Monday, August 8, 2011

A Vintage Tea Party for a Teen

The teacups were set out in rows, each one calling out 'pick me, pick me!' to the guests who would soon arrive and have to decide which cup they would choose to take tea in. Shades of pink or green? Roses or lily of the valley? Decisions, decisions. Then to select a tea - traditional black tea, chamomile perhaps or something with a little more zest - lemongrass and ginger or a cranberry, raspberry and strawberry blend? And of course there was always Earl Grey for those who love that hint of bergamot!

This was the birthday party she had requested. A vintage tea party at home with family and friends, mainly mothers and their daughters and one husband who would be good company for her dad at this most feminine occasion! Mother and daughter both took great delight in the details of her tea party. The setting of the table, the cloths we would use and the accessories we would need. A crystal sugar bowl in a silver stand was found in a vintage store. The spoon was missing but in a box of souvenir spoons I found one that fitted into the holder perfectly. Hidden among the rather tacky spoons from various English seaside resorts and Australian tourist towns I spotted a tiny embossed silver spoon. I read the inscription 'Shepherd's Field Bethlehem'. Such a sweet spoon for our sugar bowl and a sweet price too - just fifty cents!

She wanted vintage style so the mismatched china would be perfect. A few more cups would be nice I said to her as we visited a couple of garage sales the day before her party. We were excited by the prospect of an estate sale and walked up the garden path to see tables on the veranda crammed with silver, china, crystal and linen. All the provisions you would ever need for hosting a vintage tea party. We bought two more cup and saucers and a pink glass milk jug, ever so dainty. More tea spoons were needed. I rummaged through a plastic bag of silver cutlery looking for tea spoons than realized it was a set because everything matched! The lady wanted twenty dollars for the lot and I gladly handed it over knowing I had just scored a bargain. Enough silver cutlery (a twelve place setting) for future dinner parties and tea spoons for the birthday celebration. You can see the dessert forks and spoons in the corner of the photograph below. Providence for the purposes of hospitality.

We returned home with our vintage finds and baking supplies and the kitchen was soon a place of much productivity. One daughter was making her famous lemon meringue pie. The food processor was assisting us in preparing a Dana's chocolate cake mix. Twin girls were filling cup cake cases and a toddler was dragging over a chair to offer his services as chief taste tester. The birthday girl was washing tea cups and I was ready to put out the sign 'Ye olde tea shoppe'. So glad to see those tea cups being used at last and not just gathering dust in the buffet unit!

Sunday came and brought with it sunshine. The patio had been swept. The rickety old table found in a shed had its turned legs painted white - just one coat, very rough but somehow it looked right for the occasion. Its old oil stained top was covered up with a floral tablecloth which was overlaid with a lace cloth. This would be the tea table. A vintage sofa perfect for perching on to sip tea was brought outside. A trestle table was covered with a lace curtain. Peach blossoms from the orchard were placed in an old glass carafe. Camellias from the garden were snipped and randomly scattered. My favourite metal tray would be the centre piece to hold the cupcakes but the show stealer would be the birthday cake - this was a birthday party after all!

Would you believe me if I told you that I found a huge tub of strawberry wafers at the service station store where we stopped for fuel on our way home from church on the day of the party! Talk about last minute decorating inspiration!

A peek inside reveals strawberry marshmallow fondant icing made and embellished by her sister with chocolate swirls and bright pink hearts. Once again simple but stunning and those hollow wafers made perfect holders for the fourteen wavy candles!

In the photograph above you can see a little of the detail of the dress we found for her birthday. A vintage style red gingham sundress trimmed with lace and a little denim bolero jacket. The dress is by Raoul. Designer quality purchased online for less than Target prices. It was just perfect for this occasion! The silver rose pendant was a gift from her younger brother. The pearl bracelet borrowed from her mother. Love it that she also loves pearls!

This girl loves to wear dresses and express her femininity!

These girls also love their new dresses. They are wearing Laura Ashley! No, I didn't send to England for these. Once again, purchased online at a greatly discounted price. No more fruitless trips to the mall for this mother searching for pretty dresses for her girls! This photograph was taken on my sweet little antique sofa after the tea party was over.

