Behind the Private Gates, In the Garden

Tea and the Art of Thoughtful Giving

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September is always the most beautiful time of the year in Newport. Many facets of summer slide easily into this month without missing a beat, but it is always clear in the crisp air — fall is on the way.

Capturing this exquisite weather and celebrating it with festive colors was my goal as I planned a book signing for dear friend, Lynne White. The fun twist? Happy Balinese and Indian umbrellas…accented with twinkling charms, tiny mirrors, and dangling capiz shells…were collected from friends and then placed throughout the garden.

The spirit of Lynne’s book, Giving and Gifts, was well reflected in the ambiance that greeted guests as they walked through the garden gates — convivial, sharing, uplifting, spirited. As this New Orleanian artfully expresses, “Giving and Gifts is designed to help you discover the sheer delight of giving — and in the process energizing yourself. Translating a generous thought or emotion into something tangible can become a beautiful habit with a marvelous ripple effect, turning others into givers themselves.” I’m  scattering more of Lynne’s thoughts throughout this post, interspersed with scenes from the tea.

Too, too often we either don’t know how best to express gratitude or we hesitate because we weren’t sure what to give. Lynne’s answers are accompanied by personal stories, inspirational quotes, and advice on the power of giving.

Photo Credit: Nick Mele Photography

Such a timely note…

 “For Those Hurt by Flooding, Fire or Burglary…Replace their lost pictures, if possible, with framed duplicates provided by family and friends.”

Photo Credit: Nick Mele Photography

“My overall goal is to awaken your own creative process. Try my ideas or reimagine them as you see it.”

“Business: Gift Giving at Work — As usual, the first step toward inspired giving is to put yourself in the shoes of whomever will get the gift. Start with the three P’s: practical, pragmatic, and purposeful.

 “A Weighty Gift — Ask someone for their new business card and then sink it in Lucite for a paperweight.”

On the subject of thank you notes…

“What I know for sure: Words matter. and when they’re written and not just spoken, they last forever.” – Oprah Winfrey

Photo Credit: Nick Mele Photography

One thought passed along caught my attention in its novelty and the ripple effect that it inspired. It did not include a tangible, physical gift but rather requested a simple act of others — on the anniversary of her husband’s death, one widow asks all her friends and acquaintances “to keep his memory alive today by doing a random act of kindness in his memory“.  And signs it, “Thank you… love wins, Pennie.”

Photo Credit: Nick Mele Photography

And do not miss the touching story of the penguin and “The Gift of a Stone” (page 135).

Photo Credit: Nick Mele Photography

 “At your next opportunity to give a gift, rise to the occasion and do something that says, ‘you matter, I care.'”

Thank you, dear Lynne, for introducing us to “the Art of Thoughtful Giving.”

Featured Image Credit, Nick Mele Photography.

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About Bettie Bearden Pardee

Author of Private Newport and Living Newport, garden furniture designer (The Parterre Bench), national lecturer, and entertaining expert. An honoree for the second year on "The Salonniere 100 America's Best Party Hosts", she was also the host and creative producer of "The Presidential Palate: Entertaining at the White House".

5 thoughts on “Tea and the Art of Thoughtful Giving

  1. The best of thought and thinking. Thanks to the author and Bettie for some lessons in giving and lessons in loveliness.

  2. Lovely post — and would it be too much to ask where I can get one of the multi-colored parasols? Thank you in advance

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