Here's how I threw my annual spring tea
This recipe is different. It's a recipe for a successful tea party. Of course, there are recipes within this recipe. From baking the perfect dishes, to choosing the best decorations, to sending lovely invites. Plus: baking for a vegan guest. Let's get started!
I love tea. I love the delicious scones, cakes, and sandwiches that go with tea. I love using beautiful china passed down through my family. I love dressing up. What's not to love?
This isn't a strictly traditional English tea. This doesn't follow any customary guidelines at all. This is an elegant and fun gathering of friends, drinking, eating, and playing the occasional croquet game. Do we really know the rules of croquet? Absolutely not. The point is, we have fun.
Step 1. Pick a theme
This is a my Spring Tea Party Guide, so obviously the theme was spring. Think fresh flowers. Neutral, light colors. Spring flavors such as lavender, lemon, and blueberry. The invitation should reflect the theme as well.
Start with a neutral tablecloth.
Choose spring colored napkins (I chose green and tan).
Add flowers (I used lilacs).
Think about how you can present your treats... I used vintage tins and draped them with linen napkins for the honey lavender cookies and vegan mini blueberry pies. I used a silver plate for the vegan lemon lavender scones. I elevated my vegan lemon cupcakes by putting them on top of the tin, instead of inside. I used a linen wrapped cutting board to present the lavender tea cake.
Plates and china set! I was lucky enough to already have spring themed plates and a tea set. It all comes together for a very green colored theme, with notes of silver, purple, and pink.
Step 2. Send your invites
I went onto Canva and made my invites for free. Yes, we love free things. I searched "simple" and "floral" in their templates. I went through quite a few, but it came down to a couple things.
I wanted it to be simple and elegant.
I didn't want to use a lot of printer ink.
I went to Walmart and bought cardstock and envelopes. Then, I downloaded my Canva invite and added the design to a Google Doc. Next, I printed the invites. Last, I cut the paper to fit in the envelopes, added a dried flower, and sent them to my guests.
Step 3. Decide your activities
I've hosted a few tea parties in my lifetime. In fact, it's kind of an annual thing. As a result, I already have a croquet set. I think we got it from a sport's store like Big 5 or Play It Again Sports. In this day and age, I find that I have to keep young people constantly occupied when hosting a group of them. Why? Because they'll go on their phones if they aren't super engaged. And phones are the opposite of tea parties. Therefore, if you're hosting a tea party for more than 2 hours, create some games for your guests. My favorites are croquet and cards.
Croquet: it's what we see in British dramas. It's an outdoor game, so the weather needs to be decent. It's a nice break from drinking tea or playing cards indoors. Again, I don't know how to play croquet.
This is what I do:
Set the wickets (hoop things) up in a random course.
Hand out the mallets (the golf club things)
Decide the order of play (Our set came with a stick that has stripes of color. The stripes correspond with the colors of the mallets, and we use this for the order, playing top color to bottom color.)
Play! One by one, take a shot, aiming to get your ball through the first wicket. Each take 1 shot in the order you decided, and repeat until you have progressed through all of the wickets.
Croquet is fun because it's neither hard nor easy. You might be surprised by which guest is good at it. When you feel your guests getting antsy or (gasp) reaching for their phones, take them outside for croquet.
Cards: I like a game called (keeping it PG) "baloney sandwich". It's pretty simple. Look it up or read my instructions.
Pass a deck of cards out, giving each player an equal amount, until none of the cards are left (Don't use jokers).
Now someone starts by putting an ace card facedown on the table.
The next person should put down a 2, on top of the ace, facedown.
The pattern is: ace, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, jack, queen, king. Each player puts one card down, going around in a circle. Each player says the card they put down as they put it down, and this way the group keeps track of what number they're on.
Here's the thing: you start to run out of cards. This is good. This is also risky. Say it's your turn, and you need to put down a 5. Except, you're out of 5s. Now, you lie. You put down any other card, and lie that it's a 5. Remember, you put the cards face down. No one can see what the card really is.
Your friends are running out of cards as well. This is where it gets fun. You realize that if you're lying, they probably are too. Call them out on it. Say "baloney" (or sub another word), before the next person lays down their card. Once you call it, they have to turn their card over to reveal if they lied or not. If they did, they have to take the ENTIRE pile. If they weren't lying, YOU (whoever called "baloney") have to take the pile.
The game keeps going. Put the cards down, call people out. The object is to get rid of your cards. Lying and getting caught means you pick up that big pile in the middle that you all made by getting rid of your cards. Calling someone out either means you give your competitor a disadvantage (the pile) or you risk being wrong and take the pile yourself.
Baloney sandwich is fun when people aren't scared to call each other out. The best games last a long time and move quickly. People slap down their cards and either lie or tell the truth as quickly as possible. People very loudly call baloney on each other. Then, the moment of truth: who gets the pile? In a good game, almost everyone gets called out or calls someone out, and everyone has to accept the pile at least once. I've seen people accept the pile and then win the whole thing. Remember: you can always make a comeback.
Step 4. Collect recipes
Duh. Over the years, I've made the food myself and also used store bought. This year, I decided to do all homemade. The recipes reflect springtime flavors, I think. You'll notice a lot of lavender, lemon, and some blueberry. Also, I had a vegan guest, so about half the food I served was vegan. I baked all these recipes the night before the tea party. It was chaotic, but worth it. Here we go!
Step 5. Put it all together!
Now all the elements get to merge. Set your table to reflect your theme. Have fun with how you display the food. Dust off that china set you never thought you'd use. Clean your house. Set up the croquet. Get dressed up. And of course, brew a big pot of tea!
Ask your guests not to bring them, to put them in a basket, or to turn them on silent. Designate 1 person to take photos, if you want photos.
When guests first arrive, it might be a tad awkward as you wait for the rest. Sit them down away from the tea and food, turn on some Pride and Prejudice music, and start a conversation. Ask them how they've been. When in doubt, ask people about themselves. People love attention. When everyone arrives, bring them to the tea table and turn the music down to have more conversation. Eventually, just turn the music off once everyone is comfortable and gossiping away. I really found that the music set the mood and added some background noise that took away from any awkward pauses.
That's it! Let me know if you throw a spring tea party!