For six years, my friends Mandi and Jess and I have thrown a lovely Valentine tea party. Each year, we go about it in exactly the same way. The three of us gather over hot tea and a sweet treat to create our invitations (which boast a different handmade design every year, but always read "The pleasure of your company is requested for tea and valentine-making.") and plan who will contribute which delicious food item for our long and mouth-watering menu, who will bring what serving wares, craft supplies, and, of course, the extra tables and chairs.
Before the party, we rearrange furniture to accommodate our 10-16 guests and our vast assortment of card-making supplies. We carefully set out and arrange the supplies. We dress the tables with vintage tablecloths, mismatched plates, saucers, teacups, vintage tumblers, trays, platters, cake stands, bowls, and lacy hankies for our delicate hands. We finish the last-minute brewing and baking (you know, you must eat scones fresh from the oven!) and fill the tables with our sweet and savory treats.
Our menu is different every year, but the dishes always fall into the same basic categories: sandwich, scone (with devonshire cream or lemon curd), fruit, bite-size sweet, bite-size savory, full-size sweet, hot tea, and cold beverage. We have served cheese blintzes with blueberries, chocolate-clementine tart, the Scarlet Empress charlotte (from The Cake Bible), homemade pink marshmallows, double-chocolate torte with chai glaze, mini-heart-shaped lemon cheesecakes, chocolate-covered cherry cookies, strawberries piped full of lemon cream, saffron madeleines, several varieties of scones, sandwiches, cookies, etc. All delicious!
After we've consumed to our satisfaction, we clear and undress the tables and begin the drawing, cutting, gluing, stitching, punching, beading, deliberating, and composing that goes into making valentines for our friends and family. By the end of the party, we have many lovely, sweet or funny, unique cards to ooh and ahh over, many leftovers to dole out and many dishes to wash.
I love our party.
This year, however, with 3 kids under the age of 4, I've decided it's a bit more than I can handle. Not wanting to abandon the idea completely, though, I do intend to share a relaxed evening with a few friends over a few delicious treats and a warm beverage. We will create something lovely together using few craft supplies. I'll have to post the outcome later.
Meanwhile, here are a few pics from parties past. (You know I rarely take quality photos and I never take as many as I intend to-I'm completely lacking 2 years worth-so a few of these are from Jess).