes a good, sanitary substitute.)
  • Picnic hamper

… And the shelf-stable food

These are the foods that should sit on a picnic shelf of your pantry so you can throw together a great vintage summer automobile picnic in a short amount of time:

  • Stuffed olives (or simply jarred olives. They really don’t need to be stuffed.)
  • Jellies (grape, strawberry, mango…whatever your family loves)
  • Grape and pineapple juice
  • Mixed pickles (these are different vegetables all pickled together like small onions, carrots, cauliflower, tiny peppers… and they often would be home canned in small 8-ounce jars for portability and cost. Check the Ball Blue Book if you want recipes (Amazon link; look for it wherever canning supplies are sold), or take a look at this Hot Pepper Mix of pickled vegetables from the Ball website to get an idea.
  • Pickled herring — sh! This is great on crackers as an appetizer. If you like pickled herring, that is.
  • Potted ham or chicken (This was an early solution for canned meats. Substitute a can or two of whatever meat you like canned. You can still buy potted meat. You may or may not like it. Think Spam.)
  • Canned soups
  • Boxed cookies
  • Boxed salted and plain crackers (This is calling for saltines and.. say.. an unsalted cracker like… do we still have those? I can’t think of any. If you know of an unsalted cracker on the market please let me know in the comments.)
  • Pimientos (This was the Twenties cook’s solution to adding color and nutrition of various meals. Roasted peppers in everything! They kept better this way than in the refrigerator and fresh.)
  • Canned salmon
  • Canned tuna
  • Prepared salad dressing
  • Sweet wafers (These are very thin cookies often used to decorate desserts. You may be able to find them in the grocery with the Italian cookies. Look on the top shelf. Pizzelles are a type of sweet wafer. If you happen to have an ice cream cone waffle iron, a small flat waffle cone makes a great wafer. I do, because gluten free ice cream cones are few and far between.)

Let’s not forget the refrigerator!

Lest you think that everything for your picnic needs to come off the longterm storage shelf, you will find a few items in your fridge to spice up your day:

  • Mayonnaise
  • Home-made salad dressings
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Cold boiled potatoes
  • Green peppers
  • Celery
  • Fresh tomatoes
  • Young onions (we would call these spring onions or green onions or scallions.)
  • Lettuce
  • Lemons
  • Fresh fruit

Of course you won’t use all of this! This is your store from which you pull all the things you need for the ultimate picnic. Maybe you have a fresh loaf of bread on hand. You can make tuna sandwiches, or chicken salad sandwiches. You can have hard boiled eggs (transport them cold in the shell and let everyone peel their own), or you can make deviled eggs (transport them filled and facing each other, wrapped in plastic or waxed paper. Unwrap them, twist them apart and each person has two deviled eggs!)

Pull some fresh fruit, some cookies, and pack a drink and you’re done! See how easy this can be when you have supplies ready and on hand? Not every picnic needs to be fried chicken and corn on the cob.

Note: if you are fixing anything with mayonnaise, please keep it chilled in a cooler until it’s consumed. Warm mayo, while it probably won’t kill you, is less than tasty on a sandwich or in deviled eggs.

Add a Sweet Surprise

If you like, and you have the time and the equipment, you can make up two quarts of ice cream a bit ahead of time, pack the container in a cooler with ice, and tuck it into the car for after lunch or dinner. Even simple vanilla made with milk, half and half (light cream), sugar, and vanilla tastes heavenly when it’s fresh.

Traditionally, of course, this could be made in the kitchen sink: fill the sink with ice and enough kosher or rock salt to make it even colder, and place a metal bowl into the sink with your prepared ice cream mixture. You should have enough ice to make the bowl cold. Start stirring. Stir until you think your arm is going to fall off, and then stir some more. Switch arms. Hold the bowl steady and stir with your other hand. Every now and then you’ll need to scrape the stuff off the sides of the bowl so new unfrozen stuff can take its place. Is this easy or quick? Nope. But I hear it works if you have no other alternative.

Don’t forget the auto supplies!

Filling your car with picnic-ready equipment will ensure that you’re always ready for a trip. Consider these additions:

  • Canned heat, stand, and pan to fit on it. (I keep my canned heat on the pantry shelf because my car gets really hot in the summer. You may want to, as well.)
  • Charcoal, in case you find yourself at a park with usable grills.
  • Toy pail and shovel for each child, especially if you are going where there is sand. Or rocks. Or loose dirt. Or leaves.

Two tasty on-the-go meals

Here are two options for picnic meals, Twenties style. Each of them can be made largely from the ingredients made above, with some additional items that you’ll notice. Substitute wherever you like. Plan your summer automobile picnic to make yourself happy. This is your picnic.

