- Food and Cooking
How to throw a French-themed Tea Party
As a tea lover you are part of a community of millions of people who enjoy and cherish a cup of tea at any time of the day. But drinking tea by yourself on a daily basis can be a bit lonely. If that’s the case, why not host a modern day tea party? Invite a group of your closest girlfriends to your home for a chat and a “spot of tea”, as the English ladies would say. I know what you’re thinking, “But tea parties are so dull!”
You couldn’t be more wrong. Tea parties are not just for sweet old ladies gathered around a table, chatting away about their beloved grandchildren. They can be hip and fun, filled with the latest music and, if you like, themed to add a bit of spice to your gathering. To make the idea more appealing here are a few tips and ideas on to start your own tea party tradition.
Invite with style
Invitations are like tiny messenger boys dressed in the finest clothing, ready to deliver the best message to the world; so the best way to present your invitations is undoubtedly with a personal touch. Let’s start off by getting in tune with your own artistic side.
If your party is French-themed, this should reflect in the nature of your invitation. Here’s a great example:
French postcard invitations:
What you need:
· Poster board - $1.19 at hobbylobby.com
· Small size vintage pictures of Paris or anything French(printed)
· a Fancy pen if you know how to write in cursive or you can print the letters
A stamp; or if you want it to be rustic, buy a rubber stamp. -$11.98 at http://www.ebay.com
What to do:
This is a simple design so it doesn’t take much effort. Cut your poster board in half to make a postcard. If you couldn’t find brown poster board that’s okay, you can age normal cardboard by using brewed coffee, a baking pan to hold your poster board, a paintbrush and hair dryer. Paint the paper with your brewed tea or coffee until it’s all soaked up, then dry your paper with the hairdryer… Hey presto! You have aged brown paper.
Back to making your invitations - take your chosen picture of Paris and cut it to size to fit in the corner of your postcard. Now comes the difficult part if you opted to handwrite the message.
Include in the message where the tea party will take place, the time and the dress code (vintage French). If you like, you can include a cute poem or quote, for example, “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me. ~C.S. Lewis. This is a small touch just to add a bit of je ne se quois to your beautiful invitations. To make it more decorative find some brown string and a teabag (make sure you punch a hole in it) and thread the string through the teabag to tie around your postcard.
Step back and feel proud of your beautiful creation! Now post the invitations and as you wait for the excited phone calls and texts from your girlfriends, take the time to plan your outfit.
Dress like the French
There are so many eras you can choose from when it comes to dressing like the French. As you know, France is home to some of the world’s best dressed people and throughout history has ruled and conquered in style. Take Queen Marie Antoinette for example; one of the most controversial – yet fashionable – members of the royal family in French history. Messy politics aside, she is often one of the first names associated with opulent French elegance and definitely a style choice to consider. Even though it might strike you as a bit over the top at first, it is a symbol to your hierarchy as hostess and Queen of the Tea Party.
If Marie Antoinette is too avant-garde for you, then take inspiration from the vintage French influence of Coco Chanel in the years 1920’s to 1940’s.
Parisian life in the 1920s was referred to as “Années Folles"(roaring twenties) – a very appropriate name, as it was a new beginning post World War I and Parisians were roaring with high spirits and jubilation. With this new lease on life France also went through a revolutionary fashion wave of change as women gained new respect and independence. With such inspiration you could honor these revolutionary women and dress in their attire a la Coco Chanel and Christian Dior. As a Fashionista tea Queen these iconic names should be familiar to you. Now you don’t have to go out and get a Chanel or Dior original, unless you have a couple thousand lying around; but if you don’t, you can copy the style for a more affordable price.
Coco Chanel was all about over-sized glasses and faux fur (we say faux because real fur is wrong) and of course the vintage lacy dress. So as long as you have those three items then you are set to channel your inner Chanel.
What to wear:
Sunglasses: To look the part, a pair of black over-sized sunglasses is a must! This is a timeless fashion statement and, as a bonus, will also protect your delicate eyes from the harsh UV rays of the sun.
This fashionable pair would cost you $22. An affordable price compared to the pricey Coco Chanel original, which would set you back $365.
Faux fur or, if it’s hot outside, a lace bolero. For chilly winds opt for the faux fur; not only would you be warding off the biting breeze but you will be looking haute while doing so.
If you are hosting your party in a warmer climate, rather go for a lacy bolero to complement your vintage-styled dress.
And now for the Pièce de résistance, the one item that that will make you stand out - your dress. Coco Chanel was all about flowing and feminine material. This beautiful ensemble captures the essence of Coco Chanel with the lacy touches and soft colour which really complements a woman’s body.
With your style in check you are now ready to decorate your tea party area. The best place to have it is outdoors, especially if it’s a beautiful sunny day. Sticking to the French theme, why not go for a café-inspired design? France is known for its quaint and rustic corner cafes. Chalk board signs that announce today’s specials and bread baskets filled with mouth-watering bread rolls, these Cafes’ set the mood of French ambience.
What to do:
To get your own French café set up your table, or tables (depending on how many guests you are expecting), with pretty fabric. This can be found at any fabric store or visit the top fabric stores online. When decorating your tables, remember that simple is better (and more affordable). Use old wine bottles with the labels removed and place fresh flowers inside them or, for an even more vintage feel, use an old watering can as a flower vase. To give it a real cafe look, go to your nearest hardware store. If the store doesn’t stock it go online and visit etsy.com to order mini chalkboards to place on your table. These adorable chalk boards will not only bear the menu, they’ll also be a great parting gift. Well done! Your tables look vintage vogue and ready for a brilliant day with friends.
The most important part of a tea party is the food and tea (finally!). The best items to serve your guests are savoury finger foods and a truckload of delicious and delectable desserts. For starters try serving the usual and not-so-hard to make mini pastries such as mini sausage rolls, tiny wraps and cute sandwiches. To make your tea party a bit more interactive, ask guests to bring their favourite dish and desserts with them. And this way you won’t have to do all the work (wink).
Make sure you have a variety of teas, as everyone has different tastes. If you’re unsure which ones to go with, here are the top 5 teas to help you decide:
Black tea: Black tea is the second most popular drink after water, making it an obvious choice to serve to your guests.
Rooibos: Made from the rooibos shrubs that grow in Nederburg, South Africa, this tea offers a soothing element and strong rich scents from its tea leaves. This is a lovely exotic tea to serve your guests and transport them into ‘wild Africa’
Green tea: The traditional Chinese green tea will be popular amongst your guests who believe in its health benefits, so serve it and hear your girlfriends praise you for your healthy tea choices.
White tea: White tea is another Chinese brand that is becoming a fast trend in the world, so be in the hip and happening circle and serve your ladies this delicious tea.
Oolong tea: Also known as wulong tea, is often scented with jasmine flowers so your guests will appreciate its floral scent...
Although it is a tea party you don’t have to only serve tea! Get a little mischievous and add cocktails to the menu; it’s something deliciously devilish to add to such a lady-like event. But a girl’s got to do what a girl’s got to do!
We are almost at the end to your French party guide and what a ride it has been. The last tip left is the soul of the party, the heart beat to our feet – the music. This is very important and to make the party even more of an affaire Française (that means French affair… getting fancy now!) how about adding a mix of some beautiful modern and classic French music from artists such as:
Your French music selection will surely set a cultured mood as you and your friends will feel as though you’re sitting at a cafe near the French Riviera, dressed to the nines and eating the finest pastries. With that, I leave you with these parting words; Life is like a cup of tea, it’s all in how you make it so VIVA LA VIDA!