|Unused invitation found in a box|
This occurred in the week before Christmas, usually around the 20th December. Much preparation happened of course with my indefatigable grandmother once more directing traffic. Nan had a live-in housekeeper, Mary, who helped organise the food and of course serving the food at the party. Mary would be all dressed up in a black dress with white starched apron and a frilly cap on her head and always had a sprig of holly pinned to her dress when she served the guests.
|Devils on horseback|
Nan had a wooden tray affair - shaped like a mexican hat - with sections around the brim where savouries could be placed and a wooden pineapple thing with holes in it for the crown. Very handy for putting the cheese and cocktail onions sticks - Mary would make sure everything was replenished.
Drinks - now that was the fabulous thing. There would be a large silver punch bowl with rum punch: this was her recipe - 1 bottle rum, 2 large bottles ginger ale, 4 cups orange juice (or pineapple) 2 oz fresh lemon juice, ice, slices orange & lemon to garnish in bowl. It was some punch - I remember it from the 1960s when I was allowed to taste it.
Then there were the cocktails, my grandfather's young brother Uncle Bill and my mother were in charge of the cocktails. Favourites were martini, gin & it, tom collins, and singapore sling. They all looked fabulous - lovely in glasses, lovely colours.
I was allowed to be at the cocktail party for one hour - from 5:30 to 6:30 - on show to the guests I guess. I used to have my own cocktail - a tall glass with ice, orange juice and grenadine - non alcoholic of course - the grenadine was a lovely red colour and made me feel quite grown up - I was probably 5 or 6 at the time.
The men all wore dark suits, some with bow ties, and the women colourful cocktail frocks. As the family was in the clothing business, I guess their friends were often also in that business. My favourite dress was one my grandmother often wore, dove grey lace over a taffeta under slip. She looked lovely.
These Christmas cocktail parties carried on until the early 1960s when my grandparents retired to their beach house at Surfers Paradise.