Lessons from Empress Bianca

I have been so enjoying Mrs. Blandings' recent posts on the New York apartment of Diana Vreeland. This made me contemplate taking up needlework, and this made me reconsider ceramic Spaniels, that old WASP standby.

But when I read that much of DV's collection was given as gifts by her friends and admirers, who were surely legion in number, I thought - what I am doing wrong?!

That very night the answer came to me in the pages of Lady Colen Campbell's delectable page-turner Empress Bianca (buy it this week from Potterton for 25% off!) - Bianca knows that half the pleasure in giving is seeing how delighted the recipient is by your efforts. And can't you just imagine how thrilling it would be to be thanked by DV - she no doubt thanked with gusto and flair. A proper thank you in fact is a gift in itself, which is why hand-written notes will never go out of style.

N.B. Bianca's philosophy of thanking includes being enthusiastic even if you don't love the gift - it's not about the gift, tell yourself, it's the gesture. Eventually they'll give you something you really do like - a priceless diamond demi-parure, anyone? - and it will all be worth the while! Empress Bianca is full of all sorts of helpful tips, particularly if you're looking for advice on how to get away with murder in Mexico or Monaco...