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Lady Lydia Speaks

Tea Party: A Refreshing Event
By Mrs. Stanley Sherman
Dec 10, 2005 - 3:06:00 PM

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Tea Pot from The Tea Cart.

Do you ever wish you lived in a more genteel and respectful era? Do you sometimes want something special to dress up for? Do you long for an occasion to wear a hat? Have you ever hoped for something to happen that you could look back on and smile?

Relaxing with friends in the pleasant and beautiful ceremony of Tea is becoming the fastest-growing pasttime in the nation. Teatime has its roots in British tradition, but it is having a greater revival in the US and Canada. New tea rooms are cropping up everywhere. They are beautifully decorated, and each one has its own style of hospitality.

You don't have to actually know people who like tea parties. You can introduce anyone to a tea party just by inviting them over for a "tea for two" get-together. This exposes them to the delightful treats served in the morning or afternoon to curb the appetite and settle the nerves. If you do this several times, they will eventually be willing to come to a larger tea celebration.

While tea rooms are extremely popular, they are sometimes quite a distance away and very expensive when you get there. May I suggest planning a special tea in your own home? You may be surprised that you don't have to go to a lot of trouble. In fact, a "tea" is easier than serving a meal Although it looks formal, it is really more casual than a sit-down meal.

Here is a picture taken by Miss Melanie Taggart of Australia,
who assisted in the arrangement of this tea party in her honor in my home.

The table cloth and matching paper napkins came from the dollar store. The napkins were folded into heart shapes. To learn how to do this, go to THIS LINK. Small votive candles were placed in delicate goblets. We enjoy colorful candles, even in the daylight. Anything that helps provide a festive atmosphere is appropriate at a tea party!

My own opinion is that young people ought to make Teas their social events and really learn to visit. People will often be drawn to the things they are exposed to. Tea parties are wonderful "drawing cards" for the young. My daughter met her husband at a tea party, and I think it is going to become a trend to meet other young people at these gatherings. Although everyone tends to dress up a little more, the parties usually have a casual, easy-going atmosphere, which makes most young people feel right at home. One of the beauties of a tea party is that not everyone has to be the same age. The young and the old can freely and unconciously mingle.

Interesting tea pot shapes add to the delight of the guests.
Here you see a pot shaped like a rose, called "The Rose Garden," by J. Wilfred.

You don't have to be a tea drinker to enjoy a Tea with friends. Serve pots of flavored herbal infusions, such as fresh mint from your garden. To make a berry tea, just pour boiling water over a handful of berries in a strainer inside the tea pot and let steep for awhile 'til the water turns a rosy color and the liquid smells wonderful. This tastes wonderful with honey. Fill a special pot for children with milk or apple juice and have what is called "milk tea." There is something for everyone at a tea party. When the weather is too hot for tea, a sparkling punch can be served in punch cups. Include a tray with a small pitcher of iced water with some short glasses for your guests.

This is an old flower cart used as a tea cart, bearing simple foods. Tea treats are just tiny bits of food, displayed
in special ways. Here you see quartered orange slices (easier to eat), cream-cheese stuffed celery,
home-baked saltine crackers, sliced turkey kielbasa, strawberries, and small bundt cakes with currants.
We passed these around and allowed our friends to help themselves.

Use opportunities, such as someone dropping by to get something, as an occasion to serve impromptu teas. Look at what you already have available and see what you can do with it. Try toast, lathered with butter and sprinkled with cinnamon, then cut up in squares--or serve a platter of sliced apples. Top crackers with peanut butter or cheese. These simple, spur-of-the-moment offerrings create great memories for people. To be prepared, keep dried things in your pantry just for unexpected company.

Above: a table was put in front of the living room
window for a change of scenery.

You need not fear that the tea party will be dull, as guests amuse themselves with each other's company and with the food and tea. However, there are little things you can do to add to the fun. Miss Taggart passed a blank book around for the guests to write good cheer and advice, and to give her some "food for thought." These books are available from dollar stores around the country and often have lovely covers.

You can make your own little autograph book for such occasions. It is always enriching to read the encouragement that others write and to write your own pleasant words that will put cheer in the heart of someone for life. Use the front of a greeting card for the cover of your book, cut paper the same size, punch two holes and bind it with ribbon.

"Roses" from
This would make a nice cover for a blank autograph book.

Hosting teas will help you create lovely experiences in your life; experiences you can write about, talk about, and pass on to others to give them inspiration. Having a tea party in your own home is not as daunting as you may think. Most people are just grateful to be invited somewhere, so don't think you have to have a perfect house or a professional menu. Sometimes just a beverage and a muffin will do.

Most tea-party lovers will agree that their parties never fail to cheer people up. This accounts for the increasing popularity of morning or afternoon teas, whether at home or in a tea room.

"Tea Party for Two" by Consuelo Gamboa, available from

Check out the tea accessories at Vintage Rose Collection and tea menu ideas from Seeds of Knowledge. There is a quick online tea video at Rosetree Cottage. For more tea party recipes, go to Great Party Recipes and He-and-She.

Tea foods consist of things very similar to "hors d'oeuvres," which means "little snack food." For entertaining online videos that you can watch right on your screen, click HERE and scroll down. Click on the "Three Easy Hors d'oeuvres" clip for some ideas for your at-home tea party.

Finally, here is one of my favorite nibbles for afternoon tea fare:

Creamy Chicken-filled Turnovers


2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. finely chopped onion
1 1/2 c. cooked, shredded chicken
3 oz. pkg. cream cheese
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. thyme leaves
1/4 tsp. pepper
3 tbsp. chicken brown


1 1/3 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/4 c. butter
2-4 tbsp. cold water

In 10-inch skillet melt butter; add onion. Cook over medium heat until softened (4-5 minutes). Stir in remaining filling ingredients. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally until cream cheese is melted and heated through (2-3 minutes); set aside.

Heat oven to 375 degrees. In medium bowl combine all pastry ingredients except butter and water. Cut in butter until crumbly. Stir in water; shape into ball.

On lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/16 inch thickness. Cut with floured 2 1/2 inch round cookie cutter. Place 1 teaspoon filling on 1/2 of circle. Fold other half over. Press edges with fork to seal. Place on cookie sheets. Repeat with remaining pastry and filling. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Yield 30 turnovers.

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