little: Parties: High Tea

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

A dreamy afternoon for little girls to dress up and pretend...

Little girls love to play grownups. This gorgeous high tea birthday party for a gaggle of five-year-olds is also a perfect opportunity for mums to get together for a cup of tea, with their very own table sitting alongside. Party games for the young madams include decorating teacup cookies with sprinkles in pastel bowls, and threading candy necklaces. ‘Tea’ hot chocolate is served in real china demitasse cups adorned with teapot stickers, and plastic champagne flutes bubble with sparkling apple juice. Each place is set with a pink fan and place card, and tasty delights include chocolate ‘paté’ with mini toasts, petits fours, quiches, millefeuille pastries and tiny egg sandwiches.

This gorgeous invitation is not at all difficult to make. From green cardstock, cut a rectangle with decorative scissors. Cut the main body of the cup, the cup base, the saucer and inside-cup ellipse from contrasting decorative papers. Glue cup base to saucer then main body of cup on top, then position ellipse to represent the interior of the cup.

Using a cutting mat and utility knife, carefully slice the bottom edge of the ellipse. This is where the teabag will slide in. Glue the cup to the green card stock, taking care to glue only the handle, cup base and everywhere above the slitted opening, not below.
“Tea is a cup of life.” ~Author unknown

To make the teabag, print invitation details onto card stock and trim with decorative scissors. Cut a rectangle from white card and trim top section to form slanted sides, as shown. Cut a square from contrasting paper and glue a piece of white string to the back of it. Glue square to top of white rectangle, sandwiching string inside, and then glue party details on front of teabag. Leave string to hang loosely.

When completely dry, slide teabag into the cup.

Serve warm hot chocolate in a real teapot and let the girls pour in their milk and sugar. Another alternative is herbal tea, sweetened with honey. Use sparkling apple juice or lemonade for the 'champagne'.

Marshmallows or other sweets look adorable in mini patty pans. For petits fours, bake a shallow slab cake and cut small rounds with a scone cutter. Roll out ready-made mouldable Orchard icing and use the same cutter to make circles for the tops of the cakes. Brush tops of cakes with warm jam so icing sticks. Decorate with sugared flowers or make your own from icing.

"Each cup of tea represents an imaginary voyage."~ Catherine Douzel

Use tablecloths, linen napkins, china plates, silver cutlery, baskets, pedestal plates and blooming garden roses in tiny vases to decorate – the more romantic, the better. Lay lacy gloves at each place setting and drop a delicate plastic bracelet into each champagne flute. The teapot cake is deceptively simple to make. Decorate with dots or daisies or simply leave plain. Colour the icing in any shade you desire; pastels look the prettiest. Recipes follow.

Relive a time gone by with a trip to your local opportunity shop. You can discover a fantastic array of cheap and chic outfits for your wee madams.

Snap up gloves and hats, veils and slips (and be sure to wash and dry them thoroughly). Plastic high heels are perfect for little feet. Provide a large lidded box and full-length mirror and lots of accessories – beads, flowers on pins, hair clips and sashes. Anything tulle – floaty and feminine is the order of the day.

Above, Hannah, Ella, Milly, Ella and Sophie model their old-time, very glamorous ensembles.

What is romantic fashion without rosy cheeks and shimmering lips? A little frost on the eyelid, a sweep of the lash, a glittering smattering here and there. This is a little girl’s true forté – the mirror-less lipstick application. Adult makeup artists are always well-appreciated, but for best results, lay out powders and shimmers for eyes, lips and cheeks, and let little artists create!

“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.”
~ Henry James


Wrap pass-the-parcel in lashings of ribbon and stud each layer of paper with stickers of teapots or teacup die cuts.

Decorate cookies with icing and sprinkles, or paper fans and mini umbrellas with glitter glue and sequins. Thread lollies onto elastic to make bracelets and necklaces – instant jewels.

Play pin-the-flower-on-the-hat with a real straw hat and flower brooch; mark a spot for the flower to go. Have a treasure hunt and hand the girls little notes that contain clues on where to find the treasure. Play musical statues or ask the girls to rehearse a special show that the mums can enjoy.


Chocolate Pâté
15 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
¾ cup icing sugar
1 cup heavy cream
4 large egg yolks
6 tablespoons vanilla or almond extract
Melt chocolate, cream and butter over simmering water, beating with a whisk until smooth and glossy. Remove from the heat and add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each one. Add icing sugar and beat until smooth. Mix in extract. Grease a small loaf tin and line so baking paper extends over sides. Butter the paper then pour in chocolate mixture. Cover with plastic and freeze for 8 hours or overnight. To remove from the pan, dip the bottom in warm water. Serve with mini toasts. Decorate with berries or sifted icing sugar if desired.

Easy Millefeuille
6 sheets ready rolled puff pastry
2 cups whipping cream
2 teaspoons icing sugar
1 cup fresh strawberries
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Preheat over to 220°C. While still semi-frozen, lay three sheets of pastry on top of each other and cut into 10cm x 5cm rectangles with a sharp knife, then prick all over with a fork. Repeat with remaining three sheets. Line trays with baking paper and lay rectangles out with a 1cm gap between each. Brush lightly with egg and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake for approx 15 minutes or until puffed and lightly golden. Whip cream with icing sugar until stiff peaks form. Chop strawberries into tiny pieces and fold through cream. When pastries are completely cold, split into two or three layers. Using a large nozzle, pipe strawberry cream between each layer of each rectangle.

Egg Sandwiches
6 eggs, hard-boiled
¼ cup mayonnaise
½ teaspoon salt
cracked black pepper
2 teaspoons chives, finely chopped
Mash hard-boiled eggs with a fork and stir through salt, pepper and mayonnaise. Add finely chopped chives. Spread onto thin white bread, remove crusts and cut into small triangles to serve.

Bake two packet cake mixes in 30cm round tins. When completely cool, flatten the top of one cake and top it with the second, sandwiched together with a thick layer of buttercream icing. Carefully carve the top layer with a serrated knife until you achieve a domed look.

Give the entire cake a crumb-coating of pale buttercream, then a second layer, smoothing carefully. Add food colouring to mouldable Orchard icing in desired colours. Roll equal amounts into balls and flatten onto baking paper with a plate, to form dots. Stud all over cake.

Roll out a large piece of coloured icing and cut a flower with a cookie cutter for teapot lid handle. For teapot handle, cut a long strip with rounded ends and secure to cake with toothpicks. For spout, cut a triangle and do the same. Cover toothpick holes with daisies.

To make daisies, make white dots as before then carefully snip around edge with kitchen scissors to define petals. Place a yellow icing ball in centre. Pipe a line with icing gel on top of teapot to define lid.

Note: Handle and spout will have to be supported until they are dry enough to hold themselves up. Use bowls or cups to prop them against. Avoid making this cake in a warm room, as icing will stay too soft.

Buttercream Icing
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
6-8 cups icing sugar
½ cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Place butter in a large mixing bowl and beat with 4 cups sugar, the milk and vanilla. Beat at medium speed for about 3-5 minutes or until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the remaining sugar, one cup at a time, beating well after each addition. Use enough sugar to make the icing the consistency you prefer. Add colouring last. Store at room temperature for up to three days.

Photographs Tania McCartney.

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