For the colder half of the world sometimes January can bring on a winter slump. Christmas parties have ended, the snow is just beginning to pick up speed, what you thought was cold becomes colder, and there aren’t any holidays to look forward to in the forecast of the blustery months ahead. And though these pics didn’t happen in the cold part of the world, it’s when I thought it up–a January tea party. It happened to be the last year we lived in TN, fortunately for us a gift of a day reading 22 C on the thermometer of my January 22nd Winter Tea Party for the little girls in our lives.
For our theme I cut out snowflakes to hang, laid out white quilt batting/stuffing for snow, and set the table with a white cloth (mine is actually a blanket) and bluish accents, making for a cold, winterish feeling.
Because I like to keep it on the frugal side when preparing for a larger party of guests, I searched thrift stores for white tea cups and saucers (whether the cup and saucer matched was irrelevant), and hit Hobby Lobby (up here in Canada that would have to be Michael’s) for scrap book paper to serve as each place mat (all of 25 cents a sheet). One thing you must be sure of…don’t go to Hobby Lobby or Michael’s empty-handed. Bring a 40% off coupon with you, and every one of your children lined up behind you with an item each to get the same deal (it works you know!)
Posted on the white board was the prayer for us to sing together, set to the tune of the Doxology. The lyrics are “Be present at our table Lord. Be here and everywhere adored. Our family bless, and grant that we, may spend our lives in serving thee. Amen”
Our serviette holders I made from toilet rolls. ( I’m starting to get a complex on the toilet roll obsession and children’s’ crafts if you’ve seen my Advent post and our Nativity set made this way). For the holders, I cut them to size and glued on a piece of felt (from the dollar store or craft store), then glued on a simple snowflake emblem (again, from a dollar store package).
I found using wooden skewers for the fruit the easiest way for little hands to handle the fruit rather than many hands sharing germs over a fruit tray. My mum’s famous scone recipe was the feature on the table alongside the jams, curd, and butter, in their own wee dishes at either end of the table so no one had to reach too far. And at that, we were also introduced to the proper please and thank-yous of table etiquette, courtesy of our own dear friend, Mrs. Manners, come to share tea etiquette with our little ones before we prayed and set to sipping.
These edible mugs of hot chocolate were made from large marshmallows with melted chocolate on top, adorned with coloured sprinkles, and half a peppermint Life Saver candy (glued with icing) as the handle of the mug.
To make tea choices easiest for guests we lined up the pots of tea, labeled with the type/flavour of tea on a little white place card in front of the pot. I tried my best to find enough tea cozies, or even better, tea warmers (with a candle in the base) to keep the pots warm for some time. And maybe you want to also keep the kettle going to fill up pots as the party progresses, or even to offer other teas or tisanes that weren’t used in the selected pots of tea.
The winter crafts decided upon for the occasion were a paper doily fan and a pearl necklace. The fan idea was easy and a hit among the girls. Since so many of us were into going to Civil War Era Balls down south together as families, and having learned a lot about fan language from one family, I thought it would be a cute addition to our craft session, and a practical item the girls could bring along to the next Ball if they wanted (because dancing really does make one work up a sweat!)
For the pearl necklaces, I really had no plan, no instructions. I just knew I wanted to try my hand at jewelry making for the very first time with a houseful of guests as my guinea-pigs. How very thought out and organized of me you say? Well, fortunately we were able to rely on a family attending who were more than familiar with this art form and helped us immensely along the way of crafting our jewels. My advice for anyone else with big ideas but no experience: research before heading to Hobby Lobby/Michael’s so you’re not standing with open jaw in the jewelry-making aisle gaping ignorantly at all the minuscule bags of this n’ that which somehow, used correctly, will adhere all your pieces together in the end.
But as you can see, the pieces did come together well, and I bought (mostly) the right tools to do it. The girls were thrilled with their hand-made creations to adorn their pretty dresses with at the next Ball.
I happened to own a tea cup and saucer-shaped planter (how convenient!) that I was able to use for our Tea Bag Toss game on the deck. Ah, memories of warmth in January. Is there such a thing? I mean look at those girls in short sleeves, and some in bare feet even!
While mamas sipped more tea and chatted, we had one last party game of Pass the Present. The girls sat in a circle passing a multi-wrapped present to the music, and when the music stopped the one holding the present would madly (I’m not sure we incorporated any lady-like agenda for this game) try to tear open one layer of paper. This went on until the present was exposed, which of course, had to be none other than a box of tea.
For a loot bag type ending to the party, you may want to send your guests off with a packaged treat to eat en route home or for tea that night. For us we chose to make sugar cookie snowmen decorated with two simple sprinkles for the eyes and one for the nose, colouring the icing blue for the hat, then wrapping it all up in small cellophane bags to-go. But in the busy-ness of the tea party, don’t forget these party give-aways. Make sure you leave them close to the door your guests will be departing from so you can hand them out as they leave.
I’m not sure I can repeat quite what we pulled off that January two years ago, nor am I sure I could convince my own girls, let alone find little girls, who want to dress up in sweet party dresses (which are downright hard to find anyway in this neck of the woods), but the goal has been set for a re-do of sorts for a January…okay, maybe February tea party. I’ll keep you posted.