Hosting Tips

A Friendsgiving Tea Party

By Camille Styles
Gingerbread tea

Has anyone else been craving Thanksgiving flavors and festivities for weeks? Though the countdown to the big day is still going strong, I took it upon myself to preemptively celebrate a few weeks early with a tea-filled Friendsgiving dinner party with some of my favorite girls. Lucky for us, the cold (ish) weather settled in Austin just in time, and with the help of Teavana, we kicked off the holiday season with a gorgeous table design, tons of delicious Thanksgiving foods, and all the tea-inspired details you could imagine…

This table design was inspired by Teavana’s gorgeous Flourish Tea Set. Dubbed “sophisticated botanical,” we set a table using lots of green, rustic elements, but added a touch of holiday whimsy with metallic brass details.

When in doubt, go with white dinner plates — they pair well with just about any table design, are the best option for a clean food presentation, and likely already exist in your kitchen. Then add a festive feel to each place setting with seasonal salad plates and your favorite flatware (I can’t get enough of my rose gold set).

Lastly, I topped off each place setting with tea-stained card stock place cards, glasses for water, and pretty gold striped mugs for a little something special.

Want to design a Thanksgiving centerpiece that’ll stop guests in their tracks? Start by laying a store-bought moss runner down the length of your uncovered table to instantly bring the outdoors in. In lieu of a pricey flower arrangement that won’t last more than a day, pile pumpkins and gourds in a low serving platter and place in the middle of the table — there’s no easier way to bring  the feeling of fall to your dinner, and when the meal is over, all that produce is ready for more seasonal cooking.

For a final addition that somehow seems to find a way onto all my table designs, vintage brass candlestick holders of varying heights always look great clustered together.

The first wave of guests arrive with the perfect holiday hostess gift in tow: Teavana’s Ultimate Winter Collection holds 12 premium loose leaf teas that are sure to keep any tea lover warm and cozy straight through the new year.

And how perfect is this set of frosted tea tins for the holidays? Each custom designed tin holds 3 oz. of loose leaf tea. This week only it’s available for 30% off in-store or get 2 oz. of the new Gingerbread Black Tea free when you order a Frost Tin Set online! Since my mom and I have a regular ritual of catching up over tea, I’d love to fill each tin with one of her favorite seasonal blends, then embellish the gift box with tons of gorgeous ribbons and gift it to her for the holidays.

Most of my dinnerware and serving pieces are modern and neutral, so I was excited to add a slightly more traditional set of china to the collection. And though the shape of the Flourish Tea Set is classic, the colors and floral pattern are current and unexpected. We had the pot filled with piping hot Gingerbread Black Tea, ready for serving as soon as guests arrived.

Bottoms up!

If you ask me, one Thanksgiving meal a year just isn’t enough. Inviting friends over a week or two before the holiday to enjoy some of those signature fall dishes is a great way to get into the spirit — and who knows? You just might send guests home with a few decor ideas and recipes that they can whip up at their own Thanksgiving Day celebrations.

Get creative by thinking of ways to spruce up your everyday dining space. I swapped my usual wooden dining bench for my favorite settee, and the result is a seating solution that’s a bit more colorful, and a lot more comfortable.

Since I’m all about indulging during the holidays, this party was bursting with sweets. First up: a White Chocolate Peppermint Cocoa topped with whipped cream and crushed peppermint, and served up in a gorgeous Golden Stripes Infuser Mug (with the infuser removed).

Click here to get my recipe for this White Chocolate Peppermint Cocoa, made with — you guessed it — Teavana’s white chocolate peppermint tea.

Nothing says “holidays” like gingerbread. I used one of my favorite loose tea leaves from Teavana to make these perfectly portioned out Mini Gingerbread Bundt Cakes with Vanilla Glaze. Click here for the tasty recipe, then watch as guests delight at these adorable little treats.

No dessert plates? No problem! Though Grandmother might not approve, I simply served the individual bundt cakes on unused tea saucers.

Metallic macaron-shaped tins are great for packaging loose tea leaves. They keep tea fresh for up to a year, and are pretty enough to keep visible in the kitchen, making them the perfect gift for the holiday hostess or coworkers.

For this party, I filled my metallic macaron-shaped tins with butter cookies drizzled with white chocolate and crushed peppermint. The air-tight design will keep the cookies fresh, and the tin can be used to store loose leaf teas long after guests say their goodbyes.

Make your Friendsgiving stand out above the rest with a tea station that allows guests to take a little bit of the party home with them. I displayed a handful of loose leaf teas in small bowls on my bar cart, and then encouraged guests to fill Teavana’s perfect paper tea filters with their favorite blends.

I set out blank card stock tags attached to long pieces of string with which to tie each tea bag tight, and then asked guests to write what they’re thankful for on the tag. This way, friends and family can enjoy the amazing tea long after the party’s over, and seeing that hand-written tag hanging over the edge of their cup is sure to help maintain a sense of gratitude and thankfulness all year long.