Think high tea is reserved for stuffy old ladies and British royalty? Think again. Sure it’s fun to throw in some vintage kitsch, but if you play your cards right a tea party can be a classy yet relaxed event that’s fun…and delicious.
Why exactly am I bringing this up on a letterpress and paper making blog? Because all parties can use some fine printed material to impress the guests, and I used my tea party as an opportunity to give my 8 x 12 press its first 2-color whirl. I’m quite the tea collector, and when I realized I had over 30 teas to offer my guests I decided it would be a great idea to create a tea menu off of which they ordered:
Of course there are all sorts of other options for party prints: invites, RSVP cards, food menus, place cards, and thank you notes, to name a few. If you’re putting together a soiree of any sort, hit me up at Tweedle Press to discuss custom printed products. If you’re interested in throwing a high tea party, here are some suggestions from mine:
1. Plan the menu, and make ahead.
Since part of the fun of a tea party is lots of little morsels, it’s a good idea to provide a variety of tasty bites for your guests. This doesn’t mean that you have to drive yourself insane making things, though, especially if you freeze a few things the week before. Here’s what I made for my party:
Breads and Spreads
Traditional Crumpets (made day of)
Lemon Curd (made night before)
Concord Grape & Walnut Conserve (made previously & canned)
Cilantro Cream (made day of)
Fig Preserves (purchased)
(I intended to also make Cheddar Dill Scones and Blueberry White Chocolate Scones, but didn’t quite have enough time)
Walnut Fudge (made week before, refrigerated)
Hazelnut Rosemary Jam Cookies (made week before, froze)
Chocolate Dipped Strawberries (made night before)
Butterscotch Rum Poppyseed Bundt Cake (made week before, froze)
Rhubarb Cherry Pie (made week before, froze)
2. Make sure you get an accurate head count, and plan the place settings in advance.
Tiered Serving Platters
White Table Linens
Seasonal Flowers In Vases
I read a few things about tea place settings, and eventually ended up incorporating all of them and also winging a few things. I put doilies under the small plates, tea saucers, flower vases, and tiered servers. Teacups and saucers were to the right of small plates, small knives on the right side facing inwards, and small forks and spoons were placed horizontally above the small plates. Napkins in rings were to the left, and tea menus in the center.
3. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Well, obviously you enjoy sweating SOME of the small stuff or you wouldn’t have read this far. Attention to detail is one thing, but just make sure that you’re flexible. It really is true that guests take their cues from the mood of the hostess, so just go with the flow. I would have liked to get my scones done in time for the party, but it just didn’t happen. I would have liked to have had all the crumpets made by the time everyone arrived, but it turned out that people enjoyed watching me make them for half an hour or so. I also think it’s important, and in fact fun, to have a few new things pop out over the course of the party rather than have everything ready and blinking the instant people arrive. I did two batches of the Prosciutto Gruyere Pastry Pinwheels so that I could bring fresh, hot ones out halfway through. A few of my guests helped keep the kettle full and on the stove so the table teapots could be constantly refilled. And speaking of help, a husband and a sous-hostess friend are indispensable for keeping your cool (thanks guys)!