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The first Queen of Hearts was Elizabeth of York, the beloved wife of Henry VII (Henry Tudor) whose marriage united the divided kingdom of Britain after the War of the Roses. A Valentine's Day tea party is a reminder that love conquers all.

Elizabeth of York had won Henry Tudor of Britain’s heart completely. Coming from opposing sides of the War of the Roses (1455–1485), she married into Henry’s dynastic Lancaster clan, giving up her family’s symbol of the white rose for his red one, according to historyextra.com. He merged them to create the red and white Tudor rose.

According to thewaltoncompany.com, the queen of hearts in the standard deck of English playing cards is said to represent Elizabeth of York.

The fictional character of the Queen of Hearts many recognize today first appeared in Lewis Carroll's “Alice in Wonderland.” According to biography.com, Carroll, the pen name for Charles L. Dodgson, was born in Daresbury, England. He published "Alice in Wonderland" in 1865 and, by the time of his death, the book had become the most popular children's book in England.

In addition to being the birthplace of the Queen of Hearts, Britain is known for afternoon teas, despite the fact that the tradition may have originated in France, according to an article titled "Afternoon and high tea history" on whatscookingamerica.net. The article indicates that a formal tea consists of three courses: savories, or tiny sandwiches and appetizers; scones, often served with jam; and pastries, including cakes, cookies, shortbread and sweets.

This Valentine's Day, consider celebrating by combining the decidedly British icons of the Queen of Hearts and tea time by throwing a Queen of Hearts-themed tea party using these ideas.

Queen of Hearts crowns

Crown your guests with these inexpensive and easy-to-create tiaras.

Each crown requires a 4-inch glittery red paper heart, seven silver pipe cleaners and several heart rhinestones. For a large crown, twist together two pipe cleaners, leaving 3-inch tails at the twist. Bend each tail into a heart half and twist together. Repeat with third and fourth pipe cleaners, adjusting to fit the head of the wearer.

Use a fifth pipe cleaner to make an arch and attach it to the front of the crown, then add two smaller arches that attach to the front arch and the crown side. Using a hot glue gun, attach the paper heart to the front arch. Curl the ends of the pipe cleaners and add sparkly rhinestones.

Planning a menu

Incorporate a Queen of Hearts theme into your tea party by preparing a special Valentine Tea, the Queen's Berry Tarts, Raspberry Heart Shortbread Postcards and Strawberry Hearts.

The Queen’s Berry Tarts

Makes: 8

1 package (17.3 oz) frozen puff pastry, thawed according to directions

Cheesecake topping

8 oz. low-fat cream cheese, softened

½ cup low-fat sour cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ cup powdered sugar

1 tablespoon lemon zest

Toppings

3½ cups fresh strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, pitted cherries

white sparkling sugar (cake decoration)

On a lightly-floured surface, roll one sheet of pastry out into a 10-inch square. Refrigerate the other. Cut out four 4-inch diameter circles. From the leftover dough, cut hearts with a cookie cutter. Place on a parchment-covered baking sheet, bake at 400 F for 15 minutes or until golden brown. While the first set of puff pastry circles and hearts are baking, roll out the second sheet and repeat.

For the cheesecake topping, cream the softened cream cheese, sour cream, vanilla, powdered sugar and lemon zest until fluffy.

To assemble, cool crust on a wire rack. Spread crust with cheesecake topping, a layer of fresh berries, a cut-out heart and a sprinkling of white sparkling sugar.

Raspberry Heart Shortbread Postcards

1 cup softened butter

2/3 cup powdered sugar

1½ teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ cup cornstarch

½ cup pecans, finely chopped

1 cup powdered sugar

raspberry jam

Heat oven to 325 F. Cream butter and 2/3 cup powdered sugar until soft and fluffy. Blend in vanilla. Sift together dry ingredients and pecans and add to butter mixture, stir until dough is crumbly and just holds together.

Between two sheets of wax paper, roll dough to ¼-inch thickness. Using a wavy-edged square cookie cutter, cut cookies and place on ungreased baking sheets. Cut a heart-shaped hole in half of the cookies, remove and bake separately.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until barely golden around the edges. Cool on wire racks. Spread raspberry jam on the plain halves. Sift the 1 cup powdered sugar over the heart halves, place on jam layer.

Valentine Tea

1½ cups cranberry juice cocktail

6 cups water

¾ tablespoon whole cloves

¾ tablespoon whole allspice

4½ cups pineapple juice

4½ cups Hawaiian Punch or red fruit punch

½ cups orange juice

Combine cranberry juice, water, cloves and allspice in a large nonreactive saucepan over medium heat. Simmer 20 minutes. Remove spices and add pineapple juice, Hawaiian punch or red fruit punch and orange juice.

Pour into teapot or pitcher to serve. Serve in tea cups with labels that read “drink me.”

Strawberry Hearts

Gently hold a washed strawberry by the point. Cut a V-shaped notch in the top and remove the hull. Serve whole or sliced.

Valentine red rose topiary centerpiece

Supplies needed include a container for a base, a florist topiary form or a block of dry florist foam, a small branch, a plastic foam ball and florist’s or packing tape cut in long narrow strips.

Place the block of foam in the container and secure in place with a grid of strong clear tape strips. Push the branch into the foam. Place the foam ball securely on the branch. Cover the ball with dry green moss pinned into place with hairpin-shaped wires.

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From red cardstock or sturdy paper, cut several 3-4 inch red circles. Cut into spirals with ¾-inch bands. Starting with the outer edge, roll into rose shapes, securing the outer end with hot glue. Cut leaves from green paper. Use florist pins and hot glue to secure roses and leaves to foam ball. Tie a red ribbon bow around the branch.

Pam McMurtry is a wife, parent of seven, artist, designer, caterer and writer with a bachelor's degree in art teaching, drawing and painting. Her "A Harvest and Halloween Handbook" is on Amazon.com and B&N.com and website: www.pammcmurtry.com