When looking recently for a nice mommy-daughter outing so that my oldest and I could spend some alone time together, it occurred to me to go our for tea. My husband had been on a business trip for five days, and my 5 ˝ year old was, overall, just incredible at being helpful and cooperative, and stepping up to make it easy for me while dealing with her 1 ˝ year old teething sister. I wanted to take her out, just us, both as a sort of thank you, as well as a way to decompress for us both.
Tea gardens or tea parlors are popping up all over the place these days, and are a fun way to spend time together in a fun setting where you can talk and do something decidedly *special.* It's more expensive than just an average lunch at a family restaurant, but not ridiculous. A child tea service will usually run about $10-15, and include a scone/mini-scone and toppings, tea or alternate beverage like lemonade or chocolate milk, some finger sandwiches and some sort of dessert or fruit. An adult tea service will likely cost around $13-20, and include similar elements, with the addition of a soup, salad or quiche at some price points, or could be as simple as just a scone with the toppings (usually lemon curd, Devonshire cream and sometimes a chocolate sauce). It is also a great idea for mother's day, a private birthday party or other special celebration. Most of these places also do smallish birthday parties at reasonable prices.
If there aren't any dedicated tea gardens or parlors near you, sometimes local hotels or bakeries may offer teas on special days. I like www.teamap.com for finding tea services in your area and includes links to individual websites if they have them, although it can be out of date, so be sure to call first (we had an unfortunate experience with this, driving 30 minutes to a tea parlor with an active website and voicemail, but no live person answering…my mistake, only to find out it had closed and disappeared without a trace!).
It is worth noting that most tea parlors seem to be closed on Monday, since they are open on the weekends. Advance reservations may be recommended on weekends or holidays, so you may need to plan ahead, but many can accommodate walk-ins or last minute plans. You also may want to ask in particular about bringing children, especially if you are toting younger sibling – some proprietors are touchier than others about babies who may grab china teacups or hot liquids, or sometimes prefer to cater just to adults, and may provide an unpleasant or snooty experience. But most seem to enjoy exposing children to the tea experience, and often provide "dress-up" for children and adults – fancy hats, tiaras, costume jewelry, boas or other fun accessories to make the outing special.
Tea can be a great way to connect with your daughter one-on-one, and would be appropriate for children starting around age 5 and up. You may be surprised where a tea parlor is hiding out near you, and just how much fun it can be to have a real tea party, both for your daughter and for you.