Garden Tea Party 5yr - Backyard Tea
Laura in Santa Rosa, CA
For my daughter Claire's 5th birthday we decided on a Garden Tea Party. Because 5 feels like a big deal to me, I wanted to pull out all the stops. I am a party favor-a-holic and LOVE party favors so I had a high tea/mini wedding reception in mind. Because I knew I wanted to go all out I began accumulating items a few months before the party.
INVITATIONS: For the invites I dressed Claire up in tea clothes (floppy hat, gloves, fancy dress) and set her up at a "tea table" outside and took photos of her serving tea. I cut the photos to fit on the right side of a 5X7 piece of cardstock. I printed up the info on plain see-thru vellum on the left side and cut it to fit over entire piece of cardstock. I cut a rectangle of vellum out over the photo leaving a 1/4" border around the pic. At the bottom I wrote "Please feel free to wear a very special dress. Additional tea finery will be provided."
FAVORS: For me this is highlight of the party so I went crazy. I made paper purses from pink polkadot cardstock and filled them with candy necklaces, jewel ring pops, bead bracelets, hair clips and bands, etc. all purchased from the Dollar Store. Each purse had a pipe cleaner handle and daisy button closure. Pattern can be found on Parents magazine website. Each child got a pair of lace gloves from Birthday Party Express, and a placecard which I'd actually made from little bottles of wedding bubbles (Oriental Trading Company). On those I hot glued a small silk flower to the top, cut out a tag shape and tied it to the bottle in matching ribbon. I used stickers to put names on tags. The favors also doubled as decorations.
DECORATIONS: The party was held in our backyard. I ordered two dozen balloons in pink, orange, and yellow and found silk vines with big pink roses on them on sale at Beverly's crafts for $.88. I bought ten and wound them around everything from the chains on her swingset to the poles of the tiki torches to the entry of her playhouse. The rest of the decorations were on the table. I rented a child-size table and chairs for 15$ from Hertz. I used my white tablecloth and then covered that with six yards of pink tulle folded end to end. I gathered the fabric at each corner and twist-tied a big pink silk rose to each table leg.
The table was set with tiered dessert plates, "silver platters" from the Dollar Store, and pink depression glass creamers and sugar bowls I'd gotten inexpensively from Ebay. Each place setting was made up of milkglass luncheon plates and matching cups (also purchased from Ebay, 5 sets for $9). These plates were a highlight. The cup sits right on the plate (very 1950's) and the girls felt very grown up with the added bonus of me not worrying about broken dishes. Behind each plate were the paper purses, with the pair of lace gloves folded over the top. My mom made very sweet cloth napkins from white calico and pink ribbons and there was a folded napkin on the center of each plate, topped with the bubble placecard. I found plastic silverware that actually looked like real silver.
The FOOD was just my daughter's favorites, cucumber sandwiches without crusts, PBJ cut with flower cookie cutters and deviled ham. I made miniature scones served with clotted cream and strawberry jam, mini blueberry muffins, and rasberry tarts (cut pre-rolled pie into circles and pressed into mini muffin pans. Filling was rasberry jello mixed with Cool Whip and topped with a rasberry).
A tip: Just put food on the plates and let the kids sample. I gave them choices and they just wanted the PBJ. It took some coaxing to get them to try the other stuff (they liked most of it once they'd tasted it).
Same thing with the tea. We had a pot of peach tea and a pot of apple juice. I wish I had just poured them all tea so they could have had the experience of taking cream and sugar, THEN given juice to those who wanted it. Instead I gave the choice first and only my daughter wanted the tea. I wore a frilly white apron and gave a very short run-down on the history of the tea party and tea party manners. We had two crafts and two games.
For the CRAFTS I did the floppy hats with the silk flowers like I'd seen suggested on this website. Never did find hats for $1.99 at the craft store. I had to buy a dozen from OT ($19.99) and take the Hawaiian bands off when they arrived. Also, it takes like 15 min. to glue flowers all the way around the hat so I had each girl choose five blossoms that I glued just to the front. Looked very cute, but I wish I planned it better. Only took 2 seconds for the girls to choose the flowers and they ran around hyper and screaming while I glued the flowers on. Better planning next time. The second craft was making paper fans with ribbons ala Martha Stewart. Cute idea, but most 5 year-olds can't fold a fan yet and aren't that interested in doing it anyway. Would have made a better favor than a craft.
The GAMES were Hot Teapot (Hot Potato) we used a cloth teapot toy, but any tea item that won't break if dropped will work. The second game was Pin the Butterfly on the flower. This game was very cute. I cut a vase and some flowers out of colored construction paper and mounted them on white posterboard. I ordered the feather butterflies from OT and cut the wire stem off. I stuck a Glue Dot on the back of each before each girl's turn. This game was great because it wasn't totally obvious if the kid really missed the mark. Just looked like floating butterflies!
For PRIZES I cut little cellophane bags (Michael's) down to size, filled them with Skittles Smoothie Mix (pretty pastel colors), tied them with an iredescent pink bow and affixed a little pink tag with CANDY written in cute letters. The prize for the second game was my favorite. I'd found orange, pink and yellow flower-shaped bath flakes on clearance at Mervyns. I folded strips of see-thru vellum like actual tea bags and filled them with the flakes, folded and stapled them and tied on a little tag with three tiny flowers punched out of cardstock in matching colors. On one side of the tag I wrote "Bath Confetti" and on the other I wrote the directions.
I really lucked out with the PARTING GIFTS and almost didn't give them away. I foun 8 demitasse cups on Ebay for $8. They were beautiful, pale pink and white with a thin silver stripe and silver handles. Inside I included a few sugar cubes and a bag of peach tea. I removed the tag on the tea bag and made one of pink cardstock outlined in silver to match the cup. On one side I wrote, "Many Thanks," and on the other "Love, Claire" in swirly cursive. I wrapped these in clear cellophane and tied them with iredescent pink ribbons. I got white paper gift bags from Target and wrote each girl's name in big silver pen so they had something to hold all their goodies in.
This was a BEAUTIFUL garden party that my daughter raved about for days. We both had a MARVELOUS time (her choice of words) and I even had a mom call a few days later to thank us and tell us her daughter not only said it was the best birthday party she'd ever been to, she wanted to wear the hat we'd made for her 5 year old portrait. Claire says she wants a tea party every year!
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