Iced Tea Party
I adore tea
parties. When I was eight, my mother put together a tea party for my
friends. Guests were asked to bring a doll or teddy bear, and when they
arrived, the girls and their toy companions received a straw hat
decorated with silk flowers. While we sat and drank tea with petits
fours and cucumber sandwiches, the dolls and bears sat at their own
table with a miniature tea set and treats. I never grew out of loving
tea parties. One of my favorite places to go when I was at school in
New York was Alice’s Tea Cup
with my girlfriends, and I still enjoy having tea at a hotel with my
mom and sister. But traditional, formal, hot High Tea is too much for
summer, so I thought I’d translate it into a rustic, laid-back, outdoor
iced tea buffet.
When: Any weekend afternoon. Outside would be best, but if it rains this is an easy party to move indoors.
The invitations: Handwrite a note to your guests on
pretty personal stationery, and use a bordered label for the address.
For an added touch, use vintage stamps totaling the standard postage
The place: If you happen to live in a farmhouse with
lots of rustic furniture, then set some of that furniture up outdoors
for this iced tea party. If you’re lucky enough to have a garden,
gather there. If not, open all the windows and set up food in the
brightest room in the house.
The food: Instead of traditional tea fare, serve food
with a country flair at a buffet. Buttermilk biscuits – both sweet and
savory – instead of scones, classic American sandwiches like BLT and
tuna salad instead of dainty cucumber or salmon versions, and fruit
pies instead of miniature tarts (or you could ask guests to each bring
a dessert of their choosing). Also, for fun, offer a variety of iced
tea enhancers: flavored syrups; berries, lemon and peach slices; and
mint and lavender sprigs. Send guests home with small jars of jam like
that served with the biscuits.
The decor: Use mismatched china and silverware to achieve a nice balance between refined and informal. Cover the table with
Other details: Ask guests to bring a favorite book so that everyone can leave with a new summer read. Some of my personal favorites are A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson, Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, or Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. Whether your guests know each other or not, sharing books is a great conversation starter.
By Kathryn Storke of Snippet and Ink