A Fireless Meal

For those days when you can’t fire up the park grill, here’s a menu that you can pack and go:

  • Potato salad (using those cold boiled potatoes from the fridge)
  • Eggs stuffed with Ham (minced ham + a little mayo in a hard boiled egg white. Use the yolks, or not.)
  • Sliced fresh tomatoes
  • Nut bread sandwiches (nut bread sliced thin; two pieces held together with cream cheese or butter)
  • Lemonade
  • Cookies (fresh or from the shelf)
  • Sliced fruit in Raspberry Jelly (this is probably calling for sliced fruit in something like raspberry jell-o)

An Automobile Lunch

  • Hot Buillion from the Thermos Bottle
  • with Salted crackers
  • Sandwiches of cream cheese and maple sugar with graham bread (this is a sweet sandwich to balance the soup; graham bread is whole wheat bread.)
  • Vegetable salad (prepared fresh or steamed cold veggies with a little salad dressing to perk them up, whatever you have)
  • Sweet pickles
  • Chocolate cake
  • Iced Tea

Neither of these will take a huge amount of time to put together if you already have most of the ingredients. And they are substantial meals for on the go. Use these, or rely on favorite foods when you plan your summer automobile picnic this year.

If you’d like an option for more of a tea-party picnic than a traditional picnic, you might like my entry on creating a summer porch party. These recipes require a bit more care in packing but they are just as tasty.

Parties and Visits · Recipe Collections · The Vintage Kitchen

Recipes for Your Porch Party

Table filled with tea sandwiches, dessert, coffee, and cake for a porch party.
Put together a porch party your friends will remember.

In the Twenties and Thirties porch parties gathered people together. In a day before air conditioning, home owners and guests embraced any opportunity to spend time outside. Picnics on the grass weren’t for everyone, although they were popular. The porch party gathered everyone onto the cool front porch. They sat in comfortable chairs and enjoyed special nibbles or even a full luncheon. And if the gang didn’t gather for a special occasion, such as a shower, guests usually brought along their workbags. Knitting, embroidery, tatting, and crochet kept hands busy while conversation flew. Porch parties were so popular that entire menus often appeared in magazines and cookbooks.

Revive this tradition and host a porch party of your own. All you need is a clean, nicely decorated porch, a few guests, and some food. Invite a few favorites over and give these recipes a gander. These recipes for your porch party will fit your vintage (or not so vintage) gathering perfectly. They were designed for outdoor entertaining in warmer weather.

You could add hot tea to this menu and call it an afternoon tea. Or use the Peruvian chocolate recipe from the list and call it a luncheon party. (You may want to have a pitcher of water available, however. The Peruvian chocolate recipe is very rich, iced or hot.)

Add a small bowl of mixed olives and a bowl of mixed nuts to the foods listed here and you have a beautiful Twenties porch luncheon. The cream mints provide the perfect ending to a vintage luncheon. They cleanse the palate after a meal, and appeared on tables regularly.

1. Sweet and Savory Sandwiches

These Sweet and Savory Tea Sandwiches offer four options for quickly made, tasty sandwiches. Serve them at your next vintage-style small gathering or formal tea. And if you’ve never hosted a formal tea but always wanted to, these sandwiches will start you off.

2. Peruvian Iced or Hot Chocolate

This Peruvian chocolate tastes like something between a normal hot cocoa recipe, and the thick drinking chocolate that you find in cafés. This is a drink to savor. It’s not too sweet. Enjoy this one with a friend or friends and some good conversation.

3. Fruited Whipped Cream

If you’re looking for a light and cool dessert for warm weather, look no further. This Fruited Cream recipe from the 1920s fills the requirement. It’s smooth, fruity, sweet, and cold. And Fruited Cream gives us an example of some of the best from the Twenties kitchen.

4. Many Layered Jam Cake

The Many Layered Jam Cake is one rich cake. A bit more involved than an everyday cake, Many Layered Jam Cake definitely tastes like more than a sum of its parts. This is a delicious, decadent cake for your next vintage gathering.

5. Colored Cream Mints

Looking for something to add sparkle to your next small get-together? These easy fondant Cream Mints are simple to make and they taste great! And even better, this 1920s recipe was almost lost to time.

Use these recipes for your porch party. Or your patio party. Or your pool party. These dishes will make your party, whatever it is, a memorable event.

Decorations and Decor · Parties and Visits · The Creative Corner

Make Your Porch a Summer Room

Illustration of a summer room front porch with a porch swing, rug, two chairs, and a small side table with a table lamp, reading books, and a plant.
Inviting furniture, outdoor lamps, and a few good books make a popular warm weather spot.

Doesn’t this scene make you want to curl up with a good book or that project you’ve been hoping to start? This is a perfect illustration of a porch used as a summer room. Before air conditioned houses and apartments people moved outdoors in warm weather. Houses were hot, and people needed alternatives.

