A Mother’s Day Picnic with a Twist: An Afternoon Outdoor Tea Party
Most countries set aside a day to honor Mom, that wonderful lady who feeds you, helps you with homework, drives you to activities, fixes your bumps and scrapes, and – regardless of your age – is your biggest supporter.
In the United States, we’re fortunate to celebrate our Mother’s Day during the beautiful spring season when spending time outdoors is a treat in most parts of the country.
Many grateful kids and grandkids take mom out to brunch or to her favorite restaurant for a fancy dinner. My mother always enjoyed taking us on picnics so if your mother enjoys being outside in the fresh, fragrant spring air like mine, why not consider an outdoor event this year? While conventional picnics or barbecues are always a lot of fun, think about doing something a bit more elegant to honor Mom, such as an outdoor tea party.
Hosting an outdoor tea party in your own backyard or elsewhere isn’t all that difficult. It just requires some advance planning to organize the menu and various other aspects of the event.
Start by sending out invitations, even if the people you are inviting are close family members. It sets the mood for the event and lets people know how to dress, what to bring, etc. These needn’t be expensive. It’s easy to design a dainty tea party invitation on your home computer. Be sure to include all the specifics.
Next, if you’re holding the tea/picnic at your home, take a look around and make sure your garden and other parts of your property are looking neat and trim. Dust off your garden tools and perhaps plant some colorful flowers for the event. It’ll make your yard look extra special. If you’re going to a park or other location for your tea party, scope out a spot that’s especially picturesque.
Check the condition of your outdoor furniture. Things can get damaged during the winter season, especially if there was a lot of heavy snow and strong winds. Make sure there is ample seating for all and be sure everything is clean. Wash your chair cushions and dig out your prettiest table covers for the event. Again, if you’re taking your tea party on the road, make sure seating is ample and in good condition at your chosen location and bring along some items to “prettify” the area.
Planning the Menu
Tea parties are all about being dainty, even if there are men included, though these often work best for moms, daughters, and granddaughters. Tea, of course, is a must. You can serve several kinds, including “regular” orange pekoe tea as well as some fruity flavors. If your tea party is off the premises, you can carry this in a coffee tote or some other sort of insulated container. Use your best tea cups, if possible. Egg salad
Cream cheese and cucumber
Apples and Boursin cheese
Turkey and cranberry sauce
PB& J (for the little ones)
You’ll want to include tea sandwiches as part of your picnic fare as well. These are tiny, bite-sized sandwiches that are ideal even for little mouths. Figure about 4-6 per person and offer a variety of selections including:
For dessert, bite-size is best as well. Lemon bars, small pieces of pound cake garnished with strawberries and whipped cream, heart-shaped shortbread cookies, tiny vanilla cupcakes, and mini shortcakes are all a good choice. Here’s an easy recipe for some simple-to-make bite-size cheesecakes.
NO-BAKE MINI CHEESECAKES (Makes 24)
12 vanilla wafer cookies
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. sugar
2 Tbsp. sour cream
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
12 ripe strawberries, hulled and halved
Pulse cookies in food processor to make crumbs. (Or crush in a plastic sandwich bag.)
Line 24 mini muffin pans with paper liners and spoon a layer of cookie crumbs into each.
In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar at medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low.
Beat in the sour cream and lemon juice until well combined, about 1 minute.
Spoon the filling into the cups and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours or overnight.
Top each cheesecake with a strawberry piece before serving.