Countdown to Downton
Come explore the Downton era and plan a tea to be talked about.
How does one prepare for the return of such beloved characters as the Crawleys? With a party of course! Whether a brunch, tea, or night of dancing (or perhaps a spot of all three), the arrival of the queen must be celebrated!
When Downton ended several years ago, some of my girlfriends and I consoled one another with a farewell tea watch party, as one does, complete with scones, silver tea service, blue and white transferware, and hats!. Our hostess even surprised us by dressing as a housemaid to serve everyone properly. So of course, to celebrate the happy occasion of receiving an invitation to revisit Downton, several of the usual suspects put their heads together to host a celebratory tea before heading to the theater to indulge in a tete’-a-tete’ with the dowager herself (Maggie Smith is amazing - a poised, regal spitfire from Harry Potter to Downton - and I want to be her when I grow up).
If you would like to celebrate in proper form, too, here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Jazz brunch complete with flapper attire
- Tea (at home or at one of your favorite tea houses. I love Edith’s, House of Commons, or Brown Palace)
- Cooking lesson - take the opportunity to teach each other some of your favorite British recipes, or if you’re a competitive group, see who can beat Ms. Padmore or Daisy’s best recipes
- Local Downton inspired events (museums, arboretums, historical homes, and cooking schools, etc.)
My friends and I opted for a proper afternoon tea before jaunting off to see the premiere. Each of the ladies volunteered to bring scrumptious sweets and savories for the affair.
- Tea sandwiches
- Petit fours
- Scones with clotted cream and jam
- Cream puffs
- Tea served with lavender honey (see below for how to make your own infused honey)
Have fun with your event with full-on flapper or prim and proper hats and gloves. And if cooking, consider making matching aprons to commemorate the event.
For me, I chose to wear a navy chambray Draper James dress, Downton-esque hat, and Ginger Jar Chinoiserie Blue and White Tassel Earrings from St. Armands Designs on Etsy.
And don’t forget the parlor games! To entertain her guests, our hostess arranged several amusements, including a quotable guessing game, drawing from tea cups for our titles and uproarious christian and family names for the day (Lady Honeysuckle Nettelebottom, I thank you), and wonderful discussions about the most memorable, poignant, and hysterical moments of the series. Charades and cards can round out the evening.
Hostess gifts & Favors
As a lovely parting favor or hostess gift, consider teaspoon rests, jars of handmade lavender honey, or tea towels (Anthropologie is a wonderful source for tea towels, and is also the source for the striking Balducci Ladies in Waiting plates on the table!!).
To make your own lavender infused honey, heat 1 cup of honey for every 2.5 ounces of culinary lavender in a saucepan, boiling them on low together for ~ 4 minutes. Siphon the lavender from the honey as you pour it into your gift jars. Do not close the lid on the jar until the honey has cooled. Note: I recommend keeping the boil low or the honey will boil over quickly. For planning purposes, you will lose a little of the base honey to the process, so have extra on hand, just in case.
Tip: I keep the filtered, honeyed lavender that was strained and put it in tea bobs (mesh tea diffusers) to steep in my tea later.
Post Premiere Treats
Still can’t get enough of Downton Abbey? Here are a few fun finds to keep celebrating the Crawleys (Note: as an Amazon affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases):
- Downton Abbey Exhibition
- Downton inspired food stuffs, including tea and jams
- The Official Downton Abbey Cookbook - so you can cook like Ms. Padmore!
- Downton Abbey: A Celebration - series companion book with behind the scenes information
- Christmas at Highclere: Recipes and Traditions from the Real Downton Abbey (written by Countess Carnarvon who resides at Highclere)
- While We Were Watching Downton Abbey- present day novel by Wendy Wax of women forming a lasting, inspiring friendship as they come together to watch the series