Retro Tea Party

A Retro Tea is an especially fun way to host a tea party. Transport your guests back to their childhoods, to happy times when everything was fresh and new. All will love remembering “the old days.” One person’s memory will spark something in another’s mind and the reminisces will fly around the room.

Invite good friends of about the same ages for this tea party. Someone who has never known life without computers won’t find the conversation especially interesting when everyone else is remembering black and white TV. Send paper invitations to set the mood from the beginning; use ones you create yourself or ones with a retro theme from a card shop. If your tea will be in the summer, send the invitations about a month in advance, if possible. Summer weekends fill up quickly.

Decorate with a particular time frame, ‘40s, ‘50s or ‘60s, in mind. I’m going to use the 1960s because those are the years I’m most nostalgic about. Whatever decade you use, there are lots of inexpensive decorative items to be found at yard sales and flea markets. Pick one item and build the rest of your decorating around it. Geometric shapes, especially anything satellite shaped, really defines the time.

If you don’t have dishes that match the theme, ask around. Borrowing what you need shouldn’t be too difficult. Same with the tablecloth and napkins. But again, these items aren’t hard to find at shops. If you can only find serving pieces, go ahead and use decorative paper plates and cups. I don’t usually recommend paper but in this case, they’ll fit just fine.

Pull out all the vintage items you have, lamps, clocks, ash trays, vases. Use them around the room. Any vintage magazines you have could be laid on lamp or coffee tables just as you’d find in 1960. You might want to leave out the plastic flowers but a few large artificial plants like philodendron or dumb cane would look just right.

Flowers for this tea should be simple. Use flowers that your mother or grandmother grew in her garden. Gerbera daisies, black-eyed Susans, snap dragons, some Queen Anne’s lace all have a nostalgic feel but use whatever flowers you remember.

Music should be easy to pick. And for this tea, it is okay to use vocals. Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin set one mood and Elvis and Little Richard set quite another. Make a mixed CD timing the tunes to where you think you’ll be in the tea. Quieter music for eating and more upbeat music as guests arrive and after the food is served.

Activities aren’t usually necessary for a tea but it is especially fun to ask each guest to bring a photo of herself from the time. Everyone tries to guess to whom each picture belongs. Just seeing the clothing and hairstyles will cause lots of giggles.

For a little favor, send your guests home with paper lunch bags of retro candy. Decorate the bags with stamps or stickers or simply write phrases from the time; for example you might use Sock it to Me, Right On, Groovy, or Outta Sight. There are a lot of web sites specializing in nostalgic candy sales. I’d pick candy necklaces, Bazooka Bubble Gum, Pez, Charm’s Blow Pops, Sugar Daddy, Tootsie Rolls, and marshmallow cones. The list could go on and on.

Please return this week for the Retro Tea Party Menu and the recipes.