Every year, my daughter and I host a Mother/Daughter Spring Tea. In the beginning it was a “fun” thing and now it is something to which we look forward every Spring! If you would like to have a party, it is an incredibly easy one to have…if you follow these few simple rules! Learn from my experience – it does not have to be hard unless you make it so! I created a Flickr collection of photos from past “MD Spring Teas” if you want to take a look.
Check back on Friday for a detailed schedule of “To Dos & To Gets” to relieve any stress you may have about hosting such an event (I am a stickler for planning and will share with you my “schedule”, grocery list, etc.), and a photo tutorial on making decorated sugar cubes yourself for about $5 and 20 minutes of your time.
Invitations, Party Favors and a Table Centerpiece:
• We buy cute note cards at Tuesday Morning, dig out scraps of past birthday party invitations, etc. (stickers, rubber stamps, etc) and make invitations….Eliza applies the stamps…sometimes askew…we talk about the Victorian custom of sending coded messages by stamp placement…very sweet….
• We buy little crepe paper baskets for party favors , fill them with candy and set them on a tray on a table by the front door.
• In the first photo, the centerpiece was the base of a discarded lamp from Home Depot that I ripped apart, with a decorated party hat on top of it. If you look at the Flickr collection, you will see a cachepot (any ornamental container for a flower pot) filled with pansies I picked up at the grocery store last minute after I realized I had totally forgotten a “center piece” for the table! The extra food in the above photo (not mentioned in my grocery list) , is food my friends brought to the tea!! My friend Alicia brought prosciutto wrapped figs! Yay! Love her!….she is a good friend indeed! — particularly because she brought something the children would not eat! Ha!….but really.
Food and Tea:
• One year we made “mice” by dipping a maraschino cherry in chocolate and attaching a chocolate kiss for the head, adding sliced almonds for the ears and icing eyes and noses………..and “we” will never do this again because Eliza lost interest about 10 minutes into the entire project and I spent the next 2 hours completing them….and my back hurt…and my feet….and my head hurt…….but it is wonderful if you are willing to do it!
• Buy decaffeinated tea and use these instructions for preparing it ahead of time! (Tea for a crowd)
• We ordered decorated sugar cubes one year (Eliza chose the designs). (Check Friday’s blog for a Pictorial “How To”….when you see the prices of these sugar cubes…..you will be back on Friday! Ha! ….but really)
• At the grocery store, we buy the following: Scones, whipping cream (whip it yourself…it is better), jam, Pepperidge Farm Pirouettes, pretty cookies, nuts and/or little cracker snacks, bread & peanut butter (our “tea sandwiches” are PB&J made ahead of time and refrigerated then cut into neat rectangles right before the party), fruit and mint flavored decaffeinated tea, wine, 2 bottles sparkling water, 2 bags of ice and a couple of boxes of frozen hors d’oeuvres.
WHAT I HAVE LEARNED FROM HOSTING THESE TEAS:
• Homemade invitations are the best – and all the better if your child obviously had a hand in making them….duh!!?
• Buy EVERYTHING, make nothing you do not have to make. Children do not care if anything is homemade – they care about the PARTY. Scones at our grocery store are $1.99 per dozen….a bargain! Also, women do not care (in this atmosphere) if everything is store bought! If I were giving a bridal or baby shower tea, would I buy everything?….no…..but for this occasion it is totally appropriate and now, I do it every time! The only exception is whipped cream; I make it myself. Children are very suspect of clotted cream and do not go near it – whipped cream is much easier!
• You can rent tea cups and dessert plates (ask for dessert plates instead of saucers! Dessert plates will hold a teacup and food!) for very little. You can rent them for about .40 per cup/saucer set (search “party rentals” + name of your city). You can also rent tea sets — or borrow them (do you know how many of your friends probably have a tea set they NEVER use and would be happy to loan to you?)!
• Schedule the party on a school day. Our invitations specify from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m. –everyone can “pop in”, spend a little time and leave to get home in time for dinner.
• If you have an SUV, have (or borrow) extra car seats (or ask others to carpool). Most mother’s are able to make it around the start time, but some are not and I bring their daughters home from school and their mother’s pick them up from our house—- and the little girls are able to attend — and that’s important…and is also important for their mother’s to be able to attend for a little bit – because that is what their daughters will remember – that they were there together – even if their mom was just there for 20 minutes! All of the Mothers in attendance automatically take care of and help all kids in their proximity (as Mothers tend to do), so everything works out.
• Have a short tables or blanket chests covered with a tablecloth for the children………they prefer to sit on their knees (especially 5 – 7 year olds) and any amount of pleading or admonishment will not change this. After all, if your legs were 20″ long – would you really want to sit in a big adult chair or on a couch and be sooooo far away from your friends? If you do not have enough “little” tables you can lay sweet tablecloths or blankets on the floor for a Tea Party Picnic!
• Set up a “Mothers Table” for the Mothers…..the children sort of band together and do not need or want any attention after adults have helped them pour tea and pick sweets from the table …..and the Mothers like to “hang” and have a glass of wine…did I mention that?…the “wine thing”?
• HAVE WINE ON HAND (for our “1st Annual Mother/Daughter Tea”, I had no wine – and friends kept asking “Do you have any wine?” – now I always buy a few bottles to have on hand for when 5:00 rolls around. Please know that I am in no way advocating drinking and driving, however many people would like a glass of wine around 5pm and I always make sure I have some for that reason. I also have sparkling water on hand for those who would like to dilute their wine a bit…. **If you are on a tight budget, buy cheap boxed wine and “decant” it into glass “carafes” (about $5 each from restaurant supply stores)— and you will be soooo glad you have those glass carafes in the future! Wonderful for anything and everything!
• If you are stressing over “serving” trays, utensils, etc. – DON’T! Party City (and stores like it) sell wonderful silver metallic plastic trays & thrift stores always have lots of old glass and china serving trays for under $10. Stick a paper doily on anything and you are golden! If you arrange anything in a pretty way, it will look pretty…..seriously! Again, Thrift Stores are your friend, as is Ebay – search “vintage glass serving”.
• Again, don’t stress. The important thing is to do something special with your daughter. It does not have to be perfect. It does not have to be fancy. It does not have to be expensive. But it MUST be fun!
P.S. Notice in the photo above, there are TWO table cloths on the table because when this photo was taken, I did not have an oval tablecloth, so I had to layer 2 tablecloths to fit the table! Make “do” and “do” what you can!
Friday: Schedule, Grocery List and Decorated Sugar Cubes! Yay!