On the menu for our high tea were heart shaped egg and cress sandwiches, cream cheese and smoked salmon and cream cheese pinwheel sandwiches garnished with cucumber and of course a selection of sweet cakes, biscuits and traditional scones with strawberry jam topped with cream. These are lemonade scones, Have you ever made them? Two cups of self raising flour, a pinch of salt, a cup of cream and a can of lemonade. Be careful not to over mix and bake in rounds or squares as we did in a moderately hot oven for 10-15 minutes. Also on our afternoon tea table were orange cupcakes, lemon meringue pies and a selection of sweet biscuits including Viennese fingers that I did not attempt to make myself! We also offered a pink lemonade punch - the frozen baby berries turned the lemonade pink - magical!

The mothers. These lovely ladies blessed my daughter with lovely gifts of beads and floral hair accessories, a gift voucher for a favourite local gift shop and a gorgeous reversible handmade bag in an Oriental inspired fabric. I will have to take a photograph to show you and speaking of Oriental style - the gift from her mum and dad was the most gorgeous Oriental design doona cover with matching pillows for her bed. In black, red and gold. She has longed to decorate her room in Asian style and now has her little corner of sophistication. Her books about China sit next to her bed. Today I hear her repeating words and phrases in Mandarin on the CD she is listening to which accompanies her Chinese dictionary. She is growing up. The days of pink and pastels are passing with the exception of this tea party!

Inspiration for the outside styling came from this book. I would not have known about this book if it wasn't for blogland. I didn't think I could possibly use that old table from the shed until I saw some of the photos of outdoor settings on the pages of this beautiful book. Old tables with white washed legs are transformed with linen and china tea cups. Rustic sophistication. I love this style! And it is perfect for vintage style tea parties. No need to spend a fortune at the hotels and restaurants in town for a high tea (hugely popular here but pricey) when you can recreate the same atmosphere at home. There is something very special about entertaining at home.

If you need recipe inspiration for a high tea here is the perfect book. The good old Australian Woman's Weekly have published a book called 'High Tea' packed with recipes for savoury and sweet delights and traditional favourites. This book belongs to one of the lovely ladies who attended my daughter's high tea on Sunday. It was lovely to browse through the recipes and we were even more excited at the prospect of hosting a tea party.

It was such a lovely afternoon - just a couple of hours but a beautiful way to celebrate the birthday of a beautiful daughter. Taking time for tea and conversation. Drinking from pretty china cups. Enjoying savoury and sweet little treats. We all need these little moments of beautiful respite in our lives. We enjoyed the experience so much we want to do it all again so I'm thinking of hosting another mother and daughter tea at my home. Maybe in the spring. We will invite more of the ladies to join us including some of the older ladies who I know would appreciate an invitation to a vintage style tea. You know what this means? I now have an excuse to visit more garage sales to hunt down tea cups and plates! A few more cake stands would be needed. Oh just the thought of another tea party. Even today, my daughter made us both a cup of tea. She used our 'new' tea cups found at the weekend garage sale and we sat outside and spent precious moments talking about her tea party and the lovely occasion it was. It wasn't the tea or the tea cups that made it special. It was precious to her because it made her feel special.

As Emilie Barnes shares in her book 'If Teacups Could Talk'-

'It's what happens when women or men or children make a place in their life for the rituals of sharing. It's what happens when we bother with the little extras that feed the soul and nurture the senses and make space for unhurried conversation. And when that happens, it doesn't really matter what fills the cup or holds the liquid. It really isn't the tea. It's the spirit of the tea party. And it is in that spirit that I hope you will join me.'

I'm so glad you could join me today and share in my memories. Perhaps one day I will be blessed to meet some of you dear ladies that read my blog and we will sip tea together or share over a cup of coffee - I would like that too! Let me know if this post has inspired you to host a tea party for someone special in your life.


Linda said...

Oh Ann, how beautiful! Now I'm really wishing for nice sunny days! I would love a little outdoor tea party like this. Thanks for the inspiration.

the happy sparrow said...

Ann - such a lovely post and a lovely party for your daughter. I enjoyed a vintage high tea party for my 30th and there is nothing quite like getting ladies together to enjoy and be spoilt drinking from pretty vintage cups! Thankyou for your lovely inspirational blog! I love reading your posts! :) Martine

A Bite of Country Cupcakes said...

