Kara & Adam Weedman’s diverse backgrounds make them the perfect pair for shining up Volente Beach Resort & Waterpark, the only beach and waterpark on Lake Travis. Their idea to bring this hidden gem into the spotlight for events large and small began not long ago, but it seems like every twist and turn in life has been preparing them to create this perfect escape outside of the hustle and bustle of typical Austin city life. Kara first enjoyed Volente Beach with her kids during long summer days while Adam was working on his software startup. But that’s getting too far ahead.
You must first know that Kara earned her degree in Hospitality Management and worked several years at Westin Hotels prior to relocating to Austin for Adam’s job and to start their family. While raising their 3 children, her love of real estate grew, as did Kara’s experience in remodeling older properties through a series of new builds and renovations they completed over the years. During their “motivational tours” a.k.a. Sunday afternoon drives, Kara & Adam talked about one day owning land and building a home out in the quaint town of Volente, but as Kara said “Never in a million years would I have thought we would one day own Volente Beach!”
Through subsequent real estate investments, the Weedmans became familiar with the owner of the 1950s cottages across from Volente Beach and let her know that when she was ready to sell, they would love the opportunity to purchase the properties. Their vision was to remodel the historic homes and turn them into vacation rentals which are surprisingly lacking in the small, lakeside community. As it so happened, when the opportunity arose, they took it, purchased the cottages and celebrated with lunch at the cafe across the street. Kara explains that as fate would have it, that is where they learned that Volente Beach was on the market and available for purchase. The dove right in along with their long time friends and now business partners John & Gala Lyne, who also have extensive experience in remodeling and flipping homes.
Adam’s career has also perfectly prepared him for management of Volente Beach. His sales and business experience in restaurants, insurance, music venues and tech have all contributed to his business & marketing acumen. His most recent company, Affiniscape, was sold to a private equity company in 2012. Now Adam is utilizing his knowledge and experience to get Volente Beach positioned for growth as a well-known event venue in the Austin area.
Adam describes Volente Beach as one of the most unique properties in the U.S. “A lakeside waterpark that uses lake water to provide an awesome setting cannot be duplicated today. With great food, cold drinks, awesome sunsets, live music and lots of activities, Volente is a gem just minutes outside of Austin.” And we agree. There are so many groups that could enjoy Volente Beach along with the cottages, water park and Beachside Billy’s restaurant. They have hosted corporate events, family reunions, school outings, weddings and birthday parties for all ages. Activities include boat and jet ski rentals, multiple bars, waterslides, pools and plenty of games.
May through September Volente Beach functions as a waterpark for family fun on hot summer days. Fabulous special events like the Alamo’s Jaws movie screening this past summer make for fantastic summer night fun. However, October through April, it is also now open as a venue for all types of events from corporate gatherings, adult & child birthday parties and live music festivals. Beachside Billy’s caters with a variety of cuisine offerings or customers can bring in food trucks.
Volente Beach has numerous areas available for events and parties. The hillside area is perfect for lawn activities, petting zoos, music festivals and other live entertainment. When maximum shade is required, there is a 3,000 sq. ft. pavilion with a stage that makes it ideal for dancing and a full party set up. The sandy lakefront beach provides a stunning location for a fall or spring wedding and can accommodate up to 1500 guests! There is a picnic area surrounded by large oak trees providing lovely shade in a natural setting. Cocktail tables can be set up around the pool deck with floating candles in the pool for a romantic evening event. And last but not least, Ritaville, the most rented area, has access to Blu’s Bar and the most beautiful views on the property. Recently installed string lights providing perfect evening ambiance for adult birthdays and smaller corporate groups.
Pricing is affordable and being just outside of Austin city limits means there is more flexibility for special requests. Think outside the box for unique and fun ideas for your next event at Volente Beach. And you can feel great supporting local business owners Kara & Adam as they shine up this hidden gem.
Like all parents of Elementary School kids over the last couple of years, I have spent endless hours watching my kids flipping bottles, 1/2 full of a range of sticky liquids, and trying to land them upright on their bases. I admit that I have tried it a few times myself and I do understand the appeal – it is a fun challenge and an adrenaline rush when it works on the first try.
This bottle flipping brings back memories of playing Flip Cup and Quarters in college, kicking a soccer ball in the air and trying to catch it behind my neck as a kid, and racing to diaper a doll at baby showers. All of these activities were not only fun personal challenges but great for instant team bonding making them perfect Minute to Win It games for any event.
