(Tips on decorating the hall for a fancy dress ball. This is an American description, and the use of the term "maskers" for the guests suggests a greater openness to actual masquerades than was the English custom in the late nineteenth century.)
As private houses are seldom commodious enough to afford comfortable space for a large fancy ball, it is quite customary for the host or hostess to engage the exclusive use of the ball and supper rooms of some hotel or other public resort, and give the entertainment in them; and the custom is commendable, since it provides more room for the guests and thus insures them a greater amount of enjoyment, besides relieving the hostess of the household confusion which prefaces and follows a ball given at a private dwelling.
On the occasion of a private ball in a public ballroom, the latter may be decorated as far as possible to appear like the parlors of a private house; and as refreshments are served in rooms reserved for the purpose, the affair is as exclusive as if given under one's own roof.
In decorating for a fancy ball, the ballroom is usually festooned with draperies of the national or other colors fastened up under comic masks, or shields upon which are grotesque faces and figures, armorial emblems and mimic instruments of music. Flowers and foliage are banked and grouped in different parts of the room, but foliage should predominate, as its rich green forms a charming background for the brilliant costumes of the maskers. Japanese lanterns also add, by their soft radience, to the effectiveness of the scene.
In many instances the musicians are dressed in fancy costumes; and not infrequently the men servants are habited as were the retainers of olden days, and the women servants are also dressed as were those of ancient times. In this way greater realism is obtained and there are no inharmonious comminglings of the unpicturesque costumes of the present day.
Masquerade and Carnival. New York: The Butterick Publishing Company, 1892.