For my friends who have been following me on socials for a while, this won't come as a surprise. But if you are new here, in addition to being interested in travel and art, I really love hosting, cooking, baking and what I call "creative fangirling." Crying and screaming at a concert just isn't enough for me - I not only like to interpret songs and make them into art, but I also like to find ways to express my fandom feels.
In the past, I've made themed cookies and even themed snack/charcuterie boards. It only made sense that things would escalate into...
The Jonas Afternoon Tea.
The past few months have been extremely difficult for me personally and professionally - I've been experiencing some painful personal situations, I am still learning to cope with the grief from my dad's passing, and right at the top of 2023, I quit my job. Through all of this, I've found solace particularly in my fandom-turned-irl friends. One of them mentioned a Galentine's Day party and a lightbulb went off in my mind - why not throw a themed party?
After we decided on a date, I began my weeks of preparation for my Jonas Brothers themed afternoon tea.
My middle name is Extra. I knew I wanted a themed menu, themed decor, themed activities, themed photos, everything related to the Jonas Brothers if possible. In my humble opinion, the details are what make things special.
Since this would be an afternoon tea, I had to consider invitations. how the food would be served, the table settings, and takeaways. I also knew I didn't want to spend a ton of money, so one of my initial questions was, what do I already have to work with?
Because new promotional photos were dropping, I chose a color scheme that matched them. This helped me develop some digital assets like backgrounds, fonts, images, etc.
I knew I had a lot of chalkboard signs, table cloths and all kinds of fun "props" from my shop's pop-ups. I realized that it would be a good idea to have a table with the food on it, vs. trying to serve things on the actual dining table. With that in mind, I created several lyric chalkboard signs and had a lot of photos printed. Did you know paper + Modge Podge = things look fancy?
For the name tags at the table settings, all I did was create my own background with song titles (I did that in Photoshop), then glue paper and cover it in Modge Podge. Instant place cards!
To make things easier on myself, I also used my Kodak Step instant printer to print labels. It uses sticker paper, so I just made some things in Photoshop, printed them and stuck them on items like my Ohza jam jars.
I am a firm believer that personalization is an easy way to make things extra special. Besides the swag bag, I knew I wanted to make something personalized and sentimental. I had a stash of plain wooden frames that I hadn't used yet, so I decided to make them into magnets. Again, just paper and Modge Podge! I used the same song title background that I was using for some other items, paper scraps and photos of my friends. I also did this weeks in advance.
In general, I did as much as I could well before the party, especially since I knew the days leading up to the actual party I had to make all the food. It's really important to know what you need ahead of time and schedule it out. You will always face obstacles or changes, so having a structured approach limits any stress the changes may cause.
Thankfully I'd done a lot of legwork when I made my Jonas Brothers themed snack board, so I used that as a springboard for ideas.
I'd also like to note that between my allergies and one of my guests' being gluten free, I had to be very strategic about my menu and figure out what I could do gluten free. A tip I have for gluten free baking - rest your dough/batter for an additional 20 minutes to help the moisture content and limit the graininess often caused by gluten free flour.
In lieu of posting the recipes I used (they were so simple), I would recommend looking up classic tea sandwiches. I found several lists on Pinterest and used a couple of those recipes. In the photo above, you can see the cucumber sandwiches and the chicken salad sandwiches I made.
Ants on a Log
This one... is pretty straightforward. Celery, peanut butter, raisins - a classic snack that many are familiar with, but also a classic snack that was mentioned in the Jonas Brothers documentary Moments Between the Moments. I did pipe the peanut butter and place each raisin to make them more visually pleasing.
I was inspired by this recipe but ended up doing things differently. I didn't want to spend money on fresh peaches (plus I don't think they are quite in season) so I used canned peaches and roasted them in balsamic vinegar and honey. I then skewered those peaches with mozzarella and fresh basil.
I didn't really post a lot about these for many reasons. One being that I am quite sheepish about my fangirling over Tom, who plays with the Jonas Brothers during live shows but also makes incredible music himself (Go stream his album Life of Goodbyes). But this was a bit of an inside joke with my friends (more like they regularly tease me about this) so I made some GF ginger snaps to add to their swag bags instead of adding them to the menu... because it's just like going to a Jonas Brothers show - Tom isn't on the menu but he's a sweet surprise (see what I did there??? Yes I blushed as I wrote that and will see myself out).
Rob's Popcorn Chicken and Waffles
I knew I wanted to use Rob's creatively, and the sweet/salty cookies I did previously weren't my favorite. When the Jonas Brothers released a few song titles, I noticed one was "Waffle House." Despite not having heard the song, I realized I could serve chicken and waffle bites at the tea, and after some research I found out that there was already an existing recipe for popcorn-breaded chicken.
Rob's is already gluten free, so it was easy to adapt the recipe for this occasion. I only added a little more salt, paprika and garlic powder to my crushed popcorn.
