Presents for the Servants

By Mary E. Estes, The Ladies’ Home Journal, December 1892

The problem as to how we may most acceptably, and at the same time most wisely, make a choice of Christmas gifts for our servants, is ever a perplexing one. This need hardly be so if (given efficient servants) we make a study of their individual needs and tastes. An effort on the part of the mistress to make their surroundings not only comfortable, but attractive, can hardly fail to win from them in return better service and a desire to please, and little differences arising will be less likely to end in dissensions.

If, after the trying cares and duties of the day, an attractive room awaits them, much of irritable discomfort will vanish; therefore, add little adornments to their rooms. A pretty work-basket, or small writing desk well stocked, a pair of warm bedroom slippers, a bright shade for the sewing lamp, a soft cushion or headrest for the rocking chair, and, if a taste has been discovered for reading, a small bookcase for the wall, and some suitable books. Little additions to the bureau -- a pair of decorated linen covers to be used alternately, a pretty pin or hair pin cushion, a brush and comb case, or a whisk with ornamental holder. As incentives to tidy habits -- a linen laundry, shoe or duster bag, an umbrella pocket or an ornamental scrap basket -- for the servant who has no pride in her surroundings is more liable to be careless, and less likely to spend much of her leisure time in her room. Servants, as a rule, feel complimented at any endeavor on the part of the mistress to make a useful gift also an ornamental one. They gain in self respect, and prize accordingly any article needed that is wholly beyond their means, time or ability to supply.

In our thoughts for the cook, it would be wise to discover her imperative needs. A warm wrapper, or any garment ready made, a set of aprons both ornamental and useful, can hardly fail to please, while a purse containing money always proves the right thing at the right time. The mistress who gives little or no thought to the personal needs and comforts of her servants, aside from providing them with the bare necessities, will usually be found lamenting their careless ways, their lack of pride and self respect and the indifferent compulsory service they render in return.

The endeavor to please and make these members of our households contented and happy will be productive of good results with the majority, a few cases to the contrary not­withstanding; and as the Christmas season is a time of pretty things, be sure that their gifts are attractive.

[Image: Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-100205]



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