I host a formal teaparty annually for girls from my church and street. It has become a much publicized event and I love the requests to "do this more than once per year".
-KEEP IT SIMPLE
Presentation is everything!! Simple sandwiches cut with cookie cutters are a hit. Use the 'good dishes' and cake stand/ pie rack for serving is a good investment (I have 2 that hold guest towels and magazines during downtime.)
--RESTAURANT SUPPLIERS CAN BE YOUR BEST FRIEND. I purchase tiny fancy demitasse spoons ($2 per dozen) and simple dessert plates (plastic or ceramic) as well as teapots, sugars/creamers cups and saucers. Place fancy chocolate or marzipan shapes on each spoon then tie a netting circle on it with a satin ribbon for a simple but elegant party favor. Attach a small note, card or homemade book mark if you like. Dishes can be painted by your guests with acrylic pens and make lovely party favors that they created themselves.
-A yellow cake mix made with 4 eggs,3/4 c. water; 2/3 c oil; 1 tsp.lemon extract and 1 SMALL box of jello makes an easy cake in the color and flavor of your theme. Bake at 350 for about 45-50 minutes. Cup cakes bake about half the time. Very moist, too.
-Along with your usual fare, ALWAYS HAVE PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY sandwiches. I omitted those one year and opted for something more 'cosmopolitan'. I may never live it down. (from an adult, no less!)
-Collect jewelry and clothes by asking neighbors, play group parents or a small request notice at your childs or neighborhood preschool and church.
--Look in your own closet for those never worn again party dresses, hats and finery. I found lovely silk gowns and wraps from holiday parties long ago. I gritted my teeth and let them go the guests take excellent care of them.
--Ask your local dry cleaners if they have old unclaimed items in the back that they wish to move. YOU WILL BE ASTONISHED!! I WAS!
--Thrift stores usually have delightful cups, saucers and tiny craft baskets which make lovely gifts filled with mints; tiny inspirational books or tealights. Tie with a satin bow.
--Matching dishes is not necessary!! White salad plates (from the restaurant shop) under multi-patterned tea cups and saucers tied everything together. Use a plain pastel table cloth.
When deciding on the types of beverages to serve at my teas I always have at least 3 staples:
1. Tea: hot or cold
2. Coffee: usually decaf
3. A crystal clear pitcher of water
Personal favorites: Ti kuan yi tea, a black tea with a faint nuttiness. Sublime with a splash of milk and or stirred with a cinnamon stick. Mmmmmm.
Earl Grey: A classic, but I often blend it with pesticide-free rose petals for a special treat with a beautiful fragrance and flavor.
FOR CHILDREN: Fresh lemonade wit strawberries or raspberries floating in it and a splash of gingerale (sugar free). Cambric tea works well with them and WARM MILK OVER A SUGAR CUBE, WITH OR WITHOUT A PASTEL COLORED MARSHMALLOW IS MY DAUGHTER'S FAVORITE. She's 2.
TIPS FOR FINDING TEA CUPS AND GLASSES ON A BUDGET
Glass punch cups will work only if your tea is not TOO hot. Boiling water can crack the glass. It will also cause the handles and glass to be too hot for handle. You may want to do a practice run on before you set glass cups 'in stone'. Thrift stores always have them on hand at great prices, too.
--Have glass cups on hand for cool beverages like lemonade, punch, or even for cocoa. Then reserve tea cups for hot beverage drinkers.
--Ask each Grandparent to bring his/her own teacup and saucer. Then have them share some sentiment or story as to why they chose that particular one. If you expect a large crowd, you may want to have a drawing at each table to randomly select a "speaker" (in the interest of time and fidgety little Brownies).
This will work for girls, also, who may look forward to borrowing one from a relative or friend. Have one of them share a story also.
--There are some wonderfully elegant paper products with charming tea themes which may suit your tastes. Check out some of the online party supply companies like Party 411 and others. They often have discount bins and seasonal sales.
I JUST LOVE COLLECTING THE ACCOUTREMENTS OF TEA!
I have a fairly large collection of teacups, saucers and teapots. I was blessed to find a beautiful set of 5 delicate white cups and saucers at a garage sale. About 2 months later, at another sale, I found an identical partial set which included (praise God) a matching teapot and creamer and sugar as well as cups. These sets were remnants of what survived the '94 Northridge earthquake as well as "just livin' with a large family" according to one sales person. I am grateful that I do have a complete set for 15 people. (I do have to use a couple of other pots for that many people). Funny, I rarely ever use the matching set. The table is infinitely more interesting with a great mix of cups and saucers. It also makes it easier to keep track of one's cup should it inadvertently get mixed up.
My large cup collection is stored in predominant colors. Blue and white; black; pink; and yellow; reds.
My heart is in the collection of tea strainers.My most recent find was an Art Deco styled strainer made of brushed silver layered over a brass material. My husband saw it blessed me with it last Christmas.
Strainers lend so much character to the table and the fact that vintage ones are so hard to find makes the hunt just a blast.
FUN FACT: Strainers are not NECESSARY for tea purists who are aware that quality, fresh loose teas will sink to the bottom of the pot during the brewing! The few leaves that get into ones cups are fun for tea leaf readings. The last cup of tea in a pot of loose tea is best reserved for plant food as it is usually quite bitter.
I also collect vintage table cloths and cake plates.
COLLECT BUT DON'T COLLECT DUST, LADIES. USE THEM! USE THEM! USE THEM!
Share Tea Time Online
Abagail is a member of The Parlor, our discussion forum.
Visit our community forums for Tea Discussions. Feel free to read what the members are sharing or register (a simple process) to ask questions, share tips and participate in the discussions.