I recently hosted a bridal shower at a local tea house for my sister-in-law. It was unbelievably girly and so much fun! Local tea houses are a great place to have showers whether for the celebration of the imminent arrival of a new baby or for the upcoming nuptials of a close friend or relative. If you don’t have a tea house in your area or you have too many guests to make going to one feasible, here are a few tips and ideas for having your own tea party at home.
We found these really cute magnetic invitations from Plum Party. They are shaped like a tea pot and look great on the refrigerator. You could also use regular note cards and then include a few tea bags to set the tone for the shower.
If possible, host your tea party outside. You can either try it in your own garden or you could see about having the tea at a local historic home or garden. Arboretums are a great place to host an event if there is one nearby. Set up small round tables around the yard (or inside) covered in plain, white cloths or delicate florals to match the wedding colors. The tables should seat four people for the most comfort, make it six at the largest.
Set the table with a cream and sugar set that the guests can use and then send them home as party favors. A proper tea party also needs delicate china but if you don’t want to spring for enough for all of your guests, buy some really nice paperware with intricate floral details or if you have a larger budget, I love these metal plates in a floral pattern. You will also need an assortment of flatware including tea spoons. Some vintage spoons can be found on eBay.
Last but not least, you will need an assortment of tea pots. You should have one pot per two guests at the party. I prefer using ceramic tea pots. Don’t be afraid to mix and match your tea pots, cups, creamers, plates, napkins, etc. The more eclectic it is, the more Victorian the look. If that is too much for your taste, go with something to unify everything like one color or having everything in a small floral pattern.
Go to your local thrift store, rummage through your grandmother’s attic and check on eBay for an assortment of hats, stoles, gloves and costume jewelry. Set up a vanity area at the party where the guests can dress up for your tea party. This appeals to the young girl in all of us!
For some fun and easy games to add to the festivities, check out Shower in a Box where you can print out as many different games as you want for a small fee. They have games for bridal and baby showers.
Tea…of course! I followed these steps to make a perfect pot of tea:
- Bring fresh, cold water almost to a boil in a tea kettle on the stove.
- Measure the tea: 1 teaspoon tea leaves (or 1 teabag) per cup of water.
- Preheat the teapot by rinsing it with very hot water before adding the leaves. This is more important than you may think; it maintains the temperature in the pot, preparing the tea leaves so that the tea releases its full flavor when the water is poured over the leaves.
- Add the measured tea to the pre-warmed teapot.
- Pour the hot water over the tea. For black and oolong teas, let the water come to a full boil before pouring it into the teapot. Recommended brewing times:
- Black Tea, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Green Tea, 1 to 3 minutes.
- White and Oolong Teas, 2 to 5 minutes.
- Teabags, follow manufacturers directions or to taste, usually a short infusion time.
- Remove the leaves and serve. Some tea leaves can be used again, just let them steep a little longer each time.
Flavored teas can be found at the grocery store, coffee houses, tea houses or online. Let your guests choose from three different types of tea and serve with lemon slices, brown sugar cubes, white sugar cubes and cream.
Go to your local bakery or specialty food store and select a variety of petit fours or you can even order them online to have them shipped directly to your doorstep! For the more adventurous baker, you can find recipes online for making them yourself.
Creamy tomato soup (from the Joy of Cooking)
Heat in a soup pot, over medium-low heat:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, preferably extra virgin
Add and cook, stirring, until tender but not browned 5 to 10 minutes:
- 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
- 3 pounds ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped with juices
Simmer until the tomatoes are covered in their own liquid, about 25 minutes. Puree until smooth. Return to pot and stir in:
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
Serve hot or cold.
First spread on a thin coat of mayonnaise, butter, or cream cheese to keep the bread from getting soggy. Next add the filling. Cut off the crusts using a serrated knife and make sure to use the thinnest bread you can find. Sandwiches are easier to cut into shapes when they are cold, so wrap them carefully and chill in refrigerator first. Cut them into squares or use cookie cutters to cut into themed shapes.
- Cream cheese with finely chopped pecans
- Cream cheese and finely chopped fruit
- Cream cheese with cucumber
- Ham, chicken, tuna or egg salad
- Thinly sliced deli meats with cheese and mayo or mustard
Lemon curd recipe (from the Joy of Cooking)
In a medium stainless-stell or enamel saucepan, whisk together until light in color:
- 3 large eggs
- 1/3 cup sugar
- Grated zest of 1 lemon
- 1 /2 cup strained fresh lemon juice
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Cook, whisking over medium heat until the butter is melted. Then whisk constantly until the mixture is thickened and simmer gently for a few seconds. Using a spatula, scrape the filling into a medium-mesh sieve set over a bowl and strain the filling into the bowl. Stir in:
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Let cool, cover and refrigerate to thicken. Keeps refrigerated for about a week.
Clotted cream recipe (from the Joy of Cooking)
To make clotted cream at home, use unpasteurized cream. Let fresh cream stand for 12 hours in the winter or 6 hours in the summer and then put on low heat until rings form on the surface but the cream does not boil. This heating will sterilize the cream. Store in a cold place for at least 12 hours. Skim the thick clotted cream from the surface and use for your fruits and scones.
Scone recipe (from the Joy of Cooking)
Makes 8 to 12 scones
Increase the sugar up to 1â„4 cup for a sweeter scone. Preheat the oven to 450Â°F.
Sift together into a large bowl:
- 1 3â„4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 1â„4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1â„2 teaspoon salt
Cut in, using a pastry blender or 2 knives, until the size of small peas:
- 1â„4 cup (1â„2 stick) cold butter
Beat in a small bowl:
- 2 large eggs
Reserve 2 tablespoons of the beaten eggs. Beat in to the reminder:
- 1â„3 cup heavy cream
Make a well in the dry ingredients. Pour in the liquid and combine with a few swift strokes. Handle the dough as little as possible. Turn it out onto a lightly floured board. Pat to 3â„4 inch thick. To make the classic wedge shape, pat into an 8-inch round and then cut into 8 to 12 wedges or cut into diamond shapes or as for Biscuit Sticks, above. Place on an ungreased baking sheet. Brush with the reserved egg and sprinkle with:
- Salt or sugar
Bake until golden, about 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.