Throw a Tea Party

When tea is served to friends in a lovely corner of the yard or garden, something enchanting happens. Women's voices ring in the breeze. There is laughter. And in the dappled sunlight, at a table set with favorite china, delicate confections, and tea sandwiches, affections are renewed. To transform a weekend afternoon into a tea party for the women you admire most, begin with inspiration from the garden.

Set the Scene
Set the scene with fragrant branches of lilacs and vintage china adorned with English rose motifs. Floral-print napkins, silver teaspoons, tiered serving pieces, and a dash of pastel-colored sugar all add a touch of romantic grandeur to an easy afternoon. Fanciful, intimate, and simple to prepare, a tea party is a party like no other.

The Flowers
Extravagant blooms, such as garden roses, lupines, peonies, and lilacs, set the scene, as do lush arrangements in pitchers filled with flowers from your own garden or a market.

The Table
For ease and eclectic style mix your teacups and teapots. Combine finds from thrift or antiques shops and discount stores. Or borrow a few pieces from your mother or aunt.

The Teas
Treat guests to teas they love -- and some they've never tried. In celebration, serve cups of Harney & Sons caffeine-free Mother's Bouquet Tea, which combines chamomile, rosebuds, and citrus flavors. And consider a blooming organic tea; its petals unfurl in water ( Include a traditional blend by Fauchon. Set out milk, honey, and sugar -- in cubes or in pastel colors.

Menu Ideas
Served with tea, finger foods -- tea sandwiches, bite-size cookies, and tiny tarts -- sweeten the pot. They also minimize the need for dishes.

See more Tea Party pics.

Related Links:
Garden Party
Floral Favors
Rose-Filled Vintage Home
Tea Tips & Trends
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Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.