1. (of goods) made to individual order, custom-made.
"a bespoke tea table "
Catered afternoon tea events were my bread and butter in the early days of my life in tea. Weddings, store openings, political meet-and-greets, private family celebrations were set up and served in homes, church halls, museums, historic buildings, town commons and gardens (once in the First Class lounge of British Airways at the Philadelphia International Airport). Nearly every day, my mother, staff and I would pack up vintage and antique china, silver, linens and our British afternoon tea specialties and travel to the next celebration.
The one thing every event had in common was the need to create the intimacy and charm of an afternoon tea for groups of 50 to 200+ guests. From day one, we chose the bespoke tea table to showcase a tablescape where the tea sandwiches, scones, pastries and cakes could be presented in all their delicious, tempting glory! The dining tables picked up the colors and designs of this center table and so, brought back the delight and conversation about the afternoon tea to each group. It was the attention to the details that make an afternoon tea special, indulgent, and fun that made this type of presentation work for a large crowd.
The Bespoke Tea Table? It's a gloried buffet table. No groans, please. Here is why it works in large catered events.
1. Labor For large afternoon tea events, labor is expensive and volunteers not always easy to find and hold on to. Once the tables are set for guests to sit at and the bespoke table is ready, the only labor needed for the food is refilling platters (we'll talk choosing and serving tea in another post).
2. Peace of Mind for Guests Guests can help themselves to what they want and when they want it. They may take a cup of tea and stand and visit with other guests, or fill their plate at any time and sit when they are ready. However, when seated strangers are being served at the same time, it is uncomfortable for them to take food off of a tiered server at their table wondering what portion is theirs. There is always the guest that says "I don't like cucumber, so I will take more chicken salad." There goes someone else's sandwiches since it is portioned for the table! Many times the size of the table itself is too large for reaching over. Plating for each guest is labor intensive and a great deal of kitchen space is needed for set-up. Afternoon tea should be relaxing. No anxiety allowed!
3. Flexibility A bespoke tea table allows the host to have a party for 20 or more people in their home. A dining room table can be decorated and filled for guests to serve themselves and find a spot to sit in the living room or sitting room.
Afternoon tea at home, starting with an English garden centerpiece and adding the trays of elegantly displayed tea treats garnished with greens and flowers.
4. Centerpiece of the Event This is what your guests see the moment they enter the room. It will reflect the theme of your event and set the mood of the celebration. Once you have a theme (wedding, shower, autumn bounty, holiday, etc.) you can collect props from your home, discount stores or consignment/resale shops. Frankly, once you start collecting, it may be hard to stop! Think ahead: will this be an event you host annually? It may be worth investing in linens, dishes and props instead of renting. Once you have a theme, add color. Start with one or two main colors, add an accent color and build your table, starting with some height in the center. Don't be afraid to use trees, statues, bicycles, ornate chairs to give the right background for your trays of food.
Vintage pieces can be used in different ways on the table. Don't throw away your old punch bowls. They are perfect to hold scones, folded napkins and salads
Garden statuary filled with shells surrounded by glass ginger jars and vases tinted pale blue and filled with seashells make an easy, effective seaside centerpiece.