P is for Planning

P is for Planning

Contains
0 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
ISBN
9781742701943

Ladies, there’s only one thing that will ensure your tea soiree goes off without a hitch, and that’s if you plan your party within an inch of its life. A last-minute dash to the supermarket for ready-made soggy sandwiches (perish the thought) and a boxed Victoria Sponge that has a use-by date ten years from now, is simply not acceptable. So what’s a gal to do?

Select the type of soiree

Is it to be a cream, afternoon or high tea? Decisions, decisions. here’s the low-down: cream tea is usually scones, jam, clotted cream and a brew, and is rather informal -- perfect for a rainy day and a chit-chat; afternoon tea is traditionally served between 3 and 5 pm, consists of savouries and sweets, and should be held in a classier fashion; afternoon tea usually happens around 6 pm and is a proper, sit-down affair with more hearty foods.

Guest list

There’s one golden rule that all domestic goddesses stick to: never invite more people than you can comfortably cater for. This will only lead to unnecessary stress, which in turn leads to wrinkles, and no-one wants those. Less is more (and 12 should be the absolute max: you are not Nigella, after all). Think long and hard about who you would like to invite. Claudia and Samira not talking because of that ‘incident’ last year? Now is not the time for a reunion: hot tea BuRNS, and you can still glass someone with a bone-china teacup. Choose your guests wisely. After all, you don’t want the spotlight to be on two people not getting on, especially if you’ve spent all morning making your own damn pastry!

Invites

Your choice of invite depends on how formal you would like the afternoon to be. A written invite is the nicest to receive; a handmade one will make your guests secretly hate you (but actually want to be you); text and Facebook messages seem rather ghastly in comparison, so be it on your head! Aim to send your invites a few weeks in advance to ensure maximum attendance, and don’t forget to include the date, time, venue details and dress code.

Pre-bake that cake

Giving yourself as little as possible to do on the day of the party will make your life stress-free, and allow you more time to spend on dolling yourself (and your house) up. Almost all of the cakes in this book can be made the day before. However, your dainty little finger sandwiches should be prepared just an hour before the guests arrive: a dry savoury could spell your undoing; a soggy one would mean instant fail.

Essentials

A few days before the party, make sure you have enough plates, teacups, serving platters, napkins, knives and forks and all that jazz to go around. If you were thinking plastic cutlery and paper plates would suffice you were wrong, and should seriously rethink your hostess credentials. Mismatched china will give your table a certain charm, and a quirky tablecloth or a line of bunting can add some class. What if you don’t have a tablecloth? host it anyway!

Tea selection

Hopefully you own at least one teapot, or things could get a bit tricky. For types of tea, stick to the classics like English Breakfast, Irish Breakfast and Earl Grey and you can't go wrong. It would be nice to have more than one type on offer, but delicious food will cancel out the lack of choice. Be sure to keep the kettle on the boil throughout the day to ensure that parched nerves are constantly rejuvenated.

Menu

Your menu should be light yet filling, savoury as well as sweet. When in doubt, make a tad extra: you don’t want your guests going hungry. And check with everyone beforehand to see if they have any food allergies or special diets: a gluten-intolerant vegan with a nut allergy could spoil the fun if you are not totally prepared!

Playlist

There’s no better way to create a party atmosphere than pumping out some of your favourite tunes. You could just plug in your iPod and hit random, but we all know this will be the moment when the explicit Lil’ Kim track or that dreary Leonard Cohen number rears its ugly head and kills the vibe (or changes the tone of the party…). To avert disaster, why not create a tea-sipping playlist (or even two)?

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