Claudette's Tea Party
Claudette's Recipes
Claudettes's Hats
Claudette's Gloves
Very carefully, Claudette

lifted six saucers out of her cupboard and gingerly placed them upon her lace-covered dining room table. She was filled with anticipation. Never before had she served tea in these cups. Claudette was content to sip her own tea from the antique teacups she had collected. Those cups had cracks and even little chips in them. But these teacups were special. These teacups had been her mother's. Although she herself had never filled these cups with tea, Claudette knew that they were filled with her own memories of her mother's tea parties. The rustle of silk and taffeta dresses, the aroma of hot scones, her mother's gracious hospitality - all her happy memories of helping her mother pour tea were stored in these six cups.
___Almost before she could think about it, Claudette had volunteered to host the first tea party for this brand-new tea society. She was so eager to use her teacups!
___As she arranged soft globes of ivory hydrangea blossoms in an old silver teapot that had lost it's lid, she was pleased to note that her table was already taking a soft elegance. Although she loved the beauty of a formal tea, Claudette didn't want this party to be too formal, so she had sent the following invitation to her new friends:

It's a joy to be your hostess,
I'm as honored as can be
To ask you please to join me
For a vintage fashion tea.

Join me as we celebrate
A bygone era's charm
Add a broach, a shawl, or a boa
Draped across you arm.

An antique dress, a drawstring purse
We'd love to see all that---
Express your style and femininity,
Just please don't wear a hat!

___Claudette was certain that a vintage fashion theme would keep conversation flowing for the society's first tea. Besides, dressing up was downright fun!
___The doorbell chimed just as Claudette was glancing in the mirror and straightening the cameo brooch that fastened her lace cape. She opened the door and welcomed Suzette, Lillian, Ruby, and Laura who presented her with a hostess gift from all of them. Claudette was deeply touched by her new friends' thoughtfulness. Knowing how she loved old things they had given her an antique silver demitasse spoon, thinking (correctly!) that she might enjoy collecting them. Thanking them one by one, Claudette ushered her guests into their living room, where she had set up folding tables.
___Now the ladies knew why Claudette had said not to wear a hat! For on the tables, there sat everything they needed to make their own beautiful hats for their first tea. What fun!
___When the last hat was finished, the ladies put them on and had an impromptu fashion show. Laura was attired in her mother's wedding dress, Suzette wore a lovely eyelet summer frock, and Gloria modeled a simple evening gown her mother had worn to her first dance. Lillian didn't own any vintage clothing, so she made herself a beautiful black brocade vest. She added a "collar" by attaching half of an antique hankie on each side of the neck opening. She then added vintage buttons and attached and antique charm bracelet where a watch chain might be. Ruby had created a "vintage" blouse by transferring locket-sized old photos onto fabric and then covering buttons with the fabric. How wonderful each of these ladies looked in her fashionable attire!
___After the spirited conversation and fashion show, the ladies entered the dining room as Claudette brought the food out from the kitchen. There they were transported from the world of vintage fashion to the grace of yesteryear. The table's crowning joy was a cake shaped like a hat that perched on a glass cake stand. Around the base of the hat's crown were pansies freshly picked from Claudette's window box. A big bow of French ribbon adorned one side of the cake. Around the base of the cake stand were small, framed pictures of vintage fashions, which had been collected from the fashion magazines that Claudette had found at antique stores. Claudette had also found antique monogrammed hankies for each guest to use as a napkin. After carefully folding each napkin so that the prettiest corner would show, she had tied a pastel satin ribbon around the middle as a napkin ring, then fastened the bow with an old pin or earring.
___Beside each plate Claudette had tucked an old pair of gloves. Her guests were invited to take these, as well as the hankies, home with them. The ladies hurried to try on these fancy gloves before the tea was served.
___Each place setting was highlighted by a one-of-a-kind teacup that had belonged to Claudette's mother. Thin cheese straws (which Claudette called "hat-pins"), ribbon sandwiches, and sugar scones were arranged on beautiful pieces of vintage china. Because none of the china matched, each setting was a distinctly beautiful presentation. In little porcelain baskets sat an orange marmalade and a new version of Devonshire cream, which was promptly named "Sandy's Tea Society Cream". Not only was it delicious, it was also so easy to make that everyone wanted to include it at her tea! "Buttons" - sugar cookies decorated like buttons with borders, stripes, and polka dots of icing - rested on a lacy paper doily in an antique silver Victorian cake basket.
___Claudette poured Earl Grey tea from an old Bavarian teapot decorated with rows of pansies and offered sugar cubes, cream, and lemon slices to her friends as they served themselves from her beautiful table. After they were all seated, Claudette asked each guest to tell about the most memorable dress she had ever owned. As they reminisced about ball gowns, Easter frocks, and back-to-school dresses,. the memories turned to favorite places and special people. Exchanging stories, it became apparent they had all been influenced by their mothers' fashion tastes. Gloria pointed out that her wedding dress would be her most memorable dress -- if only she had a reason to buy one!
___All too soon, the delightful afternoon was over. As the tea society bid each other fond good-byes, Gloria admonished everyone to hold onto their hats - they would need them again soon. But Laura's turn to host the tea came next. Claudette had surprised them all. They couldn't help but wonder what Laura would have in store for them!

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