Thursday, January 3, 2013

Tea Time at Downton Abbey

For our latest PennyWise Downton ideas pop over to our post Ring Carson for tea!
Will Mary and Matthew go through with the wedding? Will Bates be set free? Will Cora's mother be a match for the Dowager Countess?

If any of these queries have kept you on the edge of your seat these many months, then you might be just as smitten with Masterpiece's Downton Abbey as I am. So in honor of it's long awaited return for season 3, (or 4 if you're across the pond) I thought I'd celebrate with a Downton inspired tea and viewing party! Never seen the series? Not to worry, many of these tea time ideas can be adapted to other festive Anglophile occasions.

Of course with no Mrs Pattmore to bake crumpets or Carlson on hand to oversee the tea service, this fete might be a tad scaled down by Downton standards; and since my "downstairs" is a basement consisting of storage boxes and a dusty treadmill rather than a bevy of well dressed footman and kitchen maids, I kept things easy to make with a staff of one (me)

Please note, this is just a fun cheeky nod to the formal tea which was considered an important ritual in the Edwardian time, so excuse the glaring historical inaccuracies and leniency with proper etiquette; so put the kettle on, grab gloves and a fabulous hat, Tea is Served.

For wonderful authentic recipes and fun historical facts, this is a wonderful website:

       Downton Votive                            

Be lord or lady of your own grand but scaled-down estate with an easy mini Downton votive. 
Print out this, or any preferred image of the Abbey, to appropriate size. Using a craft knife carefully cut out several windows. Tape discreetly onto clear candle holder or vase and pop in a flameless votive or two! I liked the way this square container worked with the architecture and the unusual orange color (It came from a fall flower arrangement) gives the light a warm glow. I used two identical printouts to wrap completely around votive.
on our Printables page

Earl Grey Tea Spoon Cookies

I just love these cute little shortbread spoons I see around from time to time, and thought an Earl Grey  version would be a perfect addition to the tea table. Serve with a dollop of clotted cream and lemon curd or as is with assorted teas, small tea sandwiches and other store-bought or homemade confections. These have a lightly sweet distinct Earl Grey flavor.

There are several good recipes online but I'm partial to this flavored shortbread from, easily adapting the shape from a simple round cookie to a cute little spoon! 
confectioners sugar
loose tea leaves.                                                           
Get the yummy Recipe here

 Make sure to let the butter come to room temperature
 I cut open 4 Twinings teabags yielding about 2 tablespoons of loose tea
 Here's where I stray from the recipe. 
Instead of rolling the dough into a log shape, flatten it between two sheets of plastic wrap to about 1/3 of an inch before chilling. I couldn't find my rolling pin but happily my Costco thermos worked really well in a pinch!
Once chilled and firm, cut out shapes. I didn't have a spoon shaped cookie cutter so I roughly cut around a small iced tea spoon with a sharp knife, simply making the stems shorter.
Let them cool well before removing from sheet as they are fragile while very warm. They will have light golden brown edges.

Painted Tea Chest

Of course tea was a prized commodity in Downton days, and every respectable household had an elegant tea caddy. You can find them in many wonderful gourmet or antique shops and online but here's a DIY version that repurposes a flea market or tag sale find on a commoner's budget.

You'll need:
Box with lid -from craft store or old jewelry box (mine was $2 at a yard sale)
Suitable paint
Stencil Initial if desired
Decorative Label -if desired
 *This East India Tea seal is on our printables page and was found at
Modge Podge
Scrap velvet or satin if desired for lining

I found this old jewelry box ages ago and was waiting to do something fun with it but if you don't have a flea market treasure on hand, another option would be an unfinished wooden box available at most craft stores very inexpensively.

First I gave it a good clean and then removed the eagle hardware.

I taped off a square area on top and painted it a basic black with gold edges and painted the knob.

Using a small stencil, I opted for my own last initial on the front but a G for Granthem or C for Crawley would work if you wanted to go authentically Downton. I quickly freehanded a mini crown and some swirls.

Then I decoupaged the seal on top and once dry gave it a quick coat of sealer.

I popped some scrap velvet into the bottom drawer and filled with tea and tea time accessories.

Character Masks 

 Images of Downton characters are easy to find online. Simply enlarge whomever you choose, print out  and using spray adhesive attach to sturdy paper. 
Glue on a craft stick and some flair if desired and get into character!