If you have never heard of Minute to Win It, YouTube is full of videos of people playing competing in minute-long games and trying to beat the competition. The concept originally comes from an International Game Show Franchise where contestants take part in a series of 60-second challenges involving objects commonly found around the house. As they completed each challenge, they moved on to more and more difficult activities with the aim of winning $1M.
With much smaller stakes, this concept has been replicated at children’s birthday parties, office parties, and on different reality TV programs. The challenges are easy and inexpensive to implement and fun for both participants and viewers.
If you have watched the show or the videos and are thinking about holding your own Minute to Win It party, check out our Top 5 Minute to Win It Challenges:
If you love the board game Hungry Hungry Hippos, the life size version is 10 times as fun and sure to get a crowd cheering and laughing for hours.
Object of the Game:
To grab (gobble up) the most balls in the allotted time (in this case, 60 seconds).
What You’ll Need:
How to Play:
A twist on the original where players throw ping pong balls across a table and into their opponents triangle of cups full of beer, this version involves chipping the balls into the opponents’ cups with golf clubs.
What You’ll Need:
How To Play:
NOTE: If you are a traditionalist, why not play plain old beer pong? This giant beer pong set could not be more fun and will entertain guests for hours!
Everyone loves Football, especially in Texas. With this inflatable football game, players can compete to see which team can throw that winning pass.
What You’ll Need:
How To Play:
If you are looking for something that is fun, fast paced, and very easy and inexpensive to set up, look no further. Rapid Fire puts to good use those rubber band shooting skills you may have perfected in grade school.
What You’ll Need:
How To Play:
Perhaps the most well known Minute to Win It game, this classic is so much fun. Plus, you need almost nothing but…cookies!
What You’ll Need:
How To Play:
So there you have it. 5 great ways to entertain guests who want to play and guests who want to watch at your next office party. Whether you go for the very elaborate or the very simple, Minute to Win It challenges will create memories that last long after the party is through.
When planning your event, think about how you can do more than just fill a room with decorations that go along with a theme or holiday. Events provide a unique opportunity to express the personality of a brand, nonprofit, or host. For event planners, the challenge is to create an event that will not only impress guests but will create a memory that lasts a lifetime.
This isn’t the first time metallic has made an appearance in events and for good reason, event planners just can’t resist that stylish shine. Gold and silver continue to lead the pack with rose gold holding its own as a favorite choice for vintage events. If you want something a bit newer, consider copper which makes an elegant statement for everything from vases to centerpieces.
Gone are the days of plain white tablecloths. Linens are a chance to make bold color, pattern, and texture choices that wow guests. Think unique, mix your colors, and make a statement!
With the ultimate goal of every event being a unique experience, consider a range of table decorations designed to tell a story and invite conversation. While maintaining a cohesive tone that complements the rest of the event decor, make sure each table is different, and ultimately, exciting!
Don’t forget that not only should your event be memorable, you need to be sure you have a way for guests to capture those memories. What better way than a new age photo booth?
No matter who your attendees are, everyone loves a good glamour moment in front of the camera. Gone are the days of disposable cameras and professional photographers, interactive displays with themed props are all the rage in 2018. After all, getting guests to re-post their memories and share with their friends, families, co-workers, and industry professionals will create buzz and ensure the memories are set in “virtual” stone.
So, make it big, make it bold, make it unique, and make it the event guests are talking about for years to come.
As an eternal optimist, I am always planning what I am going to do with my winnings when I win the Lottery, the drawing at a charity event, a door prize at a Company function, or a raffle at a school gala. Crazy as it may sound, I am always so confident I am going to win that this extensive planning process seems like a necessity! While the reality is that I pretty much always lose, I love to dream and plan for the best. So, this month when I learned that Loanables would be giving away a Margarita Machine from Centex Rentals, I went into full planning mode. I wanted to be prepared for a win with a list of new and different ways to use my prize.
Here is my list of my top 5 Things to Make in a Margarita Machine (besides Margaritas): Note: These are my favorite ideas but when it comes to making frozen drinks, there are no limits. Almost everything tastes better as a slushy, especially in the Texas heat.
