Saturday, June 11, 2011

Peonies and Pearls tea party

I was reading the issue of Victoria magazine in which they featured an article on an outdoor party celebrating cherry blossoms. It looked so sweet but I knew such an event could never be pulled off in the PNW in the winter. I started thinking about pretty outdoor settings I could have, my mother's arbor for Mother's Day? Probably still too risky. (And considering this year's picnic disaster...) Perhaps my grandmother's patio? The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea. Her birthday is in June. June's birthstone is the pearl. She has a lovely bed of peonies that should be in bloom then. And when I did the math I realized it would be her 85th birthday, what better way to celebrate her milestone?!
My mom, sister, aunts, and cousins loved the idea and when I presented the idea to Grandma at Easter she agreed. She doesn't really care to be the center of attention so we kept the guest list short to just immediate family. I put together a menu with ideas for sandwiches and desserts so that everyone could pick one or two things to make and bring. This was a great way to keep the work down for one person and everyone could go all out on the dish they were making. Best of all there would be no kitchen full of dishes at Grandma's house save the place settings.
I thought about foods that could have pearls in them and came up with caviar garnishing a sandwich, pearl colored dragees on a cookie, and jasmine tea pearls. Then I filled in with the usual suspects for a tea party. Here is the full menu:

  • Jasmine pearl tea and Lady Grey tea
  • Pink Lemonade
  • Pink champagne, mimosas, and bellinis
  • Smoked salmon sandwiches on pumpernickel bread with caviar pearl garnish. (I used this recipe for the herb butter.)
  • Cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches
  • Curried chicken salad sandwiches
  • Roast beef and cheddar pinwheels
  • Ham with pineapple cream cheese
  • Mini bundt cakes
  • Lavender sugar cookies with pearl dragees
  • Chocolate mousse with raspberries and cream
  • Lemon tartlets (My mom called these Aphrodites because she thought they ended up looking like nipples)
  • Deviled eggs
  • Fruit salad
Although I hate pink, I knew that pink would tie the pearls and peonies together best, plus this party wasn't about me. I decided to pair the pink with a sage green color like my super long tablecloth. Rather than using lots of card tables, we could move grandma's dining room table outside onto the patio and add all three table leaves. I envisioned pretty pink peonies as napkin rings as well as floral arrangements. I decided to fashion my own napkin rings so I could get just what I wanted and hoped that silk flowers wouldn't look too tacky next to the real ones. LinkI used pink and green ribbon sewn together for the rings and hot glued on the faux peonies. (Yes, I finally admitted to myself that I am a crafter and bought my own darn hot glue gun. One with two temperatures no less.)To tie the pearls into the tablescape I considered using strings of mauve and pink pearl beads my mom uses to decorate her tree. But during one of my trips to the craft store I forgot and bought some loose pearl beads in various sizes. I also found some pearl letters which I used on the menu card. And it is very subtle, but the place cards are a pearlecent paper.
Grandma has Noritake china with a simple silver design so it will go with just about everything. Unfortunatley she doesn't have the tea service to match her china. My mom and I realized one afternoon that a green and pink tea set in her vast collection would tie in perfectly with our color scheme.
This party was so fun to put together and was made very easy the day of since everything was delegated out amongst us.


  1. No lemon bars? Beautiful table and setup!

  2. Ha! No lemon cheese bars, although are still a family favorite! Maybe I'll bring some for our camping trip!