I was recently invited to attend a tea at Morrison House in Alexandria, Virginia. But it had a twist: the high tea was themed (Halloween, this time) and was meant to teach little kids about manners and poise. So I packed my two young sons (12 and 4) and off we went to see Mrs. B, the host, and experience her tea party!

I thought that the boys would be reluctant and they were. But once they met Mrs. B, who is charming and sweet and really full of life, their attitude changed. She does this for a living: hosts tea parties and teaches children and adults about manners. One of the most interesting things she does is to teach adults, mostly one on one, about dining etiquette. She goes with them to restaurants and teaches them how to order and how to behave with grace and poise at a business dinner. I think that is such an important skill and really, it is one that no one teaches us. I remember from my days in corporate America, I had a mentor who would teach me those things and I cannot thank her enough even today.

The tea was themed around Halloween this month and the kids got to create their own name cards and then do craft projects with Mrs. B. The adults got to sip Champagne, drink tea and then we all shared some amazing snacks. All the time, Mrs. B gently and sweetly instructed the kids on proper etiquette: how to introduce themselves, to open doors for others, how to sit at the tea table, how to be polite. We teach them these things all the time but it truly is a great and way way to reinforce something so vital to developing a thoughtful personality.  Truly a wonderful and well-spent afternoon. Here is what we ate:



Book Readings, Arts and Crafts Activities and

House-Made Treats from The Grille Kitchen

What: The Grille at Morrison House’s popular Story Time Tea program will continue this fall with a new and exciting addition, Rebecca Czarniecki, better known as Mrs. B.  Mrs. B has taught and offered guidance to children in everyday etiquette and manners since 2006, incorporating these lessons into fun activities and tea time celebrations. Mrs. B has planned the next three months of Story Time Tea to feature educational themes composed of activities, dress-up, and books along with underlying etiquette lessons. While Story Time Tea with Mrs. B takes place once a month, The Grille also offers Royal Tea ($44), Traditional Tea ($38), and Children’s Tea ($28) each Saturday from 2 p.m. – 5 p.m.  See below for further details on upcoming Story Time Teas, which are tied to seasonal themes throughout the fall:

  • October 15:  “Spooky” Tea

o   Dress-up: Black and orange, spider webs or come in your own costume

o   Reading: “On a Windy Night” by Nancy Raines Day

  • November 19: “Giving Thanks” Tea

o   Dress-up: Antique aprons

o   Reading: “Thanks for Thanksgiving” by Julie Marks

  • December 17:  “A Very Merry Christmas Tea”

o   Dress-up: Furs and shawls

o   Reading: “A Very Marley Christmas” by John Grogan

Kids are invited to dress-up in the suggested attire and Mrs. B will provide additional props and all activity materials.


The culinary team at The Grille creates grown-up tea fare to include: House-Made Scones and Biscuits with Devonshire Cream and Jams, Cucumber and Tomato on Brioche with Chive Cream Cheese, Curried Chicken Salad on Wheat Bread, Smoked Salmon with Chive Créme Fraîche on Marble Rye, Crab Salad Profiteroles, Silver Tray Sweet Display, Mighty Leaf Organic and Herbal Teas.

The Children’s Tea includes a Pot of Hot Chocolate, Ham & Cheese, Peanut Butter & Jelly and Egg Salad Sandwiches, Scones and Biscuits with Jams, and a Sweets Plate.

When: Story Time Tea typically takes place on the third Saturday of every month at 2:00 p.m.

Reservation Details: Reservations are required. The cost for the tea is $38 for adults and $28 for children. To book, guests can call 703-838-8000 or emailstorytime@morrisonhouse.com.

Where: 116 S. Alfred Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. TEL: 703-838-8000 www.thegrillealexandria.com or www.facebook.com/TheGrilleRestaurant

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