Lets’ face it, COVID -19 has put a wrench in pretty much everything this year. Weddings are being postponed, there’s no more live theater or music to attend, and even the casual visit is being re-tooled. Not being with loved ones has been a particular challenge for this Celebration Enthusiast. My family — spread out across the West — has been coping by having bi-weekly themed Costume Zoom Cocktail parties (check out my Instagram to see some of my getups); and sending of snail-mail has been a pleasant way to reconnect with the folks I miss.
My birthday was one of the first stay-at-home holidays my circle “celebrated,” in March. Since it was early days of the pandemic, we all didn’t have many ideas for honoring birthdays. My sister & nephew came over and sat outside my door, while I sat inside, and we chatted for a few minutes with masks on. To be honest it was a little bit sad.
So when my dear friend, and fellow Celebration Enthusiast was having a birthday in early June, I decided we HAD to do something to mark the day. I didn’t want this pandemic to bum-out another holiday. Sure, we could do a group video call, but I really craved some in-person fun.
My sister and I set out to create a festive, yet physically distant fête for our gal pal. She loves High Tea, and I had recently seen a brilliant take-out version from this gorgeous tea cafe in San Francisco, Crown and Crumpet.
I adapted the idea to make a sort of bento box, with sections to keep things in place. Did you know that the name for the Japanese bento box derives from a term meaning “convenient”? I had a pre-decorated hinged cardboard box that I thought would do nicely as a bento base. You’ve seen these at stationery and home stores. Some of them look like books, or little suitcases.
And like many of us, I have been going through a LOT of shipping boxes lately. So I took one and cut it up to create sections inside the box. I didn’t do this on mine, but would recommend using paper washi tape to make the edges of the dividers look nicer.
Then, I loaded up the box. I used decorated cupcake liners, and 4oz mason jars, so each item was protected from the others, and was nicely nestled in the box.
Here are a few of the things we put inside:
- Sandwiches — cucumber and herbed cheese, salmon with capers, tomato, dill & onion, classic egg salad.
- Scones! With clotted cream and strawberry jam in mason jars. Simple, timeless.
- Chocolate cupcakes, small ones.
- Cookies — my brown sugar shortbread is perfect for this.
- Fresh fruit — berries and orange segments.
- Small prepackaged cheese wedges with sourdough rounds.
- Pretty paper napkins and disposable cutlery.
- Other festive items: Decorative paper straw, a candle and matches for birthday celebrant, a balloon, a handmade “surprise ball,” (like the ones my friend Elizabeth makes).
Oh and drinks!! Consider adding a selection of tea bags in your recipient’s box. For grown-ups, a single serving bottle of champagne or prosecco signals celebration. For the kiddos, a juice or milk box works really well.
Other things you could add: a small bag of seed-paper confetti, edible flowers — like nasturtiums, rose petals, etc.,
I’m super happy with how the party turned out. We all sat at different tables, each with our own bento box, and got to have a tiny little celebration. It was perfect. I highly recommend it.
And if you’re in San Francisco, here’s Crown and Crumpet’s to-go box.