Last week I prayed that the weather gods would be kind, because I had a tea party planned – and YOU KNOW, there was NO PLAN B.
Thankfully, they listened – and the plans I’d been making for weeks came to fruition with a small group of friends chink-chinking chilled Prosecco and supping tea in the sunshine.
We took over my friend Ciara’s BEAUTIFUL garden (because mine is a mud-pit before it gets landscaped) with a Japanese-meets-British-vintage afternoon tea in association with Denby Pottery.
Their new collection features this pretty fashion-inspired range called Kyoto, in collaboration with Monsoon – and this completely decided the theme of the day.
My outfit came from the Monsoon main line and I couldn’t have felt more comfortable in it. It had everything I love, from a interesting print to high-waisted, wide leg trousers – and it’s part of a collaboration with Issa designer Daniella Helayel. I also kind of matched the backdrop – which was also GREAT!
The Monsoon Home Collection by Denby is a mix of Monsoon’s statement designs and Denby’s ceramics expertise. Each collection is inspired by travel and uses patterns based on designs from the Monsoon archive.
I loved the prettiness of the Kyoto collection, and my stylist friend Kay – who helped me with the set-up – went for it in terms of the brief! As the main focus of the party set-up, she created a fabric backdrop and a low level Japanese style table made from pallets, which were covered with another fabric as a tablecloth.
She also wrapped leftover fabric around a large branch, which arched over the table and gave it a real Asian vibe. From this, we added a cool felt length of bunting from Fabric Rehab (also where we sourced all the fabrics).
My guests included my friend, blogger Hannah Gale, biscuit maker and all-round cool girl Becky, Lady Bakewell-Park, Katie and Laura from Wedding Flowers Magazine and Wedding and Wedding Flowers and Editor of Essential Kitchens, Bedroom and Bathrooms Magazine, Ciara Elliott.
Kay actually found the IKEA rattan cushions on eBay and Gumtree, but made her own cushions from more of the fabric we used on the table. To decorate we used teapots from the Kyoto range as vases, holding tall blooms and greenery from the garden. The salt and pepper set above is from the Lucille Gold range, biscuits made by Becky Sebright-King, Lady Bakewell Park.
We also set up another little area under the tree at the bottom of the garden, where we hung a large Japanese print lampshade from Fabric Rehab and paper cranes. It all looked so pretty!
I stalked Pinterest for ideas for the tea party, but here are a few things I took away that really do make an outdoor event work brilliantly:
1: Use as many flowers and as much greenery as you can steal from your garden for decoration. We used smaller blooms in Moroccan tea glasses down the centre of the table, with taller sprigs in the teapots.
2: Mix up your sweet food with your savouries – there are no eating rules at a tea party and it’s the one time you can eat cake before sandwiches! So I put the sarnies next to cakes on the Kyoto cake stands. I made my own sandwiches (mainly because I was too late for M&S to do it for me!), but bought the cakes. You could always embellish with edible flowers to add your own touch.
3: Offer guests a mix of drinks – fizz, non-alcoholic and good old tea. For the non-alcoholics (aka the drivers) I had lovely Elderflower and Rose cordials, or lashings of Ginger Ale (for all you Enid Blyton readers out there). I pimped up ice cubes by adding edible flowers into the trays before freezing which looked so pretty when decanted into the glasses.
4: Don’t stress about the tiny details – no one but you will notice!
Lila wears: Dress, Monsoon Children
This post was in collaboration with Denby Pottery, but all photos, styling, words and thoughts are my own.