As part of my journey with Pinup Doll Australia, we are required to support a charity and raise funds. I have chosen Endometriosis Australia and so far hosted a cocktail night, a lazer tag supersession, and most recently, a high tea. I enjoyed hosting the high tea so much that I thought I’d write up my own ‘how-to’ guide and give my own advice, tips, and tricks.
Planning: the proof is in the pudding.
To get started, I decided to host the event at my house and I thought logically about how many people could comfortably be placed in my living room before I got too carried away. As for inspiration and ideas, I started where most people start planning anything, on Pinterest. I looked up images of high teas and drew inspiration from there looking at how things were arranged, the types of food available and the colours. I had a small budget so I couldn’t run out and buy fancy antique china, I pulled what I had from my own collection and my mothers and before I knew it, I had a great array of colours and prints. I also used one of my favourite books to give me some great ideas.
As for the food, to those that bought tickets, I made sure to ask about any dietary requirements to make sure I wasn’t caught out on the day. Sure enough, I had to make parts of the menu vegan and gluten-free. I had done gluten-free baking before so I thought that wouldn’t be too difficult but it was the vegan baking where I would struggle. I had tried to go vegan several times but my body struggles with the diet especially around Endo flare-ups, but that’s another story. I talked to a few people and got some ideas and found that even my local grocery stores are full of great vegan options.
I brainstormed a menu which I thought was sufficient for everyone coming and made sure to label which items were vegan. I was attempting to serve all the food on tiered cake stands as was traditional but I was very limited in how many I had. So it was a bit of a mix of tiered stands and fancy plates. To start the baking, I created a list of all the food I wanted to create and all the ingredients I would need. Sandwiches were easiest and I had 4 different types on gluten-free bread and vegan bread to cater to all (with the crusts cut off of course). As for the sweets, I made sure I had enough gluten free flour and I was pretty much set. I recommend you break down your food plan into things that can be done the day before, such as baking cakes and cupcakes, and things that can be done the morning of, such as preparing sandwiches.
For tea, I was more than set. Being an avid tea enthusiast, I pulled some of my favourite tea flavours from my cupboard and made sure there were enough teapots to go around. I was hoping some people would share flavours so I could use a larger pot which worked out very well. I also created and printed out a separate tea menu so everyone could choose what they wanted throughout the event. Good thing I had a brand new kettle with heat setting options to make the process easier!
The last thing I had to plan were decorations. I couldn’t afford to buy new tablecloths so I pulled some old linen ones from my mother’s house and combined it with fabric I had purchased from Spotlight a year ago. I wanted everything to be soft, feminine and pink so I made sure to have fresh flowers on the table which I picked from the bushlands on my parent’s property. I also borrowed cutlery from my mother’s house despite how mix-and-match everything felt. I think there are two ways you can go with a high tea; have everything perfectly matching, or a combination of patterns and prints. I had to go with the second option and I was happy with the final results. To make sure everyone fit around the table, I borrowed two spare fold out tables and placed them in the middle of my backyard.
The Day Before: Baking up a Storm
I’m a list person so that’s how I started my Saturday. I made a list of every food item I was going to make and then a list of their ingredients. I organized the list by categories (fresh produce, cold produce, flour etc) and made sure to check once again that everyone would have a wide range of delicious treats.
Armed with my list and a bunch of canvas bags, I went to my local shops and bought everything I needed. I also made sure to buy things like extra napkins, baking paper, and paper towels. When I arrived home, I once again made a list of what needed to be done the day before and on the actual day. I then started baking. To make sure no one was contaminated, I made all the gluten-free food first, making sure everything was new, clean and sterilized just in case a stray crumb made its way into the jam or butter. After all the gluten-free treats were set aside, I moved onto baking all the vegan treats. I tried out a few new recipes and was happy with the result. To be honest, I think my gluten-free scones were a little dry and everyone was just too polite to say anything.
The best part of the day was decorating all 90 cupcakes. My piping bag exploded about 10 cupcakes in so only the vanilla with pandan were piped nicely. TO finish off the day, I made sure that I had enough cups, plates, teacups and serving equipment. Before the light had disappeared, I drove to my parent’s bushland, picked two large bags of Geraldton waxflower, came home and arranged them into an assortment of vases. To finish my day, I cleaned up the kitchen and crawled into bed.
The Day Of: Before the Guests Arrive
Upon waking up, I started getting my sandwich ingredients ready. I roasted my capsicum and caramelized my onions. Whilst both were cooking, I set the table outside, printed my menu’s and made sure there were enough chairs for everyone. I started arranging the gluten-free and vegan tiers and made sure I was ready to become a production line. I quickly got changed into my High Tea outfit, put on some music (we listened to Kitten D’Amour radio because they were a Pinup Doll Australia sponsor), and began making my sandwiches.
If you think half an hour is enough time to make all the sandwiches needed, you’d be wrong. I was still making sandwiches like a crazy woman when all my guests were arriving. I didn’t realize quite how many I had to make to feed everyone. Once again, I started with the gluten-free sandwiches so I didn’t contaminate anyone. Once everyone had arrived, we handed out tea menus and began boiling the kettle, pulling out tea bags and finding pretty teapots for everyone.
Whilst tea was being made, I gave food to the gluten-free eaters and the vegans then started plating up food for everyone else. I went for one plate between two people, one teapot per person with its own warmer and fed the masses.
The Day Of: The final Event
Once the food was brought out, I felt I could relax a little more. We allocated about 45 minutes to let everyone eat and drink before our special guest, Kath Mazzella gave a short presentation about gynecological health. Kath Mazzella is the current recipient for Senior Australian of the Year Award, has advocated for gynecological health for over a decade and the founder of Internationational Gynecological Awareness Day. She spoke about her life, her struggles during and after cancer of the vulva and how she has fought for better health education, awareness and support networks for women with gynecological issues. From the feedback I received, people were very moved and inspired by Kath and I can’t thank her enough for attending my event. Viva La Vulva!
Overall, the event was a hit. We had a safe, intimate space to ask questions, share information, knowledge and have some fun.
If you’d like to donate to Endometriosis Australia, please go here: https://give.everydayhero.com/au/miss-monmon-for-pinup-doll-australia