Food/ Food Crafting/ Holidays/ Uncategorized

Tea Party-in-a-Box, a delightful celebration during a pandemic.

Tea in a Box, Tamara Central

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.

Tea in a Box, Tamara Central

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).
Tea in a Box, Tamara Central

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.

Tea in a Box, Tamara Central
This was the “box” for my sis and nephew. Same set up, just on a tray.
Tea in a Box, Tamara Central

Other things you could add: a small bag of seed-paper confetti, edible flowers — like nasturtiums, rose petals, etc.,

Tea in a Box, Tamara Central

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.

Tea in a Box, Tamara Central
My dear friend, Donna, recipient of the Tea Party Box!
Tea in a Box, Tamara Central

And if you’re in San Francisco, here’s Crown and Crumpet’s to-go box.

Crown and Crumpet’s tea in a box
Tea in a Box, Tamara Central

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    August 28, 2020 at 6:04 pm

    What joy! So creative. I’m in love with this idea. Tea parties are the BEST. They are also a ton of work. Good for you. I’m sure your gal pal felt special.

    My husband has a birthday this Tuesday and I’m thinking of ways to spoil him.

    Glad to see you are having zoom meetings with your family these days and are having fun dressing up. Who thinks up these themes? Do you take turns?

    Here’s hoping someone spoils you on your birthday next year and every year after that.

    Hugs dear friend

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