An Afternoon Tea Baby Shower

It almost seems like a cliche to write about a shower in April, but I had to share a few details from a recent celebration that was a long time coming.

This afternoon tea is also another chapter in my sister’s story, and since you’ve already joined us virtually for the winter engagement, the West Coast wedding, and the backyard reception here on the homestead, it’s only fitting we tie things up with a baby shower.

Now this joyous event had originally been planned to take place back in November, when my sister, Miranda, was six months pregnant, a comfortable stage of the pregnancy to travel from her Halifax home.

The invites had been sent, Miranda had purchased a plane ticket  – and then my nephew was born early. Almost 2 months early.

An Afternoon Tea Baby Shower || Simple Bites

Since he weighted a mere 3lbs, 4 oz and was making his home in the NICU, all baby shower plans were postponed – until now. Of course every baby shower and every new life is incredibly special, but we had extra reason to celebrate Alfred (Alfie) James considering his adventurous start.

{Side note. Why do people have to give their opinion on such matters? I had more than one person tell me that they never heard of a baby shower after the baby is born – as in who does that? Let there be no right or wrong, black or white for celebrating life, be it the first baby or the fifth, pre or postpartum.}

So celebrate we did! With tea and scones, sandwiches and pickles, Pimm’s Cup punch and a tableful of sweets shared among friends and family. Read on for details on the full spread, then be inspired to host your own tea! Mother’s Day is on the way, after all…

Pimm's Party Punch || Simple Bites

Some time after serving that famous outdoor buffet in a canoe, I decided the baby shower must be considerably more civilized. A while back Miranda and I had spent some time in London together, including a most memorable Wolseley afternoon tea, and the charms of that occasion inspired this present day event. We’re also half British (my dad is from Lancashire), so spending the afternoon chatting over Eccles cakes and scones feels perfectly natural to us.

We started with Pimm’s Cups, because it is the spring cocktail in the UK, and very complementary to finger sandwiches. I served it up in punch form for practical reasons (no need to stand by and play bartender). I played around with my recipe a bit, but based it off of this version from Serious Eats. If it’s good enough for J. Kenji, it’s good enough for me!

While guests arrived, found a glass of punch and made little Alfie’s introduction, my two shower co-hosts (Alfie’s grandmothers) and I piled hot scones and sandwiches onto tiered trays.

Afternoon tea baby shower sandwiches || Simple Bites

I am currently enamoured with finger sandwiches, cut into lengths rather than triangles, and with the crusts removed, of course. They are ever so dainty and a perfect three-bite accompaniment to a cup of tea or a glass of Pimm’s punch.

We served:

  • Chicken salad, which my mother-in-law cleverly assembled with one side of each white and wheat bread.
  • Cucumber & cream cheese – a classic!
  • Smoked salmon & radish on rye – which I served open face, with a sprig of dill and a smear of creme fraiche.
  • Cream cheese & red pepper jelly – tangy cheese and hot/sweet jelly make for an unexpected and delicious bite.
  • Herbed avocado egg salad & onion sprouts – another classic, dressed up for tea.

I could have added even more to this list, as my Sandwich board on Pinterest hints (avocado! radish & butter! pickled carrot & Brie!) but I restrained myself. I almost always go overboard in the food department and I wasn’t sure how enthusiastic our guests would feel about, well, plain old sandwiches.

As it turns out, I shouldn’t have worried; the sandwiches disappeared in a twinkling, along with several pots of tea.

Oh hey, look for my egg salad recipe to make an appearance here on the blog next week. I made it without mayonnaise, and instead I used smashed avocado for a creamy binder, which worked out really well. Update >> it’s HERE!

An Afternoon Tea Baby Shower || Simple Bites

We need to talk about scones. I may have obsessed over finding the perfect British-style recipe, testing variations from Jane Hornby, Pippa Middleton’s book, Celebrate, and many more. We ate a lot of scones, but there was no complaining from the kids!

The absolute best recipe I found was from cookbook author, Claire Ptak, who owns the Violet Bakery in Hackney, East London. Her sweet cream scones graced the cover of Saveur magazine a few months ago; fortunately you can also find the recipe over at Saveur along with the story of their evolution.