At the end of the day, nothing sounds better than winding down with a glass of wine. A frozen drinks machine can make this even more tempting. Simply blend some white wine with fresh strawberries and lime juice for an amazingly refreshing wine slushy. Or, for a slightly different (and sweet) twist, try this recipe for a Frosé…delicious!
Frosé (Frozen rosé) Recipe
If you aren’t looking for frilly or fruity frozen drinks, you can still enjoy a delicious frozen cocktail on a warm spring-summer-fall evening. A frozen Gin & Tonic is the perfect warm weather twist on a classic favorite.
Frozen Gin & Tonic Recipe
NOTE: This recipe can easily be doubled, tripled, etc. to serve a small party or a big crowd.
Another slushy with endless options is frozen lemonade. Make it a virgin, add a splash of bourbon for a kick, or mix with your favorite fruit (think strawberries, peaches, mangoes, …) for a really cool and delicious treat. Whether you make the lemonade from scratch or from a can, you can’t lose with this one. Below is my favorite summer lemonade recipe.
Frozen Peach Lemonade
There is nothing like home made milkshakes and with a Margarita Machine, you can make them for a crowd. For kids and adults, this is a great treat at a birthday party, And, remember, you can always mix this one up to make it a more adult-style beverage. Just be creative!
Simple Vanilla Milkshake Recipe
If you are a purist and just have to make margaritas in your Margarita Machine, see our blog on Healthy-ish Margaritas. And, if you have questions on how many drinks your margarita machine will make, you can check out our blog here.
Otherwise, what are you waiting for? Enter here to win a Margarita Machine for a day – we hope you get to enjoy some margaritas or try out a new frozen drink. The sky is definitely the limit!
If you have school aged children, it’s the time of year where you are either practicing your “saying no” skills or your calendar is getting full with volunteer commitments. Personally, my calendar is full and now I’m practicing the fine art of saying no gracefully. (Check out this article from Real Simple on 10 Guilt-Free Strategies).
If you find yourself on the school carnival committee, I’m here to help. Below are the top 5 rentals for school carnivals. These are tried and true – you just can’t go wrong with these classics:
I recommend getting a dual slide because kids like to race. Also, you can move more kids through in a given time.
Who wouldn’t love to dunk their teacher or the principal? Just make sure nobody is assigned to the station for more than about 20 minutes at a time. It gets old going into and getting out of the water.
Just like with the slide, I recommend getting a dual lane so the kids can race and you can move more kids through in a given time.
The most popular rentals are High Striker and the Milk Bottle Toss. Note: I think this is a great place to save money and put parents to work. Let them get creative with cake walks, bobbing for apples, face paint, etc. Check out these ideas on Pinterest.
Popcorn machines, Cotton Candy Machine and Funnel Cake Fryers are by far the most popular. Another fun thing to do is get a food truck to come to the school. I like doing this because it is one less thing the organizers have to worry about. Check out our recent blog on the Top 10 Austin Food Trucks.
To make your carnival unique from year-to-year, bring in at least one new thing each year. Here are a few of popular ones:
It’s like something you’d see on American Ninja Warriors
This will test agility. It’d be really fun to watch the teachers and parents do it.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions. We are always happy to help. Not only do we help others plan school carnivals, but also everyone on our staff has been on a committee for their kids school.
I am no wine expert, but if you ask me, the only thing better than a party with good wine is a party where you get to taste different wines. That’s why I love wine tasting parties!
If you are looking for a fun way to spend an evening with your friends, why not throw your own wine tasting party? Even if you aren’t a wine connoisseur, you can throw a fun and successful sipping soiree by following these 5 simple guidelines:
There are several ways to approach choosing wines, a few ideas are:
Really, the sky is the limit. After seeing the Scout and Cellar blog a couple of weeks ago, I thought it might be fun to compare Clean Wines with Traditional Wines (aka the wines I normally drink).
If possible, try to choose 4-6 wines which follow whatever theme you select. Any more than this will overwhelm the palate and less than 4 doesn’t really give your guests time to settle into the tasting and learn about their preferences and different wines.
If you need help choosing wines, I have had great success asking the experts at the Austin Wine Merchant, Spec’s, Central Market, and even Costco here in Austin. They can point you in the right direction and give you some recommendations for any theme you choose!
When purchasing wine, remember that a standard tasting pour is about 1/2 the size of a regular serving, around 2-3 ounces, and a bottle of wine contains about 10 tasting servings. It is always good to have a little left over just in case. So, for a party of 8-10 plan on buying 2 bottles of each wine.
