So You Think You Can Host a Tea Party?

A very merry unbirthday to us all

It all started with this: “Hey, I’m just going to host a little luncheon.”

Suddenly, my living room was like the ball pit at Chuck E. Cheese, filled with giant dahlia-like pom poms made out of tissue paper.

Flashback to a month ago. When I innocently decided to throw a little tea party, I asked my friend Maria, who is an event-planning phenom (Pink Peach Events), what I needed for such an occasion.

Here’s part of our exchange:

Maria: The thing with tea parties is that the food and desserts are miniature and require a lot of detail on the presentation. That being said, the success of a tea party is the food/drink. You will need to put a menu together – tea sandwiches, light foods such as salads, light finger foods, scones and pastries, mini muffins…

Me: Uh, I have some questions that are going to make me sound like I should be having a hog wrestling party in a trailer park instead. But what exactly is a tea sandwich? Are those the dinky sandwiches with the crusts cut off? If so, maybe I shouldn’t be having a tea party because those sandwiches deserve to get beaten up in the school yard by hot dogs and real food. Just joking. But not really.

In any case, here’s how it went down, how to do it, what didn’t work and where to get the goods:

Theme: Mad Hatter Unbirthday Tea Party

My guest-list consisted of 20 fabulous ladies. I initially went on a hunt in Value Village and Goodwill for tea cups but found it more convenient (and cheaper) to rent them. I rented tea cups and saucers, milk jugs and cream jars from Gervais Rentals in Scarborough. I also borrowed adorable tea pots, dessert plates, white table cloths and cake plates from Pink Peach Events.

Notes on the menu

Celery filled with herbs and garlic cream cheese and grape wrapped in goat cheese and crushed pistachios; pita pizzas with prosciutto, organic arugula, fresh basil and sundried tomatoes.

I ordered a variety of tea sandwiches and an antipasto platter from Shopsy’s Deli. The smoked salmon and cream cheese sandwich rolls were the first to disappear.

One of my favourite easy-to-make hors d’oeuvres are grapes coated in goat cheese and crusted with pistachios (Recipe: Wrap red grapes in goat cheese, roll in crushed pistachio nuts).

I chose six varieties of loose-leaf teas from Tea Blendz, including toasted caramel rooibos, earl grey cream and vanilla bean cupcake, with individual tea filter papers so that the guests could sample a few. The jar containing honey pistachio biscotti was empty by 3 p.m. Really empty. Like someone had sucked up every last leaf.

Crucial to every tea party? Ridiculous hats. Oh and tea.

The cupcakes

I don’t fool around with cupcakes. I’m a cupcake Nazi. I judge cupcake contests. If the cupcake isn’t light and moist, then it’s a muffin. I ordered dark chocolate cupcakes topped with whipped chocolate buttercream from Frost Confections. The frosting, made with Lindt couverture chocolate was deliciously smooth and the cakes were filled with hazelnut ganache. I kept them at room temperature overnight and they were still wonderfully moist the following day. One of the best (if not the best) cupcakes that I’ve ever had. And they were beloved by the guests.

I skewered marshmallows and strawberries on candy lollipop sticks (from Bulk Barn), dipped them in melted milk chocolate chips and decorated them in white chocolate and yellow sprinkles. I stuck the sticks in a box filled with styrofoam covered with ruched tissue paper.

The tea pots

In the shape of elephants and camels. Awesome. From Peach Pink Events.

The party favours

I emptied out boxes of matches, lined them with tissue paper and decorated the box with printed paper. Each box, I filled with M&M’s.

Hand-crafted matchbox party favours

The popcorn cones

Here’s the template that I used for my popcorn cones which I filled with sweet and salty kettlecorn.

Popcorn cones!

The pom poms

I hung these from the ceiling with fishing line. There are instructions on Martha Stewart’s website on how to make the dahlia-like pom-poms. Smaller ones, in my opinion look better. The larger ones look like McDonald’s Fry Kids — if the tissue paper is not thick enough, the petals flop over at the ends. The cream-coloured ones were gorgeous. I also made purple ones to mix with white lanterns to hang over the dessert table.

Tissue paper pom poms!

The “Eat Me” Tags

My best friend cut out all of these tags, stuck them together and affixed them to toothpicks. (God bless her patient and crafty soul.)

Sexy man servant

I gave my SMS a list of duties which included refilling all of the teapots with hot water, clearing tables and restocking the food. He wore white gloves – hilarious – and did everything. It made a huge difference not having to host. God bless his sexy man servant soul.

The wardrobe

My dress and fascinator, courtesy of Fashion Crimes on Queen Street. I added feathers and a hot pink birdcage veil (purchased at Sussman’s).

Kerry‘s hat, aka Swirly, courtesy of hat designer, Jorge Midence of Midence Oliu Millinery.

Contacts in the Greater Toronto Area:

Frost Confections: 416-726-4180, info@frostconfections.com

Pink Peach Events:  http://twitter.com/pinkpeachevents/

Tea Blendz: 2877 Dundas Street West, 647-346-2307, info@teablendz.com

Gervais Rentals: 1-888-GERVAIS, sales@gervaisrentals.com

Shopsy’s: 416-365-3333, catering@shopsys.ca

Fashion Crimes: 322 1/2 Queen Street West, 416-592-9001

Midence Oliu Millinery: info@oliumillinery.com

Ivy Lee Designs: Custom created the purple table cloths to fit the colour scheme and table sizes.

The dessert table, aka, the only table that matters.

Special thanks to my girlfriends for all of their help and for joining me. I am the luckiest person in Canada to have amazing friends with such outrageous headgear.

Hope the tips help anyone wondering how to host a tea party.

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4 thoughts on “So You Think You Can Host a Tea Party?

  1. Tina

    Darn it, I missed out on those delicous dark chocolate cupcakes… reading your description of it made me salivate. Wish I had taken at least one bite of it!! Jessica, you’re right to be jealous. The food and decor were both excellent!!

  2. Mary Nersessian

    I looooove everything about this party. Honestly. I collect tea cups, and I’m obsessed with Alice in Wonderland, and my sister and I have recently started selling cupcake toppers, so this was a real treat to see! You’re talented!

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