Being a good hostess

I was intending to blog about my thoughts about WHY I spend my precious spare time baking and hosting secret tea parties-  I think about it a lot because I get SUCH a lot of enjoyment out of it even though I also find it time consuming and at times stressful…. getting everything done when I also work full time is no easy feat. So…why? But as well as writing about that, I thought I’d combine those thoughts with feedback on the first children’s vintage tea party that I hosted last weekend, because in some ways it exemplified what ‘being’ Lemony Drizzle is all about.

Whilst there are many keen amateur/home bakers and cooks out there it’s not just the baking that I love. And it’s not really the planning as I find this the hardest bit to fit in to my busy working life… never enough hours to dream up new recipes, try them out, shop for the ingredients..so sometimes I fall back on old favourites or trust that a new recipe will turn out just fine even when I’ve had no time for a trial run.

What I really love, above everything else, is hosting tea party events. Having guests come to eat my food and enjoy it, looking after people, knowing they will (fingers crossed!) be impressed with what I’ve baked and making the table a visual delight – THAT’S the best thing ever in my view. It’s such a basic thing to do really, to feed people, to make connections with people, to strengthen bonds over the tea table… it shows you care when you spend time baking, when you try your best to ‘wow’ people – not just because food looks good but because it also TASTES good – no good having one without the other! So many ‘food experiences’ these days are bland, branded, ubiquitous, there’s very little that’s personal with an eye to the finishing touches – it doesn’t matter where you are in the country (or even the world) you can go to a chain cafe and get the same food, often mass produced, taken from the freezer, and made to look and taste the same in Aberdeen, Liverpool, London or Southampton. I find that utterly depressing.

There’s something so civilised about sitting at a table laid with pretty tea cups and plates, with freshly cut flowers (though I can’t claim they’re from my own garden, sadly), starched white table linen, having a conversation with your fellow guests, and being waited on by someone who really does care whether you have a lovely time and who knows what went in to every morsel you’re eating. You can get more perfect looking cakes or scones elsewhere that’s for sure – I’m not the most careful of bakers when it comes to prettying up my wares – but you would be hard pushed to find a tea table with food containing more love, care and devotion to pleasing the people consuming the fare. I love ‘doing’ Lemony Drizzle because I love feeding people with great food.

And so hosting a tea party for a beautiful, sophisticated 8 year old and three of her friends was an absolute joy last weekend. The birthday girl gasped with delight when she saw the tea table and the cakes that were lined up for her party. She introduced each of her friends to Ms Drizzle and they loved drinking pink lemonade poured from pretty tea pots and loved the name tags I’d tied with ribbon around their whiten linen napkins. They wolfed down the finger sandwiches and, much to my surprise, enjoyed the dark chocolate marbled cookies and chocolate dipped fancies, much more so than the butterfuly cupcakes which went untouched (though they loved talking about them!). Their little tummies couldn’t of course take as much as adult guests I feed, BUT that did not diminish their love of visually consuming the feast before them. They chatted away to each other and to me, weren’t at all shy and giggled and laughed – a lot!

They adored the sherbet lemon sweetie cake I’d made as the centre piece, filled with sherbet butter icing and topped with jelly tots, jelly beans and flying saucers even though they only ate the sweeties because they were full up! Seeing their joy at having a vintage tea party was so lovely – the birthday girl declared it her ‘best party ever’ and decided that Ms Drizzle makes ‘the best cakes in the world’.  She wants to do it all again next year.

What more could a host ask for? x x

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