Hundred-Year-Old Christmas Centerpiece Suggestions

Source: Ladies Home Journal (December 1915)

Centerpieces were an important part of holiday tables a hundred-years-ago. Here is some hundred-year-old advice for a creating a Christmas centerpiece:

For Christmas, holly, mistletoe, or any other attractive green shrubs are more suitable than cut flowers. A sparkling tree or a Santa Claus make an attractive centerpiece.

The Science of Home Making: A Textbook in Home Economics by Emma E. Pirie (1915)

Hundred-year-old Advice for Melting Chocolate

Holiday baking often requires melting chocolate so I was thrilled to see advice in a hundred-year-old magazine for an easy way to melt chocolate without waste.The Discoveries¬† column in Good Housekeeping invited readers to send in their “discoveries” for possible publication Readers whose submissions were published received $1 from the magazine. This is what a reader wrote:

Melted Chocolate

To have chocolate already at hand for melting without waste, keep your chocolate in a pint jar. To melt it simply place it in hot water. Any amount desired may be taken out. Seal the jar and keep it in the kitchen cabinet when you are not using it. –Mrs. F.M.F., N.Y.

Good Housekeeping (September, 1917)

It took a really long time to melt the chocolate. Perhaps chocolate a hundred years ago melted at lower temperatures than modern chocolate. A better approach today would be to melt in the microwave.

Hundred-Year-Old Edible Christmas Gift Suggestions

Source: American Cookery (December, 1917)

Food makes a wonderful gift, and is sure to please friends and family – both now and a hundred years ago. But, I must admit that some gift suggestions on a hundred-year-old list of edible gift ideas don’t work for me.¬† Why the heck would someone want edible moss for desserts?

The article suggests wrapping the edible gift in tissue paper. The food could also be put in boxes. When giving a gift of candy a century ago, people often made decorative gift boxes. Several years ago, back when I was posting my grandmother’s diary, I did a post on how to make a triangular candy box. The directions originally appeared in the December, 1912 issue of School Arts Magazine.

Hundred-year-old Garnishing Tips

Even in the days before Instagram (and blogs) people wanted to present their food in attractive ways. Here’s some hundred-year-old advice for garnishing food:

Garnishing the Dish

All food must be neatly placed in the dish, and arranged or piled with some sort of symmetry, and this is the most that some people have time to do. Many foods may be served in the utensil or dish in which they are cooked, and in the case of a baking dish, if its appearance is not neat, a napkin can be folded about it. The simplest form of garnish is browning on top, which makes many dishes attractive (mashed potato).

Make the garnish simple, and have it eatable when possible. Slices of hard boiled eggs on spinach, shopped parsley and butter on boiled or mashed potatoes, parsley and slices of lemon with meat and fish.

Vegetable borders are attractive and save labor in dish washing. Arrange the meat in the center of the platter, and pile mashed potato, or boiled rice or peas or beans, or a mixture of hot vegetables around the edge. This saves time in table service, too.

Foods and Household Management: A Textbook of the Household Arts by Helen Kinne and Anna M. Cooley (1915)


Diet for Individuals with “Smoker’s Heart”

Picture source: Good Housekeeping (March, 1918)

The February, 1918 issue of Good Housekeeping magazine had this Q&A:

Question: Please tell me what a man about sixty years and who has a smoker’s heart and lately is troubled with indigestion should eat. Is sherry wine or porter good or bad for him?

Mrs. M.W.C., California

Answer: First of all, the man with a smoker’s heart should stop smoking; otherwise any attempt to remedy the indigestion by a course of diet would prove futile. I do not advise him to drink wine or beer of any description. His nerves are already sufficiently worn and are not in a condition to resist a new and violent stimulus. He should avoid tea, coffee, cocoa, and alcohol as well as tobacco.

A diet consisting of bread and mush made from whole ground cereals unbolted, good pure, fresh milk from healthy cows, fruits and succulent vegetables ought to prove helpful. If possible he should conduct his work and exercise so as to be properly fatigued when bedtime comes. He should sleep on a porch or in a thoroughly ventilated room, and take a morning bath as cold as can be tolerated, to secure a prompt and vigorous reaction when rubbed.