Decorate for Valentine's Day—like it's 1932 -

Decorate for Valentine’s Day—like it’s 1932

Daintiness and charm should carry the day, with a little help from heart-shaped gelantin molds


    From The Maclean’s Archives.

    AT ANY other season it is not considered good form to wear your heart on your sleeve. But on St. Valentine’s Day it’s quite the thing to do, and everyone who has a heart displays it— whole, broken, or pierced with Cupid’s mischievous arrow.

    What things the hostess can do with this romantic emblem transform her living room into a bower of witchery, make her table a gay riot of brilliant colour, her menu proof that when it comes to hearts she has a certain way with her. Decorations for Valentine parties are appropriately carried out in vivid red or in tones of pink. Crêpe paper, cardboard and cellophane in these shades are useful for fashioning distinctive symbols which lend themselves by shape and colour to all sorts of attractive arrangements. Lacy shelf paper and doilies give a note of quaintness suggestive of an old-fashioned Valentine. The shops abound in charming novelties, and in the materials for making equally attractive ones according to your own ideas. You may be as romantically imaginative as you like, but remember that daintiness and charm should be the keynote of your decoration. It is not the place for smartly modernistic patterns, but quaint old-fashioned designs in keeping with the ancient custom of honouring an age-old sentiment. If you want your room to be very gay, hang ribbons of red or pink crêpe paper from the corners and sides of the ceiling, catching them together at a central point. Do not stretch, but allow the strips to hang loosely in graceful festoons. From these at irregular distances hearts, big, little and middling, may be suspended. The centre light may be decorated with a large paper rose, and small roses may adorn the wall lamps and candlesticks. Or you may use hearts again for lampshades, or gather a coloured paper doily or a cellophane frill around each light. Toy balloons are particularly effective decorations for the Valentine party. Stretch fine strings along the length and breadth of the ceiling about two feet apart, and to these fasten balloons with hearts of various sizes attached. Let them hang at different lengths and you will have the effect of a shower of hearts—surely an appropriate setting for Cupid’s party.

    If you want something attractive without much effort, tie bunches of vari-coloured balloons, with their streamers of little hearts, to light fixtures and corners of the ceiling, at the windows and over the mantel, which may be draped, if you wish, with lacy shelf paper. Perhaps, if your room is small, you will prefer to simplify the decorations and concentrate on the table and the menu. If bridge, the popular form of entertainment, is to be played, the covers may bear the Valentine motif, and tiny cups with a lacy edge will make attractive containers for candy and nuts, to nibble as the game proceeds. Choose appropriate prizes, wrap them in some ingenious manner and the most inexpensive trinket will be a little out of the ordinary. 

    Supper, high tea or luncheon is easily served in buffet fashion from a table decked in Valentine dress and laden with dishes cleverly garnished to carry out the sentimental theme. If you prefer, have a “sit-down” meal, with each course stressing the colour note and repeating insistently the distinctive emblem of the occasion. The table is spread with a white damask cloth with large red hearts placed to make an attractive frame for each plate. These are joined by narrow strips of ribbon or crêpe paper, and over all is spread white mosquito netting to give the filmy lacy effect which is the keynote of this season’s decorations. Favours are nosegays fashioned of gumdrops on the ends of wire stems put through a lace paper doily and wound with green waxed paper or tinfoil. Hold the centre of the doily securely to the stem and arrange it to form a frilly background for the bouquet. Very tiny nosegays make a border for the centrepiece a heart-shaped layer cake with ornamental frosting, placed on a doily over a silver tray. A round cake will do if you use your pastry tube to arrange a fancy border or outline a Valentine greeting. Choose flowers in the pink or red shades - roses, carnations or sweet peas and with them fashion large nosegays for low bowls on either side of the centrepiece. Your table will be a picture which resembles the sentimental missive of mid-Victorian days. 

    The spirit of the day permits almost any degree of informality; and the hostess may be as whimsical as Cupid himself in planning her decorations. But if she calls into play her inventiveness and artistry, she is as sure to make a hit with her party as the little god of love with his trusty arrow.

    Valentine Dishes to Fit Your Party Menu 


    Tomato juice

    White fruit cocktail with maraschino cherries

    Cranberry juice cocktail

     Lobster, shrimp or salmon cocktail 


    Tomato bouillon 

    Cream soup with pimento hearts 

    Main Dishes

    Hot or cold baked ham 

    Creamed mixture served in heart-shaped cases 

    Meat or fish with tomato sauce 

    Lobster or shrimp salad 

    Stuffed tomato salad Jellied meat, fish or chicken in heart-shaped molds 


    Radish roses beets sliced and cut out with a heart cutter 

    Celery stuffed with pimento cheese 

    Red jelly 

    Tomato catsup or chili sauce


    Molded jelly in heart shapess

    Beet salad

    Tomato or tomato jelly salad

    Cherry salad

    Lobster, shrimp or salmon salad

    White cabbage with pimento hearts

    Sandwiches Cut with a heart-shaped cutter and fill with pimento cheese, red fish paste, minced ham, tomato or red jelly.


    Heart-shaped molds of gelatine, or frozen desserts such as raspberry, strawberry, cherry, cranberry, peppermint stick

    Heart-shaped cakes, large or individual, with pink frosting, or white decorated with pink in suitable Valentine motifs.


    Pimento, paprika, stuffed olives, radishes, beets, tomatoes, cherries, rubyettes, cranberries, red jelly, tiny red candles.

    Enjoy more great stories from The Maclean’s Archives.