Rose Garden chai spiced scones
I have a rose chai tea mix that I'm obsessed with, so I just subbed my tea with the tea in the recipe. I also thought the combination of rose and chai was a cute homage to Nick and his wife Priyanka. If I'm being honest, I didn't love this recipe (I've made quite a few scones in my lifetime), but the flavor was still great and I think my guests enjoyed these.
Ohza berry jam
I chose not to over exert myself and try a legitimate jam with pectin, since I was doing so much for this party already. Obviously the recipe listed does not include any additional liquids, but I added about 1/3 cup of Ohza red fizzy sangria. I think it made the cooking time longer, but did not make the recipe much more complicated.
Cake by the Ocean Salted caramel cake
This cake was the bane of my existence for many days. Baking the cake was fine and the extra 20 minutes made the batter almost identical to a regular cake batter. I also really liked this particular recipe!
I used a simple vanilla whipped cream and homemade salted caramel sauce.
The trouble came when I decided I wanted to make a jelly island cake but thought I could do it without the proper materials. I made it work... but not without days of stress. I knew it was a big risk to try something this new and ambitious for my party, but in true Jolene fashion, I did it anyway.
Because it had to be gluten free, I also made homemade GF vanilla wafers to crush up for the 'sand.'
Vacation Eyes Panna cotta
As a Kevin girl, I knew I had to do something special inspired by Kevin. Again using one of the new song titles "Vacation Eyes," I made a dessert that pays homage to Kevin and his wife Danielle. They met in the Bahamas so I wanted fresh, tropical flavors. On top of the honey vanilla panna cotta, there's a mango jelly and strawberry mango jelly. To make those, I just mixed juice and gelatin! You can also buy premade jello mix and pour that on top.
Just be careful when you are making layered gelatin desserts like this - these actually took me an entire day to make, not because they are difficult, but because you have to wait until each layer is set before you pour the next.
Earl Grey cookies
I'm going to be honest, I have no idea which cookie recipe I used, but I just dyed the cookies blue, added earl grey tea and used my cookie stamps to make the cookies special.
Montana Sky Mocktail
This is not the exact recipe I used, but it's a great start if you want to make a fun, layered drink to reference the song title Montana Sky. For mine, I used fresh pureed strawberries on the bottom (with just a little sugar to offset the next layer), freshly squeezed lemonade (with lemons from my tree), sparkling water, then I topped it with blue pea flower tea that I got on Amazon.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with blue pea flower tea, it is bright blue when it steeps but turns purple/bright magenta when mixed with acid.
I would recommend giving yourself a lot of time to pour these kinds of drinks. They have to be poured slowly, and I used the spoon technique to help keep the layers separate.
Mandy's Mega Snack Mix
I was sooooo excited for this particular menu item! It was actually a last minute addition and I kept going back and forth about what to put in it. As I stated earlier, I'd tried Rob's in a sweet recipe but I feel that Rob's, despite it being sweet and salty, works better in savory recipes.
I finally decided on Rob's, pretzels and cheese crackers, but felt that it needed one more thing that could be gluten free. I looked at Pinterest for snack mix ideas and decided to try my first batch of party mix with gluten free Chex. I used this recipe as inspiration, but only ended up using brown sugar, onion powder, paprika, salt, pepper, worcestershire and butter.
I've made crackers and cheese crackers many times, so I knew they wouldn't pose any problems. I used this recipe and subbed the flour for gluten free flour. I used my cookie stamps and small letter cookie cutters to make the J, B, and 'JONAS' shapes.
I had a feeling that my guests would want to take some home, so I went ahead and made cute gift bags for their snack mix. I modified some mini paper bags by cutting out windows (by hand) and adding some plastic (also by hand). I designed a simple label, printed them out on my Kodak printer and had some cute snack bags!
Again, it's all about the details and thinking about where you can make edits to change something from usual to 'themed.'
My guests arrived on time and watching them enter and seeing everything was priceless. Speeches were given, tears were shed, and so much fun was had.
Even though they knew it was a Jonas-themed tea party, my guests did not know what was on the menu, or about any of the other surprises I had planned.
Since not everyone knew each other, I also prepared a little "icebreaker" game that ended up just being fun table conversation. I had written down some fun Jonas-related questions and put them in a cup. We each drew one and would answer it, then the table answered. You could say a lot of tea was spilled.
I loved watching my friends open their swag bags and enjoy everything that I had been working on for weeks. Of course we are all fans of the Jonas Brothers, but this party was truly my way of thanking them for being wonderful friends to me during such a difficult time in my life.
Last but not least, we took full advantage of the photo booth I set up! We filmed a fun TikTok and took so many fun photos. I made some simple props too. Again, sometimes paper is all you need!
So there you have it, The Jonas Afternoon Tea!
Until next time,
Have faith, restart ❤️