Not only were houses hot, but they could also seem claustrophobic in warm weather. The very house that seemed so cozy during the wintertime might feel oppressive during the hot summer months. Changing curtains and pillows from winter to summer fabrics helped. The best result, however, came from moving meals and entertainment to a whole new area.

Living and dining outdoors

The porch became the summer living room, and sometimes the warm weather dining room as well. Breakfasting on the porch could be delightful in the right weather, not to mention weekend luncheons and weekday dinners.

Black and white photo of a wooden table and chairs on a tile outdoor patio floor. A light hangs from the ceiling and an open arch leads outdoors.
A small but effective outdoor eating area.

A visitor who stopped on a nice day rarely made it into the house during the summer months. The hostess didn’t lack in hospitality or manners. She entertained in the most inviting area possible. Drinks and snacks made their way from the household kitchen to the front porch for relaxed, breezy socializing.

A porch with screens fitted to porch openings was ideal, but not everyone had those. Usually the porch had some kind of roof or covering. You see that in all the examples shown here. To be cool, an outdoor oasis needed to be out of the sun. Even a good awning could provide that at the right time of day.

Inside of an enclosed front porch of a 1920s home. Two large windows to the left sit above two chairs and a small table. In the middle of the room a table for four sits. The table is decorated with a flower arrangement.
An enclosed porch offers space to get away and relax.

Furnishing the outdoor space

All rooms need furnishings and the outdoor summer room was no exception. Furniture included comfortable chairs, couches, and a small but sturdy occasional table. Sometimes the table was made of wicker, while other times one of painted wood took its place as book and lamp-holder. Even if the porch included a ceiling light in the center, a table lamp or two gave a nice touch of comfort to the outdoor room. (Be sure to keep it unplugged when not in use if it’s outdoors. Summer storms can be quick and violent, as we all know.)

An indoor/outdoor mat or rug often found its way to the porch for the summertime as well. It helped to contain dirt tracked from the street and made the area look a bit more homey.

Fabrics used for porch cushions and pillows needed to withstand the season’s changing weather then as they do now. Today you can purchase beautiful pads for outdoor furniture, or make your own from a fabric like Sunbrella. Fabrics of the Twenties included stripes in greens and browns, heavy denim weave fabrics in colors other than denim blue, and bright plastic-like oilcloth.

Porch decorated with wicker couch, two chairs, and two small tables. Trees and foliage appear in the background.
Festive stripes and wicker furniture decorate this porch room.

Most of all, the colors of a porch decorating scheme were bright and inviting. Small spots of red, yellow, and black might offer a welcome contrast to more cooling colors like greens, blues, lavenders, or grays. A red and gray pillow on a gray chair, for instance, is very vintage. And quite welcoming.

Take a look at your own outdoor space and see how it can become a vintage-style living room. If you want something to serve your first porch guests, you’ll find these Sweet and Savory Sandwiches quick to fix and easy to serve.

Music and Song · Parties and Visits · Vintage Entertainment

Add the Foxtrot to Your Dance Routine

Two Twenties couples dance the foxtrot. Pencil sketch of head and shoulders.

If you only learn one dance from the Twenties, make it the foxtrot. It’s simple, it offers lots of variety, and it goes with everything. (Kind of like that little black dress or your favorite tux). Adding the foxtrot to your dance routine helps you glide through a Twenties party.

Because of the dance’s popularity, almost every song in 4/4 time billed itself as a foxtrot. Some were slow and others fast, but as long as the beat is correct you can foxtrot to it all. Marking “a new foxtrot” on the front of sheet music guaranteed some sales. Piano players often wanted to provide danceable music for evening guests. Foxtrot also guaranteed that you wouldn’t go home with a dirge. It also labeled the song as current with the times, since everyone was dancing the foxtrot. (At least, it seems that way from the music that survives.)

Learn to Dance the Foxtrot Online

This Youtube video shows many different ways the foxtrot appeared through the Twenties. In a little over six minutes you can see the basics as well as some fancy foxtrot footwork, all from vintage clips.

Long, long, short-short… long, long, short-short. This step sequence helps to create the signature swaying movement that characterizes the foxtrot. However, you can start by simply taking one step after another: walk, walk, walk, walk. This video playlist shows you the basics and beyond, in 26 very short clips from the Sway Ballroom Dance studio.

If you need to learn to foxtrot in a very small space, try this video. In it a dance instructor leads you through a slow foxtrot in a very tight living room.

On the other hand, if you prefer more traditional instruction, this introduction by May I Have This Dance takes you from the beginning to a foxtrot promenade that glides you around the room.

Adding the foxtrot to your dance routine means you never have to sit along the wall at a Twenties dance party. Whether you gather with a few close friends for dinner and dancing at home, or attend a Twenties bash at a large venue, you will be well prepared with a good foxtrot. And if you’d like a few songs to trot to, you might want to check out this post on Twenties music hits.

