Charity begins at home

We are seeing a major swing towards vintage again in home decoration. There are new wallpapers on the market with classic small florals reminiscent of Laura Ashley, and prints of cowboys and fairies like the wallpapers I had as a child.

Sipping tea from a pretty cup in a friend’s home is comforting and familiar

We are seeing a major swing towards vintage again in home decoration. There are new wallpapers on the market with classic small florals reminiscent of Laura Ashley, and prints of cowboys and fairies like the wallpapers I had as a child.

Maybe it is the state of the economy, but this new trend is about adding a little nostalgia to our rooms.

It also fits in with contemporary style. A beloved collection of hats, or purchases from an exotic holiday, or granny’s old armoire can still have a cool, new look in today’s modern homes.

There is also a new movement to take our antique collections and involve them in doing some good.

As the holidays approach, I have many viewers and readers sending me ideas of what they are doing this season to give back. I heard from my friend Ann Francis Oakes, who is an Art Therapist and is passionate about raising funds for her charity, Therapy Through the Arts.

Recently Ann hosted a tea party, the invitation read “Tea and Talk.” Ann gathered tea cups from her family collection as well as borrowing from friends and neighbours.

Embroidered linen napkins, heirloom tablecloths, silver bud vases and tea spoons were brought out, washed, pressed and shined up for the occasion.

To herald the event, Ann added some whimsical touches to her front door and porch. Two tea cups were tied to the seasonal door wreath, with tiny dried flower arrangements in each cup. For the outdoor urns, Ann drilled a hole in the bottom of three small tea pots, inserting metal rods through the holes and included them in the regular display.

Inside there was a donation table set up in the front hall. Make it a focal point with an intriguing display of old tea containers, a large tea pot with a great story behind it (make one up if you don’t know for sure), or any tea collectibles that you have, such as an antique tea strainer or sugar tongs.

Although the purpose of fundraisers is to fill the coffers, make the party fun and educational. That’s what the “talk” bit is all about.

Be ready with success stories about your chosen charity, be up to date with precisely where the donations will be going and what they can accomplish. The more informed your guests become, the more they will want to be involved.

Your local Tea Emporium will have good advice on the most popular teas to serve, as well as tips on how to prepare tea for a large group. Let them know that you are holding a charity event and they might even give you a discount.

Everyone loves the decadent array of party sandwiches, fresh berries and dessert bars that are the expected fare. Whether you enjoy preparing these yourself or buy them ready to serve, the idea is to make your guests feel pampered for a few hours in your home, knowing they are contributing to a good cause.

This in itself is therapy.

Debbie Travis’s House to Home column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. Please e-mail your questions to

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