HANFORD — The Children’s Storybook Garden and Museum is the spot for the most exclusive “par-teas” in town.

This weekend’s Children’s Valentine’s Tea Party and last month’s Victorian Tea Party sold out quickly, proving to be one of the museum’s more popular events.

“Every little child loves the tea parties. They always play tea parties at home, so when we have these events, their moms sign them right up,” founding member of the museum and board president Judy Wait said.

“Kids know that we always have activities available and we’ll always do story time, but the tea party is something special,” assistant director Brittny McKenzie said. “It’s a little something extra.”

This Saturday’s tea party event’s registration is full – there is a waiting list should anyone cancel – but McKenzie said that the events are planned at this time to be a monthly occurrence. Tickets for next month’s St. Patrick’s Day tea party will go on sale next week, and yes, green tea will be served.

That event is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday, March 9.

“Kids love it. They dress up in their big fancy dresses and come and have fun,” McKenzie said.

And while it’s encouraged for children to bring a change of clothes so they can dig into the garden’s dirt after tea, planting vegetables and uprooting earthworms, it’s not necessary.

“One little girl last time was in her pretty little princess dress just digging in the dirt,” she said.

The teas – all caffeine free – can’t be to blame for the children’s enthusiasm, they just respond to fun of the pomp and circumstance of a sit-down tea party.

 “And it’s not just girls. We have quite a few boys that come to the tea parties,” McKenzie said.

During the event, the children learn how to have a proper tea party, the way Queen Victoria would have intended at the turn of the 20th Century.  They’ll learn manners, how to set a table, how to host their own tea parties at home and other skills necessary to be proper hosts and guest.

McKenzie said that in addition to the activities and stories the children can always count on at the museum, they tend to get a thrill when it comes to the authenticity of the tea parties. The make-believe tea parties they may be having at home with their stuffed animals and younger siblings become real when they’re served real tea in real ceramic teacups, rather than the playsets they may have at home.

“It’s bringing a lot of what they do with their imagination into reality,” McKenzie said. “It gives them a tangible experience.”

“Lots of kids, in the beginning, don’t want to pour their own tea, they’ll have us pour it and leave the tea pot for them, and next thing you know they’re all taking turns,” Wait said.

Reservations to the children’s tea parties are $3 for members and $5 for non-members plus the price of admission. To register, call or text 559-500-9966.

Tickets ae currently on sale for the museum’s Victorian Tea Party fundraiser at the Civic Auditorium are on sale now.   Wait said the annual is event is akin to an adult version of the monthly children’s tea parties – and proceeds go to supporting the museum.

Tickets to the tea party fundraiser are $35 and all ages are welcome.

The Children’s Storybook Garden and Museum is located at 175 E. 10th St., Hanford.

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