Monday, August 18, 2014

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In the Spirit of Femininity: Hosting the Perfect Tea

    Today, a family friend of many years has graciously consented to talk about hosting the perfect tea. Not only that, but she has a marvelous giveaway for y'all! Please welcome Shanelle Kent to the very first day of In the Spirit of Femininity blog event!


Tea For Two...Or Twenty!

    When asked to write a guest blog post for Alicia’s special week of posts for young women on tea, I immediately said “Heck, yes, how fun!” and got busy making things for the little give away to go with.  

    Sitting down and actually writing a blog post - well, that was and IS proving to be much more of a challenge. It reminds me once again that we are each given different talents in different areas. Ask me to make a chandelier out of a toilet paper roll and I am your girl. Writing legibly so it makes sense and is cohesive (we won’t even GO THERE with grammatically correct!) is akin to the calculus class I’ve yet to take and have not plans too. So I humbly submit this post - in all it’s messiness and pray that as I stumble along that the Lord will bless it and even one person will be inspired to make a memory along the way. 

    Please get a piece of paper and writing utensil of choice, be it pencil, pen, crayon, big fat marker or crazy people can get sidewalk chalk - but something you can make a note with...

    Here goes!

Tea

Shanelle's daughter hosted a Jane Austen tea!
Let’s have tea.

Would you like to come for tea?

I’d like to host a tea party…

When someone mentions “coming for tea” or “hosting a tea” etc. We form a mental image. We can’t help it. We were created to be visual by the master artist of all time.  Art takes a gazillion shapes and forms and having a tea is just one.  So let’s sit down and walk through the fun of planning a memory together.

Before we start.  If you haven’t already…get yourself a cup of tea, a glass of iced tea, and for those of you that don’t like tea *news flash* tea is a metaphor for "let's get together"! Lemonade works just fine. It isn’t about the beverage (I’m not a formal fussy girl), it’s about the fellowship!

So back to the image…What image did you form? (Time to put the writing utensil to work) Write it down.  If you’d like, make a quick sketch to return too. What idea came to mind? A season? A picture? A finger food?  D├ęcor?

Perfect!  Whatever it was that’s your spring board for planning. 

Me? I always have a theme first. Now don’t go getting all crazy thinking it has to be super involved. I tend to get involved, but I know people who simply put out a napkin and teapot, some toast points, butter and jam and call it good - it’s about the fellowship! 

But since I’m writing this mess, let’s start with your reason for inviting someone to tea. Is it to pray together?  Encourage? Just one person or a few? Is it a party where people will contribute? Write it down. My reason is usually to make a memory for those I invite.  

Maya Angelou once said, "People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget HOW you made them feel".

Special birthday tea.
Nothing gives me more joy than making people smile and feel special.  Everyone likes to feel special and it brings so much joy I could just giggle thinking about it! The absolute BEST thing about having a tea of any shape or size is that you can serve another person/people from the heart and with love. And that matters.
 
So back to theme. Pick one. Spring brings to mind new growth. Resurrection. new beginnings. Pastel color choices and treats to go with. Summer we usually picture picnic! Outside, iced tea perhaps with cool treats and maybe a cold bisque to go with. Fall we envision colors changing, pumpkin patches, the rich and vibrant tones of autumn that make you want to serve a spiced cider or spiced tea with a cinnamon stick. And winter. Christmas teas can be hectic because of all the other obligations tugging at our apron strings during this time, but also can be one of the most fulfilling to have one on ones with special friends.  Exchange that home made gift over a cup of tea and a few treats and visit.

Regardless of what and when... pick your theme and go with it. 

Next decide how many? One on one, small or large party.

Where will you host? Home. Inside, outside, a park, a church reception room, a living room with a buffet of foods for larger gatherings. Scope out your venue. If you’ve never done a tea before you may want to start small and get a feel for the fun and creativity before you jump into a large event. 

Preparations:  preparing for a tea can take a couple of hours to a couple of months depending on size and event.  The most important thing about preparing for a tea is to do everything that you can ahead of time and don’t rush.  Give yourself plenty of time so that when your guest - guests arrive you are free to enjoy the fellowship that will follow and the memories that will last. 

Luke 10:38-42 comes to mind with this:

Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house.  And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word.  But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone?  Therefore tell her to help me”.  And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.  But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part which will not be taken away from her”. 

Special birthday tea.
When your guest(s) arrives, the bulk of whatever you have planned should be done so that you are free to sit and visit, pray, and enjoy the fellowship with them.  I would love to say I have a Martha heart.  Unfortunately I am a whole lot like Mary and feel like I need to be ‘doing’ all the time - fight the urge and find the time to sit and enjoy the moment.

