Thursday, March 26, 2009

Tea parties for today

Things taste better in small houses. -Queen Victoria

Did you know that in Victorian times, women often brought their own tea cups and spoons to a friend's house for tea? These were expensive items, and the hostess was spared having to provide good china cups for the whole gathering. Ladies escaped their domestic responsibilities for an hour and caught up on one another's news.

For women today, especially the stay-at-home mother, isolation is the enemy. With so many women off to paycheck jobs during the day, you can feel alone unless you make a real effort to get together with other women. This is also a special problem for the single working mother who does not seem to fit in with the couples scene or the singles scene.

A tea party provides a great way to connect with other ladies. It does not have to be fancy. And if you don't like tea (although that's hard to imagine!), you can serve coffee. Choose a time when the children are off to school or can be amused with a video or when Grandpa can take them to the park. The important thing is for you ladies to relax and share stories without being overheard by children or husbands.

You might dress up your table with an old-time tablecloth from a thrift store or antique mall. You can often find ceramic tea pots there as well left by all the ladies who meant to throw tea parties but found they never did. Consider letting your friends bring along their favorite cups, or just use what you have. Accompany hot tea with simple cookies like shortbreads or lemon crisps.

Don't fuss about cleaning the entire house before letting a few people into it. Wipe down the bathroom and provide a clean table and let your party roll.

Remember to invite friends or relatives of all ages--a good mix provides the best conversation.

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