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tea and  toast 
how to host a tea party

Patricia Virella | 1 2 3

After all the holiday parties and New Year celebrations, catching up with my good friends was a priority. I wanted to invite them over for a couple hours of gossip and to share our holiday season stories. A dinner party sounded ok, except I definitely wanted to make it less formal -- and after all the holiday cooking, I vowed that I wouldn't be stuck in the kitchen for longer than I had to be. A tea party offered the solution. It would be the perfect light-hearted get-together and I wouldn't have to spend all morning in the kitchen. Just a couple of easy tricks that bend the traditional tea party rules and my guests and I would have an afternoon we would all remember -- and possibly a new tradition.

Once I started organizing the party, I listed the things I knew I didn't want to include. As casual as this gathering was, I instructed my guests to leave their hats and gloves at home. When organizing your afternoon tea, make sure to stipulate the rules on the invites or your guests will not know what to expect. Keeping it casual will make your guests feel more comfortable and leave you with less to do. Here are some tips for creating the perfect tea party.

choosing your tea (or coffee)
With so many teas out there, it may be hard to settle on the perfect one for your menu. Keep it simple by offering three types of brew or getting a sampler box of teas.

During the winter months I like to serve a homemade tea. I offer two versions, spiced tea and honey-mint. Not only are these teas quite delicious and easy to make, but they leave the whole house smelling like delicious tea goodness, getting everyone in the mood to relax.

If some of the invited guests are not tea drinkers, don't be afraid to offer coffee. Making a pot for them will make them feel included in the event. Having a tea party doesn't mean you have to exclude those friends who don't like this type of brew. If most of the guests prefer coffee, make several types, like hazelnut, chocolate, mocha, and vanilla, and change the party theme to "Coffee Time." You can get these different varieties from any gourmet market or even the local supermarket. The key when choosing your tea and coffee is to make sure you have at least one good, basic tea and/or coffee that everyone will like in case they don't want to try the new, exotic flavors.

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