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Help: Ladies tea party for my Mom's 51st birthday

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So my Mom has requested a ladies afternoon tea party for her 51st birthday which is on the 15th of this month. I have never hosted a tea party before and don't have much time to plan for this since it is only 6 days away. Can anyone tell me the essential must haves for a tea party? Budget friendly ideas would be helpful, I appreciate all the help I can get. Thank you! =)

-Melissa

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  1. What a nice idea! Some questions for you to help us help you:

    1. Are you planning to serve tea and sweet treats only, or is it more of a luncheon?

    2. How many people are you planning to invite?

    3. What are some of your mom's favorite kinds of teas and sweets?

    It's a great time of year for iced tea, which you could make ahead. Some of the fruity flavored teas or tisanes would be perfect iced--example--I have a lovely passionfruit tea that's especially nice cold.

    Scones are great (and traditional) for tea. My mom has been making them with some regularity lately. One of her favorites is a double-orange scone. I can post the recipe later if you'd like. Lemon curd is a lovely accompaniment. My mom makes it, but you can buy it at Trader Joe's or the grocery store if you're pressed for time.

    If you're having a luncheon and need a savory dish, I'd recommend a quiche or a strata. I've been on a strata kick lately (very easy and very tasty). Here's my recipe for a Broccoli Cheddar Strata with Pancetta:
    http://www.chow.com/recipes/25163

    5 Replies
    1. re: kattyeyes

      There will be about 6-7 people, so a very small party. It will be at about 3:30 or 4:00 in the afternoon, so can I incorporate some luncheon recipes at this hour? The strata sound yummy, quiche would probably be too much for me to take on at this point.

      I think I have figured out the teas, there is a great little tea shop here in downtown Anchorage that specializes in one called Samovar, here is a description from their the kobuks coffee and tea site: Hand mixed in Alaska using the same recipe for over 40 years. This black tea contains just the right blend of cinnamon oil, cloves, granulated lemon and orange peel. This tea is delicious and my mom loves cinnamon everything so she loves this tea. Also, there is a delicious sun tea recipe that my Mom has been making for over 20 years, you just take 8 black tea bags, and 1 mint tea bag, tie them together in a clear jar, fill with water to cover and set in the sun for at least 4 hours, then you just add cold water, ice, and sugar if desired. It is extremely refreshing. Do you all think this would be enough, or should I add one more tea or drink option? I don't think we'll be doing alcoholic beverages because my Mom says they don't agree with her anymore.

      I think the scones sound lovely, so I would love any time-tested recipes. If I make them ahead of time and freeze how much longer should I bake them for? The gingerbread recipe sound delicious so I think I will make that.

      I have been researching sandwich recipes and the Victoria magazine website has a recipe for roasted beef sandwiches with kalamata mustard butter, this really appealed to me because my Mom loves roasted beef. I love the pretty chive they tie around the sandwiches as well, very festive looking! Cucumber sandwiches sound good, so I'll probably do that, I love the tips from Ruth Lafler's post. Also, I was wondering if I can make chicken sandwiches with a store bought rotissery chicken or even some canned chicken?

      Now for the birthday cake. Should I do a traditional birthday cake? I know a woman in town who makes the most mouth watering carrot cake, if I was to go with this should I still make the gingerbread?

      Thank you SO much for all the advice! You are all such a help to me!

      -Melissa

      1. re: DishDelish

        I've done a mother's day tea for the last 2 years, and it's still a work in progress, but here are the no-fail tips.

        Scones: I've made these a dozen times and they always come out great. Very easy to do, and I love them because they are made with buttermilk instead of cream. I cut them into wedges, but will try rounds next time (because I think rounds are prettier).

        http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

        For Sandwiches:

        For 6-7 people, you are good with 3 types of sandwiches.

        Cucumber slices, mint spread and ginger w/ sprouts are my all time favorite. Sounds complicated, but it's so easy and the combo is to die for. The Roast Beef sounds great, especially since your mom is a fan. Add a chicken salad to the mix and you are set!

        See this link for more tips. I posted this before doing my first one and there were a lot of helpful comments:

        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/512959

        I always think I need more food and way over do it. I think 1 type of scone, the gingerbread, a quiche or strada and 3 sandwiches are more than enough. I think your tea selection is perfect. No need for anything else.

        Enjoy!!

        1. re: The Oracle

          I love the great sandwich ideas here. =) Thanks for the encouragement. I will take your advice and try to keep it simple. =)

          1. re: DishDelish

            For chicken, I've had curried chicken salad with dried cranberries for tea sandwiches and they're really yummy. When we have made them, we have poached boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Canned chicken tends to be on the salty side.

