Friday, January 20, 2012
Tea Party: pretty doesn't have to mean pricey!
My girls have been enjoying little tea parties with my mom...they get to use pretty tea cups and add their own milk and sugar. They snack on shortbread cookies or "crumpets." It's a wonderful memory I know they will always treasure. So when my younger daughter asked for a tea party-themed 6th birthday party, I was not surprised, and I was quite delighted! Right away, I began looking up ideas online. A few friends suggested visiting the pinterest website, so I made my way over...and after about three hours, my head was spinning and I was completely overwhelmed! I can knit and cross-stitch, but I am not otherwise creative or crafty. I saw many gorgeous professionally-taken photos of extravagant tea parties. One was for a one-year-old, and I am guessing at least $5000 was shelled out for cakes, favors, decorations, other food and exquisite photos. Lovely, but I'm sorry, I can't afford something like that! So I went back to my list of ideas and decided that would have to do. Especially since my daughter's list included 13 girls! So here is the story of our tea party:
We made our own invitations by googling teapot clip art, printing a picture of a teapot, tracing it on pastel colored heavy paper, and cutting each one out.
I typed the party info in a pretty font and printed it on white paper, used krinkle cut scissors to give a pretty edge, and glued the info to the middle of the teapot. Finally, we made little tea bag tags with additional information (wear gloves & dress up jewelry, bring a doll, etc) and attached the tag to the teapot with a piece of string. Since the invitations were rather large, we hand-delivered the them to each guest. All but one guest RSVP'd with a YES and they all commented on the cute invitations (which, by the way, my 6 and 7 year old daughters traced and glued on their own...I helped with a little cutting, but otherwise, the girls were responsible for these.)
For decorations, I found a pink and silver garland to hang across the dining room entranceway...$1 at a local dollar store. My biggest "splurge" was on balloons...$12 for 3 mylar and 4 pink latex balloons, and I realize now that 2 pink latex outside and 1 mylar inside would have been plenty!) I used a good white table cloth on the dining room table and another white linen cloth on a card table (set up touching the dining room table, to accommodate all the guests.)
I used crystal and silver and china: candle stick holders, plates and platters, figurines, etc. (My girls had fun helping me set up, even participating in polishing the silver.) I found a pink hyacinth and a pink tulip for $3 each. We made our own placecards. I set a little decorative coffee table with doilies and teacups. We went to the Salvation Army and found old white glass cups with handles, 5 for 99 cents!!
As the girls arrived, we took the coats and set them on the stairs ("preventing" escapees from going upstairs to play during the party). Gifts went on the piano bench in the living room, and the girls and their dolls were invited to the family room to color (classical Baroque music playing in the background.) We had printed four different types of tea party themed coloring pages for the girls and put them in a basket with crayons. This kept the girls busy while waiting for the other guests to arrive.
Once everyone arrived, we made sure each guest was introduced to one another and they made their own treat bags: paper bag, paper doily, glue, markers. Fold a doily in half, lay it over the edge of the bag and glue. Use markers to write name and decorate.
Next, they made paper fans: construction paper, doily, glue, scissors, 1/2 a pipe cleaner. Cut doily in half lay on paper at an angle with points touching top edge and glue down. Fan fold. Pinch end without doily and use 1/2 pipe cleaner piece to secure. Note: only 5 of the girls could make these on their own, the others needed help.
Next, we played "pin the crown on the princess" game...$1 at the dollar store. It came with the gameboard, 12 crowns, and a blindfold. All I needed was tape! They loved the game and insisted that I take a turn.
Next, I we sat in a circle on the floor and I read them "Miss Spider's Tea Party" by David Kirk. They were a wonderful audience and listened attentively. When the book was done, I used a very quiet voice to set the tone/mood before we headed into the dining room...this was a fancy, elegant party. We are all lovely ladies. I told them about some of the pieces on the dining room table, that they had belonged to my grandmothers and great-grandmothers. The girls were intrigued and couldn't wait to start the tea party!
I led the way to the dining room and had the girls find their placecard. They sat down and I explained that they could take home their own teacup, their placecard, the necklace, umbrella, star wand and napkin ring (a costume jewelry ring). Note: necklaces were 6 for $1, umbrellas 24 for $1, wands 12 for $1 and rings 8 for $1 all at the dollar store!!!
I showed them how to "steep" the tea...I showed them the teabags and the empty teapots. I filled the teapots with boiling water and they peeked at the water as it changed color as the tea steeped. We passed around a tray of fruit kabobs (my girls made these ahead with grapes, watermelon pieces and strawberries),
chocolate and pink marshmallow cookies ($1 for a box at the dollar store), pink sugar wafers, shortbread cookies (again $1 a box at the dollar store)...I arranged these on doilies on silver trays to look pretty. We also had pretzel rods which my girls had dipped in melted white chocolate and swirled in colorful sprinkles and "mousse" which was chocolate pudding we made and put into plastic parfait cups (I think these were $1 for a 5-pack at the dollar store). I gave the girls the option of whipped cream on top.
Then we poured the tea and the girls passed around two little creamer and sugar sets, one china and one silver.
We used sugar cubes to be extra fancy and the girls loved them! I also had a glass pitcher of apple juice for those who didn't care for tea.
Finally, I brought out a glass platter of mini heart-shaped cakes...I had made white single-layer cakes, frosted them with light pink frosting, decorated with a little layer of sugar sprinkles and then used a heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut 13 mini cakes. I put a candle in one and we sang happy birthday to my daughter. The girls oohed and ahhed over the little cakes (*idea taken from American Girl restaurant.)
As the girls finished eating, I brought them their treat bags to collect their goodies. I rinsed and dried their teacups for them. Then they went to the basement to play for the last 7 minutes or so of the party.
My daughters said they had a lot of fun, and many of the guests made sweet comments during the party, from "This is the BEST tea party ever!" to "You have the loveliest house!"
I know it is a party my girls will always remember...and so will I! And I think my husband's favorite part is it cost $50 or less!!