UPON the favors, quite as much as upon the leader, the
success of a cotillion depends. Many dances which would otherwise have gone down in the
history of society events as dull have been redeemed by them.
The popularity of a hostess
rests largely upon her ability to provide surprises for her friends - a succession of them
- continuing all through the german, thus holding her guests until the last figure has
been danced. Although at some of the fashionable dances favors claim a large share of the
expense, they need not necessarily be costly. Novelty and daintiness are the only
qualities they must possess. They should show the fore thought of the hostess, to whom
appropriateness should be the watchword, and they should also be well balanced - that is
to say, the same style of favors should not be provided for the different figures. They
should vary, those for one figure being large, those for the next small.
The order of favors at the dance given last winter by Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt, Sr.,
illustrates this admirably. While all the souvenirs were expensive, and imported for the
occasion by Mrs. K. J. Collins, who supplies society with these dance gifts, they may
serve as suggestions to less wealthy hostesses who, with ingenuity at their command, can
achieve charming results not only in the matter of favors but in their distribution. In
Mrs. Vanderbilt's cotillion, which began at eleven o'clock, one hundred and twenty couples
danced. After the third figure supper was served at small tables in the hall. Dancing was
resumed after the collation. First came shower-bouquets of artificial daisies and violets,
cascades of blossoms and ribbons, which the men presented to the women, who in turn
offered boutonnieres to their partners.
For the second figure there were exquisite little gilt pin-trays for the women and gilt
match-boxes for the men. Tinsel sashes trimmed with roses were given to the women in the
third figure, the men receiving thermometers in the form of hunting trophies.
The favors for the fourth figure were even more charming. At the entrance to the
ball-room was a gondola, from which a gondolier in costume distributed little Venetian
lanterns to the women - to light their way to the men's hearts, it was said. Silver hearts
trimmed with roses were presented to the men to facilitate their partners' task. The
lanterns, made of pink roses and gilt gauze, which answered for glass, were hung from
ribbon-trimmed sticks, and were exquisitely dainty. For the fifth figure Mrs. Vanderbilt
had the happy thought of providing tambourines for the women to make merry the way home,
while their companions smoked cigarettes from long umbrella handle holders.
For the first figure favors of a highly decorative character should be selected, such
as tinsel scarfs for the women and orders for the men. Then should follow surprise after
surprise - the more surprising the favors, the more successful the dance, provided, of
course, that all are in good taste.
A rose garden would be charming for the second figure. This calls for staffs trimmed
with roses and boutonnieres for the women, who hold these floral wands all at the same
height, producing the effect of a flower-bed as they form in a double ring, one circle
within another, while the leader lines up his men to capture their partners and secure the
boutonnieres, which can easily be detached from the poles.
Lucky pieces are appropriate for the third figure - shamrocks for the men, silver
flowers for the women. The flowers can be worn as charms on neck-chains or bangles; and
have a birthday or some other date or else a pretty sentiment engraved on them. Under the
head of lucky pieces come horseshoes and little pigs.
Louis XV slippers of embroidered satin make pretty favors for women in the fourth
figure, and tall canes may be used for their partners. Little candlesticks with tapers
would be most appropriate for the women in the finishing figure, and long German pipes
decorated with ribbons would be appreciated by the men.
Small gifts do not promise to be popular as favors this season. Maids of honor (as
little dolls fastened to sticks set off by ribbons and flowers are called), tambourines
with roses, fish-nets, butterfly-nets, grace-loops or large tinsel rings trimmed with
bells, Directoire and Folly heads on sticks, distaffs, and such things will be much used.
The popularity of golf has evolved a number of pretty golf figures. At a dance given by
Mrs. Edwin Gould at Ardsley Casino, golf-sticks trimmed with carnations were presented to
the women, and golf-balls decorated to match, to the men. Caddy bags of scarlet satin
filled with flowers are novel and effective. With a clever leader a tally-ho figure can be
made, with four or six women in hand, harnessed with ribbons of various colors, the ends
being given to different men to unwind at the finish in order to secure their partners.
Arches of roses were used at a dance in Boston last season, the men holding them while
the women men walked under them. For a country dance boughs of autumn leaves or fall
flowers would be equally pretty at this season of the year, and later Christmas greens and
bright ribbons would prove a charming and inexpensive substitute. A cardboard dice-box
three feet high will be used this winter in cotillion figures. The men will throw dice of
proportionate size, two men for each woman, the winner dancing with his prize.
At the dance which Mr. William K. Vanderbilt gave at the Golf Club at Newport last
summer an exceedingly pretty and novel figure was introduced. In it women were tied with
ribbons to an immense rose-bush, from which the men released them, a dance with the woman
he set free being each man's reward.
Out-door sports suggest any number of favors. For a hunt ball, silk waistcoats of
hunting-pink will be used this season for the men, and for the women scarlet caps to
match, which may afterwards serve for work-bags. Crops, horseshoes, horns, and various
things associated with hunting will all be popular.
The way the favors are served has much to do with the success of a cotillion. In this
matter Mrs. Collins comes to the assistance of New York hostesses, sending the various
trinkets to the ballroom in their order, thus avoiding all confusion. This plan saves the
leader the necessity of asking questions, for, as each relay of remembrances arrives, the
servant who brings them in informs him which are intended for the ladies and which for the
gentlemen. If it is impossible to have some one supervise the serving of the favors, it
would be advisable for the hostess to furnish the cotillion leader with a list of them in
the order in which they are to be distributed. Another list should be given to the
servant, who will thus be able to know when to bring in the various favors, which should
be served from large trays, screens, or appropriate stands. A gondola like Mrs.
Vanderbilt's would be out of the question for some hostesses, hut a little ingenuity and
thought will suggest charming and inexpensive things which may be used instead.
BAZAR: "New Cotillion Favors for the Season",
October 14, 1899