Gather the Girls
This year celebrate Mother's Day by inviting your girlfriends and their daughters to don frilly frocks and sip steaming cups of tea at a sumptuous afternoon tea party. A lavish spread of decadent sweets and springtime decor sets a festive tone.
Embrace warm spring weather by setting up a table on the lawn. Highlight the natural beauty of the outdoors by topping a simple white linen tablecloth with burlap and ferns potted in terra cotta. Bird and butterfly tabletop details add to the setting's lush, botanical feel.
Let Them Eat ... Butterflies
Cake stands and pedestals piled high with sweet treats serve as delicious centerpieces. Now's not the time for sensible eating: Finger sandwiches, sugar-dusted cookies, macaroons and petit fours are delicious ways to indulge. Even store-bought treats look special when artfully displayed at varying heights.
Feather the Nest
Transform a bundt cake into a whimsical nest by surrounding its base with tufts of green moss and raffia. Tuck a single pink peony in the center for a sweet, feminine touch. To keep it from wilting, place the bloom's stem in a water tube concealed within the center of the cake.
Butterfly Tea Sandwiches
Delight guests of all ages with tiny tea sandwiches shaped like fluttering butterflies. Using a butterfly cookie cutter, cut shapes from thin white bread. Toast under the broiler for one minute on each side, then cut half of the butterflies down the center to make \"wings.\" Place a teaspoon of paté, herbed goat cheese or salmon spread in the middle of the whole butterflies, then stick two wings into the spread at a 45-degree angle. Add thin slices of cucumber or radish to the sandwiches for a splash of color.
Adding a few store-bought treats to the menu helps lighten the load on the hostess. Miniature cupcakes topped with a single red raspberry are a perfect choice and appear very dressed up when presented on pretty glass cake stands of varying heights and sizes.
Flights of Fancy
Delicate paper butterflies perched on the rim of each glass look as though they might take flight. To create, spray-mount colored paper onto card stock and fold in half. Trace the outline of half a butterfly onto paper, with the center of butterfly's body against the fold. Cut out butterfly, and snip a v-shaped notch along the folded edge. Open butterfly and slip the notch over the rim of a glass.
Sweets for the Sweet
Even the youngest guests will be smitten with a selection of diminutive treats. Small, bite-sized items work best for this kind of spread since they're easier for little ones to enjoy, no fork and knife required.
A Proper Spot of Tea
Every good hostess should learn the basics of brewing a proper cup of tea. Bring cold water to a boil then remove from heat and let sit for a few minutes. In a teapot, toss in a teaspoon of tea leaves for each cup you are making and fill pot with boiled water. Let steep for three minutes for green teas and four minutes for full-leaf black tea. Pour the tea into cups, using a strainer to catch leaves.
Take Your Seat
Golden eggs bearing cards with hand-stamped names are a playful way to assign guests' seating. These gilded holders from Paloma's Nest double as party favors: Guests can tote them home as a memento of an afternoon spent with their most-adored girls.