            1. re: salsailsa

              The recipe for curried chicken tea sandwiches on allrecipes.com calls for cranberries. This is the recipe I am thinking of using. Thanks for the tip. =)

    2. I picture scones with clotted cream and strawberry preserves, cucumber sandwiches, pinwheel sandwiches rolled around parboiled asparagus, individual mini quiches would be nice, checkerboard sandwiches (use white and whole wheat bread), mini open face sandwiches (smoked salmon, creme fraiche, capers, sprig of dill), etc.

      1. Mimosas !!!!!

        1 Reply
        1. re: Uncle Bob

          Love the mimosa idea! I will have to incorporate that for a future tea party! =)

        2. I'd go traditional:
          Hot tea (leaves not bags in a teapot, please) with milk or lemon
          Watercress, Cucumber and smoked salmon tea sandwiches. (ie small and crustless)
          Sconces, jam and clotted cream if you can get it.
          Small pastries, tarts and/or cakes (buy from a good bakery if it will help out timewise)
          For the hard stuff only sherry (one on the sweeter side) would be traditional.

          Use your best china, a tier cake stand if you have one (or invert some glasses or bowls to stack some platters and plate.
          Use real table clothes and napkins if at all possible.
          Sounds lovely.

          6 Replies
          1. re: Stuffed Monkey

            I like your bakery idea, small tarts would be a beautiful and delicious compliment to the party. Thank you! =)

            1. re: DishDelish

              I did make some simple tarts for an afternoon tea by make a simple pie dough and filling small tart shells that I once purchased at Ikea very inexpensively. I filled 1/3 with jam for jam tarts and baked them and the others blind. Then I filled the rest with lemon curd and chocolate ganache.

              I also made scones and divided the batch into 3 flavors. Raisin, Crystallized Ginger (my fav) and Dried Cranberries and Almonds.

              1. re: Stuffed Monkey

                You can also bake your tart shells in mini mufin tins, for bite-size ones.

                1. re: Stuffed Monkey

                  Those do sound very simple. =) My Mom is so worried that I am doing too much though, so I will have to try them later this summer. Do you ever do fresh berries?

                  1. re: DishDelish

                    Fresh berries would be great on top of the lemon curd.
                    If you could live without the jam and chocolate you could do a lemon, a lime and an orange curd trio also. (can you tell I like variety of flavors?)

                    1. re: Stuffed Monkey

                      Sounds delicious!

            2. Ruth Lafler posted about a ladies' tea she hosted here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/594704

              She had a nice menu of tea sandwiches and sweets, and included links to some of the recipes, which looked great. In that thread, someone posted a link to Tea Time magazine's site, which was full of good ideas.

              For scones, I use a super-easy recipe for cream scones (no cutting in of butter, but it is a traditional recipe) that have wonderful, tender texture and which you can personalize with additions and flavors as you like. If you are interested, I'll post it.

              7 Replies
              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                Caitlin, I'd love it you would post the cream scone recipe. TIA.

                To the OP: tea sandwiches, scones and a cake or two would be traditional. Good suggestions here for the first two categories, for the last consider old-fashioned gingerbread, the kind you make in a brownie pan, not the cookie kind. Something like this: http://southernfood.about.com/od/ging... Last, for some reason I keep picturing strawberries, maybe chocolate-dipped, maybe with dishes of sour cream and brown sugar for dipping....

                1. re: GretchenS

                  Hi Gretchen,

                  Instead of butter and cream, this recipe uses only cream, so it comes together very easily.

                  Cream Scones

                  2 cups all purpose flour
                  1/4 cup sugar
                  1 tablespoon baking powder
                  1 teaspoon salt
                  1 1/4 cups heavy cream + more as needed

                  Preheat oven to 425F. Stir together thoroughly the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl*. Add the cream and mix until dough comes together. If dough doesn't come together, add more cream by the teaspoonful and mix until the flour is incorporated. Pat into a half-inch-thick round, and cut into 12 wedges, or cut into rounds with a 2-inch biscuit cutter. Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 15 minutes, until golden brown on top.

                  *Mix any additions, such as currants or other dried fruit, citrus zent, etc., with the flour mixture before adding the cream. Some additions I like: dried cranberries and orange zest; diced candied ginger; chopped toasted hazelnuts.

                  You can also brush the tops of the scones with more cream and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar or coarse turbinado sugar before baking, if you like.

