The Jubilee weekend is upon us and nothing says quintessentially British like a classic tea party. Throughout time tea parties have held a great array of media interpretations but these are the two that spring to mind for me when I hear the term tea party;
|Image from http://childrensbooks.wikia.com/wiki/The_Tiger_Who_Came_to_Tea|
|Image from http://purestylehome.blogspot.co.uk/2011/01/mad-hatter.html|
Tea parties is not just for little girls, old women, tigers and mad hatters though. Tea parties are very sophisticated gatherings (OK, maybe not in the two cases above but I don't think realistically a tiger would ever turn up at your house for tea.) But how do you go about planning this said tea party?
Now, this is clearly a main factor as obviously for a proper tea party you will need English breakfast tea. Preferably served in delicate cups and saucers and poured from a matching tea pot. If you know that some guests at your tea party do not like tea (I still don't understand why some people do not like tea but there are people out there that do so we better cater for them) then a fresh still lemonade with ice, served in tall, clear glasses and poured from a glass jug or even a decanter is another refreshing alternative. Perhaps try other kinds of tea too such as Lady Grey, Peppermint or Berry.
For sandwiches make sure they are cut up into little finger shapes. Do not make them too big as remember that originally this was an afternoon snack, not a whole meal. As for the fillings, cucumber and cream cheese is a classic, smoked salmon is a luxurious treat and jam is a sweet alternative. Use white bread and make sure you cut them evenly sized.
It's best to make one big cake (preferably a Victoria sponge) and then lots of little cupcakes. If you like to cook then make these yourself but it is best for everything to look perfect so if there's a 90% chance you'll mess it up; buy them. I think I could trust myself with the cupcakes and the Victoria sponge but things like fondant fancies and Viennese whirls I'll leave to Mr Kipling. Pretty much everything Mr Kipling goes. Just dot around some cakey shit everywhere although it can't look like shit because that would snatch away all the prettiness of this occasion. Pink macaroons add a touch of glamour too. Remember scones are a must.
Personally, I think the best artists to play at a tea party are Lana Del Rey and Daisy Dares You but you can adapt this to your own music tastes as it really depends on what you're into and what you think will go with the sort of atmosphere that you want to create for your guests. Here is a mix that I have assembled.
Cute floral dresses are one option. Boucle suits are another (if you want to do a Jubilee themed tea party then dress up like the Queen in this sort of attire.) I think I would go for cute floral dresses because most people own one of these are they match the pretty theme. Pocket watches are great for a slightly Alice in Wonderland effect. Fans and white gloves are fabulous for a tea party.
Opt for a lace tablecloth, a cake stand, pretty plates, tea cups, tea pot for a classic look. However, if you want to go for a different theme then read below.
The muck up tea party-
Lay everything out all pretty but get ready for it to be spoilt. This is kind of a mad hatter sort of party. I'm thinking people walking across the table to get the food they want, smashing cups and alcohol in the tea cups instead of tea. Make everyone dress feminine but with imperfections (smudged make up, bare feet, that kind of thing.)
The seemingly spontaneous tea party-
Set up a cheap table, throw on a table cloth and some cakes and tea. Oh, and all this is outside. Perhaps in a garden but even better if it's in a public place like a park. You will leave all the picnickers sitting on their little checked mats trembling at your coolness.
Pretty and pink-
An entirely pink themed tea party would be amazing. Get everyone to wear head to toe pink, have pink tea cups and a pink tea pot. Also have a pink tablecloth, pink fondant fancies, pink macaroons, pink cup cakes and pink wafers. Also serve pink berry tea and pink lemonade.
The gothic tea party-
Give everything a dark atmosphere. You can stick with the original decorations just drape fake cobwebs and dust over everything so that it looks kind of haunted and like its been left for decades. I'm thinking like the table with Miss Havisham's wedding cake on in Great Expectations only minus the bugs; that just unsanitary. We need to draw the line somewhere, people. Get everyone to dress in black. I'm thinking black fascinators, chunky boots and netted skirts but that's only if you want to go all out.
The vintage tea party-
All tea parties have a vintage feel to them however, if you want to take it a step further get people to dress in the sort of clothing they would have worn in the era that you are trying to recreate. Anything from the Victorian era to the 1950s is best. Play music from that era also.
Woodland Tea Party-
Set up camp in the woods to be at one with nature. Do everything the same way that you would at home just adapt it to a woodland environment.
A Night Time Tea Party
Put candles on the floor outside or hang lanterns from trees. This is an unique way to have a tea party. You could also have tall wax candles on the table for a pretty vintage feeling.
Alice in Wonderland Tea Party
Get everyone to dress in blue with a ribbon in their hair and wear pocket watches. Then make cakes that say "eat me" on the icing and attach labels to all the tea cups saying "drink me."