When you hear Bloomingdale’s, you might think of those iconic brown shopping bags, the bustling holiday windows, or that roly-poly sans serif font. The legendary department store was founded in 1872, and is still wooing customers at its uptown flagship and beyond. Clearly, we’re fans: We’ve teamed with the New York institution this season for the Bloomingdale’s x Food52 Collection, a roundup of handsome gifts and clever finds for your kitchen and home. So when we stumbled upon the retailer’s vintage guide to entertaining, you can bet we were all over it.
The Bloomingdale’s Book of Entertaining is a circa-1976 charmer, spotlighting top tips from a range of hosts. The authors looked to some of the era’s biggest names, like the late chef and epicure James Beard, actress and cookbook author Madhur Jaffrey, and critic Gael Greene, for their expertise. Here, some of their most entertaining—and surprisingly useful—pearls of wisdom:
Skip the canapés: “They’re a pain to anyone who makes them and a pain to eat. Nor do I go along with this general passion for crudités. You spend hours cutting up all those raw vegetables. They should be abolished…The most popular hors d’oeuvre I’ve ever served is kielbasa, a Polish sausage, poached in red wine and shallots and sliced on the bias.” ―James Beard, late culinary expert and cookbook author
Think simple but special: “A humble hearty soup becomes a thing of beauty in a wonderful old tureen. If you can put a simple, delicious meal together, can open a wine bottle and have a flair for presentation, you’ve got it made.” ―Barbara D’Arcy, late visual merchandiser at Bloomingdale’s and interior designer
Relaaaax: “I used to cook seven or eight vegetables plus chicken, meat, and a fish. I thought that was the way you had to do it. I’d been brought up to feel that that was a party. But no longer.” ―Madhur Jaffrey, actress and cookbook author
Keep it moving: “People must circulate. I hate men who stand talking to each other. I don’t mean I’m running around bossing everybody, but I’ll say ‘You’ve been talking to each other long enough, now go talk to so and so.’ That goes for young couples in love, too. Coming unglued for a couple of hours isn’t going to kill them. In fact it might be good for them―you know what I mean: fan the flames.” ―Helen McCully, late food editor
Make do with what you have: “Look in your closet. Don’t be intimidated by lack of equipment. More than once, a new garbage can has served as an ice bucket. Of course, you should try to be well equipped, but don’t worry if you’re not.” ―Nancy Goslee Power, interior and landscape designer
Team up the next time you throw a shindig: “The most terrible party is the one where the hostess or host—or worse, both—are over their heads. I know. I’ve given a few myself. The tension becomes sicker than a bad rice pudding.” ―Gael Greene, restaurant critic and author
And finally…: “What you have, they eat.” –Alexis Gregory, publisher and art collector
Do you have any entertaining rules you live by? Share them with us below.