                  1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                    Is this a moist scone recipe? The simplicity factor is very appealing!

                    1. re: DishDelish

                      Yes, it is moist. They are really best baked the day you will serve them, which I don't find to be a problem since they come together so quickly. You can mix up the dry ingredients ahead of time, so all you need to do is mix it with the cream, form, and bake.

                      And people have mentioned clotted cream, butter, and jam for the scones, but lemon curd is also fab with scones, whether homemade or store-bought.

                    2. re: Caitlin McGrath

                      Thanks Caitlin, these look easy and yummy. I am somewhat baking-phobic but these look my speed.

                    3. re: GretchenS

                      Oh, that reminds me, my Mom loves dipping strawberries in sour cream and sugar! Thanks! =) I think that gingerbread looks delicious too! =)

                    4. re: Caitlin McGrath

                      No cutting in of butter? Are they moist as well? Sounds very interesting! =)

                    5. We did a tea for my sister's baby shower. We went a little overboard, but here is our menu:

                      Tea Sandwiches
                      Herbed Cheese and Cucumber
                      Chicken Salad with Smoked Almonds
                      Turkey with Arugula Mayonnaise

                      Ham and Swiss Puff Pastry Quiche

                      Traditional Scones
                      Oat and Apricot Scones

                      Orange-Poppy Seed Bread
                      Lemon-Pecan Tea Bread

                      Yellow Layer Cake with Lemon Curd Filling

                      English Afternoon Tea
                      White Tea with Tangerine
                      Iced Green Tea with Ginger
                      Lemonade

                      Also, clotted cream, butter and jam for the scones.

                      I made the scones ahead and froze them unbaked and then baked them that morning and that worked well.

                      Good luck!

                      1. A friend and I donate tea parties for our church auction for (15 to 25 people). The last one we did we had English Tea and Green tea, scones with clotted cream (fake) and fresh strawberries, fairy cakes (vanilla cupcakes with frosting), vanilla cupcakes with a lemond curd filling, and 3 kinds of finger sandwiches. We had open faced smoked salmon on white sandwich bread, cucumber sandwiches with homemade mayo and fresh dill on more white sandwich bread, and curried chicken on mini homemade biscuits. I think I forgot something in the sweet dept. but it only took a few hours to make everything and our party goers loved it. It helps to have a friend from the south who can make home made mayo and biscuits. I use a Trader Joe vanilla cake mix for the cup cakes and scones are easy to make as are the sandwiches. I

                        9 Replies
                        1. re: ginnyhw

                          Would it be to non traditional to make a salmon cheese ball served with crackers? We have an awesome recipe for this already.
                          I love making homemade mayo but my Mom is a little weary of the raw eggs, is there safer way to do the mayo or should I just go with Best Foods?

                          Thanks!
                          Melissa

                          1. re: DishDelish

                            Dear Melissa,
                            This is your party, girlfriend--and as you're holding it in Alaska, consider a salmon cheese ball YOUR tradition, starting now. :) I'm sure it will be a big hit!

                            1. re: kattyeyes

                              Lol! Good point! =) Thanks!

                            2. re: DishDelish

                              When the homemade is not available, we use Hellman's and I have made them with Alouette cheese also.

                              1. re: ginnyhw

                                Yeah Hellman's is called Best Food's where I live. What is Alouette cheese?

                                1. re: DishDelish

                                  It's cream cheese with herbs and garlic- poor man's boursin. Do you have Philadelphia Cream Cheese us there? I have also used a cream cheese and salmon spread that they make. Cream cheese and chives would also be good.

                                  1. re: ginnyhw

                                    We have almost everything here, so yeah we do have Philadelphia Cream Cheese. I guess I just didn't know the proper name for cream cheese with herbs before. My hubby loves that stuff. =)

                                    1. re: DishDelish

                                      Alouette and Boursin are both brand names for soft herbed cheeses, as well. Perhaps your groceries carry them?

                                      http://www.alouettecheese.com/
                                      http://www.boursin.com/

                                      1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                        Mmmm, I am assuming that they do. I'm going to look next time I go grocery shopping.

                          2. Paula Deen's "Ring Bling" sandwiches

                            Teas ~~ hot and cold
                            Pitcher of Ice Water w/lemon slices

                            chocolate dipped strawberries

                            Trader Joe's Lemon Bread

                            Raspberry mini muffins

                            White cupcakes with white icing and pink sprinkles or pink crystal sugar

                            15 Replies
                            1. re: laliz

                              Should I do cupcakes instead of a birthday cake? Mmm, the strawberries are a good idea! =) What is Trader Joe's? Is this a boxed mix for bread?

