The garden party is merely an afternoon tea out of doors. It may be as elaborate as a sit-down wedding breakfast or as simple as a miniature strawberry festival. At an elaborate one (in the rainy section of our country) a tent or marquise with sides that can be easily drawn up in fine weather and dropped in rain, and with a good dancing floor, is often put up on the lawn or next to the veranda, so that in case of storm people will not be obliged to go out of doors. The orchestra is placed within or near open sides of the tent, so that it can be heard on the lawn and veranda as well as where they are dancing. Or instead of a tea with dancing, if most of the guests are to be older, there may be a concert or other form of professional entertainment.
On the lawn there are usually several huge bright-colored umbrella tents, and under each a table and a group of chairs, and here and there numerous small tables and chairs. For, although the afternoon tea is always put in the dining-room footmen or maids carry varieties of food out on large trays to the lawn, and the guests hold plates on their knees and stand glasses on tables nearby.
At a garden party the food is often much more prodigal than at a tea in town. Sometimes it is as elaborate as at a wedding reception. In addition to hot tea and chocolate, there is either iced coffee or a very melted café parfait, or frosted chocolate in cups. There are also pitchers of various drinks that have rather mysterious ingredients, but are all very much iced and embellished with crushed fruits and mint leaves. There are often berries with cream, especially in strawberry season, on an estate that prides itself on those of its own growing, as well as the inevitable array of fancy sandwiches and cakes.
At teas and musicales and all entertainments where the hostess herself is obliged to stand at the door, her husband or a daughter (if the hostess is old enough, and lucky enough to have one) or else a sister or a very close friend, should look after the guests, to see that any who are strangers are not helplessly wandering about alone, and that elderly ladies are given seats if there is to be a performance, or to show any other courtesies that devolve upon a hostess.