A Vail Valley spot for tea | VailDaily.com

A Vail Valley spot for tea

Sarah Mausolf
Vail, CO Colorado
Kristin Anderson/Vail DailyVail Valley tea: Red Hat Society members share a laugh during a tea party Saturday at Shirley White's house in Eagle.

VAIL VALLEY, Colorado “-Shirley White’s Vail Valley dining room brimmed with Victorian elegance. It was a Saturday afternoon, and eight women clad in red hats were chatting and sipping tea at a table in the Eagle, Colorado home.

White swept into the room toting a dish piled with finger sandwiches, eliciting murmurs of approval from her guests.

Five years ago, when White joined this social group called the Red Hat Society, she discovered her flair for entertaining.

White enjoys playing hostess so much, she hopes to launch a tea party business out of her home.

“I have so many recipes that I would like to try on people,” she said.

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When White joined the Red Hat Society, she was trying to fill a void in her life. She had recently moved away from family and her role as a caregiver was shifting.

“I was a caregiver for my mother-in-law and we had to put her in a nursing home,” White recalled. “Then I was like, ‘What do I do now?”

During a trip to the local senior center, White met the Wild West Woman, the local branch of the Red Hat Society, a California-based network of women over 50 who get together to socialize.

“We show people you don’t have to quit when you get older,” said White, 67. “You can still have fun. You can still spend time with your friends.”

White started throwing parties for her red hat friends, and it soon became clear that she had a knack for it.

“I guess I didn’t really know how much I love to entertain people,” she said.

White envisions holding high teas for women ages three to 100 to celebrate birthdays or holidays.

She hopes to plan parties for six to eight people at a time, and charge them about $10 to $15 per person. She plans to start spreading the word about her business this summer.

As White plans her tea party business, the red hat ladies are seeking new members.

The group presently consists of about 10 women, mostly from Eagle and Gypsum, who get together about once a month.

Gypsum resident Ruth Anderson launched the local group seven years ago, after she heard about the Red Hat Society at her high school reunion in Sioux City, Iowa. Local red hatters have done all sorts of fun things together, ranging from camping at Sylvan Lake to playing games to selling calendars for charity.

Through their get togethers, the women reclaim the silliness of their youths, Anderson said.

“I think a lot of us who are older are sort of set in our ways,” she said. “We’re afraid to loosen up and have a good time. We don’t want to make a spectacle of ourselves. Well, that’s not what we do. We don’t make a spectacle. We do enjoy laughing and having a good time.”

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