Tea parties are back in style, even for that bastion of giggly girly games - the baby shower.
While holding a high tea may smack of English country estates, or even the fashionable decadence of the Sex and the City girls, it actually translates well to our relaxed Australian lifestyle.
A baby shower high tea is taken between 2pm and 4pm. It can held outdoors under a lovely shade tree, in your home or at a teahouse. The perfect time of year for an outdoors tea party is during the daylight savings period.
A pleasant afternoon spent with friends and family, soaking up some good, uninterrupted conversation and tranquil atmosphere - that's the kind of event you probably won't have too often after baby is here!
It may include:
- Strong, loose leaf tea
- Scones, cream & jam
- Delicate crustless sandwiches - cucumber, egg, salmon - anything light
- Sumptuous cakes - especially beautifully decorated cupcakes
Traditionally, it is served with traditional teapots, cups and cutlery - and of course laid out on the best tablecloths! The food is not presented as a buffet, but brought out as the afternoon progresses. Table centrepieces are often flowers in soft pastel colours.
But a casual afternoon is acceptable - it depends on the mood you wish to set. Naomi Watts had a very laid-back afternoon baby shower, with guests such as Isla Fisher and Kate Hudson relaxing on rugs on the ground - the afternoon ending with everyone sitting barefoot around the pool.
The popular games held at baby showers are not generally seen at high tea.
It can be a girl-only affair, or can include male partners.
High tea or afternoon tea?
The concepts of high tea and afternoon tea are often used interchangeably. But in English history, they meant different things. 'Afternoon tea' is meant to have been started by one of Queen Victoria's ladies-in-waiting, Anna Maria Stanhope (the Duchess of Bedford). The Duchess found herself becoming peckish around mid-afternoon - as the main meal of the day was not served until late. And so the Duchess had servants bring her little cakes, sandwiches and tea. Apparently she found scoffing these titbits so delightful she began inviting female friends to join her - sending out formal invitations.
High tea, on the other hand, described the tea had by the working classes after they arrived home exhausted at the end of each day - between 5pm to 6pm. They had a full meal of meat, bread, cheese and tea. It was termed High Tea as it was had on the main table (the high table) of the house, whereas simple tea was held on a low table.
To further confuse things, the aristocracy might have light meal at afternoon or high tea, with a more substantial meal coming as late as 10pm.
So if you're planning an afternoon tea for a friend or relative's baby shower, plan to create a mood of luxurious relaxation and good company. Start with gorgeous invitations and perhaps a dash of the Duchess of Bedford's indulgent style!
Join in discussion on Baby Showers in the Essential Baby forum, Christenings & Showers