Library Program: The Great and Terrible Tea

This report is a little late, but I didn't want to forget to report the success of a tea party we held for teens. This party was in honor of the Libba Bray books A Great and Terrible Beauty, Rebel Angels, and The Sweet Far Thing. G. Ipock of Sellers Library Teens blog published an idea on ya-yaac and on her blog to have a Libba Bray Cele-Bray-tion. My co-worker and I really liked this idea so we decided to work on it together. We named our event The Great and Terrible Tea. It would be a steampunk tea party, which combines Victorian heraldry with modern edginess. You can read her report about the program here.

We had high hopes for the event but I ended up having a big challenge when I decided to design a game based on the books. What was I thinking? More on that later.

The first thing I had to do was read the book! What I read was highly appealing to teen girls because it was dark, romantic, Victorian, and angst-y. It also involves a girl who is not necessarily beautiful but very bold and brave.

Setup for the program took about an hour. We pushed tables together for people to have tea on. We didn't have a tablecloth, so we used lace doilies and some teapots as centerpieces. To save room on the table, we had the tea things on a separate table. For the food, we had homemade scones (they are super simple to bake), chocolates (just two regular boxes of chocolates put out on a silver tray to look fancy), and tea. Although I am a big fan of loose leaf tea, we needed to keep this simple. Helping 30 some teens measure out tea in a mesh bag or strainer seemed complicated. Besides, I had a very nice parent donate a large wooden box full of different flavored teas.

The food was laid out on the table. We were in a kitchenette with no stove so I boiled the water in an electric tea kettle. It looked like a silver teapot, but it was electric. I also had an extra kettle that was just white plastic. To keep the ambiance, I kept that behind the door and just used to refill the other kettle when it was empty.

Then five minutes before people arrived, I put the cold items: clotted cream for the scones (or Devonshire cream), two kinds of preserves, and cream for the tea.

Our first event was an icebreaker. We had a quiz, which Libba Bray character are you? My co-worker made this up using the books. The girls answered the questions, and whichever girl they matched best revealed their identity.

Next, there was a craft that my co-worker organized. She researched the history of calling cards. We then had the teens make steampunk calling cards. This was funny because she told them that the cards would be folded certain ways to mean certain things. One example she used was if you wanted to have an affair, you would fold down a certain corner. Then, when a teen came in late, one of her peers explained the calling card concept. Of course, the part she remembered best was that if you wanted to have an affair, you would fold down the corner. It became a game of telephone, with the teens placing emphasis on the parts they liked best.

The final products came out nice. These first two events took about an hour.

The next thing we did was serve the tea. Everyone brought their own teacup. At first, people were nervous about trying to Devonshire cream, but they soon got over their fear after they tasted it mixed with the preserves.

After everyone got to enjoy a few cups of tea and as many scones as they wanted, we played the game I created. I like to think of this game as Mystery Date: The Libba Bray edition. In this game, there is your average gameboard with spaces you move upon with tokens. The goal of the game is to be the first person who reaches the finish spot. You reach the finish spot by moving through the gameboard. Some spaces have "take a card" written on them. The cards either had you move up or back a certain amount of spaces depending on events that happened in your life at the private school (taken from the book). There are also two paths you can take, although there is a chance to change paths mid-game. When someone reaches finish they get to read their life partner and future cards. These cards are distributed before the game begins and are not revealed until the end. Life partners are Ithal, Kartik, Tom, and the old dude that was going to marry the pretty girl. Only if you reach finish first do you actually "win" these cards. And they maybe good or bad. That's what makes it mystery date-ish.

The teens had fun with this. The last thing we did was give costumes for prizes. We only had four people that dressed up, and we had four prizes so it worked out nice.

This was a fun program that took some extra preparation. But it made it worth it when the teens left so happy. Other could do this closer to when the movie comes out. There is no firm date of release as of yet.

For more pictures of the even, click here.


Anonymous said…
Brilliant idea - I love it!
Anonymous said…
Brilliant idea - I love it!