So nuts and bolts. You want to have a tea…Here are a few items you will want to consider (again, taking your own size of same into mind as you plan)

Once you decide theme you can decide if you want to verbally invite or send an invitation. If an event you will want to send an invite so they have the keepsake to add to a scrapbook along with photos and journaled memories of the event.

Setting: 
  • Tables - can be simple or elaborate.  A nicely ironed table cloth is a very simple way to start and if you are fortunate enough to have one from a mother or grandmother it makes it even more special.  Often times your guest(s) won’t know but you will, (there is that memory factor again) and your loved one is almost joining you for tea.  
  • Tea pots and cups ~ can be a set, mismatched, chipped, new, or old.  Again ~ whatever you have is fine.  People can bring their own, and if an ‘event’ you can plan ahead and watch for clearance sales to get a matching set that your guests can take home with them to start  or add too, their own collection. 
  • Centerpiece - yes or no? Simple as a candle in the middle with maybe some fresh flowers around it or pine boughs. Elaborate as a store bought arrangement or something you make with papers and craft items. 
  • Tea - hot? Iced? Lemonade (especially for younger girls). Selections depending on if you will have several courses or just a few light treats. DON’T get overwhelmed! Google is awesome to ask which teas go with what if you want to get all formal and fussy. I just usually go with the flavors I like or have on hand.
  • Foods - just a cookie or dessert. More of a meal type with many items to choose from. Or a combination of savories along with dessert items with perhaps a hot soup or cold bisque in between depending on season. Most importantly keep portions small. Finger foods is the mental image. If serving a soup make sure you have small little ramekins or bowls for same to keep portion size smallish and dainty. People can always get seconds but the idea is to keep away from full sized portions and keep it more ‘feminine’ if you will.

  
Foods are best chosen to go along with theme, although most people have some tried and trues. Go with what you know and try a few newbies. It is best not to try to go all new recipes first time out as if they all flop for whatever reasons, you still have a back up tried and true.

I am not going to include recipes simply because we each have our favorites whether passed down or found online etc. We live in the age of Pinterest and how blessed that we can get literally hundreds of thousands of food ideas and recipes at the click of a button - the only caution is getting inundated with them and getting overwhelmed. If you do (as I do on a regular basis) go back to theme and how many items you’d like to have and don’t get crazy.


Remember:

Please don’t get caught up and stressed out thinking you don’t have enough variety or need to do fancier foods etc. As you grow and get comfortable hosting a tea for two or twenty - you will begin to expand and feel more comfortable in what you want to take on at any given time.  Anything we do can become a form of bondage if we let it. Go back to the beginning if you start feeling overwhelmed and remember the WHY of doing this. Is it for self or is it to serve others? Trust me, they are thrilled to even be there and enjoy your company. Don’t ruin it by being all stressed out that it isn’t ‘good enough’. It’s in your mind, not theirs. 

Extra Tips and Ideas!
  • Devotion. I like to either have a devotion ready or ask a guest to prepare one if it is a ‘more than one or two’ tea. If just one or two it may be to talk about garden planning, a sewing project, planning the school year or field trips etc. If an event then go back to your theme and build from there. 
  • Time to fellowship. Often times we get so busy planning and executing that we forget all about time to just sit and fellowship.  Catch up on one another's lives and children.  Prayer needs,praises, What God is doing in our lives or what we may be struggling with etc.  Remember to make time for fellowshipping!
  • Pictures. The tedious picture taking…Ugh! You’ve all been there. I certainly have. My children are forever saying “Mom, stop with the pictures!”. And yet if you don’t take them, you only have the memory in your head to share. Pictures, even if a tea for two are special. Take a photo or two of planning, setting up, making foods, the table before, you and your guests, their delight at  being made to feel special for the time you took to serve them. These are keepsakes that are fun to look back on.
  • Keep an invitation or any other memorabilia (larger teas, menu and or program etc) to add to your scrapbook of memories too. For special guests you can make a page or two for them to add to their own books as an extra service of the heart. Memories are important and often we don’t write down special moments and forget them. Take the time to journal about your tea whether a hostess or a guest so you can share those feelings and memories with your children someday and pass on the tradition. 

Basically when hosting a tea...  

Be the hostess you would like to have attending and serving you.  Then imagine a step of service beyond. This is, and NEVER should be about comparing. Go back to the beginning of the post.  EACH of us has been GIFTED in DIFFERENT areas.  We can build on those gifts, dive off the deep end and cultivate new gifts even. But we are not all Martha Steward any more than we are all Maya Angelou.  We are not all Martha’s and we are not all Mary’s.  But when we have at the heart to serve and bless one another we in turn are blessed ten fold.  

