Ivy and Lace Tea Party

The Ivy and Lace Tea is a traditional afternoon tea. Guests should be seated at a table some place other than your kitchen. Invite only the amount of guests that you can seat. Since this tea is more structured (I don’t want to say formal) than some I’ve presented, feel free to invite people who appreciate that kind of atmosphere.

As for invitations, this is a good time to use the real ones instead of phoning or emailing. This tea’s theme lends itself to creating your own. Use good card stock, a lace paper punch and a touch of ribbon. If you aren’t feeling creative or don’t have the time, your local card shop will certainly have an invitation that works.

The ivy in my garden is still growing strong even though it is October. If you have ivy, use this to decorate your table. Use white flowers in vases and fill with beautiful trailing ivy. If you have potted ivy in pretty containers, bring that to the table too. Maybe you even have a couple ivy topiaries to anchor your table—that would be perfect.

I picture this tea table decorated in green and white but you could use a third color depending on your dishes. Lay a solid color tablecloth that coordinates with your dishes. Over that use a beautiful lace cloth. If you don’t have a lace cloth, buy a length of lace from any fabric store. Seam two pieces together in order to cover your table. If you don’t sew, simply place the pieces side by side. The objects on the table will hold them in place. Use fabric tape or pink the edges if you can’t hem.

White candles in clear glass holders look really pretty on this table. There is an etiquette rule that says not to light candles during the day. But you know how I feel about rules that serve no real purpose. I think candlelight looks festive and pretty no matter the time of day. Do whatever feels right to you. If you’ve invited your mother-in-law and you think she might sniff the air in distain when she sees your lit candles, you might want to forego them. Or you might decide to let her sniff. Your call.

Use pretty fabric napkins for this tea. I’m sure you can find an ivy pattern. Fold them into a pocket for the flatware and tie this bundle with a piece of lace. You might even add a sprig of ivy.

I’ve noticed that some tea party planner types like to tie huge bows of lace, flowers and tulle on to the back of each guest’s chair. I guess it is supposed to look super festive. To me, it looks as though some Victorian lady’s underwear drawer has exploded all over the room. As always though, do what pleases you. If you like this look, and it certainly would fit in with the Ivy and Lace theme, by all means, use it. You might want to not light your candles if you do, however.

If you want to give a tea party favor, you might consider little pots of ivy that you’ve started yourself. You could use these as place settings on your table. Just add a little name label on a stick in the pot. There isn’t much to transplanting a bit of ivy from your own pot or patch. Cut a piece, use rooting powder if you have it, stick it into moist soil. It will take off in just a few days.

For music playing in the background during this tea, you might want to consider the radio stations on your cable TV. They offer such a wide range of music and it is all without commercials. Mine has several "Sounds of the Seasons" stations. These always provide a nice mix of musical styles. There are also several "light" stations and even "light" classical.

Tomorrow I’ll give you the menu for the Ivy and Lace Afternoon Tea. While it would be goofy to have lots of lacy foods, I might have included one or two. Even at a traditional tea, a sense of humor isn’t out of place.