Do you remember when that movie "The Help" came out last year? Aside from the fact it was based on Kathryn Stockett's completely wonderful book, I also enjoyed watching the movie because of the fashions and decor. During one visually colorful scene, I remember thinking what fun it might be to host a dress-up tea party where everyone was asked to come in Sixties-era costume, such as shift-style sleeveless dresses and beehive hairdos with four-inch-wide scarves banded around them. I've even got a few teacups that are a little Sixties-looking, and they'd be great for such an event. But—who thinks of a tea party that way? The answer: Lulu Gwynne does, and her Betty Blythe tea rooms in the U.K. have been encouraging such dress-up tea parties since 2008. Gwynne shares the fun in the new book "Betty Blythe Style Me Vintage Tea Parties."
Gwynne's Betty Blythe vintage tea rooms—named for a Hollywood silent screen star—are said to specialize in "tea party experiences for children, hen parties, or indeed anyone wishing to indulge in a vintage experience." Featured in the book are ideas for a Victorian Tea Party (with the fruit tartlets shown here), Edwardian Breakfast, 1920's Speakeasy, 1930's Cocktail Party, 1940's Picnic and 1950's Street Party. Are you questioning the inclusion of the Speakeasy, as I did? Gwynne notes in that chapter that the party may incorporate "innocent little teacups and saucers for your cocktails—this was the traditional way to serve alcohol at a speakeasy back in the Roaring Twenties." Who knew! (Another fun piece of trivia: Al Capone is said to have opened the first soup kitchen!)
The book includes suggested recipes for each tea party theme. For the Victorian Tea, there's a gorgeous Victoria Sponge Cake. For the 1930's Cocktail Party there's a yummy looking Bergamot Teacup Crème Caramel, and the 1950's Street Party (shown here) has a recipe for Coronation Chicken Buns using the Coronation Chicken recipe from Queen Elizabeth's coronation in 1953. Each chapter also includes suggestions for invitations, menu and venue, costumes and even entertainment. Even if you've never thought of hosting a costumed tea event before, I'll bet this delightful book will inspire you as it did me to try your hand at hosting a "vintage" style of tea party. And as they say at Betty Blythe, "The difference between try and triumph is a little umph!"