I - for whatever reason - have been ‘gifted’ if you will with crafts and visual spacial reasoning.  I can see a room and make a picture and then (with much redoing) plan out what I want to see happen. I can’t always afford what I want to happen,  (hence toilet paper chandeliers)  but I dream big. Which often results in a whole lot of messes in my wake. You may be gifted in music, or writing, photography, culinary, house organization, spiritual prayer warrior, encourager, etc. 

Whatever your gifts are use them to serve one another - in turn you will be blessed and get a lot of joy out of it.  When people tell me I am good at this or that I usually respond (and when I don’t I think in my head)  “I’m really selfish at heart.  I get a tremendous amount of joy out of doing…” insert whatever it may be…but isn’t that just like God?  When we give of ourselves our joy is overflowing.  It’s the byproduct of sharing His gifts and love with others.  After all…They are not TRULY our gifts at all - are they.

Remember...

I’ll  close with this:  The Proverbs 31 woman is the most talked about woman in the world.  People love her or hate her. I think most have come to really dislike this woman and the lofty goals she hits that we feel like utter failures and will never achieve. I know I used to CRINGE at the mention of her chapter! 

However you feel about this woman and her ways...I would like to encourage you with what the Lord has laid repeatedly upon my heart when I get crazy with life. Work, (my work is within the home as my husband's helpmeet and home school wife) commitments outside the home, children, activities, events, even church life. She is amazing. She is a dream that is unattainable. She is my nemisis! I can’t possibly ever BE this woman so why did the Lord even put her in there as who to be and what to look for in a wife…
She is a wife.

First, foremost, and always…She is a wife Who cares for her husband and her household.  Her worth in doing so is far above rubies.  We so often focus on all she does outside of the home Yet, the story of this woman begins and ends with her duties as a wife, a mother, and looking after the needs of her household. 
Our lives are busy.  They can get crazy and out of control for the same reason I mentioned Pinterest. We live in a time where being in the home, loving our husbands and children and looking after our households is scorned upon. There must be MORE than JUST a wife. JUST a mom. What do you DO all day?  

Young women especially. Let me encourage you. Your worth to your husband truly is FAR above rubies when you look after his home, his needs, him. If the Lord blesses you with children then those as well.  Our lives are very full with same. Back to the ‘gifts’ thing…some of us can handle a whole lot more (or we convince ourselves that we can) and are out and about all over the place. Doing, doing, doing. But when we are doing doing doing for everyone else generally our own homes are taking the hit. Back to basics. Back to His theme for our lives. 

All this to say:  Hosting a tea for a friend to fellowship with or an event to make memories for whatever occasion is a blessing. It will bless you, it will bless others, and it is fun (I am ALL about fun!) but put aside ‘the perfect tea’ as we put aside the perfect woman. Do what you can, WHEN you can, IF you can, and check with your husband first. (those not married yet- your parents)  Above all we want to be a blessing not a burden (time or financially).

One last note:  when making tea treats always…ALWAYS hold a few back or make a few extra when planning to bless your husbands (brothers and boyfriend can be included if you're not married) socks off that evening or with his coffee the next morning.  Kind of falls under ‘doing him good’. A husband that feels loved is a blessing beyond compare.


Wasn't that a good post?! Now to our...

Giveaway!

Tea Party Packet 
(Invites/Scrapbooking Pages/Labels)

Just add food and decor!


 

Enter multiple times! To enter:

  1. Leave a comment stating what you learned from this post (required entry).
  2. Leave a comment stating what kind of theme you would like to use for a tea.
  3. Leave a comment. Herbal or true teas?
  4. Leave a comment. Tea for Two or Tea for Twenty?
  5. Share the giveaway and post via FB, Google+, Pinterest, or Twitter. Leave a comment with the URL link.
  6. Join this blog with Google Friend Connect. Leave a comment with your username.
Thank you, Shanelle, for this excellent post and for making the giveaway packet!
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26 comments:

  1. That was great! Thank you! I think the thing I took away the most is to not compare myself to others, but instead, to look at my giftings and use those as the foundation for the tea that I would host.

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  2. I think now that fall is quickly arriving, I'd like to host an autumnal tea. We typically take turns hosting a tea for the women in our family, once a season, at a different house each time, but we've become lax and haven't done one in a while. It is time!

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  3. I like both herbal and true, but lean more towards true teas.

