Hosting teas or gatherings for friends is a rewarding way to serve others. Last month, garden club ladies and additional friends met here for a tea themed luncheon. It has become a tradition these past 5 years to host this luncheon. Hosting the tea in April captures our old garden roses in their spring flush. The anticipation of this upcoming event motivates me to spend more time in the garden, clean house and try new recipes. I look forward to laughter and sweet fellowship. If you have a heart for hospitality, you’ve probably opened your home in various ways. If you have a yearning to do so, I’d like to share seven suggestions for hosting your special event.
These suggestions will follow your initial planning of your event and include things to make final preparations more enjoyable while using your creative personalized touch.
1. Utilize what you have. I collect pretty dishes and linens and am happy for an excuse to use them. You may have treasures tucked away that you haven’t thought about for a while. Dust them off and enjoy them! I wash the linens a week in advance. Using Revive, a linen spray, I flatten them on the ironing board because I do not enjoy ironing. Arrange the fresh linens on your clean sideboard, buffet, or table and let the fun begin!
Have fun pairing dishes together and don’t worry if everything matches. My first set of china was a set of china samples from a local shop closeout sale. I got the plates for $1 each so I snatched over 12 dinner and dessert plates. Each pattern is beautiful and I love using them all in the same table setting.
A few years later we found a 12 piece place setting of pink china for $50 that is perfect to use in spring and summer. It is a reproduction of Lady Carlyle by Royal Albert. This pattern pairs well with our blue depression glass bubble dishes. Years ago, Mother found a four piece table setting of pink Fostoria glasses and pretty china bowls at estate auctions, and passed them to me as a gift. Everything has a story and often evokes a fond memory of someone you love. That’s one of the joys of collecting old things.
Think about using keepsakes, special gifts, yard sale finds or other pretties that may be put away in drawers or cupboards. Pull out a few key pieces and add things to complement them. Mix and match pretty crystal, silver, pottery or glassware.
2. Keep it simple. My thoughts fill with intentions. I strive to implement a few new ideas, and rely on others that have worked in the past. This year simple for me was to not make any recipes I had planned. Several guests volunteered to bring unexpected dishes which allowed me to focus on other things. (like cleaning the house!) Keeping it simple reduces stress, allows you to enjoy the process and enjoy your guests!
Another example of simple for me this year was to use the extra favors we had printed for past teas. The paper mementos hold chocolate and other sweets, and suggest the message, “You are special.” You can find ideas for favors, tea time paper ideas, and these printables here.
3. Accept or enlist the help of others. Many hands make light work. Most of the ladies brought a dish and some brought two! This saves much time and expense for the hostess and provides an interesting variety. Ladies usually ask what they can do when they arrive, so save some jobs for them. Since my mind works must faster than the rest of me, I’ve become proficient at accepting the help of others. For the past couple of years, the ladies have helped set the silverware, finish the favors, and even help with flower arrangements! It’s fun to chatter as you work together.
One thoughtful friend asks to bring ice and makes sure it gets where it needs to be when she arrives. It is super helpful to have one less thing to think about!
4. Prepare in advance. My mom is super good at this. She plans desserts and dishes that are made days or weeks in advance. Frying bacon, washing fruit, cutting vegetables, etc., can be done in advance. In addition to prepping dishes or ingredients, you can prepare your centerpiece, garnishes, serving pieces, etc. Make lists for everything! Some things may get overlooked, but keep a note pad handy, and jot down things as you think of them.
5. Use fresh fruit, herbs, and flowers. Years ago, our daughter worked for a friend that was excellent at styling wedding buffets and events. Her finished food style would totally cover the table linen. In between each dish would be layers of fruits, vegetables and savouries. This was long before food styling became popular. Her work inspired me and changed the way I thought about food presentation. Many times less is more. It doesn’t take much to make a statement.
Fresh fruit is beautiful and colorful. Some of my favorite fruit to decorate with are sliced citrus, kiwi, and fresh berries. For this event, we simply used a carton of washed strawberries and several sliced orange twists to pop into dishes right before serving.
Sprigs of lavender, rosemary, basil, parsley, mint, scented geranium, or any fresh herb add color and fragrance to your dish or setting. Insert them into your fresh flower bouquets for greenery. For this tea, fennel was added to the rose bouquets .
Last year,a few handfuls of rosemary were tucked in at the last minute.
Use flowers or fresh greens from your yard in creative ways to add color. Edible flowers include roses, pansies, dianthus, bachelor button, bee balm, chrysanthemum, citrus blossoms, day lilies, hibiscus, hollyhock, impatiens, jasmine, honeysuckle, lilac, peony, daisies, passion flower, pomegranate, snapdragon, strawberry, sunflower, tulip, violet, wisteria, zinnia, or vegetable blossoms. If you can’t find a list of fresh green edibles, then use fresh herbs.
6. Don’t stress over what doesn’t get done. This may be the most challenging for me. I typically have huge expectations and dreams that I don’t begin to attain. I remind myself that no one knows what I had planned to do, and to be grateful for what got accomplished.
Last year I had purchased the ingredients to make cucumber sandwiches and didn’t get them made to add to the luncheon. I was disappointed because they would have been a simple addition and are a traditional tea-type food. Several days later, several friends gathered in our kitchen nook to celebrate a birthday and those sandwiches were made and enjoyed.
These sandwiches paired well with strawberry yogurt soup made for the tea featured in this post.
7. Enjoy your guests! Sometimes in a flurry of activity, we can overlook what really matters. Relationships are valuable. When someone knows you care about them, that is more significant than making the perfect recipe, having a spotless house, or creating a masterpiece.
I tried three times to save this photo and finally decided it didn’t have to be perfect. It captures the moment and supports this point.
Serving others is very satisfying. Do you agree that you receive more than you give? I feel grateful, thankful and blessed. God is good!