Host a Dorian Gray Tea Party this Summer
You will have tea, of course, Dorian? And so will you, Harry? Or do you object to such simple pleasures?
– I adore simple pleasures, said Lord Henry. They are the last refuge of the complex.
Why don’t you host your own Victorian Afternoon Tea this summer in the spirit of Oscar Wilde’s decadent novel? Join Lord Henry Wotton, Dorian Gray and Basil Hallward in chapter two of The Picture of Dorian Gray as they enjoy refreshments in the blossoming summer garden of the artist’s studio followed by some Afternoon Tea.
How to Dress the Part
Start by sending hand-written invitations to your friends about two weeks before the event. Give them some ideas on how to dress for the occasion. Suggest long skirts and high-collared blouses for the ladies and three-piece suits for the gentlemen. The ladies can accessorise with gloves, straw hats or parasols to protect their dainty complexions.
Let us go and sit in the shade, said Lord Henry … If you stay any longer in this glare, you will be quite spoiled, … You really must not allow yourself to become sunburnt. It would be unbecoming.
The gentlemen can add a tie and place a flower in their buttonhole. Make it a lily as a nod to Oscar Wilde. For more inspiration on how to dress the character, check out our pocket guide Romping through Dorian Gray.
Flowers are everywhere in the opening chapters of The Picture of Dorian Gray, so host your tea party in a lovely garden or decorate with colourful blossoms such as yellow roses which symbolise friendship. If you feel fancy, place some orchids around the room as a reminder of Dorian Gray’s country retreat, Selby Royal. Add a touch of Victoriana with old photographs, lace handkerchiefs and gilded mirrors. Place soft brightly coloured cushions on the chairs for the comfort of your guests.
Tea was poured from an urn or Russian samowar for these gatherings and served in dainty china cups with a floral motive.
There came a knock at the door, and the butler entered with a laden tea-tray and set it down upon a small Japanese table. There was a rattle of cups and saucers and the hissing of a fluted Georgian urn.
Have cream, sugar and sliced lemons ready to add to the tea. You may also serve coffee. For something refreshing in the summer heat, make some lemonade or tea punch (ice tea).
Let us have something iced to drink, something with strawberries in it.
The two men sauntered languidly to the table and examined what was under the covers.
Victorian afternoon tea parties featured a variety of little snacks including sandwiches, tea-cakes, chocolate or peppermint bonbons, salted nuts, muffins, scones, candied fruit and ice cream. Sandwiches were filled with cucumbers, salmon, chicken or turkey or a sweet mixture with nuts and fruit, marmalade or jam. Make sure to cut off the crusts for extra daintiness.
Three young men in elaborate smoking-suits were handing tea-cakes to some of the women.
Serve the lightest of cakes like lady fingers or strips of puff pastry glazed or covered in an almond mixture. Make small tea-cakes with icing in various colours and flavours. All the better if you can match the colour of the bonbons with the flowers used to decorate the room.
I hope you got a lot of inspiration from the above to host your own Dorian Gray afternoon tea party. If you feel that hosting it yourself is beyond you, why don’t you meet with your friends at the Victorian Tea Rooms at Mount Jerome Cemetery or the Phoenix Park Tea Rooms in Dublin for a Wilde afternoon?
Maite eats books and ideas for breakfast washed down with a mug of coffee. She sees opportunities at every turn in a country that equally charms and exasperates her.