Continuing yesterday's post about hosting a tea party for a large group, below you'll find what I served and how we did it.
Years ago when our parish started this event, we asked for donations of teacups and saucers, china dessert plates, and teapots. People very generously donated things and garage sale finds filled the rest of the need. After each year's Tea, volunteers carefully pack them all away in rubbermaid containers for the next year.
There are lots of appropriate choices for tea party food, but you'll want a good balance between sweets and savories, some fresh fruit is always nice, and, of course, tea is required. We also serve punch since only half of our audience is adults. I tend to choose recipes that can be at least partially prepared in advance, and things that don't require last minute baking. You can find good general information about hosting a tea party here and I have details about ours below.
Strawberries and Grapes
Lemon Poppyseed Bread and Strawberry Bread
And lots of notes:
- I have a volunteer make the scones the day before (or if we're really lucky, the day of) the Tea.
- The citrus curd and Devon cream can be made a week or two ahead of time. If you'd prefer not to make the citrus curd, I HIGHLY recommend this excellent product.
- Fruit and nut breads (lemon, banana, strawberry, etc.) can all be made well in advance and frozen. Thaw the day before your event and slice just before serving.
- I made the brownies the day before because I know the boxed ones get dry after freezing. If you want to use a moister homemade recipe, you might be able to make them in advance and freeze them in the pan. Do not freeze them with the frosting on.
- The petit four "recipe" I use is sealed in icing. I've made them several days in advance with no adverse effects.
- I like crisp gingersnaps for dipping in tea. These were purchased from Ikea (yes, Ikea) and I piped a flower on top. Personally, I think they're nicer to eat without the icing, but these were cute. These were crisp and thin and had a nice flavor.
- Cream puffs are purchased from Sam's Club or Costco. They come frozen.
- Mini cheesecakes can be made a month in advance if you're that organized. They freeze well; just top them after they're thawed.
- The chicken salad can be made a few days in advance. Add the cashews the day they're served.
- The breads are pretty moist, so don't make them too far in advance. I typically bake them on Saturday for my Sunday Tea. I think I've frozen them in the past, but don't remember for sure. If you test the theory, leave a comment.
- Someone else made the roll-up sandwiches a day or two early and just dropped them off to be cut the day of the Tea.
- I cooked the eggs on Tuesday, peeled them and mixed the filling Friday and filled them with a pastry bag and wide star tip the day of the Tea.
The key to being able to serve lots of different foods is to either divide the work between several helpers or to choose recipes that can be managed ahead of time.