Friday, July 31, 2009
7 Quick Takes--To plan a Tea Party!
Since Violin Mama asked me about it, I thought I'd write this Friday's Quick Takes about steps to planning a Tea Party for those little ladies in your life! I'm certainly no tea party pro, but we do know how to have a fun time! Here are some ideas...
Let the girls come up with ideas. Who do they want to invite? When do they want the party? What kind of attire (princess, ballerina, etc)? What kind of foods? You'll need to guide this discussion a little, especially if you have some opinions of your own. For our most recent party, they picked the day and I picked the time (2pm so I wouldn't be responsible for feeding lunch and so baby could still get a nap). They picked the attire, I picked most of the food. And we came up with the guest list together, trying to include as many young friends as possible. Next time I think we'll just open it to our whole group, because as I mentioned before I always end up leaving someone out.
Email your friends! The girls always want to send "real" invitations which would be way cute, but I am so horribly bad with snail mail it just doesn't work. This time I just sent the email 2 days before...I am totally last-minute and all my friends know that! We are a flexible crowd :) I said they could bring a snack to share, but it wasn't necessary, told them the day and time, directions to my house, and the princess/ballerina attire instruction. An e-vite would be another great way to do it; you could also have people sign up to bring certain dishes if needed. In our case, I usually prefer to just let it fall into place. Oh and I always mention in the invitation that siblings are welcome! We have a very kid-friendly house!
Seating: We were blessed to receive 2 wonderful trapezoid school tables and 4 chairs from the generous previous owners of our house! I believe that Lillian said they bought these second-hand from one of those yard-sale-every-day homes in a neighboring town. I believe she also mentioned the tables being in the back of the house and needing to negotiate the price in Spanish. I think I need to take a Spanish-speaking friend there to buy some more chairs in the not-too-distant future. I love having these!
We also have a small wooden table with 2 chairs that I bought at a church sale when Mary Clare was a toddler. It has served us well. So right now we have kid chairs for 6. I pushed the little tables up against the fireplace to create a "bench" for more girls, making enough seating for 10. My initial plan was to have some of the girls at the coffee table, and maybe some of the older girls at the kitchen table, but in the end we had enough space for all of them to sit. I know some people have regular dining or kitchen tables that work for a party like this, but we only have 4 adult chairs (and well, 5 in the garage I need to paint and recover), and I like having it at the kid tables. It works for us!
Table settings: First you'll need a tablecloth. For this party I used some white bedskirts and one white tablecloth! Then you'll need a tea set, or a few tea sets. The girls have 2 mini tea sets and on the morning of the party I emailed my friends to see if anyone else had a small tea set they could bring. They did. I like the mini-size for the small girls, but another idea is to find some secondhand china tea sets. I'd like to find some of these in the future. Having some plastic plates, cups, and forks are also important so the moms or siblings can snack. The girls needed bigger plates for some of the food anyway. As with any party, a permanent marker is usually a useful item so guests can write their names on their cups!
Flowers: You can't have a tea party without some pretty flowers! Now, lots of people would probably choose fresh flowers for ambiance. But I went a different route. I had 3 blue & white vases I had bought at the dollar store a few months back. When I went to Wal-Mart to buy the snacks, I came across some mini thumb-print glass vases (I think that's what they were called, the ones with the pink flowers) for about 70 cents each. Then I bought three $1 stems of fake flowers. So for less than $6 I was able to buy flowers to fill 6 small vases (plus I already had the taller blue & white vase pictured) and now I have little flower vases to put all around the house! I love real flowers but don't love how quickly they die.
The menu: For an afternoon tea, you really only need a few snacks. Some options we usually include are cheese/crackers, fruit, pretzels, raw veggies/ranch dip, cookies, and popcorn. We had friends bring some other items (graham crackers, cereal bars, rice crispy treats, cream puffs, etc). The favorite treats of the party were the sugar cookie princess cutouts which one family brought, along with icing and sprinkles for the girls to decorate. They loved this! Using fancy plates and platters make things look even prettier, but the young ones likely won't notice if the sugar cookies are served on a plastic plate or a silver platter!
We didn't make them for the tea party, but mini cupcakes would be a great hit! Here's Ellie icing some yesterday. We realized that putting them in the heart muffin tin will actually make them keep a heart shape. They are really cute!
For drinks: We're not really tea drinkers, so we usually serve juice or lemonade. This time I never found the time to make the apple juice from the frozen concentrate can I had in the freezer, so it was all lemonade for all our guests. This is something I can do better on next time! The girls loved serving the lemonade from the mini-teapots. So cute!
Don't stress out and have fun! The girls will follow your lead. If you're making a big deal out of it and getting stressed out about things being just-so, the kids will too. So, some juice spills on the carpet...so, someone breaks a flower vase...so, you forget one of the important snacks...so, someone forgets their costume. So, what!?! Just go with the flow!
As a final note, I will share that I almost canceled last week's tea party because Ellie had been feeling bad with nighttime headaches for 2 nights. Otherwise she seemed well during the day and was even dancing in the pediatrician's office that morning when we had her checked out the morning of the tea party, just in case. Well, it turns out she did have a contagious virus, which the rest of the family came down with the next day, and many of the tea party guests came down with over the weekend. I feel so bad about that! So, make sure you're all healthy at your tea party...Have fun...And share some pictures!