Mixing and Matching

 No formal matching tea set for twelve? Me neither.
 Mixing a variety of yard sale and hand me down teacups and saucers with some silver for sparkle can look surprisingly elegant

Ivy from the supermarket and some faux flowers brighten a winter afternoon

I don't know where the candelabra came from but because it is a little dramatic for my taste it is usually reserved for Halloween, covered with cobwebs and topped with a raven; so it's nice to use it in a more dignified setting.

Extra Touches

During commercial breaks why not test your knowledge and play Downton Trivia?
 Fun questions (and answers) here:
You can offer small tea related prizes for the winner if the thrill of victory isn't enough.
Have a selection of easy instant "costumes" from second hand or party stores: plumed hats, white gloves, derbies, fans and faux pearls for guests to sport to get into the spirit.
And if all else fails:


  1. Christina- I have just loaded your blog into my Grow Your Blog party post - you are all set. Latest updates are on my blog - see you on the 19th


    1. Thanks so much Vicki! So excited for the blog party!


  2. That was so fun, thanks for posting ... the first episode of the new season was so worth it, don't you think?

    1. Thanks! Loved it! Although I don't think Shirley Mclain could hold a candle to the Dowager Countess lol! Can't wait until next week!

  3. You have a cute blog -- thanks for stopping by mine and commenting. Finally, someone who agrees with me about that first episode!

  4. Thanks!- Loved your blog and your commentary! I'm still a Downton fan- just hope Shirley flies back across the pond- lol

  5. What a fantastic and fun idea!

    1. Thanks! I'm just a bit obsessed with this show lol

  6. What a wonderful job! Perfect and very creative! Sorry I hadn't met you before. Hope lots of my followers find your wonderful tea party! Thanks for linking to Tuesday Cuppa Tea!

    1. How Sweet of you! I was so delighted to find your blog. I'm relatively new at all of this so I'm still figuring out all the tech-y stuff but I put your button on my "parties" page.

  7. Oh my gosh, this is so fun! Love the tea spoons and the Downton face masks! We love that show! Can't wait for the next episode tonight!

    1. Thanks so much! So glad you liked the ideas! I love it too - I checked three times that it was set to record in case I miss anything lol-

  8. Hello, new follower here and I’d like to invite you to join me at my weekly Clever Chicks Blog Hop:

    I hope you can make it!


    Kathy Shea Mormino

    The Chicken Chick

  9. Thanks so much! - would love to join you!

  10. Love your tea parties! So creative. I have a (funny) question: Where do you store all your pretty things? I'm finding that is a problem for me:)

    1. Thanks Carmen!
      That's a really good question- haha- I'm still figuring it out-
      I have an armoire one room where I try to keep most of my serving pieces and a very disorganized basement where I wanted to store things in rubbermaid bins according to theme- but I'm still slowly sorting that out-
      I find a friends and relatives are always giving me fun "treasures" since I started blogging-and things are piling up
      I do try to reuse a lot of items and props- I used the silver candelabra for my Downton abbey and Titanic posts and also draped it cobwebs for my halloween post-
      If you come up with a good system-please please let me know! :) lol

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  12. Fantastic tea party! At first, I thought the photos really were from the set of Downtown Abbey. Popping in from Anything Blue Friday... I am becoming your latest follower and invite you to visit my blog.


    1. Thanks so much Judith,
      So glad you enjoyed the post and delighted you'll be following! I'll definitely pop over to your blog!
      and no, sadly the photos were a long way from Downton Abbey in my modest dining room- lol-

  13. Your tea party is just wonderful :D and so much fun! The idea with character masks is great, I can really see myself as Mary :P (and also need to remember to blame Daisy, quite handy;)

  14. I work for a local hospital in my town, and we are having a benefit dinner. The theme is Downton Abbey, and I would love to get that centerpiece that you have. Where can I find the file to download a picture of the castle?

    1. Oh what fun!
      The image of Downton is also on my " Printables" page (theres a link on the banner under the header at the top of the page) or you can use my "contact form" on my sidebar to send your email address and I can forward you the photo-
      I'm afraid I'm not very tech-y so I don't know how how to change the formats-
      Let me know if this helps- would love to hear how they turn out!

  15. Gorgeous tea table. I love your harlequin tea set, all mix and match cups and saucers. Lovey.


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