How To Throw A Tea-Party

The first step is to get excited about the prospect of your tea party! (Some books that may aid this process are “Let’s Have A Tea Party” by Emilie Barnes & “I’m A Little Teapot” by Iza Trapani.)

Guest list
In these days of debauchery, you might find it tough to think of people who would gain sufficient enjoyment from something like a tea-party. It’s a sad reality of these Wii-obsessed times. Here’s a secret: if you make a big enough deal out of anything, people will get excited about it. Make invitations, & make ’em good — use a typewriter, make it like a ransom note, send them out on the back of homemade postcards, fold the invitation up as a miniature fortune-teller & slip it into their bag (or somewhere where they’ll find it). You get the picture. Ten people is a good number for a tea-party, but it’s entirely up to you.

Location, location, location (ad nauseam)
Where you hold your shindig will probably depend on the season. A house is always a good place to hold a tea-party, just because it’s so easy, & of course it doesn’t need to be inside, you could have it on a balcony or in the garden. Otherwise, in summer, a tea party could be held in a treehouse, a conservatory, a beach, a park (particularly one with swings & a lot of trees to climb), by a large body of water or in a forest if you want to get really rustic. In winter, you’ll probably want to retreat to the warmth of a house, which may seem dull but hush, since you won’t have to lug huge amounts of crockery into the middle of nowhere.

Utensils & Decoration
I think that when throwing a tea-party, it is very important for the whole affair to have a demented old lady feel. The best way to do this is have a lot of mis-matched items. This is NOT “shabby chic” (which is basically something cultivated by bored housewives), it’s more a natural eccentricity. If this description has you stumped, think about your weirdest Aunt’s kitchen & take it from there. The whole point is that you’re not trying too hard. So, anyway, you will need things like teacups, saucers, strange elaborate teaspoons, little forks & knives (for cake, cheese, etc.) & sugar-bowls at the very least. You’ll also probably require lots of tea, cream, sugar, milk (full cream, low-fat, soy), cupcakes, cookies, crackers & such. You can go completely nutty from here & present an old cookie-jar full of colourful gumballs if you like, I would encourage you to aim for excess!

You should also dress up the area you’re going to be “partying” in. Think about things like tablecloths, napkins, candles, huge arrangements of flowers & doilies if you want to be really kitsch. You can provide extra amusement for your guests with fortune cookies, balloons, seating placards & a bottle of tequila hidden nearby.

This will really depend on the sort of guests you have, but music definitely sets the tone so you should take care with it. I am a huge fan of the Marie Antoinette soundtrack & think it would make for a great tea-party, but you will have your own ideas no doubt. Anyway, I am the kind of girl who would probably end up busting out some Notorious B.I.G., so take what I say about music with a grain of salt!

Activi-teas (ho ho)
In ye olden days, tea party guests often went exploring the craggy mountains & dense forests that were undoubtedly nearby. However, nowadays it’s more likely that your local scenic attractions are your neighbourhood’s newest teenage mother & a shopping mall that stretches as far as the eye can see. In such dire situations, it can be beneficial to all involved if your company engages in simple activities. Like, um, talking! Or dancing. Try not to chat about what’s on television, since this is an official bore. You can also have a go at some birthday party classics, such as pass the parcel or musical chairs, but if these games are simply too, too childish, then feel free to discuss existentialism in hushed tones, with your Serious Face on.

Enjoy! Lewis Carroll’s birthday is on the 27th of January, this Saturday, so there’s never been a better time to throw a tea-party. Send pictures!