Monday, December 19, 2011

Afternoon Tea

Now here's something people don't do anymore... afternoon tea! Hosted by Katieschmatie & her Mother.

And yet, I think that more people should. In this modern day and age, we've lost the art of hosting an event. I've decided it's Facebook's fault.

I am invited to 10-20 events every month, and yet I only receive 2-3 invitations in the mail a year, and that's only if someone I know is getting married that year! That might not last either, because now even wedding invitations are going online. This is good because it saves paper. But it does lack some of the formality and elegance that a paper invitation can provide.

There's nothing necessarily wrong with informal gatherings and parties, but this past weekend I realized how much fun it is to do things the "old-fashioned" way. Nowadays, people rarely get formal. Going to the theater no longer involves a suit and gown, or even nice slacks and a dress. You can go in jeans and a t-shirt, and most people do. Very few places outside of country clubs have a dress code. And even weddings are becoming more casual. After prom, no one wears a ball gown anymore unless they're in politics and get invited to one of the White House Balls or Formal Dinners (and the only reason I know about that is from watching West Wing!)

When was the last time you went to a party and the table set up for it looked like this?:
Parties take less and less effort. I'm guilty of it too! I invite more people and put less effort in the food, decorations and details, because I'm already going to be putting more effort into the cleaning and making a mass quantity of food. I invite people on Facebook, and I never know who's going to show up because of that damn "Maybe" option... plus the fact that people no longer feel bound by their RSVP. You always know that some of the people who said No will show up, some of the people who said Yes won't, and the people who said "maybe"... well, they might. This lackadaisical response system has wormed it's way into general society... while I was planning my wedding I can't tell you how many girls on griped and moaned about their friends and relatives who were responding with "maybes" or adding extra guests onto their RSVPs. The etiquette for how to respond to a party invitation has been completely lost. You have to plan for the unexpected, whether it's 20 less or 20 more people showing up than said they would.

Not this party. Sure, the invitation went out on Facebook, but with the note that "maybe" was not an acceptable answer because there were going to be set places for each of the guests. So paper was saved AND so was etiquette! Dress code? Hats. Fancy hats specifically. The kind of hats that people used to wear when they went out to tea. Because a tea is more fun with a hat than a t-shirt.

The food? Up to par with the dress code and the required Yes or No response. My friends and I are all so used to pot-luck parties and BYOBs, in the days preceding the tea we all kept asking, "What can I bring?" and the response "Just yourselves!" was confused us. "Are you sure?" Yes.

The food was served in courses.
The savory course with Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup, Buffalo Chicken Spread with Ranch Dressing on a cracker, Bacon Wrapped Scallops, Arancini, and Cucumber sandwiches with an Herb Spread.
Sweet Course: Blueberry Scone with Fresh Whipped Cream, Sweet Elegance Biscuits, Belgian Chocolate Cookies, Strawberry Cheesecake Bites and Peppermint Snowballs.
Throughout it all there were several selections of tea to choose from, whatever your taste, from a special Christmas Tea to Green Tea to herbal fruit teas. The last course was chocolate petit fours and champagne. Some of the food was homemade, some of it was store-bought, all of it was delicious, thoughtfully chosen and beautifully displayed.

I've decided that I'd like to host a formal party once a year. Granted, I won't be able to invite everyone that I'd like to, because that would just become overwhelming, but it's worth it to have a small, intimate, well-executed gathering once in awhile. Plus, it gives us an excuse to get fancy and do something a little different... like wear fantastic hats.

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