Here's how this Tea Party happened and a few tips that you can try to host your own Tea Party.
It started as an idea from a gift that I received from a gift that I received from my blogger friend Mary (Maryshappybelly) at a pre Christmas Gift Exchange dinner with my other blogger friend Natalie (cooking quidnunc). It was supposed to be a bigger group but because of a snow storm we were down to just the 3 of us. We had a great time anyway and in between dishes we exchanged gifts. I got a gift of Pepperidge Farms jams and shortbread from Mary and I said that would be great for a tea party and they both thought it was a great idea. I like having tea parties because it can be a relaxing Saturday or Sunday afternoon thing and simple or elaborate. That began the idea and Mary said she wasn't available until the beginning of February so that's when I decided to do it but I decided to wait a bit to invite everyone else to see how the weather would be this time. I decided to have it at my place because I am on the subway line and if everyone cancelled I didn't have to go anywhere for nothing. I also had so many food gifts from Christmas that I couldn't possibly finish that I knew I already had the makings for a great tea party, plus I have lot's of teas because I like different teas.
As is turns out Mary wasn't able to make it because she fell the week before and her family plans got pushed to the weekend of the Party but I decided to go ahead because a lot of other people were available and the weather was going to be not too bad.
(Nimu, Sue, Martina, Amanda, Natalie, Loren, Cliff, Domenica, Denise, Adam & Jenny)
TEA PARTY TIPSTIP 1.
What made it work was that they were all friendly people who love food and can chat without me having to make the connections. I was the connection but some knew of each other already.
The other thing that worked was that there wasn't anyone who dominated the party. Everyone just jelled really well.
Because I live in an apartment I had to buzz people in and then open the door to greet them so I was constantly answering my phone and busy so I tried to set up as many things that could be self serve as possible.
I opened the closet door so that people could hang their coats if I got distracted by other things.
I set up stations for different things so that people could help themselves to the Hot water and Tea in the kitchen and the table with the plates and utensils.
I placed white linens on 3 tables where the food was being placed. I also had 2 3 tier stands to elevate the food vertically to save space. It's good to have things at different levels to present better.
I tried to have all sorts of platters and utensils at the ready for anything that people would bring to the party.
Prepare as much as you can in advance but know that there will always be something that happens to throw off your timing.
One of my friends decided he wanted to bake his frozen appetizers at my place earlier but of course I had to set him up with trays for it.
Another friend offered to pick up any last minute things I needed but he arrived as people were coming in so I had to stop and cut the ends of flowers to put in a waiting vase and transfer milk and orange juice into other containers. I also tried to set up water and I had a Hot water thermos beside the kettle to keep the hot water flowing.
The Tea Cups. I asked everyone to bring their own tea cups for a couple of reasons. I thought it would cut down on the amount of dishes that would accumulate in my kitchen along with all of the serving platters after the party but also I thought it would be a good ice breaker hoping that everyone would bring interesting cups or mugs that would get conversations started and it did. Of course there were a few people that didn't bring cups so I had to provide them with one and I wish I had the time to set a few up around the tea area but time got away from me as usual.
Don't do what I always end up doing. I try and do too much. Make too many things, plan to make too many things and then run out of time and energy to do them.
Case in point. I wanted to make finger sandwiches but I didn't want to make them too far in advance because they become stale quickly and I didn't end up making them until most of the people actually left because I didn't have the time and there wasn't any room to put them.
I also made Tea Pot shaped cookies that I would have liked to decorate but that takes a lot of time to do so I skipped the decorating part.
Prepare things that you know might be safe for people with restricted diets. I made mini quiches using prepared tart bases but had some extra filling mixture so I made fritattas using the mix in a muffin tin so they were single servings without crusts which would be great for people that can't eat gluten products.
I never seem to have enough time to sit and chat with everyone because my friends stagger in and out at various times even though I try to get them all to come at relatively the same time. This is why I try and prepare as much as I can in advance so that I can have some time to enjoy the food and the people.
And not so much a TIP but an FYI... know that there will be people that might be offended because you didn't invite them to the party. My place only holds about a dozen people comfortably and although I would love to invite all of my blogger friends, film fest friends and other friends there is only so many people that can fit in a small space so try and choose people that will bring something to the party and make it fun for everyone.