When I was about five or six, I received a miniature blue and white china tea set for Christmas. It came in a large cardboard box with a windowpane lid and each precious piece cradled in a flocked plastic tray.
As I opened the box that day, I felt like such a grown-up. I carefully took out each cup and saucer, and gingerly placed a tiny silver (plastic) spoon on the edge of each set. I poured tea (imaginary, of course) for the invited company – my older cousins, whom I adored – and made small talk while passing around miniature platters of arrowroot cookies.
I was a lady, pouring that imaginary tea. I felt interesting, witty, sophisticated – at least six-teen years old. I was the owner of fine china. I was a grown-up.
After the tea party, I carefully packed each piece back in the plastic tray and closed the windowpane lid. Each time I played with the dishes, I would always place them back ever-so-gently in that box, like a treasure chest. Over the years, it became so worn that I should have just thrown it away, but to me, it was as much a part of the set as the dishes themselves. The ritual of placing each precious piece back in the box completed the entire experience of mature responsibility.
I’m not sure what ever happened to that tea set. It makes me a little sad to think I’ll probably never see it again. But I’ll always have the memories.
Why not get in touch with your inner child by hosting your own tea party?
How to host the perfect vintage tea party:
Send the invitations
Set the table
Brew the tea
A “tea,” even though it be formal, is nevertheless friendly and inviting. One does not go in “church” clothes nor with ceremonious manner; but in an informal and every-day spirit, to see one’s friends and be seen by them.”
-Emily Post, “Etiquette”, 1922
1. Send the invitations:
Start your party off on an elegant note. Something simple is best, like correspondence cards with embossed designs or dainty floral graphics.
2. Make refreshments:
Tea sandwiches, bite-sized pastries, and small cakes are traditional tea party fare. Choose lighter versions for an informal affair, or go with more decadent ingredients, with a larger selection of savory items, for an afternoon high tea.
- Vintage Tea Party Cupcakes
- Afternoon Tea Scones
- Devonshire Cream
- Blueberry and Lemon Millefeuille
- Egg Custard Tarts
- French Almond Macaroons
- Pistachio Raspberry Tea Cakes
- Old Fashioned Tea-Time Milk Chocolate Cake
- 50 Tea Sandwiches
- Bacon and Goat Cheese Puffs
- Teensy Weensie Savoury Pies
- Mushroom, Capsicum, Olive, and Cheese Pinwheels
- Baked Proscuitto and Brie with Apple Butter
3. Set the table:
It all starts with the china…
Add some silver…
And pretty table linens…
4. Brew the tea:
Add the finishing touch to your vintage tea party with a silver tea ball…
Here are some tips on brewing the perfect pot of tea from Twinings of London. I expect they’ve learned a thing or two in their 300 years of experience.
Do you also have fond childhood memories of tea parties, or other make believe games?