Written and Produced by Krissa Rossbund
Photographs by Karyn Millet
Taking a proper afternoon tea break may not be part of the daily American routine, but the English ritual of a formal tea, with all its elegant accompaniments—fine china, silver, linens, and beautiful bouquets—so captured the fancy of hostess Rachel Hollis that she adapted the niceties of traditional tea to create a refined luncheon.
“If you don’t know the exact protocol, chances are neither do your guests,” says Hollis. “Do a little research to get inspired, but feel comfortable incorporating your own twist.”
In a dining room by interior designer Chris Barrett, gracious elements include a palette of faint green and ivory, tailored toile slipcovers, and a chandelier that stuns with glamorous crystals. Tabletop finery takes a supporting role, bowing to the rich finish of the mahogany table. White linen placemats with pearl accents anchor each setting. Mint-colored dinner plates with gold flourishes accompany salad plates with ruffled edges that add a shapely twist.
Vintage silver heightens the splendor of the tablescape, as does sterling flatware with elaborately detailed handles. Antique salt and pepper shakers and tea strainers are ornate, but stainless steel platters and hammered napkin rings provide contemporary balance. The centerpiece features an array of flowers in milk-glass vases, lending an impromptu air.
In keeping with the afternoon tea theme, the menu includes dainty sandwiches and desserts, but the foundation of the meal is a chilled crab, mango, cucumber, and avocado salad tower that tastes like summer. A tea bar allows guests to choose favorite flavors; mini-teapots provide each guest with a personal supply of hot water.
“Hostesses are latching onto the idea of individual—rather than group—items,” says Hollis. “It’s so much fun when you get to select something just for yourself. It makes you feel pampered.”
Interior designer: Chris Barrett, chrisbarrettdesign.com
Event planner: Rachel Hollis, mychiclife.com
Recipes begin here.