A Table Fit for a Queen … of Hearts

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-The table was a large one, but the three were all crowded together at one corner of it: ‘No room! No room!’ they cried out when they saw Alice coming. ‘There’s PLENTY of room!’ said Alice indignantly, and she sat down in a large arm-chair at one end of the table.

‘Have some wine,’ the March Hare said in an encouraging tone. Alice looked all round the table, but there was nothing on it but tea. ‘I don’t see any wine,’ she remarked.

‘There isn’t any,’ said the March Hare.

‘Then it wasn’t very civil of you to offer it,’ said Alice angrily.

‘It wasn’t very civil of you to sit down without being invited,’ said the March Hare.

– from Alice in Wonderland

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A visit to Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland last month inspired us to have a tea party. And not just any tea party – a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, out in the open air but with all the comforts and decorum of a proper sitting room.

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After all, it’s spring again. And as the weather warms, so grows the propensity to be outside in it. But, as the Hatter, the Doormouse and the March Hare all prove, that doesn’t mean we have to sacrifice style – or the civilized art of taking tea – to plein air.

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Sharing our enthusiasm for all things madness and tea is Deborah Lee Puder of TTM Events. She and her husband, Hal Puder, organize weddings, parties and corporate events through TTM Events, and also offer costume and party rentals through their other business, The Tickle Trunk.

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Not long ago, Deb and Hal were approached by a friend of theirs – John Thiessen of Okanagan Media Productions, who was bequeathed a large collection of teacups from his grandmother.

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He thought maybe they could make use of them in their party planning capacity.

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Deb and Hal loved the idea, and quickly got creative with their planning. Already, their packages include a Ladies Tea Party with formal hats and gloves and proper English tea service, and a ‘T to T’ (or Tee to Tea) for either a party of women who hit the green and then the party, or a package deal for couples where the men hit the golf course while the ladies enjoy a spot of tea and lunch. Another idea is a Speak Easy Tea Party, emulating the gin joints of the 1920s.

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Of course, they’re open to all sorts of ideas, including birthday parties, graduation teas and bridal showers.

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“We also think this would be a great new theme back to real ‘girl ‘ parties where everyone dressed in pretty dresses and did their hair and had fun with colourful cupcakes and presents,” Deb said. “With our new linens, cakes and pastries and different centrepieces nowadays, we can still contemporize it or put an older slant on it as Sweet 16 birthdays seem to be making a comeback.”

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Hal noted that tea parties, which were up until recently considered passé among the super trendy, have started to hold some intrigue for all generations.

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“I think sometimes these ‘old-fashioned’ things are comforting to some of us. And brand new for others,” Deb said.

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For older people, it harks back to the days when drinking tea was a regular social custom. Of course, little girls are almost always up for playing dress-up and having tea parties, but now their moms, who were raised at a time when drinking tea was not considered cool, are rethinking the custom as a nice way to slow down and indulge themselves.

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“Tea drinking is making a big comeback – especially green tea, with all its health benefits,” Hal told The Pear Tree.

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With the help of Deli City, who supplied dainty sandwiches and tarts, pastry chef Gwyneth Richardson, who made the cupcakes, and Avalon Rentals, who supplied the tables and chairs, the TTM (including Trisha and Janet) team styled three different tea party ideas: the Mad Hatter, the Ladies Tea Party and Pretty in Pink.

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“We could take the basic idea and do so many things with it whether they want to have a high tea or something more casual, or read tea leaves. I’ve even had a traditional Chinese tea service before. Lots of options – that’s where we come in, to personalize it for them,” Deb explained.

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So take a tour of some of the tables – and get inspired for your own indulgent tea party, inside or out.

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“The Alice in Wonderland tea party is a little more adult in theme, as shown in (the Tim Burton film). There is a bit of a quirky ‘dark’ side always, really, even in the original story. All the wacky characters are what makes it, all happening around this sweet little girl,” Deb pointed out.

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‘Take some more tea,’ the March Hare said to Alice, very earnestly.

‘I’ve had nothing yet,’ Alice replied in an offended tone, ‘so I can’t take more.’

‘You mean you can’t take LESS,’ said the Hatter: ‘it’s very easy to take MORE than nothing.’

– from Alice in Wonderland

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‘But I don’t want to go among mad people,’ said Alice. ‘Oh, you can’t help that,’ said the cat. ‘We’re all mad here.’

– from Alice in Wonderland

– Story and photos by Lori-Anne Poirier

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  1. Wow, what a spread! To bad Avery’s birthday happened in March. I would have been very tempted to go all out with the sweet 16 mad hatter idea. Looks like a lot if fun.

  2. There’s always sweet 17. Or heck! I’m thinking of a sweet 36 come November!

  3. I hope I’m on your invite list Darcy 😉

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