For larger parties, you may need to ensure you have plenty of tables and chairs for your guests. You can rent almost any shape or size of tables and chairs when you rent the glassware.
Before the wine tasting, make sure you notify the guests of which kind of food will be served so they can be prepared.
Consider providing food before the wine tasting so guests aren’t trying wines on an empty stomach. I prefer to have a spread of food for guests to graze on plus some kind of dark chocolate and fruit for later.
Some of the foods I like to see at a wine tasting party are:
If you have the opportunity before the tasting begins, consider lining up the wines in this order: bubbles, light whites, rich whites, roses, light reds, bold reds, and then dessert wines. If possible, serve the wines at the temperature they show best: bubbles 40-45 degrees, whites 40-50 degrees, and reds 55-65 degrees.
Before starting the tasting, give guests some guidance on how to taste wine. The following simple steps can guide them in their tasting:
Through this process have the guests look for aromas, flavors, texture, and weight. Is the wine clean or musty? Is it light, crisp, soft? Is the wine balanced? Does it linger on the palate or disappear the minute it leaves the mouth?
Have guests note their thoughts (and preferences) for discussion and comparison after each tasting.
Make sure to allow everyone enough time to taste each wine and take a few notes. Then, discuss the various wines sharing tasting notes and likes and dislikes. I would recommend doing a little research on each wine ahead of time to understand its properties. This will help guide the discussion.
At this point, you may want to retaste the wines to see whether they have changed with aeration or whether the discussion has caused guests to think about the wines differently. Some wines may improve over time and others may lose their freshness.
You also may want to take a vote on favorites. This can be especially fun in a blind tasting prior to revealing the labels.
And there you have it…a guide to hosting a great wine tasting party. If I can do it, anyone can! And, if things aren’t perfect, serve more wine – chances are the guests are not going to notice and everyone will have a great time regardless!
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” – Gandhi
Upon entering Sanctuary Event Space it is clear that this venue is truly unique to Austin. As described by Director of Events, Jessica Ryan, it is an urban sanctuary with a secret garden appeal. Huge oak trees fill the property creating a tree canopy which provides shade throughout the entire venue. String lights are strewn throughout the property, creating a romantic glow and mixed level terraces provide for a variety of seating arrangements. However, it is not just the natural beauty and ambiance that makes an event at Sanctuary most beautiful and meaningful. Its owners and customers are truly passionate about the purpose behind the event space.
The Sanctuary Event Space is predominately a wedding venue, rented out for events on the weekend. During the week, the space is used by the Amala Foundation and home of Sanctuary Yoga. Both the venue rentals and Sanctuary Yoga classes are a means to raise funds for the Amala Foundation non profit organization. Founded by Vanessa Stone, The Amala Foundation has a mission to unite, serve and grow youth all around the world through social emotional learning programs such as youth summits, camps and leadership training opportunities. They are focused on “Inspiring people to grow as individuals and leaders in service to humanity.” Jessica explains that the customers who rent this space are a huge part of the reason she loves working there. Often social workers, teachers, and non-profit workers, they reflect the mission of the organization in their everyday work and care that their money goes to support a worthwhile cause.
Outside ceremony seating can be quickly transformed to seat up to 150 guests in the terraced seating areas with the use of either round or rectangle tables. Sanctuary Event Space provides a Ceremony Arbor with lush green jasmine vines that bloom fragrant flowers in April and May. There is a quaint house in the center of the space to stage catering and buffet-style food service in addition to the two-story house toward the back that provides an area for live music and dancing. Upstairs is a quiet Tree Top Loft with a beautiful bird’s eye view over the property, which is ideal for couple’s photos or setting up a sweetheart table for a private romantic dinner. The interior space includes a living room with space for hair and makeup and getting-ready photos, a second kitchen, bedroom, and private bathroom.
There are a multitude of Airbnb properties within minutes of the property and downtown hotels are a mere 7 minutes away so that guests can stay nearby the venue and benefit from ride-sharing to arrive home quickly and safely after the evening’s festivities. Fun note! Because Sanctuary is in a residential area all events must end by 10pm but The Highball and Gibson Street Bar are right across the street and provide amazing after-party libations so your guests can continue late into the night.
