How It All Started
In February 2021, I did an Instagram post where I created a hat contest for my Valentine’s Day Tea. The public could vote and tag someone, then be eligible to win a prize. I had recently started following Martine from Martine’s Pastries, who had done my wedding cake back in 2002. It was wonderful reconnecting with her through Instagram. Martine’s pastries are utterly delicious and visually stunning. She had entered to win my hat contest and tagged her friend Ouita Michel, a renowned James Beard Foundation Featured Chef. Ouita is the incredibly talented founder of the Ouita Michel family of restaurants. Holly Hill Inn, Wallace Station, Midway Bakery and Honeywood are just a few of her restaurants. Ouita also voted, and reached out to me through direct message, mentioning that she would love to host a tea party with me. I was so excited as I am a big fan of hers, having spent many wonderful times eating at her establishments. After the intensity of the prior year, I could feel the sun starting to shine again after hearing from Ouita!
Planning The Event
Over the following months, Ouita Michel and I planned the tea together. We discussed incorporating tea etiquette into the event as we thought the audience might enjoy this topic. Last February, I did an online certification process to receive “The Art of Afternoon Tea Etiquette Certification” through Nancy at Daily Etiquette, founder of the Southern California School of Protocol. It took 10 hours to complete this training, as it was very detailed regarding everything that goes into hosting a tea party and tea etiquette. For our Tea Party at Holly Hill Inn, we included 10 etiquette tips to share with everyone. People are often surprised about tea etiquette as they think the rules are strict and difficult to follow. It’s not about making sure you sit up straight and not getting food on yourself; but learning tips which help make the overall experience more pleasant for everyone.
Ouita had suggested that we do a hat fashion show with models showing the hats. In addition, I was given the opportunity to set up a boutique at Holly Hill Inn. It was incredibly generous of her. We planned that I would bring 30-40 hats for the millinery fashion show. Having the opportunity to participate in this event was such a blessing due to the confines of the quarantine during the pandemic. It had been very depressing due to being a social person, and not being able to attend or host events. We were thrilled knowing that this would be the first event for many since the quarantine started and wanted it to be fabulous!
As the event evolved, we decided to have the models interact with the audience directly. The models went from table to table to introduce the hats. Since we had the models more involved than just walking into a room and then exiting, it turned out to be one of the highlights for the audience as they enjoyed getting to talk to the models. The models walked around with a chalkboard sign stating the name of the hat that they were wearing and engaged with each table. The audience loved this!
When Ouita and I planned this back in March, she mentioned there would be space for 50 to 70 people at the event. I was hoping to get 50. To our surprise, we sold out a week before the event! The event was a total success on all levels. The guests loved being together and making connections while being surrounded by beauty and delicious tea cuisine. People were raving about what a great time they had and how they couldn’t wait for the next one!
Final Results…It was a major success!
The ladies were excited to learn about tea etiquette as well as receive ideas for hosting their own teas in the future. Many positive memories were created that day at Holly Hill Inn. New friendships were made and older friendships renewed. Women loved getting dressed up, being with their friends, trying on hats, and getting a chance to relax. They all had a blast! I am looking forward to more events like this. Women deserve to be pampered and made to feel beautiful. They left feeling a bit like royalty!