Wednesday, June 3, 2015

A Graduation Tea

Several weeks ago I alluded to the fact that I was busy planning a graduation tea for my niece, Kalynn's, High School Graduation.

At least, I think I alluded to it...It might have all been in my head. Some days I forget whether I'm coming or going.

Kalynn is my brother's oldest. She is the girl half of a set of twins. The other half being Chris. Chris is homeschooled and quite hasn't reached this milestone yet.

Kalynn happened to graduate from the same high school her Daddy and me did. Only my graduation happened *&^ years ago. Her graduating class had almost 400. Mine had 99.


We held the party at one of the parks in her town. It was a busy day. There were baseball games going on and just the general business of a Saturday at the park. It also wound up being the windiest day we had seen in a while.  Not everything cooperated with us but it was a lovely day to spend with friends to celebrate Kalynn.

You must know that I wuv planning events. I seldom have the energy to carry out the plans once they get ready to happen, but I can plan like nobody's business. Thankfully, I had some help. All the girls gathered at my parents' farm one Saturday to do some baking, The Muffin helped me with a few strong man projects and my Mom loaned out all of her beautiful things and beautiful ideas. And, of course, my brother laid down some cash.

I had found some photo props at The Goodwill for .99 cents. I also made some little signs. I wish I had taken pictures of some of them. They were pretty stinkin' cute. Actually, I didn't take pictures at all. In fact, the night before a friend had told me..."make sure you charge your camera." By the time we were loaded up and headed to the park I didn't remember I had a camera.

I do, however, have the jpegs of a few of them that I sent off to the printers. These were my favorites. I had them printed on cardstock and attached them to sticks.

The long paper chain display you see to the right took me many, many hours to make. It was meant to be the photo booth backdrop, but it would wack people in the head during a good gust. I know there are pictures and pictures of the kids with their photo booth props. I just don't have access to them right now.

Not a really good picture of this banner. I made the pennant shapes out of old greeting cards and covered them with pretty vintage scrapbook paper. I glued some small doilies in the middle of them and wrote out the letters of Kalynn's name. I then tied bits of old fabric, ribbon and lace in between the letters.  It too threatened to launch every time the wind blew through.

We had brought in an old table. Kalynn creates beautiful pottery so we  used the table to set up her work as well as a few other things. I had a 5x7 picture printed and put it in a signature mat. Her friends and guests signed it (obviously they hadn't done so at this point). This is also where her guests put the cards and gifts they brought for her.

The big turquoise frame came from the barn. It started out in fairly rough shape. I removed the back and took out all of the old staples and nails. Then I sanded it a little bit and spray painted it in a glossy finish. The Muffin used a staple gun to staple the twine across of it. It looked a lot different at home. The wind really messed with it. Don't be surprised if a picture of Kalynn winds up in your yard. They were flying everywhere.  Did I mention it was windy?

Party goers! All of Kalynn's friends dressed up. They felt quite fancy.

It's a Beke sighting. That's me in back. I'm the fluffy one in the cream colored shirt balancing a plastic container of Petit Fours on my gut. If you look really hard you can see my Dad (aka Papa) sitting on a park bench outside the pavilion.

For the tables we used my Mom's old linens and flowers from my Dad's gardens. The peonies were gorgeous! I used mason jars as the vases. I tied old fabric strips or burlap around them. I also attached a small paper doily to the jar and clipped on a mini chalkboard with 2015 written on it. I wish we would have had a better picture of them. They were pretty cute. It was quite the sacrifice for my Dad to give up his flowers for the occasion. We think he counts them. He also possibly gives them names. Not that he would admit it.

The birdcage is from my house.

The dudes. Kalynn's brother Chris and cousins, Josiah and Christian.

One of the menu requests was for my famous chicken salad. We used Hawaiian Rolls and set them in my cute enamel birdfeeder I brought from home. I don't use it as a birdfeeder. I use it on my table to keep fruit in.

This was some sweet and salty candy my mom made up. It's a bit addicting.

