Renew the Tradition of Tea Parties
When you think of tea parties, do you think of fine china, tiny sandwiches and ladies wearing floppy hats?
In reality, tea parties provide a great opportunity for parents to enjoy their kids, share creativity and create memories. They can be small and intimate or large and elaborate. Put one together in 10 minutes or plan it weeks ahead. Here are some ways to make this tradition a fun occasion for your child.
Decorations and food
Choosing dishes is an important part of planning your tea party. Secondhand stores offer a treasure trove of inexpensive teacups and saucers. Don't worry about them all matching. Mismatched dishes contribute an eclectic look. Take Grandma's teacups out of the cupboard and dust them off, or purchase pretty paper plates and napkins at the dollar store.
When it comes to location, use your imagination. Host a tea party in the middle of the kitchen floor on a blanket, for example.
Pick a theme and dress accordingly. Guests can wear fancy outfits or pajamas, and bring their favorite doll or stuffed animal.
Ask your child to help decorate by making napkin rings out of a cut-up toilet paper roll. Offer beads, beans, sequins or dried pasta for decorations, or cover the napkin rings with colored tissue paper or tin foil. Older kids can trace the letter of their last name on construction paper, cut it out and glue it on the roll.
Consider foods such as fruit and cookies, or traditional delicacies like small sandwiches with the crusts cut off. Sugar cubes makes guests feel special. Offer flavored water or juice in tiny teacups or plastic mugs as an alternative to, or in addition to, decaffeinated tea.
Hospitality and manners
While preparing for the tea party, talk to your child about how to be a good host.
"Teaching your child the importance of being a good host is a life skill that she will use over and over," says Patricia Mendez, author of Easy Entertaining for Beginners.
Review with your child how to show good manners, but make it fun.
"Demonstrating hospitality by having friends into your home is a gift that you give to others," Mendez says. "Making guests feel welcomed and important teaches your children to be 'other'-minded."
Parents should remember they serve as a role model for children. "Parents need to realize that their child will be copying them, so they should sit down to eat with their child, not talk with their mouth full, and put their napkin on their laps," says Marianne Cohen, vice president of an etiquette consulting business.
It often takes longer to set up a tea party than host one. However, as your children grow older, they can help more and contribute their own ideas.
"Slowing down, scheduling time for a lovely, unrushed afternoon with a bit of luxurious tea and finger food promotes happiness," Mendez says.
From the time her five children could hold a cup in their hands, Jan Udlock has hosted numerous tea parties. She has never had a cup or saucer broken.
Raspberry Cream Cheese Heart Tarts
Catherine McCord, founder of Weelicious.com, makes homemade Heart Tarts with fresh raspberries and pink icing made with raspberry juice instead of artificial food coloring. Recipe makes 10-11 tarts. See how Catherine's homemade Heart Tarts look and gain her declicious recipes for Raspberr-Wee Pancakes, Macaroons and BloodÂ Orange Granita in this article. See our Valentine's Family Fun Guide for more delicious reciples.
½ cup raspberries
¼ cup whipped cream cheese*
1 tablespoon honey
1 double pie crust recipe or one 14-ounce
pre-made pie crust (such as a Pillsbury pie crust)
1½ cups powdered sugar
10 raspberries for icing or 2 tablespoons juiced raspberries
1 tablespoon milk or water
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Place the raspberries and cream cheese in a bowl. Using the back of a fork, mash the raspberries with the cream cheese, leaving some pieces.
Roll the pie crust ¼-inch thick and cut out hearts with a shaped cookie-cutter. (Or unroll packaged pie crust and cut out shapes.)
Place one heart on a lightly floured work surface and top with 2 teaspoons of the cream cheese mixture in the very center, leaving a ¼-inch border.
Lightly dip a finger into a cup of water and "brush" the border. Top with another heart, take the tines of a fork and gently press on the edges to adhere (so the cream cheese mixture stays inside the heart pocket). With a toothpick, poke holes at the top of the heart to remove air pockets.
Place hearts on a parchment or Silpat-lined baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes or until golden.
While the hearts bake, place 10 raspberries in a strainer and press down to release raspberry juice into a bowl. You should get about 2 tablespoons of juice.
Whisk in the milk and slowly pour in the powdered sugar and stir to make icing. Drizzle the raspberry icing over the hearts with a fork. Serve.
*You may also fill the tarts with 2 teaspoons of Nutella.
Catherine McCord channels her biggest passion - cooking easy, healthy food - into a website for parents, Weelicious.com, where she posts recipes, tips and cooking videos for parents.