The classic bridal shower tea party is coming back in fashion!
We are approaching wedding season, and wedding showers will be abundant. It's also the perfect time of year to get out of the house and into the sunshine before the heat of Summer becomes unbearable. Tea parties are also great for baby showers or just because it's finally warm enough to go outside without a scarf! That's why garden tea parties are ideal for this time of year. Here's how to throw the perfect southern tea party that all your guests will love!
Step 1: Time it perfectly
This time of year is full of events for most people. Spring break, finals and Easter are just a few of the things that happen in the spring. Try to time your tea party on a weekend that does not conflict with some other event that will keep your guests from attending.
Step 2: Send real invitations
Even though we live in the information age of instantaneous text messages and emails, an e-vite will not suffice if you want to throw a proper southern tea party. You need to use actual paper invitations, sent through the mail. Make sure to inform guests that it will be a tea party, so they'll know how to dress. However, because this is the information age, RSVPs are usually made via text or email so be sure to give more than one RSVP option, or indicate that the phone number you've added is a cell phone.
Step 3: Get your outfit ready
You'll need a dress in springtime colors, nice shoes (whether heels or not, they should be something you could wear to church, not a club). And, above all, don't forget your hat. You'll likely be outside at times, and hats are a great way to keep the damaging effects of the sun off your skin and keep your eyes shaded without donning giant sunglasses, which are more appropriate for a pool party or barbecue than a tea party.
Step 4: Seek out the perfect party favor
Modern etiquette disagrees as to whether or not party favors are necessary. Some experts say the party itself should be favor enough without having the added expense of take home trinkets, while others believe it's impolite to not thank your guests for their attendance with a little gift. If you choose to give party favors, they'll need to be esthetically pleasing as well as creative. Some good ideas are tea, tea cups, flavored tea spoons, or candles.
Step 5: Arrange the food and beverages
Finger foods and hors d'oeuvres are expected at tea parties, and plenty of sweets are traditional. Food should be delicious, yet attractive. However, don't neglect to provide substantial food as well, or your guests might get stomach aches from too much sugar, and no one likes a hungry guest. Cold beverages may be served in plastic or paper cups, but serve hot tea in real ceramic or glass tea cups to avoid burning your guests' fingers. A variety of beverages is always a good idea. Mimosas (champagne and orange juice) are a popular choice, or ice cream punch if you'd prefer a non-alcoholic option.
Step 6: Tea, obviously!
You can't have a tea party without tea. Iced tea is imperative for a southern tea party, as well as hot tea. Hot tea should be prepared in a ceramic teapot, and you should have real tea cups to drink from. Try some floral or fruit-flavored tea, don't just stick to Lipton. Loose-leaf is best, but if you don't have a teapot or diffuser that allows for it, bags work just as well. Teacups do not have to match! It is becoming very fashionable to use eclectic table settings when entertaining guests. Try to keep them all a similar style, but they don't have to match. If you have several sets, you can simply mix them up together on the table. If you don't own any, they can usually be found at Goodwill or Salvation Army, or you might be able to borrow some from a friend or family member.
Step 7: Select the music
Tea parties are classically a daytime affair, so you'll want music that is soft and soothing rather than loud and raucous. For a country flair, try to stick to folk artists like Allison Krauss and Emmylou Harris. You can also play some calming instrumental music. Keep the volume low so that people can still hear each other while having conversations and remember that it will be louder when everyone is talking. The music should provide a background ambiance, it shouldn't be blaring like it would at a tailgate party.
Step 8: Ensure proper seating
Of course, guests can balance their plates on their knees, but you'll probably want to have some tables if possible. Folding card tables work well, and usually you can borrow some from close friends or family, or your church. To make them look nice simply throw a tablecloth over the top and place a low vase of flowers in the middle, and you've got a chic and comfortable table setting. As with the dishes, tables and chairs do not have to match! The days when all proper tea and garden parties required matching seating and dishes are gone. In fact, the variety tends to spark comments and conversation between guests as they each examine and show off their own unique tea cups.
Step 9: Create a quaint garden space
You may not have a lush, green lawn yet (after all, winter was just last week, wasn't it?) but you can always make it more pleasant. Add potted plants or hanging baskets of flowers to create the illusion of a thriving garden. Of utmost importance as well, is to ensure that any pet mess is cleaned up well in advance of the party, because nothing spoils a party like a pair of ruined shoes. On that note, if your lawn is soggy, keep the party indoors or on a deck or patio.
Step 10: Don't Forget to Send a Thank-You Card
Whether or not you choose to give out party favors, thank you cards are absolutely vital if you don't want to seem rude. They don't have to be as elaborate as the invitations, but it is definitely better if they are paper and mailed as well, rather than emailed.