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Hosting A Valentines Day Tea Party
You are cordially invited to a tea in your honor
Why a Valentine's Tea?
Following the excitement of the December and January holidays, February is one of those months that could be considered dull. However, Valentine’s Day is a cheery day to look forward to break up the last of winter’s cold. Do you recall your grade school days when the bright red hearts with silly sentiments were passed around? Well, one way adults can celebrate it with friends is to host a Valentine Tea honoring their friendship.
What color scheme to use for your tea?
Red, pink and white are the colors associated with Valentines, so you want to include those in your theme. Along with displays of floral teapots, cups and saucers, you can add lacy tablecloths, pink cloth napkins, and small vases of rose buds in various shades of pink, white, and red.
Have enough space in the sitting area so guests can move freely without chairs or elbows bumping into another person. A long, formal table may work if you have a large home. Smaller square tables gathered close together, such as card tables, may also work with a nice tablecloth over it.
Foods to serve:
If your guests have not attended a tea party before yours, you will want to serve recipes that are elegant, but familiar. Depending on how much time you have to prepare you can make these recipes yourself or buy the pastries from a reputable baker. Personally, I like to make my own.
A variety of foods, keeping your guests special needs in mind, are what makes a tea party interesting. Foods that they would not necessarily make for themselves, and keeping the servings small, and easy to handle, are two important points to consider. Certainly, if you are aware that a guest is vegetarian, you won’t want to exclude some delicious vegetable choices. Seafood, such as smoked salmon or shrimp, is a good choice however, it is important to keep in mind that many people have allergies to crustaceans. Remember: the food can either be served at the table or set up buffet style.
And, on the subject of allergies, be sure to let your friends know what ingredients are made with some of the other more common food allergies, such as wheat, or nuts.
Buffet of foods:Click thumbnail to view full-size
Make a menu and plan ahead
The best part about having a tea is that you don't have to cook separately from feeding the rest of the family. Without good organization you can have regular family meals, but in larger quantities about a week ahead of the party, tuck away the leftovers in the refrigerator, and then start preparations by thawing these foods the day or two before the party.
For my main menu I included:
(Leftover) sliced roast beef on toasted, sliced baguette with mushroom and tomato slice.
Chopped shrimp salad on cucumber slices.
Smoked salmon on toasted baguette.
And, mini phylo cups with leftover roast chicken made into a salad with chopped cherries.
For my dessert tray I made:
Valentine shaped sugar cookies-an easy cutout recipe from a Betty Crocker package.
Strawberry Stacks using a frozen puff pastry and fresh strawberries.
Bottom of My Heart Valentine Cookies.
And, Orange Cranberry Muffins with a marscapone topping.
Most of the ingredients were easy to find in the grocery store and what I could not, I improvised. I changed some of the traditional recipes, such as a chicken salad, and added a fresh cherry and walnuts to replace chopped celery.
When you are the host of the party you have the opportunity to serve both traditional foods and something new. That's what makes attending a tea party so exciting...you never know what you will be experiencing.
What type of tea?
There are so many types of tea, the sky is the limit. You can take into consideration your guests preferences, if you happen to know what they may be; or, you can set the tea selection-bagged or loose, as a buffet and allow them to choose. I would include a Breakfast Tea, an Earl Grey, herbal selections, and a green tea.
If you happen to be lucky enough to have someone from the family act as a server, that is an ideal situation-then you can also sit back and enjoy the party. Another way to handle serving, is to designate, or ask for volunteers, at each table. Of course, as hostess you will be overseeing the process for fresh water, sweeteners, and cream.
Music or conversation?
It's always more enchanting, I believe, to attend a tea party with live chamber music. In most cases, unless your affair happens to be a bit more formal. But, music and conversation go well together and it certainly is just as easy to add some quiet, background music to the room. It helps to break up the lull between talk, and it acts to soothe any jitters there may be.
Select a nice classical CD or perhaps soft jazz. Put the player out of the way of the guests, in an area that won't become a nuisance to get to when changing CD's.