It has taken me about 3 hours to read through this post with putting laundry on and off and changing nappies resettling bubba and all that needs doing and the whole time I so wanted to sit and continue to read of this lovely dainty occasion!
You both made it very special I am sure for the guests as much as the party girl!

Finding Joy said...

What a wonderful tea party. I just love all the cups and sauces, you certainly found a wide range at the op shop. And what a wonderful birthday cake, I love the idea of the decorations, that is brilliant.

Pam said...

Yes, this has definitely inspired me to have a vintage tea party for some one special... I am longing for my daughters to come and visit and we have a tendency to nonstop tea parties and talk. We are working on having a visit from them in the next month... I really praying...

I have a big collection of tea cups ( I think I might have a match or two to some of yours) and tea pots, and I like you love an excuse to shop at antique stores and garage sales for them, and then have an opportunity to use them. Happy Birthday to your daughter, and tell her thanks for letting us share in the fun.

Love Emily Barnes. I will have to look for your other two books... they look good.
Much Love,

primitive ole frugal mumma said...

Hello Anne oh what a beautiful tea party ,everythink looks lovley it all came together beautiful and how cute are the twins with there pretty little dresses on!!

Kristen, pajama mama said...

what a sweet party.

Right now, I'm trying to think of clever workbox ideas...and just now wondering why I never put "informal tea party" in one before...

we should have more teas, shouldn't we?

Joolz said...

What a lovely gift you gave your daughter, creating this wonderful party, with her and for her. How often to 14 year olds go to parties and have processed, store bought food full of rubbishy preservatives and flavourings? I bet there were plenty comments on the great food, it looked so gooooood! I really do love the idea of a vintage tea party - I may have to suggest it to my other sisters for my eldest sisters 60th - it would be lovely to invite some of her dear friends for afternoon tea with her.
My mum, now 81 years old, and a few of her friends each take it in turns to host afternoon teas at their houses. Her baking is not so good now so I made her some cherry shortbreads and apple & cinnamon muffins to offer her friends. It's nice to pay her back for things she has done for me over the years.

Cheers - Joolz

Shane Pollard said...

Oh Ann
What a magical theme for your daughter's fourteenth birthday.
She will forever treasure memories of this wonderful afternoon and no doubt tell stories to her own children one day! (getting ahead a bit)!!! we won't tell her that bit!

Everything looked perfect, I'm swooning over your beautiful teacups and what a bargain that silver was!!

All the touches - I love your prairie style table and the lovely planters on the wall!

A magical birthday cake - you are clever.
Has she got a little book of the photos and cards she received - it would be a sweet memento!

I love reading your sweet posts, one day when you have more time on your hands I hope you do some writing - let me know and I'll buy your first issue.

much love
and "happy birthday" to your darling girl.
Shane xx

Camille said...

Happy belated birthday to your precious girl! What a celebration!!! How pretty all those tea cups and suacers look...wonderful!! I *love* mismatched tea *country*.

Your little girls dresses and your *teenage* girl's dress are all lovely...what an inspiration to shop online!! :)

I so enjoyed reading how the LORD provided you with all those tea spoons and in a set no less!! How amazing those finds are and how wonderful to know that the LORD's hand is in it all.

Many blessings to you Ann!

Karen said...

That is so sweet I have 1 baby girl and can't wait to do the same. It all looks so lovely. New follower of your blog can't wait to get to know you and your family.

Suzanne said...

What a beautiful party Ann! Your girls are so sweet--my goodness those dresses on all three are just lovely. I love your comment at my blog about your husband liking digital photos--would you believe my husband bought me one of those contraptions for Christmas...LOL! Yes, still in the box too:-) I don't have the heart to tell him I don't like it:-( Ann, my dream home is an old English Tudor, maybe someday:-)

Renata said...

Just Beautiful!! I love the sweet party theme your daughter chose - so very pretty, feminine & memorable & what a wonderful job you & your family did with the decorating & catering! I think I feel inspired to have a tea party with Ellie - not now of course as she's in bed, but it's something I need to do. I haven't got that Emile Barnes book, but would love to get it one day!
Enjoy your precious family ~ I always enjoy visiting here & would love to meet in real life!

PS Happy Birthday to your daughter too!


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