When friends Olivia Brock of Lacquered Life and Hanna Seabrook of Gadabout join forces to host a Charleston, South Carolina, tea party, you know a good time will be had by all. The lush garden of Olivia’s eighteenth century home on Church Street made for the perfect summer spot. Delectable tea party snacks were prepared by Chef Todd Mazurek of Salthouse Catering and the guest list was filled with their favorite Southern ladies. Matchbook tagged along for the fun and grilled Olivia and Hanna on their very best hostessing tips!
Photography by Olivia Rae James
The Guest List
Ashton Finley of the Preservation Society of Charleston
Lauren Lail of Library by Lauren Lail
Stacy Smallwood of Hampden Clothing
Jackie Thomson of Leap Frog PR
Open-Faced English Cucumber Crostini with Salt & Pepper Chevre, Lemon Zest & Dill
Chicken Salad Canape with Snap Pea, Pickled Grape & Candied Pecan Dust
Deviled Egg with Osetra Caviar and Micro Chive
Ahi Tuna and Candied Carrot Coulis Pipette
Local Strawberry Shortcake with Aged Balsamic & Chantilly Cream
Prepared by Chef Todd Mazurek of Salthouse Catering
Sara Foster’s Southern Kitchen Minted Sweet Tea Recipe
8 Cups Water
8 Bags Black Tea
8 Fresh Mint Springs
3/4 Cup Sugar
Makes 2 Quarts
Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a saucepan and remove from the heat.
Halve and squeeze 3 lemons, setting aside the juice and reserving the squeezed halves.
Add 8 bags black tea, 6 to 8 fresh mint sprigs, the reserved squeezed lemon halves, and 1/2 cup sugar. Stir to mix and submerge the mint and tea bags. Cover and let steep for 15 to 20 minutes.
Remove and discard the bags, mint, and lemon halves.
Add 4 more cups water and the reserved lemon juice, and stir to mix.
Taste for sweetness and add up to 1/4 cup additional sugar to taste, stirring to mix until the sugar dissolves.
Serve cold over ice, garnished with sprigs of mint and wedges of lemon.
Courtesy of Sara Foster’s Southern Kitchen .
Olivia and Hanna’s Entertaining tips
1. Entertain any chance you get. The more you entertain, the more enjoyable and effortless it becomes. When you save hosting for the "perfect" party, you never learn how to throw a fun one. Practice is what makes a good hostess great, not perfection.
2. Encourage conversation. Be it a casual garden get together or seated dinner party with place cards, make sure everyone gets a chance to chat. Cluster chairs so they face each other, seat an outgoing person next to someone shy, separate couples, and make sure to personally introduce new friends to old ones.
3. Be a guest at your own party. When the doorbell rings, organized should become outgoing. Whatever you have to do to make yourself relaxed and happy before guests arrive, do it. Take your heels off, fix an early drink, wear something comfortable, rip up the to-do list. Because if your guests are having a good time, then what didn't get done doesn't even matter.
4. Do not reserve your fine china for special occasions. There are only so many “special occasions” in life, why not make every occasion special? So whatever china pattern you choose, or your mother chose, or that you inherited, have fun with it, mix and match, do something different. And use it as much as you can. There is no occasion where breaking out your best stuff is not appropriate – it’s your party!
5. When putting together your flower arrangements, keep it simple. There is no need to stress about designing large complicated arrangements when a small arrangement of one or two flowers and one or two colors has a huge impact.
6. Recognize your audience. Any party should be a fun, worry-free, event for all invited. Think about your guests’ likes and dislikes. If you know someone is allergic to something, make sure to provide an alternative. The best parties are where everyone feels welcome and provided for.
Did you know?
Fun facts about Charleston, South Carolina...
1. Charleston is named for King Charles II of England, also known as the Merry Monarch. He is also the namesake of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
2. Charleston’s nickname is The Holy City because the city’s skyline is dominated by its church steeples.
3. In colonial Charleston, tables were set with multiple tablecloths and each cloth was removed after a course was finished. Dessert was served on a bare table!
4. In Charleston, Chinese imported china dishes were shipped from abroad and arrived at the wharf in barrels. As a result, they were sold “as is” and used as everyday china.
5. When President George Washington did his tour of the southern states in 1791, he stayed in each city for a couple of days, except for Charleston. The President liked the beautiful city and their hospitality so much, he stayed a full week.
This article was originally published in Matchbook's July 2013 issue .