My friend Nancy did and you can too. It’s not about starting out to create a tradition or fussing over the details. It’s about entertaining in whatever way works for you and your friends and deciding that it’s nice to do it again the following year, and then maybe the next ….
Twenty years ago, Nancy threw a birthday tea party for her mom. It was so much fun, she decided to do a holiday tea for her own friends. Ever since then, each year on a Sunday afternoon in December, Nancy has invited her women friends to a tea. It’s a 3-hour open house-type event. She began with 30 invitations the first year and now sends invites to 70+ women from all parts of her life, including childhood friends, women she got to know as parents of her kids’ friends, work friends and a few assorted friends like me.
Fast forward to yesterday. The afternoon was sunny and the event was in full swing when I arrived. About 50 women mingled easily. We drank tea, and ate small sandwiches and savory scones, tiny cupcakes, macarons and other delights. But mostly we talked, laughed, and enjoyed each other.
I do love parties, and this was a great one. But not in the way that parties often are. There was no liquor – not even a drop of wine or mulled cider – and no beautiful music. OK, the food was delicious.
And the ambiance was lovely, complete with candles, flower arrangements, silver service from her mother, and those adorable cookie stands I always wished I owned.
But really the best part was the chance to connect with women I don’t see frequently enough and to meet others in a relaxed atmosphere. When I walked in I saw only 2 women who are close friends of mine and a few other acquaintances. But it was easy to join conversations and mingle as we poured ourselves – and each other – cups of tea.
Nancy seems to enjoy the tea as much as any of the guests and to me, that’s the sign of a successful party. I asked her what she thought makes it so delightful. She pointed out that: 1) it’s all women – most of us dressed up for the occasion, but the vibe was definitely low key; 2) it’s a great way to reconnect with people – women who meet at the tea each year sometimes get to know each other even though they don’t travel in the same circles otherwise; and 3) she keeps adding new friends to the invitation list, so the group stays lively year after year. The event has become a marker for all those who look forward to it, and a wonderful memory as attendees remember teas in the past.
As far as I’m concerned, an event can become a tradition by the 2nd year if it feels right. And there is no requirement for fancy china, printed invitations or even fancy email invites. The food can be simple and the locale can rotate among friends. As long as you can’t wait to do it again next year – it’s a tradition.
Whether you go single sex or co-ed, whether it’s brunch, mid-afternoon, or evening, finding a new way to bring your friends together can turn into much more than a few hours of fun. A cookie swap, a latke cook-off, or a decoration-making free-for-all, if you don’t have one already, I hope you’ll enjoy creating your own holiday tradition.