Friday, June 01, 2012

Comfortable Afternoon Tea


Mrs. Wilson
by Robert William Vonnoh, 1858-1933, American


All these pictures and paintings depict an easy, informal afternoon tea. The only formal feeling that you get is from the presentation and the tea cups. You see here ladies gathered informally by a window, and children outside taking tea at a table. Note the children sharing  their milk  with the kittens nearby.
by Frank Write Bourdillon (English, born in India, 1851-1924)

Seating for everyone, including children.


Those people unfamiliar with the Afternoon Tea gathering may feel that it is too stiff and formal, but my experience is that it is comfortably informal. The only formal things about it are the nice settings and beautifully laid out food.





The most formal part of the event was the tea set.


Wildflowers in a jelly jar just match the label, another formal but informal touch for this gathering.
It is always interesting to find things growing outside to put in a can or jar with a label that matches. While it is wonderful if you can afford the cut flowers from the floral section of the grocery store, it costs nothing to provide your own. Even if you have no flowers growing, try green things like mint, laurel, Queen Anne's lace and other "weeds."


Deli-prepared lunch brought by the some of the guests  made it easier for everyone

Visitors brought sliced foods from the deli and plenty of raw vegetables, fruits and dips, to which everyone helped themselves. Note the pretty square plates and plastic "silver" ware. These inexpensive additions create a special, formal yet relaxed feeling to the tea-luncheon.  Several ladies who came had large families and they insisted on bringing huge amounts of food, which was very welcome.

There were 10 ladies and 12 children attending this Afternoon Tea, and the children's tea was provided on picnic tables outside. That way, they had more freedom and more room, on the great expanse of lawn.

The lovely silverware also comes from a dollar store, and I wanted to let you know that you can often get real stainless steel, made in USA there, sometimes 2 or three pieces for a dollar.  
A small dining table placed in the foyer area for extra serving and seating.  I find it is best not to have a formal program at showers or teas, but to allow guests to serve themselves and to visit freely.


23 comments:

Gayle said...

Wonderful tips as always,and I love your living room,it is so pretty with all the beautiful little touches.

Gayle said...

What wonderful tips,and I love your livingroom.It is so pretty with all the little touches that make it a haven.I will be hanging on to those jelly jars from now on.

Gayle said...

Wonderful tips as always,and I love your living room,it is so pretty with all the beautiful little touches.

amulbunny's random thoughts said...

My daughter went to high tea at a lovely hotel in Chicago. She enjoyed it and every time she goes back to Chicago, she and her friend attend high tea.

Did you get the "Tea Lovers Devotions to Go"? I am enjoying it on my Kindle.

Anonymous said...

I love your ball fringe curtains. Did you make them yourself? Very pretty.

Anonymous said...

So pretty! I like the pictures and the ideas, especially the one about putting something like mint out for decoration. Mint grows like a weed in my garden so I will definitely give that a try!

LadyLydia said...

Yes I attached the ball fringe to the 120 inch wide muslin I used for curtains. Somewhere on sewing links there are instructions for making them or for attaching the fringe on anything.

Homeschool on the Croft said...

My mum, and my mother in law are both down-to-earth crofter-born ladies, but neither would drink their tea from anything but a china cup and saucer. I grew up (as did most of my friends) with these china tea-sets as part of our lives.

I have to confess that I have mugs of tea, but even my mugs have to be China Mugs .... does that count? ;)
A x

Mrs. B said...

I LOVE it when you show us pics of your lovely home and when you have others over for tea. :o)

Anonymous said...

Lydia,
thank you for sharing your tea experiences with us.

Some of my most successful teas have been potluck style. People seem to enjoy themselves more when they contribute.

Thank you for sharing the lovely tea scenes with us. So encouraging.
It was fun seeing the children dressed so nicely and having fun on the lawn.

Mrs. J.

LadyLydia said...

Mrs. A. I'm prepared to give Crofters special executive privileges regarding tea cups.

Anonymous said...

This is delightful, Lydia. I wish I could come have tea with you! I love the idea of the jelly jar used to hold matching-colored flowers, with the lid retained for an accent. So creative!

Joluise said...

As a child we often visited people on Sunday afternoons and enjoyed afternoon teas, some very informal others very formal that required sitting very still and eating like a lady. I prefer the informal sorts as an adult! My dad (a retired farmer) never liked to drink out of those china cups, the tea goes cold too quickly and they aren't big enough, but he endured it when out and behaved like a gentleman that he was!

My sons have taken me on several occasions to formal afternoon teas at one of the hotels, very classy but lots of fun!

LadyLydia said...

I find it best to let people just visit and walk around serving themselves rather than being formal. That way I can still use the tea cups and create an appearance of formality, while letting everyone visit and eat informally. I don't care for games at showers and get togethers, and always felt that ladies would just rather talk. At this gathering they just took their food and cup of tea to a place of their choice to sit.

LadyLydia said...

Jolouise I enjoy those formal, commercial teas held in hotels as they do such a fine job.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for explaining how you made the curtains. I priced muslin and ball fringe at Walmart and I plan to make ball fringe curtains for the three windows in my bedroom to use over roller shades. I have a Laura Ashley "inspiration photo" of a bedroom with ball fringe curtains hung over a roller shade covered with a floral chinz fabric. Beautiful!

Judith said...

What beautiful paintings and photos as well. You give such wonderful inspiration. I am going to a tea this afternoon, so this was a timely post.

Anonymous said...

Lydia,

How does the ball fringe hold up to washing and drying? I have to be able to wash my curtains a lot because we have asthma and allergies. I saw ball fringe curtains in a curtain catalog a couple of years ago, and I liked them very much, but they were too costly in my opinion. And then there's the allergy factor...

LadyLydia said...

I am not sure but I know ball fringe was once only something you could get on a bedspread or curtain at an antique store. Even as old as it was, and is, those things are still in great shape. My curtains have been hanging there at least 10 years and there is no sign of wear. However I don't know how often others would put their curtains in the washer and dryer. The muslin responds really well to bleach or stain sprays in the wash and comes out looking so bright. As this is a west window with full sun, the curtain just keeps getting more bleached by the sun.

Anonymous said...

What a lovely room in which to have a tea party! I really like the look of white furniture. Thank you for allowing your readers to see the details of your party - very nice.

By the way, how does one solve the dilemma of decorating around the television set? I only have a living room and a very small one at that. If you or any of the other ladies have suggestions, I would be most grateful. (And, no, DH would veto any plan to chuck the TV out! ;)

Kind regards from,

Susan T.

Anonymous said...

Your home is so lovely, I really enjoyed the photos of the tea scenes also. This post lifted me up today!

Anonymous said...

To Susan T.

I have laid a pretty tablecloth over the top of my old box tv and add a few small figurines or stacked books when trying to conceal it.

A wall unit, armoire, bookcase or china hutch with doors works well to conceal a tv.

If you didn't mind building a niche into a wall you could conceal it with a painting also. That way even the wires and plugs could be concealed.

I'm guessing if the tv were a wall mounted flat screen, you might disguise it by hanging a curtain across it.

I'd be interested in hearing other ideas too.
Mrs. J

Anonymous said...

Thank you for these very good ideas, Mrs. J. Television sets are nice to have when you want to watch a movie or the local weather report. They just don't fit in at tea parties!

Kind regards,

Susan T.

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