If you can't afford to give a ball in good style, you had better not attempt it at all.
Having made up your mind to give a ball and to do justice to the occasion, and having settled upon the time, the next thing is to decide whom and how many to invite. In deciding upon the number a due regard must be paid to the size of the rooms (ballroom, supper room), and after allowance for a reasonable number who may not accept the invitation, there should be no more invited than can find comfortable accommodations, both sitting and standing-room being taken into account, and at the same time have the floor properly free for dancing. The more guests you have the more brilliant, and the fewer you have the more enjoyable, will the occasion be.
Any number over a hundred guests constitutes a "large ball"; under fifty it is merely a "dance".
Choice of Guests
As dancing is the amusement of the evening, due regard should be paid to the dancing qualifications of the proposed guests.
The invitations issued and accepted for an evening party will be written. They should be sent out at least from seven to ten days before the day fixed for the event, and should be replied to within a week of their receipt, accepting or declining with regrets. By attending to these courtesies, the guests will have time to consider their engagements and prepare their dresses, and the hostess will also know what will be the number of her party.
One should make note whether dress to be formal or informal.
A room appropriate for the purpose, and furnished with cloak-pins to hang up the shawls and other dresses of the ladies, is almost indispensable. Domestics should be there also, to aid them in taking off and putting on their outside garments.
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Material compiled/excerpted from "Manners Culture and Dress of the Best American Society", Richard A. Wells, A.M., King, Richardson & Co., Springfield, Mass. c1893.