Sanctuary Event Space is open to working with new vendors, allowing food trucks parked in front of the venue and customer’s choice for various event providers in most cases. An impressive team of vendors pulled together this styled shoot at the fabulous Sanctuary Event Space.
Event Planner: Jessica Ryan, 3 of Cups. In addition to being the Director of Events at Sanctuary Event Space, Jessica owns a boutique wedding and event planning company, 3 of Cups. She offers collaborative planning, in addition to on-site coordination services. Jessica is passionate about wedding planning. Her approach to working with her clients is personal. She and her rock star team are very well accomplished with 5 years of experience, published styled shoots, and all 5-star rave reviews. You can find 3 of Cups listed on the Preferred Vendor List at local Austin and Hill Country Wedding venues.
Photographer: Lee Hardin, Hardin Photography. Lee has an incredible gift for telling a story and capturing the moments that make up your fairytale. As an Austin native, she grew up loving photography and eventually fell in love with the wedding industry in particular. She loves capturing each chapter of your story from the proposal, to the bridal portraits, to the wedding festivities and eventually the newborn and family photos! She provides a personalized experience, and is proud to say her clients are her friends that allow her to continue to photograph their journeys as their families grow into the future.
Event Florals & Linens: Fabian Salcedo, Monarch Event Rentals. Monarch has a new in-house floral division led by the talented Fabian Salcedo who has worked with the likes of David Tutera and other great event professionals. They provide bouquets, wedding party florals, wedding design and event design for all types of corporate or private events and as one of our rental partners, Monarch’s rental inventory can be reserved through Loanables website.
Let us know your favorite event space or vendors so we can feature them in an upcoming blog in this Spotlight Series!
If you don’t know Leigh Stein, please allow me the pleasure of introducing you. Leigh is vibrant and joyful, yet exudes a calm and collected vibe that makes her almost mysterious. She is super-friendly, while slightly reserved and very thoughtful. She has a Turquoise Table in her front yard and if you know about that movement, you know that means you are wanted in her home. She and her husband, Tony, have intentionally curated their home to allow for entertaining and welcoming guests.
A native Texan, Leigh was born in Dallas, attended UT, did a stint in New York and then came back to Austin where she met her husband and has lived for the last 14 years. Before she had kids, she worked in sales in stock photography, ultimately for Getty Images. She loved the business side of her work but also loved the creative outlet that photography brought to her life.
The last few years have kept her busy with her three kids, two of whom are in elementary school and one who is in preschool. They love enjoying all the outdoors activities that Austin has to offer, including hiking the greenbelt, visiting nearby watering holes, and attending UT football games. When it’s too hot to be outside they like to spend family time at indoor climbing gyms and trips to the Thinkery. They are faithful attendees of ACL, both before kids and now enjoying the addition of Austin Kiddie Limits with their kids. A favorite date night for her and her husband is trying out a new restaurant in Austin’s ever-evolving food scene followed by a concert at ACL Live at The Moody Theater.
Leigh was drawn to Scout & Cellar through her personal experience with wine headaches and the pleasant surprise that she truly felt better after drinking a clean-crafted wine. She now enjoys representing the company through wine tastings and parties.
Scout & Cellar was founded by Sarah Shadonix as a solution to her personal frustration of getting headaches the morning after having a glass of wine. Funny that she noticed this, in particular, while she was studying for her sommelier exams. When she dug into the research, she found that hundreds of chemical additives can be included in a seemingly simple bottle of wine and she made it her mission to find a healthier option.
Once she had determined that she could deliver a better, clean-crafted wine through a continuous hunt of wineries committed to following a clean-crafted process, Sarah launched Scout & Cellar Clean-Crafted Wine. To be considered “clean-crafted” it necessary to follow many strict guidelines some of which include zero added chemicals (of the 250 approved FDA additives), zero added sugar, and low sulfites (less than 50 ppm). They also emphasize the importance of wine production as an art rather than with a mass-produced process. They require that vines are tended by people, not machines, and slow crafted with a flavor that is “wildly delicious and always distinctive year after year like nature intended.”
