Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Sparkle & Style, Maginnity's, Wellington

Christmas is sneaking up on us, and my first festive event of the season was Sparkle and Style on Saturday. Though not strictly Christmas-themed it had a definite festive feel, and is well-timed to inspire those of us who like to plan such things as table settings.

The event is an annual affair, and brings together a refined high tea menu with spectacular centrepieces. Each creation is sponsored by a local business, and is themed accordingly. For example, the Zealandia table boasted a "Deck the Halls with Nature's Finery" theme.

On arrival we were offered a glass of bubbles, and to help ourselves to the chocolate fountain (strawberries! chocolate! Life is good). Judging sheets were offered, and we all wandered about ranking the tables before being seated to enjoy our afternoon tea.

I was at the Glitz and Glamour table, which I agreed with my fellow diners was the best, for its generous use of colour. I love bright and cheery, and though there is definitely also a place for understated glamour we all thought our table was pretty fabulous.

The other favourite (which was probably the most popular overall) was the Wellington Fantasy Gingerbread centrepiece, featuring gingerbread cookies of Wellington landmarks like the Beehive and Old St Pauls, painstakingly (and beautifully) decorated by the very talented Michael Gray of Nada Bakery.

Much better than my own photo above but doesn't show the cookies properly!
And you won't be surprised to hear I also really liked the Bohemien chocolate display, with edible decorations (though we all exercised excellent self-control and left this intact).

Once we were seated we didn't have to wait long before afternoon tea was served - an amazingly generous offering, with (yes, I counted) 12 items for each person.

That's a lot of eating - fortunately, that is something I happen to be quite good at. Everything was lovely, with special mention to the perfectly fluffy scones, and the beautifully rich brownie. I did try everything though (purely for research, you understand), and there weren't any duds. ;-)

We were also very impressed at the range of gluten-free goodies the kitchen assembled for one of the ladies at our table - this is the assortment shown above left, and believe it or not that's all for her!

We were able to choose two pots of tea per table, though most of our table were fairly unanimous in wanting to try the Turkish apple flavour, which was amazing - the teapot still had bits of apple steeping, and the tea was fragrant but not overpowering - perfect with sweet little afternoon tea treats and dainty teacups.

While we were completing our demolition of our afternoon tea the lovely Donna, who runs these every year, announced the winning table setting - and our table took out the prize! A perfect ending... Or was that the delicious gingerbread cookie offered to us all before we took our leave?

I got some fun ideas for table setting - I like making things look just so and do put some thought into that sort of thing, so it's good to have inspiration, and for those without the DIY bent (or who simply don't have the time), some of these arrangements are available for hire, or in the case of the cookies, able to be replicated to order.

The Sparkle and Style Facebook page has loads more photos of the events in case you're curious - check them out, some are stunning! Are you a planner and decorator when it comes to your festive tables, or do you prefer to keep it simple?

Mrs Cake attended as a guest of Sparkle and Style. Some photos were provided by Sparkle and Style. For information on hiring or recreating the centrepieces please contact Donna McCormack on 04 934 3753,,


  1. My kind of afternoon out! i haven't been to a high tea for yonks, must put it on my wishlist.

  2. Lovely, quite lovely....inspiring me to get on to organizing a tea party :)

  3. Sounds like a fun time. I haven't got the skills or the patience for centrepieces, but if there's chocolate and cookies involved, maybe I could...definitely looks like a decent high tea too, and I love Turkish Apple tea!

  4. Alli, I love high tea! Such a lovely way to while away the afternoon.

    Mairi, you must put that tea set to good use - it'd be rude not to. ;-)

    Laura, the best centrepieces are the edible ones. Last Christmas we made a feature of breadsticks, cherries and peas in their pods as table decor. Definite win!


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