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Remember when you were little, and you gathered up your best stuffed animal friends for an impromptu tea party, huddled in a circle on the floor drinking “tea” and eating cookies while dishing the latest gossip?
If you’re not much of a party animal (like me), and don't have the room or the budget for hosting keggers and raves (also like me) a pleasant get together over tea is the perfect way to enjoy the good company of good friends!
A tea party can be as simple or as elaborate as you like, but really--you don’t need much. Set the scene with some good quality tea, a bit of finger food, some inexpensive flowers and gentle background music for ambiance. Whether it be elevenses, lunch tea or high tea, remember that fun is the most important ingredient!
How To Host A "Grown Up" Tea Party
A paper invitation is not necessary for an informal tea party--an email invitation is completely acceptable (provided you have everyone's email address). It's also a sweet and thoughtful touch that will set the tone for your get together. I wouldn’t get too fancy with the design; instead, stick with something floral, colorful and/or feminine.
When I think of a tea party, I envision dainty tablecloths and delicate china. If you don’t happen to have these on hand, you can always scour your local thrift stores and Goodwills for inexpensive cups, plates and linens. Patterns don’t necessary have to match, but you might want to keep your color scheme consistent. Not up for a scavenger hunt? A great alternative is paper goods (and frankly, my way to go--inexpensive, easy to clean up and less dishes to wash).
I do admit, however, that I use cloth tablecloths and real cutlery and silverware for tea parties, and save the disposables for backyard barbecues instead. Add your tea kettle, a small creamer and sugar combo and a few silver colored trays for food and dessert (and/or a tiered cake stand, like the one above) and your table is all set!
Speaking of gardens, your tea party doesn’t necessarily have to take place in your dining room or at the kitchen table, either. If the weather is pleasant, consider a shaded spot outside such as a garden, patio or deck. These are all perfect locales for a tea party, especially during the warm spring and summer months.
Music for a tea party should be gentle, not too loud nor too “up tempo”. Mozart, Debussy and Chopin are the perfect backdrop for your fete. Keep the volume low (and in the background) so as not to interfere with your g̶o̶s̶s̶i̶p̶ stimulating conversation! Make sure your phone and Bluetooth speaker is charged, and find a nice classical station on Pandora, iTunes or Spotify.
Is your TV in or around the same spot as your party? Here's 4+ hours of beautiful classical music set to a roaring fireplace background--voila--ambiance!
A tea party is not a tea party without finger sandwiches and bite-sized sweet treats. In my opinion, everything at a tea party should be eaten with your fingers...daintily, of course! I feel the only flatware on the table should be teaspoons and serving utensils.
Roast Beef & Horseradish Cream:
Spread horseradish cream on rye cocktail bread. Sandwich with sliced cucumber, roast beef and watercress; season with salt and pepper.
Salmon & Cucumber:
Spread softened cream cheese on plain white bread. Sandwich with smoked salmon and sliced cucumber, sprinkle lightly with chopped fresh dill. Trim the crusts and cut into fours.
Add delicate cornichons, olives and cheese tidbits for the perfect accompaniments.
For dessert, simply pick up some mini pastries from your favorite bakery. Petit fours, truffles, madelaines and macarons served on inexpensive foil trays lined with paper doilies (both of which can be found at the dollar store) are affordable, sweet treats to serve guests with tea. If you’re feeling ambitious and want to bake, go for it!
Here are a couple of yummy recipes to consider:
(click images for more details)
There is something to be said about serving good tea at a tea party rather than plain old every day tea. And nature has given us thousands of varieties to choose from--green, oolong and orange pekoe--just to name a few. Try different teas and blends, and think about adding loose teas as well as bagged teas to the mix.
If you have the space, perhaps you can set up a tea bar with a kettle and trivet, along with an assortment of teas, and accoutrements such as milk, half and half, sugar cubes, sugar alternative, lemon slices and honey.
Have you hosted a tea party before? How did yours turn out? If you have any additional ideas, comments or suggestions, leave a note in the comments below!