Peaceful. Gentle. As formal or informal as you want it to be. The tea party is coming back into fashion, being reclaimed by a generation who Is learning to love both customs, gentility, and good company comfortably visiting together. But, knowing you have everything together to have a party can feel overwhelming. What do you need to plan a fun tea party in your home?
Start With the Invitations
Just like your party, invitations should reflect how you particularly are choosing to have your party. In other words, if you are going to be formal in style, dress, and setting, your invitations should be the same. Likewise, if you plan on blankets in the living room and informal conversation, your invitations can reflect that as well. Don’t despair—Both you and your invitees live a modern life, and invitations can be digital! Include the option to add to their digital calendar as well, for an added bonus and perk of reliably remembering!
Provide a Variety of Teas
There are a multitude of options for you to choose from when it comes to adding tea to your party, and you can add non-tea options as well. Don’t forget tisanes, which are herbal teas without caffeine. Adding lemonade or lemon water is a nice touch for those who prefer something very light. There are so many teas to choose from, all of which have different flavors and textures, from floral notes to fruity or chocolatey ones, just like wines. Some are gentler, and made to be soothing, like a chamomile tisane, or green tea. Some are meant to be strong and dark, like an Earl Grey. Look at charts which tell you what teas go best with what types of foods, and you’ll know what will suit your guest’s palates with what you are serving.
Select Snacks and Food
What kind of snacks you choose also have to do with how formally you are choosing to serve. For instance, an :”Afternoon Tea” is formal from invitations, to tea service, to clothing, and food is no exception. At a “High Tea,” food will be more of a working-class afternoon meal. If that’s confusing, you’re not alone, and a lot of places swap the terms! Select snacks which match what formality you are choosing, from dainty finger foods and canapes to sandwiches and cookies. Almost always an Afternoon tea will include Tea, scones and clotted cream, which is kind of like a cross between butter and whipped cream, for putting on the scones. And remember, American Biscuits are British Scones, while British Biscuits are American Cookies!
Light a Fire
If you have the option of a fireplace, now is the time to use it! There’s no time better than a winter tea party to have both the warmth and the atmosphere of a wood fire especially. Make sure your fireplace is prepared and flue open. A fireplace requires maintenance to keep clean and run efficiently. Having it periodically serviced is critical to your home’s safety, as well as your enjoyment!
Playlist to Set the Mood
Your playlist sets the mood for your party. Again, whether you have a formal or informal party matters, as does whether you are indoors with snow outside, or whether you are outdoors with a garden and flowers surrounding. Find something that has the feel of the intimate surroundings you want to create, and use that playlist. You don’t need fancy equipment, although period music on vinyl is a blast to have! Instead, just think of what makes you feel at home and pleasant, fun and inviting, and use that, whatever it might be for your own sensibilities.
Tea parties are a strange conundrum to the average American, who is accustomed to parties being only for a reason (birthday, holiday, shower, retirement, etc) and specifically themed with, alas, party games which are incorporated into party planning. The idea of a party in which there is no game, no set goal or purpose but conversation can be a complicated one to grasp! Don’t worry, you can still play psychological games, like setting your friend’s children up to date your cousin’s kids, or wondering why the pastor seems to drink a lot in the afternoon—just kidding! Be kind to others when catching up, but focus on learning about one another. Making friends and connections is what tea parties are about!
The Elephant in the Room
As with all things this season, you want your guests to be both comfortable and safe in your care. This might mean an extra step or two right now. Please make sure guests are vaccinated and healthy before coming. This should be an obvious part of a pandemic, but as such, must be mentioned. You don't want anybody to head home from your party with a sniffle that turns into something much more. It is a horrible thing to feel you must ask, but it is not nearly as horrible as knowing that your simple and beautiful tea party will lead to trouble in a few weeks. The only tea parties that should be problematic are ones in Agatha Christie books! Not being Miss Marple, making sure guests are thoughtful of others is important.
Your beautiful home and garden can turn into an oasis for your friends, regardless of how large or small. Prepare your invitations, and keep it intimate, making sure everyone will be safe. Use invitations, music, and décor which suit your amount of formality. Decide what kinds of foods you’d like to serve and pair them with teas which accentuate their flavor compositions. Have a beautiful fire to warm your heart, and blankets and wraps to warm bodies if needed. Be prepared to visit with those whom you love and have greatly missed. Remember, the key point of a tea party is to gather together to eat a light meal, and to enjoy one another’s company. That can be varied in style, but the most important element is the love between friends.
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