Gluten Free Adaptations · Parties and Visits · The Vintage Kitchen

The Original Chex Mix Recipe

Many of us have been eating Chex Mix since we could walk. We swiped a handful from the bowl as we strode past the party table at holidays. We hoarded those little bags in the back of the pantry when they went on sale. And maybe we even happily made Chex Mix from the “Original Recipe” … you know, the one that calls for 8 cups of cereal and a gallon zip-top freezer bag.

Except, that’s not the original recipe.

Awhile back, I scrounged around looking for the Original Chex Mix Recipe. And I found several interesting things.

Here’s the recipe from It calls for bagel chips, which were added to the recipe after Chex began selling bagged prepared mix in 1985. They call it the original mix.

In the early 90s I found a recipe for Chex Mix that I jealously guarded and made every year with pride. It was The Original Chex Mix Recipe. After all, that’s what the card said. I believed it. At least, I believed it then. This had to be The One. Only, it wasn’t.

Chex mix recipe on card, calling for 8 cups of cereal, 1 cup nuts and 1 cup pretzels.
Chex Mix recipe card, stained from use, clipped from a cereal box in 1994.

The Party Mix

Actually, snack mix recipes have been really popular since cocktail parties in the 1950s. Every respectable cookbook offered at least one party mix recipe, sometimes more. Ususally called something like “Party Mix,” they were easy to locate, easy to stir up in advance of a hoarde of guests invading your house before sundown, and most people seemed to love them. In any event, they appeared in cookbooks throughout the 50s and 60s, and every host or hostess seemed to have their own favorite recipe. Snack mix was an easy, affordable entertaining recipe after the food rationing of World War II. A crunchy cereal or two, some nuts, a few spices, and you have a party treat.

In an attempt to jump on the party wagon, and to sell more cereal, Ralston Purina (yes, the Puppy Chow people) tried to come up with recipes to sell more of their Chex. In April of 1952 they published an ad suggesting that Chex would taste great when stirred into your favorite fudge recipe. Or maybe the trick was sandwiching a slice of Vienna sausage between two Chex squares, speared onto a toothpick for easy eating.

Original Chex Mix recipe from 1952 advertisement. Shows a photo of the party mix, a corner of a box of Chex, and the recipe itself.
When Life magazine published this recipe for Chex Mix, they had no idea they were making culinary history.

Later in April, Ralston tried again. This time the ad printed a recipe for popcorn balls, but with Rice Chex as the popcorn substitute. The other recipe on the same page suggested mixing up some Cheese Chex: Melt in skillet 1/2 Tablespoon butter. Add 1 cup Wheat Chex, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and stir until hot. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup grated Parmesan or Cheddar cheese, and stir until all pieces are coated. Now we’re getting somewhere! This one sounds almost tasty.

When Life magazine published the new Ralston ad on June 16, 1952, they had no idea they were making snack food history. The ad touted a new Party Mix. It was a while before the mixture became known as Chex Mix.

Gluten Free Options

Sometimes you have to tweak older recipes for new allergies and intolerances. When I realized I needed to change to gluten free food, Chex Mix became one of my first workarounds. If you believe the Gluten Free label on the box, then you can make the snack mix using extra Rice or Corn Chex and omitting the Wheat Chex entirely. If you are celiac, and absolutely need 100% gluten free all the time, substitute the Chex with one of the square or hexagon gluten free corn or rice cereals you probably already know and use. The original recipe calls for “nuts.” If you cannot tolerate nuts, change them out for something else (like sunflower seeds) or use none at all. Personally, I like it best without nuts, but I’m a bit strange that way.

The true Original Recipe

The first Chex Party Mix recipe contained no Cheerios (unlike many of the party mixes of the time), no bagel chips, no pretzels, and no seasoned salt. I know! Heresy! But if you mix up a batch of this mix, you’ll taste the true flavor of the 1950s party table. And you might find that you like it better.

The original recipe calls for 1/3 cup butter, 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 2 cups Wheat Chex, 2 cups Rice Chex, 1/2 cup nuts, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon garlic salt. Melt the butter in a baking pan, and mix in the Worcestershire sauce, Chex cereals, and nuts. Sprinkle with the salt and garlic salt, and then roast in the oven at 300 degrees for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.

Yes, this makes a tiny amount. After stirring together 8-9 cups of cereal, plus a cup of nuts, a cup of pretzels, and so on, a four cup batch seems hardly worth the effort. But it cooks in half the time, and it was designed for one party or one evening, not a week’s worth of Chex Mix in a large container in the pantry. This small recipe was probably designed to serve 8 people. The ad doesn’t say.

Give the Original Chex Mix recipe a try, and see what you think. Is it better than the taste you’re used to? Do you like the smaller portion size? I’ll be talking a lot about portion sizes at Vintage Living, Modern Life. They are a key to vintage cooking.