Friday, December 3, 2010

Advent Afternoon Tea

Drove Friday night to my hometown to host a table at the Eighth Annual United Methodist Womens' Advent Tea where 100% of the proceeds go toward charitable endeavors.  It takes 45 volunteers to serve up to 150 guests.  Though I was a little fuzzy on what I was suppose to do (it was my first time hosting a table for this event), I learned quite a bit about serving a huge group of people a wonderful tea.
At 8 a.m. I showed up ready to set-up my 8' long table for 8 people.  Knowing that my tablecloth was dusty rose, it was interesting to walk into a room filled with red and green.  My consolation was that one of the Advent candles is pink:  my table was not necessarily Christmas-y, though it was a nice afternoon tea table.  
The room looked so beautiful; and reflected the time, effort, energy and love that came from all the volunteers.  It is a wonderful event, and an unbelievable amount of work.
1.)  Tables are set-up (by helpful husbands) and set (by assigned table hosts) on Thursday.
2.)  A volunteer made recipe cards of items served at the tea for every guest, and every volunteer, to keep as take-home gifts (with color-coordinated decorative bands).
3.)  Two women cleaned and prepared fruit and then hand-placed fruit salad into table-specific bowls/plates for the first course.
4.)  A team of volunteers cleaned dishes all day long.  Another team of volunteers helped prepare and plate tea sandwiches and desserts.  Each sandwich-making volunteer brought 175 tea sandwiches; and each dessert maker brought 175 of their individual dessert.  (bright idea:  assemble desserts onsite to prevent marring cute treats)
5.)  Second course was four tea sandwiches per person.
6.)  Third, a blueberry orange scone (4 volunteer scone makers) with cream and lemon/orange curd.
7.)  Finally four small desserts delighted guests.  Decaffeinated Earl Grey tea was served before, during and after every course.
8.)  After guests from the 11 a.m. first seating vacated, the table hosts reset their tables for the 2 p.m. second seating, and the process started again!
9.)  The Grace of "Silent Night" was sung by the entire gathering to begin each tea.
I paid attention to the proceedings as I wished to recreate this event where I live, however it's too large an undertaking.  Mom's under the impression it might not be as successful in the Bay Area.  It's too bad, because it's a lovely way to begin the Advent season.  Our version apparently is the "Ladies' Christmas Dinner," which is a dinner for over 100 women in a restaurant.
This large community event will likely morph into an intimate afternoon tea for a dozen as a fundraiser.  We'll have to keep going home to enjoy the largest afternoon tea I've experienced.

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