Rumaki! This is not necessarily tea party food, but it is a family tradition. There is nothing like it. Kalynn made it for the first time just for her party. We use the Martha Stewart recipe. Per Kalynn's request everyone had to try a piece. We estimated we had at least 3 pounds of Rumaki. I guarantee you not much of it was left over.

These little lemon tea cookies were to die for. I'll have to dig up the recipe and share. By the way, we also used my Mom and Dad's vintage china. I also have a few sets of my own, but they are in storage. The pattern you see below is the Priscilla from Homer Laughlin. This piece was probably my grandmother's.

These are Almond Tea Cookies. They are highly addictive.  My friend Dawn made 17 dozen of these out of one recipe. We are making a version of them for Cooking School during Cousin Camp. I'm getting my mouth ready for them right now.

You can't have a Tea Party without Petit Fours. These were pretty much a bugger to make. Thankfully, my mom is used to fixing my buggery baking so they all turned out cute and tasty.

These cute little muffins is actually Monkey Bread. I got up early that morning! You can also see my head. Anyhoo. Monkey Bread is also a family favorite. I usually have to send it to Troy's work crew several times a year.

And, of course, one must have scones at a Tea Party. We also used Martha Stewart's recipe, but added almonds and edible canella flowers to one batch and dried apple to the other.
 You can also see the big fruit bowl in the back. I was originally going to make fruit skewers, but ran out of time. Instead I put all of the skewers in a mason jar and let everybody make their own.

So sweet!

You can't see them very well in this picture, but Kalynn made these gorgeous and HUGE tissue paper flowers. She hung them above the tables. I also made tissue poms and Maddie Paige (Kalynn's youngest sister) directed Uncle Troy as to where to hang them up.

Just a bigger view of the table.

I used one of my Mom's old suitcases to keep the plates, napkins and silverware in. I spent a good hour rolling silverware in the cloth napkins. Everything we used (except for the silverware itself) was the real deal. Everybody got quite a kick out of eating off a vintage china plate with a cloth napkin in their laps in the middle of the park. Kalynna's momma, Stephannie, made sure that all the china was washed up and the linens clean before the party. We didn't have a single broken dish....which is a miracle considering I can't walk across the living floor without knocking something over.

Of course, one can't have a Tea Party without tea. I purchased some tiny plastic silver looking spoons from Hobby Lobby with my 40% off coupon. And then I found them at the Dollar Tree! They made perfect tea spoons. I also purchased the chalkboard sign and chalked out the letters. I have found that most chalkboards work better when they are wet. I made another chalkboard sign that said, "Cards." It didn't make the pictures.

We had a variety of teas.  My mom also brought her old percolator and we kept coffee brewed up. The big silver pot you see in the back is just keeping water hot for the tea.

Here is a wider shot. I had made several mason jars of sweet tea concentrate the night before. That is my drink dispenser I got at Wal-mart for $5 years ago on clearance years ago.. We just put the tea concentrate in and then added ice. The only thing I didn't get around to making up was the unsweet tea. I have a cute little mason jar pitcher, but for some reason it didn't make it out of the car and I forgot all about it.

I will say that the table was visited quite often.  Those kids had quite the time making hot cups of tea. The crate is one of a few that can be found at the farm. I almost had them load up a few of the old windows and screen doors  As it was all of us were loaded to the gills with party stuff.

When Kalynn, her momma and me got together to talk about the party we knew that we didn't want a party store kind of party. Kalynn is creative and classy. She needed something special. Another smart thing that we did was to try and use things we already have. Thankfully, we had quite a bit we could use. 

If you are interested in hosting your own special tea party look at Thrift stores, flea markets and yard sales for china and linens. It doesn't make any difference if everything fact, it's more charming if it doesn't. Tea, itself, is relatively inexpensive. I did purchase sugar packets, stevia and splenda from the dollar store. Baking your own party goodies is definitely the way to go. We simply took a Saturday and did it ahead of time and then stuck the goodies in the freezer. I did have to make the chicken salad, monkey bread and prepare the fruit the day before (or morning of). 

I'll take some time (when I can find it) and be sure to post some of my recipes and other resources.

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