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You would like to give a tea party. But you are one of the original members of the "I hate to cook club". What to do? First of all, if these folks you want to invite are really your friends, Oreos and a cup of tea are enough. But perhaps you wish to honor someone or just have a fling into tea partydom. Well, hie yourself off to the grocery store, Walmart or one of the big box stores like Sam's Club, BJ's or Costco and peruse the goodies.
First, however, the tea. If you don't know your guests tastes, pick a middle of the road black like a good second flush Darjeeling or a Ceylon, or the everyday tea of your choice. You could serve a second pot of Earl Grey if you want to offer a second selection, it is very popular. Half and half or whole milk, sugar and a nice sweetener, maybe some thin lemon slices or small lemon wedges, remembering to wash the lemons. If it is hot and you don't want to have hot tea, make ice tea. If you feel unsure, buy some Lipton's Cold Brew tea bags and follow the directions. It isn't the greatest tea on earth, but it isn't too bad and you could always add one of those little packets you use to make a glass of lemonade to give it a bit of a kick. Some taste like strawberries, which I can say is pretty darn good in tea.
Dessert stuff next. Any good supermarket will have cakes, or cupcakes and some have small individual desserts. The frozen aisle always has a number of things that only need reheating. The cookie aisle always has some nice small offerings and if there is an Italian section to it, many of the Stella D'Oro brand go very nicely with tea. Try to have a selection of 3-4 and not all chocolate. And try for small things, so people can eat more than one.
Savories - ie not sweets. Again, hit the frozen aisle, where there is usually an assortment of hors d'oerve type things, like crab puffs, stuff wrapped in phyllo, mini quiches, etc.. The big box stores always have them and other party things, like frozen cream puffs you can thaw. If you feel up to it you can buy those loaves of party breads which are about 2"square and make sandwiches, covering them with a damp paper towel and saran wrap, in the fridge, until serving time. Just make sure there is an assortment, like chicken salad, ham salad, egg salad, cheese and ham, tomato, whatever sounds good to you. Some stores will have fresh made scones or some sort of biscuits you can warm and serve with butter and jam. Try to decorate the serving platters with some bits of fruit or parsley or lemon leaves if you feel creative. If not, don't worry about it.
Table decor - if you're really feeling insecure, go to a party store and buy paper plates, napkins and a tablecloth that will go with your teapot or is a nice contrast to it. Some flowers or a potted plant are a nice addition, even weeds are pretty.
So, there you have it, an elaborate tea party and the most cooking you may have to do is warm things up or make a sandwich. Personally, I would go for something simpler, but I am the laziest creature! The point is to relax, have a good time and eat goodies. Oh yes, drink lots of tea.