Saturday, January 15, 2011

How to Throw a Sparkling Tea Party (part 1, set-up)

Have you ever thought about planning a tea party and not known how to go about it?  It isn't as hard as it seems. 

I love to throw a parties!  I have even thought about making a business of planning parties for people.  I however, realize that I would be a VERY expensive party planner.  I love to keep adding more and more cool elements.  On the plus side, the party turns out really awesome, on the down side, it's a little crazy trying to fit it all in.

Since my daughter is such a girly-girl, I suggested a tea party.  I had never thrown one, been to one, or even drink tea regularly, so I did a lot of research.  One resource that I always check when planning a kid's party is this Birthday Party Ideas website.  This has a ton of ideas that can be searched easily by topic.  Maybe one has a cool game, but another had great food served.  What I do is read through them and pick out my favorite parts of each one.

Here is what I came up with.
I hand-made the invitations.  I found a template on a card making website, cut it out of solid colored card stock.  I stamped a design on the cup.  Added paper, buttons, and ribbons.
One thing that I did was to scour yard sales, estate sales, and thrift stores to find real tea cups and pots.  The girls loved using the real thing.  I wish that I started earlier, to have more time to find cheaper ones.  It would have been better to find them for $1 each.  I used the extras and more fragile ones for decoration.  I borrowed these from my friend, Andi who purchased them in Russia.

I created this vignette above the doorway with her bears having their own tear party.
since I wanted to enclose the space to make it more intimate, I put up an easy-up in the living room.  I decorated it with tulle and twinkle lights.  My friend, Kara, stayed late the night before to help me stay-up
I added small details to the "gazebo".  I found this cool butterfly at Christmastime.  I think it was a package decoration.
This was found at a yard sale of bridal decorations in a 6-pack.

We added roses and ivy to the legs to make it seem more like a garden gazebo.

For tables, my husband took large wire spools, took off the round tops, added 2x4 legs are voila, tables perfect for little girls.  For chairs:  I begged, borrowed and bought as many little kid chairs as needed.  (I only purchased 4), then Kara covered them with fabric found at a yard sale, tied with wire ribbon that was embellished with a rose from Dollar Tree.  This way all the chairs coordinated.  My friend, Kara, was a huge help with cutting them to sized and adding them to the chairs.
I borrowed table clothes from my step-mother in coordinating colors.  Each one was slightly different, but similar.  (btw, she had so many because she threw a french bistro shower for my sister), we added this piece of fabric to each table to be the same topper for all the tables. I found these awesome real doilies at a flea market and got a great price for buying multiples.  In addition, I found the teapot shaped frames at the flea market as a gift for each girl and place marker (double use!)  At the party, my friend, C, took pictures of each girl drinking tea and I sent it with the thank you card to fit in the frame.  Each table had a tiny vase with flowers.
My friend, K, loaned me these hand-made napkin holders made from bead and wire.  I had my mother help me make these napkins.  Just white fabric with a pink surged edge and their name embroidered in pink.  Another of their favors.  Their plates were found at Big Lots for inexpensive.
When the girls first arrived, they got to decorate their own tea hat.  I found the straw hats at the flea market and bought ribbons and flowers everywhere (yard sales, dollar store, etc)  They loved their hats and got to keep them

 After their hats were made, they were to accessorize with jewelry, "furs" or boas, fans, and gloves.  Again, I mined yard sales and borrowed from friends for all this.
When they were seated at their table, I told them about tea party manners and they all listened politely.  They all had perfect manners.  Even our younger friends.

For food, I researched tea parties and what you would serve. For the table, I used different trays on different heights to display the little treats.  I used glass, metals, white dishes, etc.
 The Menu:
Finger Sandwiches (a must - everything should be finger food, my aunt helped cut pb&js into triangles and strips)
Cucumber Sandwiches.  (I had never had one, found a recipe, man were they good!  Mostly the adults ate them, the kids didn't want to try them.)
Cheese, Ham, and biscuit bites (my son helped cut out the Pillsbury biscuits, cheese and ham in star shapes)
Mini Quiches (from Costco - mostly adults ate these as well.  Very easy, though)
Chicken Salad - made by my Kara, very yummy
Sugared grapes (just sprinkle sugar on grapes to add that extra little sparkle)
Petit Fours
Candy Tea cups filled with chocolate mousse and whipped cream
Assorted candy, crackers & cookies

I made my own, using store bought frozen pound cake.  You make the sugared glaze, color it and pour over the top.  Add small gumdrops, sprinkles, etc before they dry.  I think they need work, but very yummy.  This recipe is very detailed with a filling - I just did mine in squares.

Yummmmy!  And I never knew.  Here is how they are made.  So cool and tasty.  Almost all the descriptions that I found of tea parties, had these.

I saw these candy molds on-line and thought how cute they would be.  I bought 2 different styles.  What a pain they were.  It took way longer than I thought and trying to get the timing right was hard.  You were supposed to fill with chocolate, let sit for a certain length, and then pour out extra to leave a hollow cup to fill with the mousse.
A note on the tea: my daughter and I tried out a few fruity ones without caffeine.  She selected a Raspberry one.  Some girls loved it and some just politely didn't finish it.  All of them tried it.
While they ate, I read them a story about tea time manners, called "Tea for Ruby"
After lunch, they opened presents and had cake.  All the moms wanted to have a tea party of their own.  The girl's all loved it and everyone had fun.  It was so much fun, I would do it again.

 I would never have been able to do it without the help of my friends!  Thanks!


  1. I think this was the craziest party you have done, but very fun as well. My daughters still talk about it! (And I loved helping you put it together!)

  2. It was a very fun party & I was impressed with all your foods and decorations. Enjoyed helping out.
    Aunt B


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