I recently watched Tim Burton’s recreation of the classic fairy tale Alice in Wonderland and it had me all giddy, even more so than my kids. There’s something positively magical and lush about the landscapes and worlds Mr. Burton breathes life into in his movies and with a cast featuring deliciously devilish characters like the Queen of Hearts, the anxiety-prone white rabbit and the sweet and all-too-curious Alice, well, he’s got his work cut out for him.
But the best part about this re-imagined Alice in Wonderland is the opportunity to get my kids interested in sipping and enjoying a spot of tea the idea that we can recreate our very own Mad Hatter tea party either at home, or at a tea shop on Staten Island, and for those precious moments in time, live out our own fairytale-like experiences.
I’m the kind of mom who likes concocting schemes to keep my kids still firmly believing in whimsical characters like the Tooth Fairy (to whom my son has penned a lengthy note asking for more money the next time his tooth falls out) and who also believes actual superheroes walk among us on this planet.
Can you really fault me for telling a few white lies? Maybe you can, but I’m convinced if white lies like believing in a magic rabbit hole will encourage my kids to don silly hats and boas and indulge in heart-shaped peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches, well it’s a risk to my integrity I’m willing to take. For some tea-licious tips to create your own Mad Hatter party, keep reading.
MAD HATTER TEA PARTY AT HOME
Vanessa Valencia, a Tucson, Ariz.-based artist, writer and photographer and blogger, who hosts a yearly everyone is invited virtual Mad Hatter tea party every June, says the sky is the limit when hosting your own tea party.
She suggests asking your children to help you decorate for the event. Their eye may have a perfect mad flair.
Use everyday items in your home as props to create that Mad Hatter ambiance. Clustered together on a table, they might be quite mad. Use anything from toy pianos and statues, to lamps and trays and mismatched tea sets and silverware and bits of fabric and ribbons to toss around and hang from your chandelier for a colorful effect.
Tiered cake stands and toys are a nice touch. Have your kids take a basket and go hunting around your home, gathering things to use on their table for decoration. Liquid bubbles for blowing on hand.
Mismatched table cloths and napkins work wonders, too. Check thrift stores for wacky inexpensive props and tea supplies, too. Keep a copy of Alice in Wonderland on hand, and let the kids flip through it.
Cupcakes and bowls of maraschino cherries are always a hit. You can serve dark-colored soft drinks instead of tea to the children, but still served in tea cups. Fill large bowls and glass jars with gum balls and jelly beans, or fancy pastel candied licorice. Make fruit kabobs with kiwi, strawberries, maraschino cherries and pineapple.
Serve little sandwiches cut in funky shapes with cookie cutters, like rabbits and hearts and stars. Tea sets: Let them be mismatched, and use the ones you won’t be sad about breaking; check thrift stores for inexpensive china. You can use plastic colorful tea cups for younger children. Just make sure to use safe, age-appropriate place settings.
Boys can wear a T-shirt with a suit vest and dress pants and big tennis shoes and a hat, and the little girls can dress in ruffled dresses with ribbons, gloves and hats. Adults usually wear fun outfits, too, by wearing funky clothes and shoes. Send the kids to their rooms and ask them to come out in their own choice for a Mad Hatter tea party. Bet they will surprise you on their own.
Creating a Mad Hatter tea party with a sense of wild abandon and letting anyone in the family participate in an anything goes adventure can bring more joy to a family than imagined. You step outside of technology and outside of a theme in a way because a Mad Hatter tea party truly has no boundaries.
Children and parents have an equally lovely time, and using things you already own for costumes and props creates an inexpensive journey to Wonderland, from the privacy of your own home. What more could you ask for?