I got to be part of a crazy, fun tea party photo shoot the other day. The Santa Barbara News Press in honor of the new Tim Burton Alice in Wonderland film that is coming out wanted to stage a tea party in the style of the movie. Ray and Kathy of Village Modern Foods came up with some great whimsical ideas for the food and I did the decor. We shot it at one of my favorite places, Lotus Land in their Shakespeare garden. The News Press brought out a few kids from the Boys and Girls club to partake of the goodies and we all got dressed up in costumes. Lots of fun AND I got to eat the food! Usually when I create the party I am not there to eat. That happens later when my job is done and I have gone home. I might have to rearrange things in the future… I like eating fancy food!
I set up a stack of suitcases as a chair as they did in the movie.
I also used black as a base color to keep it kind of edgy like the style of Tim Burtons films. If it were all china and pretty colors it would look too sweet and traditional.
Each place setting had a black cloth under the plate to keep things from being too cute. I used a miss-matched collection of my own china, tea cups, and silver wear. I envision this party as being a bit of an impromptu gathering with pulling whatever you have out of the cupboard. Nothing has to match, in fact it is better if it doesn’t. The linens, black chairs and silver tea pots came from Glenn at Event Rents. They have a great selection of beautiful linens. I wanted the surreal colors of dream scapes and nightmares mixed with more traditional lace. The photographs don’t show it but the linens had a great luster of different tones that came out in the sun light adding to the fantastical quality. The tea cakes were equally wild made of watermelon radishes. Very tasty despite the name. The tea was a cinnamon decaffeinated black tea, very good, though I could have used a bit of caffeine at this point.
Each table place had a napkin tied with a polka dot black ribbon and an old skeleton key. I had way more tea pots on the table than you would normally need but in addition to containing tea they worked as decoration. If you had enough pots each guest could have their own. Believe it or not much of the china including the tea pots that I used came from thrift stores. These wonderful shops are a tremendous resource. You just have to go often to catch the goodies.
Each place setting had as a name “card” a bottle filled with water and food coloring and an old fashioned shipping tag with the guest’s name on it. It is reminiscent of the “drink me” tag on the bottle that Alice drank after falling down the rabbit hole. The scones were in a heart shape.
The Mad Hatter and a playing card disguised as Ray and Kathy from Village Modern Foods. A great statue at Lotus Land.