It’s worth noting that I was hunting for a classic scone, with no additions whatsoever. I do love my Triple Berry Scones in the summertime, Cranberry Orange Scones for the winter holiday months and Cheesy Irish Soda Scones to accompany a pot of soup any day of the week. But for afternoon tea, the scones had to be inspired by London tea rooms: the classic cream.

After nibbling on all the scones and sandwiches we could, we took a bit of a break for – you guessed it! Games. And gifts, too. And Clara took the opportunity to break away from the festivities and rip around the sopping wet yard in her party dress and stocking feet. Gracious me. Apparently she can only behave like a lady for a few hours before the tomboy urges take over.

An Afternoon Tea Baby Shower || Simple Bites

When we had wrapped up an intensely competitive game of Nursery Rhymes Jeopardy, it was time for sweets. I kept most everything bite-sized, so guests could sample one of each.

I boiled the kettle yet again and made a fresh pot of each English Breakfast and Earl Grey tea. Everyone lingered over the sweets for some time as the sun slanted through the trees and the afternoon slipped away.

Guest of honour Baby Alfie seemed unruffled by the attention; a handsome little man in a room full of women.

Miranda and Alfie

Motherhood certainly suits my sister, who is a glowing new mama. Her sweet boy is now triple his birthweight and has just started laughing out loud. Their whole little family has relocated to the Greater Montreal area, so we’re going to get to see Alfie grow up.

Here’s to many more special occasions shared between our two families and our wider extended family. Here’s to babies, and here’s to afternoon tea!

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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Comments

  1. Little Alfie is so cute! He’s getting big!
    I don’t know why people would think it’s wrong to throw a baby shower after the baby is born. I mean, why wouldn’t you? Isn’t the point of the shower to celebrate the baby and to help the new parents out by getting them a little more equipped for the baby? So… why would the timing matter? Also, seems to me on Gilmore Girls, Rory & Lorelai threw Sookie a baby shower after her baby was born early. So there. It’s not such a weird thing if it’s been done on tv, right?! Not that Gilmore Girls are a good reference for these things, but I happen to be rewatching them, so…
    P.S. I really need to get that Violet Bakery cookbook. Everybody’s raving about it!

    • Yes, at just over 9 pounds, we all think he is so big! Haha. He’s doing great.

      Gilmore Girls IS a perfectly good reference. 🙂

      I need the Violet Bakery book too. I’ve flipped through it and it’s gorgeous.

  2. So glad you shared this with us, Aimee! Beautiful photos and I can’t wait for some new sandwich inspiration in the coming post.

  3. Oh I love this post, Aimee!! Gorgeous afternoon tea and it’s so great you found your perfect scone recipe, I have to try it out.
    PS. Baby showers in Canada are always given after the baby is born in case any more people ask. 😉 Why would it be weird? That’s the time to celebrate!!

  4. Looks like a great shower. I think post-baby meet-and-greets are becoming more common these days – a few of my friends did that. Glad to hear Alfie’s doing great despite a rocky beginning.

  5. First of all I’d like to wish lots of health to your nephew and your sister!

    I can’t believe someone would comment negatively on having a baby shower after the baby is born! In my culture it’s considered bad luck to give gifts for the baby before it’s born. It’s an old superstition that my grandma feverishly abides by. My grandma didn’t buy any gifts for my niece before she was born. Some of my friends also had their baby showers after the kids were born due to that belief. An occasion to celebrate is just an occasion, it shouldn’t adhere to some rules that society decided to dictate. It’s a gathering of joy and love and good wishes.

    The afternoon spread that you prepared is scrumptious!!

    • Thanks for the well wishes, Julia. And why do people comment on stuff at all? I don’t know. It’s like there are less and less filters these days.

  6. See, now I never heard of a shower done before the baby was born! That was only on TV, until I moved east from Manitoba and it is way more common to have the shower without the baby there.

    Back home, it is bad luck to do it before the baby is here. And it also become a welcoming party where the parents get a break from the baby, they are passed around and mom and dad get all the leftovers to take home and feed them for a long time.

  7. Kristen M says:

    Congratulations to your sister and family. I may have just pinned every recipe that you shared. Can you tell that I love tea parties? It’s been far too long since I’ve attended or hosted one.