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  4. Tea for two, three, twenty or more. They would all be fun!

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  5. https://www.facebook.com/maellen.blodgett?fref=nf

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  6. This post reminded me that what matters most in a tea party, or any gathering for that matter, is the fellowship. I love the decorating side a lot, but you can really get caught up in it an not enjoy the fellowship or just be so stressed about all the details that your guests feel the pressure and don't feel a warm, welcoming atmosphere. I like the reminder that you should have everything ready so you can sit down and enjoy talking. I love being a hostess and wish I could have fellowship/tea more often with friends.
    I like the idea of using lemonade. I know that in my family we'd probably end up using hot cocoa since that's our favorite hot drink.

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  7. I love a spring theme for a tea part. Especially if you can use lots of flowers such as lilacs, lily of the valley etc.
    Or I would also have a theme based on chocolate/desserts with a whole dessert table with dainty sweets to sample from. :)

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  8. My family and I like herbal teas. But generally when we make tea, we mix at least 2-4 different kinds of teas: rosehip, hibiscus, berry etc. It makes for candy-like tea flavor!

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  9. pinned it! http://www.pinterest.com/pin/538250592938734977/

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  10. I like the idea that as we sit down and eat together we are actually creating covenant. Over and over in scripture, it went beyond fellowship and created a very important bond between others. A tea is a wonderful and creative expression of that. Shanelle, thank you for emphasizing that it is not about comparing or competition, but in expressing yourself and blessing others.

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  11. Oooh!! Now I want to host a tea!!! :D

    1. I learned to focus on the fellowship. Usually when I put together something like this, I get so caught up in it being "perfect" that I forget WHY I did it! :)

    2. Mis-match flowers! :P My parents gave me a beautiful set of six tea cups that are busy and flowery and...and just pretty. :) I use those any chance I have!

    3. Probably herbal.

    4. Tea for two!! :) I love one-on-one! It's the perfect setting for a deep conversation and I love deep conversations. ;)

    Thank you, Shanelle, for this great post! And thank you, Alicia, for hosting this event! I can't wait for tomorrow!! :D

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  12. Thank you for this post! The whole post was awesome, but something that really stood out to me was when you said that the Proverbs 31 wife was exactly that; a wife. I am not yet married, but I have been blessed to be surrounded with lots of amazing and inspirational Proverbs 31 wives, one of whom is my mother. :) The definition of being a wife and mother encompasses so many roles, not the least of which includes being a gracious hostess.

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  13. I would have to say that an autumn theme would be my favorite. I love fall colors! :)

    My sister and I used to have tea parties a lot with our best friend, and of course we loved decorating the tables. But my favorite time was when we used our grandmother's (or maybe it was our great-grandmother's) golden tablecloth, sprinkled with dried rose petals. Then we used dainty flower teacups that are also family heirlooms. Such precious memories!

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  14. I love black tea with honey and lemon juice, but for hosting teas I am partial to herbal. Particularly blueberry tea. ;)

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  15. I joined this blog with Google Friend. :) Thank you, Shanelle, for putting so much time, effort, and thought into this post. And thank you, Alicia, for hosting this event. It is a blessing!

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  16. Shanelle, I have been to your teas and you truly are gifted with making special themes and decorating so beautifully. You have always had a heart to bless others in your teas and oh what fun everyone was having. Thanks for those memories and thanks for sharing with us your secrets and tips.

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  17. And I think a Sunflower Tea party is perfect. With herbal AND black teas! And tea for two is much more fun. :)

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  18. Great post. Thank-you Alicia and Mrs.Kent!

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  19. Thanks for the encouragement about remembering to be a Mary and not just a Martha. I tend to feel embarrassed, even if my house is clean, that I busy myself while people are over hoping to make things look better so it was a great lesson to remember to prepare fully a head of time and what doesn't get finished doesn't really matter but fellowship does.

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  20. Thank you for an excellent article. I always need to refocus on what really matters and this article did that for me. It is so easy to get wrapped up in the details of planning an event that the fellowship and encouragement suffer. Thanks for the encouragement and inspiration to host a great tea.

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  21. My tea theme would be literary, such as Jane Austen or whatnot

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  22. My favorite tea is probably Chai tea. I'm not sure if that's herbal or true tea. :)

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  23. I really love having people over, probably Tea for Two though. Twenty tends to allow me less time to fellowship with the various guests.

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  24. 2 or 20, either one! Just to celebrate together around beauty and flavor is such a blessing! Thanks for sharing!

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Please leave me your comments! I read every one of them! May God bless your day.