Come To Tea...
How to Host an Elegant Garden Tea
Party: Tea Party Ideas
by Debbie Rodgers
says "garden party" like having afternoon tea outdoors.
It's a charming reminder of bygone days and childhood make-believe.
Outdoor spaces of all kinds, including balconies, can be successfully
adapted to a tea party.
Tea parties span
generations and will be enjoyed by your most sophisticated women
friends or all the giggling little girls of your acquaintance.
What makes an
elegant tea party? Look at these factors.
Plan to hold your
tea party when your garden is in its fullest bloom - perhaps it's
lilac time, June roses, or peony season. Be sure to cut some of the
blooms for the tea table vases. If you don't have a garden, buy an
armful of flowers at a farmers' market or stop by a country ditch and
pick bunches of wild daisies and Queen Anne's lace.
notes by snail mail. Your guests will recognize your party as an
elegant affair and dress accordingly! Typically, tea is held around 4
p.m. - perfect for day-blooming flowers. Include an invitation for
the little ones to bring along a doll or teddy friend.
The more elegant,
the better. Stash the paper table covering and the plastic glasses
just for today. Instead, use a crisp linen tablecloth, pressed cloth
napkins and your best bone china cups and saucers. If it's a little
girls' party, you might want to invest in two or three miniature tea sets.
Try to have
adequate seating for everyone. Consider setting your straight-back
indoor dining chairs outdoors. They can add an elegant touch, whether
left unadorned or covered with flowered chintz.
Encourage all of
your guests to wear hats - big-brimmed, floppy and flowered. If the
party is for little girls, collect old hats, scarves and silk flowers
at a thrift shop, yard sale or discount store. Make decorating the
hats a fun activity at the party. You can also include a box of
flowery cast-offs for dressing up. Include "grown-up" shoes
and old jewellery - anything that will make the little ones feel
elegant. Tea time is a fun way to introduce young ones to
"elegant party" manners.
teaspoons, no cutlery should be required at tea. All sandwiches and
sweets should be dainty finger-food. Try sandwiches of watercress,
cucumber, or egg with the crusts removed and cut in quarters. Sugar
cookies and petit fours are traditional sweets. You can substitute
mini-cupcakes or tiny tarts.
One of the first
things that I learned in seventh grade home economics class was how
to brew a proper pot of hot tea, but that was many years ago. I
suspect that tea-making is becoming a lost art.
Tea is actually
the common name of one plant: Camillia sinesis. The three basic types
of tea -- black, green and oolong -- are distinguished by the amount
of oxidization that the tea leaves have undergone. The more than
3,000 varieties of tea in the world are all derived from those three
Herbal teas --
more properly, tisane or infusion -- are made from a wide variety of
flowers, herbs, barks, berries, fruits and spices.
At a minimum,
offer your guests a traditional tea and a caffeine-free herbal
choice. Have milk (not cream!), sugar and fresh lemon wedges available.
So, dust off your
teacups and your manners and sit down with your girlfriends for a
proper tea party. It's a lovely summer interlude!
About the Author
the "Haven Maven", owns and operates Paradise Porch, and is
dedicated to helping people create outdoor living spaces that nurture
and enrich them. Her latest how-to guide "Attracting Butterflies
to Your Home and Garden" is now available on her web site. Visit
her at www.paradiseporch.com and get a free report on "Eight
easy ways to create privacy in your outdoor space". Mail to email@example.com.
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