  8. What a gorgeous shower. I was looking for photo references, thinking these shots might be in y our new cookbook, but man alive! You take such amazing food-styled photos you could do THAT for a living, too!

    And really, who comments on whether you have a shower after the baby is born? In my church we even have ‘showers’ for foster kid placements! It’s just another reason to celebrate children, relationships, and eat food together. Congrats to your sister!
    Sarah M

  9. Aww Aimee how sweet! Alfie is adorable, many congratulations to your sis, so wonderful to see him happy, healthy and thriving magically! One of my best friends had her sweet baby 2 months early as well – she was like a tiny bird in the NICU and now she is a strong, smart, beautiful 9 year old girl! (I have heard of baby showers before and after, of course!! It’s all up to the parents to be and what they like/prefer, and circumstance!) Such a sweet afternoon tea (my favourite type of party, in fact!) xo

  10. Oh Aimee! All of your parties look so fabulous and delicious – I always wish I was there. I will definitely be trying some of these recipes. (Oh, and where I’m from we always celebrate with baby showers after the baby is born – its considered unlucky to do it before.)

  11. hey girl love the post! Babies are a gift from God! We should celebrate before and after they are born!

  12. Thirty-three years ago, we held my cousin’s shower one month after her premature birth. Eleven at the time, I asked why it was after the baby was born, not before. My grandmother shrugged and said, “Well, we’d already planned for this day. So she came two months early — she’ll get to be in all the pictures!”

  13. I like after baby baby showers best because all the guests get to see the baby. It’s like part of the thank you for bringing a gift 🙂 I think it depends on the parents and whether there are a lot of things they need before baby arrives.
    Congratulations to your sister and brother-in-law, having a baby in the NICU can be very stressful. Nice to hear they’ve moved closer, it can be tough raising a family without your family to help 🙂

  14. The tea looked lovely! I am definitely going to try the scone recipe. And finger sandwiches are my favorite. Just enough to satisfy my sandwich cravings!

    I think baby showers are quite common after babies are born. When we lived in Israel, our Jewish friends tended to only have showers afterwards. In Turkey, they didn’t shower at all. In many places I think it’s expected that the family do most of the showering (or they just don’t “need” as much stuff). Here in the South of the US they also do “Sip and See” where you come to visit with a new baby and often people bring gifts if they hadn’t showered the family beforehand.

    Blessings to cute little Alfie and your whole family!

  15. How delicious is Alfie! The tea looks tasty, too. Thankful you were all able to gather – and what a beautiful celebration for the man of the hour, the wee boy-in-a-hurry. As always, thank you for sharing. Teas are one of our favourite times, too!

  16. I’m definitely going to try a few of those recipes! We have had baby showers after the baby was born for various reasons. I don’t know why people would think that odd. Celebrating new life is always appropriate. My first son was a preemie and didn’t live. I now have a grandson named after him.

  17. This is a gorgeous spread!! I’ve been wanting to do a tea and crumpets afternoon for ages – it’s so cute and dainty! Amen to celebrations, pre or post, they are all necessary! 🙂

  18. I think it was a marvelous idea. It can be a celebration of his life. I had a friend who adopted a 3yo son. We threw her a shower after he arrived. She didn’t have any other children before him. She needed everything. It was fun. Your party sounded like fun too!

  19. Looks gorgeous! My first came four weeks early and his shower was after he was born and I thought it worked out perfectly… ?

  20. I just hosted a few friends and their kidlets for a MayDay tea party using yours as an inspiration. It was so fun and everyone mentioned how we need to do this more so thank you for putting yours out there.
    I adore the idea of a tea party for a baby shower, what a wonderful day to celebrate little Alfie!
    And I had my own baby shower when Kieran was just a few weeks old, everyone got to see him and it was fabulous. =)

  21. Kristina Gentle says:

    I had my baby shower, planned, after my daughter was born. My aunts idea. All my 8 aunts wanted to hold, smell and see the new baby! It was the best idea ever.

  22. I need to find a good occasion for a tea party, because this looks fabulous!

    And anyone who feels that a party is not to their liking for any reason is welcome to not attend and/or plan their own gathering. It’s supposed to be fun, no one is forcing anyone.

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