Leigh is generously giving away 4 BOTTLES of her favorite clean-crafted wines to one lucky Loanables winner! Here are the bottles she has selected:
Austin is famous for many things: live music, the University of Texas and its longhorns, and food, specifically food trucks! You simply can’t live in Austin (or visit the city) without dining on food truck cuisine. Austin has more than 1000 trailers and more are popping up every day. While everyone has their personal favorites, here are some of ours:
Located in Dipping Springs, this food truck was started by reality TV stars Jep and Jessica Robertson. The Duck Dynasty duo have focused the truck on Southern and Cajun comfort food with a modern twist. Jep, who often cooked with his family growing up, always wanted to open his own restaurant and he is getting his chance. The menu ranges from handheld meat pies (which include chorizo for a Texas flair) to classic dishes like jambalaya and po’boys.
Located at West 3rd Street and Congress Avenue, Kebabalicious serves wraps made with chicken, lamb, beef, and falafel. The founders came up with the idea (and love of kebabs) while living in Europe and brought it back to the US along with recipes and spices and started the first Kebabalicious food truck in 2006. They now have a store front on East 7th along with a food truck and their downtown trailer.
Located at 201 East 6th Street, the Best Wurst is the longest running food truck in Austin selling grilled sausage sandwiches since the early 90’s. They have sold over 1 million sandwiches and participated in more festivals than any other mobile food vendor in town. They also offer catering services for office parties, weddings, and other events.
Located at 1720 Barton Springs Rd, the Mighty Cone serves up chicken, shrimp, and avocados in tortilla cones making the perfect meal to go. The concept was created when Hudson’s on the Bend chef Jeff Blank was asked to create Austin style festival food for ACL festival in 2002. In March 2009, Jeff found a way to make the food available year round, through a food trailer!
These traveling food trucks travel throughout Austin serving simple Southern Comfort food with an Asian flair for lunch, events, and festivals. Although they started as a food truck, The Peached Tortilla has expanded their offerings over the years to include a brick and mortar restaurant, a full service catering company, and a venue space (Peached Social House). They even have an Austin Airport location so if you are traveling, you can check them out there!
I find that when I am really hungry, I almost always “wanna taco” and I think most Texans are right there with me. Luckily, Austin has more than its fair share of taco options. One of our current favorites is Juana Taco. They offer fresh and authentic Mexican food from both their East Austin trailer and their traveling food truck.
Named best Thai Food Trailer in Austin by Lazy Smurf’s Guide to Life, this authentic Thai restaurant resides in The Picnic on Barton Springs Road. With freshness and authenticity in mind, Owner/Chef Ninrat founded this trailer in 2010. Some personal favorites include the Chicken Pad Thai and the Crab Rang Goon.
Located in the Picnic on Barton Springs Road, Holla Mode sells the only Thai style ice cream in town. At Holla Mode, your ice cream is made to order by pouring liquid ingredients onto a cold, stainless steel surface, adding the “chopping” (think mix-in) of your choice and letting the mixture freeze into delicious ice cream right before your eyes. Toppings are added and voila, you have fresh ice cream made to your own personal taste.
Bananarchy uses bananas from socially responsible companies, coats them in a coating and rolls them in toppings to create truly amazing and unique desserts to satisfy any sweet tooth (banana lover that is). They then compost all their banana peels and recycle. This is a dessert you can feel good about and they have both a South Austin and a campus location to help you do that!
We just couldn’t leave this one out. Arriving on South Congress in 2007, Hey Cupcake was one of the first trailers to appear in Austin helping shape the Austin food truck scene. The shiny airstream with the revolving cupcake is now located at The Picnic on Barton Springs Road and beckons you to top off your Food Truck meal with a treat from its tasty selection of cupcakes.
We will continue to add new favorites as they pop up – we just can’t resist trying out Austin’s finest food truck cuisine! In the meantime, we would love to hear from you. What are your favorite Austin food trucks and/or food truck dishes?
The beginnings of the tradition of High Tea in British society is a bit disputed. According to a few sources, the 7th Duchess of Bedford is due the credit for the creation of this late afternoon meal accompanied by a pot of tea. What is less sure is if she began it simply as a fashionable social time for ladies while men were finishing up their afternoon business discussions, or as a means to make it through until the late evening dinner, as she called the 3-4 o’clock hour the time when “that sinking feeling” came on, requiring a little pick-me-up. The Carrington Hotel in Australia, says that high tea was actually a working mans meal taken standing or sitting on stools at high tables, hence the name “high” tea, and eventually became adopted by Ladies and Gentleman of society for social enjoyment before attending evening events around town at places like the theater. Whichever the true source, we know it sure makes for a fun theme for a bridal or baby shower, or even a fundraising event like Ballet Austin Guild’s annual tradition.
