Perhaps nothing says "garden party" like having afternoon tea outdoors. It's a charming reminder of bygone days and childhood make-believe. Outdoor spaces of all kinds, including balconies, can be successfully adapted to a tea party.
Tea parties span generations and will be enjoyed by your most sophisticated women friends or all giggling little girls of your acquaintance.
What makes an elegant tea party? Look at these factors.
Flowers Plan to hold your tea party when your garden is in its fullest bloom -- perhaps it's lilac time, June roses, or peony season. Be sure to cut some of blooms for tea table vases. If you don't have a garden, buy an armful of flowers at a farmers' market or stop by a country ditch and pick bunches of wild daisies and Queen Anne's lace.
Invitations Send handwritten notes by snail mail. Your guests will recognize your party as an elegant affair and dress accordingly! Typically, tea is held around 4 p.m. -- perfect for day-blooming flowers. Include an invitation for little ones to bring along a doll or teddy friend.
Table Setting The more elegant, better. Stash paper table covering and plastic glasses just for today. Instead, use a crisp linen tablecloth, pressed cloth napkins and your best bone china cups and saucers. If it's a little girls' party, you might want to invest in two or three miniature tea sets.
Try to have adequate seating for everyone. Consider setting your straight-back indoor dining chairs outdoors. They can add an elegant touch, whether left unadorned or covered with flowered chintz.
Hats Encourage all of your guests to wear hats -- big-brimmed, floppy and flowered. If party is for little girls, collect old hats, scarves and silk flowers at a thrift shop, yard sale or discount store. Make decorating hats a fun activity at party. You can also include a box of flowery cast-offs for dressing up. Include "grown-up" shoes and old jewellery -- anything that will make little ones feel elegant. Tea time is a fun way to introduce young ones to "elegant party" manners.