                              1. re: DishDelish

                                Definitely do cupcakes (small ones, not those large things). You can place them on cake plates and make a little cupcake tree.

                                Trader Joe's is a grocery store chain, very popular around here. :) They have some excellent mixes and bakery items.

                                The strawberries are a great idea, but remember that your chocolate has to be at the right temp or else it wont look so pretty and glossy.

                                And have you thought about a salad? Something done inside a mini parmesan cup would be easy finger food, and since it's warmer weather, salads can be very refreshing.

                                1. re: Ali

                                  The salad is a good suggestion, my Mom loves a simple green salad (mixed greens or just spinach) with dried cranberries, feta cheese, pumpkin seeds, and raspberry dressing. I think I'll do this.
                                  Thanks! =)

                                  1. re: Ali

                                    Salad would not be traditional. The cucumbers and/or watercress is as green as a tea gets.

                                    1. re: Stuffed Monkey

                                      After a recent conversation with my Mom, who thinks I am making everything too complicated, I think I will cut out the salad. Maybe we will eat it for a light dinner later in the evening. =)

                                  2. re: DishDelish

                                    I'm out of order here, but want to give you the link to a recipe for lemon cream scones which are delicious and unbelievably easy to make :

                                    http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                                    1. re: janeh

                                      janeh, these are the same type of cream scones as my recipe above. You can put anything in them; in fact, I noted above that a combo I like is dried cranberry and orange zest, as in the other scone recipe you linked.

                                      1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                        They sound very good. I think we'll do these. =)

                                        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                          Oops - sorry to be redundant! The cranberry/orange combo is also really good. I've used crystalized ginger too - a good recipe for all kinds of additions.

                                      2. re: DishDelish

                                        I think cupcakes would be great, I think all little petite desserts would be nice. Biscotti hasn't been mentioned, they are easy to make and go well with coffee and tea. Your salmon ball sounds great too.

                                        I think all little things is best, 51ish don't like to chow down heavy.

                                        My sister recently made the best lemonade infused with a vanilla bean and basil (personally I would add vodka to mine)!!!

                                        Have fun, I say your salmon ball, some assorted tea finger sandwiches, and assorted mini desserts & strawberries and your a winner (with your tea of course)

                                        1. re: lexpatti

                                          I don't mean to disregard the rest of your post, but I'm stuck on this:

                                          << the best lemonade infused with a vanilla bean and basil>>

                                          Wow. Wow. Did she infuse a simple syrup with the vanilla bean and basil? Inquiring minds wanna know. I WANNA KNOW!

                                          1. re: kattyeyes

                                            I'll see if I can get measurements but she used water, fresh squeezed lemons, sugar, vanilla beans, basil leaves - brought it up to a simmer, then shut it off and let it sit for at least two hours. then strained it. It was fantastic - we had a progressive tapas dinner out at the lake in which this was in shot glasses during one stop (virgin for the kids). I'm anxious to do this myself soon.

                                          2. re: lexpatti

                                            Mmmm, I agree, the lemonade does sound amazing! I will have to try this with my hubby for a refreshing summer drink! =)

                                          3. re: DishDelish

                                            I used a box from Europe that Trader Joe's sells. It uses whole milk and a stick of butter plus I add extra vanilla so it tastes home made. I wonder what the Barefoot Contessa cake mixes are like? (They are pricey) I buy those little free standing "reynolds Baking cups" at the grocery store to bake in. This year I cut a inverted conical wedge out of the top of the cakes and put in a dollop of lemon curd and replaced the tops and sprinkled on confectioner's sugar. A baking friend gave me the idea. They were more popular than the frosted ones (butter and confectioners sugar frosting). We always promise "Fairy cakes" in the Auction blurb.

                                            1. re: ginnyhw

                                              Shucks! I haven't seen any of those in Alaska. I just talked with my sister last night and she has a good friend who lived in California for a few years that discovered Trader Joe's while she was there, I guess her friend really misses it now. I will have to try them next time I am in the lower 48 states.

                                        2. These vegetable sandwiches are really good and can be made a couple days in advance. I made them for my daughter's graduation open house and got tons of compliments!
                                          http://www.recipelink.com/mf/9/6970

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: ChrisKC

                                            Yes, I definitely plan on making the sandwiches early. =) These do sound good.

                                            1. re: ChrisKC

                                              Thanks for that recipe. Those look great. I need this for a "get together"