A Very English Tea Party

A summer afternoon, blue skies, tea, sandwiches and cake.  What could be more lovely?

And yet, afternoon tea has become somewhat an unusual affair, maybe because it has to be slotted in between lunch and dinner and involves food that, eaten in a leisurely fashion, fits into neither category.  Never-the-less when we are able to indulge in afternoon tea it reminds us what a delight it can be.

As part of the launch for Fitoverfiftywomen.com I decided to hold an afternoon tea party in my mother’s garden for her friends.  This happened to coincide with me reading ‘The art of gathering’ by Priya Parker.

Reading her book made me think about the following:

The purpose

It might seem obvious, but this is concerned with why the gathering is taking place in the first place.   The purpose is really important for setting the scene, helping people decide whether to come and defining what sort of ‘event’ you are planning.

So inviting people to celebrate the launch of the web site needed to be clearly stated.

The invitation

We made this quite special.  I wanted to set the tone of a warm and welcoming event and designed an invitation with red poppies blowing in the wind that was attached to an email rather than just sending a textual invite.  

The lead up

Don’t just leave it at the invitation.  Once people have replied, help them prepare and get into the right mindset.  I wanted to give the invitees enough information so they knew what to expect and what to wear.  We wanted it to be special but also fun!  I explained I wanted to take photographs and by asking them to bring hats (we also had spares) we added to the sense of occasion.  At the same time I wanted everyone to feel comfortable and not ‘over-dressed’. 

As you can see the spirit of the event was very much entered into!

The event itself

I enlisted the help of my sister and my mother as hosts and our partners (the only men there, became the waiters and photographer!).  Some people feel slightly uncomfortable welcoming each guest, ensuring they have a drink, introducing them to others.  We ‘broke the ice’ by also offering them a rose to wear.  In her book Priya Parker suggests that the ‘chill host’ is not doing their job by leaving people to their own means. 

My mother had prepared a quiz for us, all about hats which caused much merriment, discussion and not a little squabbling about points and fairness! 

Food and drink

I’d made some lemon tea and my orange and turmeric zinger (ingredients coming soon) and we purchased a variety of lovely non-alcoholic sparkling elderflower and berry drinks that looked fabulous on the white table cloths.  The tea was served in china tea pots and drunk from cups with saucers.  In addition to some delicious Walnut and Coffee, Victoria Sponge and Lemon Drizzle cake (bought from my local tea shop) I made the traditional finger sandwiches and savoury bites.

Afterwards

The afternoon flew by and we hadn’t specified a ‘end time’ so people drifted away as they needed to.  In fact my mother had stated in her invitation email that people could stay as long as they liked but she’d be going to bed at 10pm so they would need to let themselves out! 

We promised all those who came copies of the photos and a link to this blog.  So thank you all for making it the perfect tea party!