Tea Party in the Country

Host a tea party at your home with these easy, party-planning tips.

Tea Party

Tea Party

Menus feature dishes that carry out the theme, such as a Victorian Bridal Tea. Photography by Allison Roen Wollenhaupt/Allison Marie Photography.

Spenser and Donna Hardin

Spenser and Donna Hardin

Spenser and Donna Hardin on their Iowa farm.

Handmade costume

Tea party-costume

Costumes that Spenser makes help set the stage for the tea parties. Photography by Allison Roen Wollenhaupt/Allison Marie Photography

Tea PartySpenser and Donna HardinHandmade costume


At first, country life didn’t seem like Donna Hardin’s cup of tea—until she found a way to brew up some excitement amid the farm fields of southern Iowa.

“We’d always been city folks, so it was a real culture shock when my husband, Don, convinced me and our four children to move to the country nine years ago,” Donna notes from their cow and calf farm near New Virginia. “Being a people person, I felt isolated at first. Every time I heard a car, I’d get all excited, hoping it was company, and then be disappointed when they’d drive right on by.”

Nowadays, people flock to the Hardins’ rural acres, sometimes by the busload. Their cozy tearoom has become a destination for those seeking a perfect blend of fun, friendship and comfort by the pot.

“Our first winter on the farm was particularly frigid,” Donna recalls. “So Spenser, our daughter, and I would have afternoon tea together to lift our spirits. We enjoyed it so much, we decided to hold monthly teas for area women. We were astounded by the positive response!”

Their casual home business quickly evolved into Miss Spenser’s Special-Teas. The duo hosted more than 50 tea events last year. To accommodate their growing guest list, they recently converted an attached garage into a spacious tearoom. There they welcome tour groups, social and business clubs, and people celebrating birthdays, anniversaries and other special events. Afternoon tea meals are also held a couple of times a week.

Tips to hosting a tea party at home:

  • Develop themes and dramatic programs that are based on a holiday, a season, a work of literature or a famous person or event from the past.
  • Research and test recipes to fit the party theme. This recipe for Easy Lemon Curd Bars are a favorite in Donna’s kitchen.
  • As your party grows, accept help from family and friends.
  • Create a setting filled with quilts, crafts, antiques, nostalgic photos and tables dressed with vintage tea sets and linens.

For details on tearoom happenings, visit missspensersspecialteas.com or missspensersblog.blogspot.com.


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