One of our favorite customers, Charlene Sigler, just hosted her second bridal shower with a tea party theme. She gave us some tips along with some fabulous photos of the event so that you can easily recreate your own tea party, true to English tradition. And, of course, events like these are so much easier (and MORE FUN!) when you work with a team, so a round of joyous applause also goes to fellow hostesses Margaret Garcia, Cathy, Amanda and Mary King, as well as Terese and Jennifer Sigler. You ladies truly outdid yourselves!
Charlene’s mother-in-law has an English friend named Margaret, who helped with the shower, and authenticity is important to for the event. So, a few months in advance of the tea, they begin collecting tea cups, saucers and tea pots from estate sales. Nothing “made in China” would do. Only items made in England because, as a special treat, guests got to take home their tea cup and saucer as a treasured memory from the event. Next, Charlene found Loanables to help secure the rentals needed. They decided on 36″ round bistro tables with four fruitwood folding chairs per table. The tables were decorated with burlap underlay, a rose/floral print middle cloth and topped with a lace table cloth to accent the luxurious table settings, complete with tulle & flower ball centerpieces, sugar & cream servers and tea pot charms around each napkin. So romantic!
Homemade sandwiches and sweets make for an incredibly personal event and truly wow your guests. Charlene’s team truly outdid themselves with the spread they offered. Classic Cream Cheese & Cucumber sandwiches along with Chicken Salad, British Corned Beef with Butter and Ham & Cheese were displayed on sandwich platters. For even more options look at The Spruce Eats Traditional English Tea Sandwiches for inspiration! For sweets they had fruit scones sliced horizontally to allow guests to butter them in true English style, Lemon Curd Tarts, Teapot-shaped shortbread, Victoria Sponge Cupcakes and cream-filled meringues. Finally, they supplemented with a variety of English sweeties including After Eight Mints, Thornton Truffles, assorted English biscuits and Mark & Spencer Cheese Straws. I think it is safe to say with such an array of choices, no guest left unsatisfied!
The largest tea company in the United Kingdom & Canada is Tetley Tea. Charlene points out that the English version of Tetley is different from what we get here in the U.S. so if authenticity is important to you, have a friend from England send it (along with some classic sweets) or find it on British Online Supermarket. Charlene explains that having a few electric kettles along with stove top kettles is helpful for serving hot tea to all guests at one time. Start by pre-heating the water before guests arrive so that serving isn’t delayed. To warm the tea pots, swirl some of the hot water around in each pot before filling with hot water. A few tea bags in each pot, letting them steep 4-5 minutes, makes for a typical strength tea, but simply adjust the number of tea bags for stronger or weaker tea, accordingly to your guests preferences. Keep hot water on throughout the event for quick refill of the pots as they near empty.
Before opening presents, it’s fun for guests to play a few English games. Pass the Parcel is a fun game where a gift wrapped many times is passed around the room from person to person while music plays. When the music stops, the person holding the gift unwraps one layer until the final gift is revealed. To add some fun different questions about or for the guest of honor could be written on each layer, or for more prize winners a few gifts could be placed wrapped inside of each other!
Other fun games are word matching of an English word to it’s American equivalent and Trivia & Tea Type where guests have to match tea descriptions with the correct tea type. Finally, Charlene’s guests enjoyed random door prizes, with numbers given as they entered and drawn every 15-30 minutes throughout the shower. Prizes included tea towels, high end teas, London pillows, aprons, Walkers shortbread, English fudge, china and soaps.
It can probably be left unsaid that most ladies love an excuse to get glammed up. So, encouraging guests to wear a home made or vintage hat is always a hit! Being dressed up encourages guests to take photos so that they and the guest of honor can enjoy looking back at the event for years to come.
From pre-setting the lovely table arrangements to a special token to honor the memory of the bride’s mother, these hostesses did not miss a chance to delight guests and care for small details to complete the picture. The bride’s mother loved mice so they found a little mouse, decked out in pearls, to place on the bride’s table to pay tribute. And hostesses provided pink bags with tea pot stickers to take home each guest’s tea cup and saucer, along with any prizes they won during the game time.
Let us know if you want to try this theme for your next event, we would love to help you make it an authentic, memorable occasion!