Admit it; you are addicted to Downton Abbey…or at least know someone that is. I am; as are many of my fellow Waupaca Library coworkers. It seemed only natural, with the rapidly approaching series 5 premiere (Sunday, January 4th), to host a Downton Abbey Tea Party for our adult patrons and their kids/teens after hours (at tea time). It was an enormous success!
Our committee got together a number of times and hashed out the logistics. At first, we planned to hold the program in our exhibit room, among the “Apron Chronicles: A Patchwork of American Recollections” exhibit. It seemed a natural connection, however; once registration opened, we found that the exhibit room was too small to accommodate the number of people interested in attending (upward towards 70 people!). Our waiting list continued to grow, so we changed our venue to our larger meeting room to accommodate all of our interested patrons.
We decorated with round tables borrowed from Parks & Rec (thanks guys!), covered in white table clothes and topped with lace. Centerpieces were created by the wonderful Kathy Hurt using evergreen branches, gold and silver-painted pine cones, gourds and mini pumpkins, and Downton Abbey paper dolls, cut out by our teen employees. Staff and volunteers lent their fine china and silver tea sets, water glasses and goblets, and serveware. It proved to be an elegant, warm, slightly-Christmassy tablescape. Waupaca Library employees and volunteers catered the event with bite-sized delicacies suitable for a formal tea. Some of our more creative staff members and volunteers helped to decorate the room, turning what was once a drab meeting room with beige walls and florescent lights, into a beautiful dining room. The transformation was astounding and truly resonated as guests entered with a gasp.
We set up a photo booth area, where patrons could pose in front of Highclere Castle at a bistro table with a silver tea service for 2. Props, hats, gloves, scarves, broaches, etc. were all available in our “wardrobe” area. It was like “dress up” for adults and it was immensely popular. After photo booth time, while guests were drinking tea and enjoying their tea time snack, we pit table against table in a rousing game of Downton Abbey trivia. After which, we screened the first episode of series one “Downton Abbey.” Guests were given popcorn, sparkling cider, and a bingo sheet.
Patrons were so thrilled with this event! We received many thanks, lots of positive feedback, and a few donations. It was absolutely wonderful. Someone even called me “darling,” as in “cute” or “sweet.” This kind of large-scale program proved that when great minds are put together, you can accomplish anything…especially on a limited budget. Thank you to everyone that attended and had a wonderful time; to everyone that helped plan this program; to everyone that helped run this program; to everyone that stayed late on a Saturday evening and helped clean up; to everyone that provided snacks, wardrobe choices for the photo booth, tea sets and crystal, and so on. This program would not have been such a success without all of you.
Here’s to our next big hurrah! Cheers!