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FeedithNola: Teddy Bear Tea at the Roosevelt

There’s nothing that I love more than Christmas: the decorations, the music, the combination of Douglas Fir and cinnamon in the air. A hint of December whimsy playing on a loop in the background of everyday life that makes the 5:00pm sunset slightly more tolerable—maybe even enjoyable. (It’s easier to see the Christmas lights after all.) It’s the holiday season when everyone gets to feel like a kid again. As I see it, one of the benefits of having a child during Christmas is the excuse to act like one. Our first stop this holiday season: Teddy Bear Tea at the Roosevelt Hotel.

Walking into the lobby for the Roosevelt in December is a part of the quintessential New Orleans Christmas experience. In the past, I’ve strolled through with a sazerac in hand. On this day, I juggled a squirmy toddler and an iPhone ready on selfie mode. While I failed to snap a picture of the look of wonder in her eyes as she looked at the glowing branches, flocked trees, and intricately made gingerbread tree (with gingerbread ornaments!), I was happy that we arrived early so that we could take our time.

After a few more failed selfie attempts, we headed upstairs to wait with the other families outside of the ballroom. Little girls with perfect ringlets and monogramed dresses in red and green waited patiently for pictures with some sort of snow princess while I chased Edith with a hairbrush. (Little boys were also present but showed less interest in the princess.) My husband looked like he was dropped into the American Girl holiday catalogue and was quietly plotting his escape. Edith was fascinated by the snow princess until we got within a three-feet radius, and then she clung to me for dear life. She screamed in terror when the princess tried to take her hand. At this point, I was worried that we’d made a huge mistake… But then the doors opened.

Suddenly, we were transported to a winter wonderland, where the blue lighting juxtaposed to the red decorations could somehow make you feel cold and warm all at once. As we walked through the doors, Edith’s jaw dropped and she eloquently said what we were all thinking: “Ooooooh.”

The scene was enough to melt the heart my Grinch-of-a-husband who no longer looked like he was searching for the nearest exit. Like Santa running for milk and cookies, families rushed the stage to pose for pictures before Santa and his helpers arrived. This was a more failsafe plan than the lobby where a tourist could easily unintentionally photobomb your Christmas-card photo. We let Edith soak it all in from the table as we nibbled on an assortment of competently made sweets & tea sandwiches, and sipped on the bottomless mimosas. Because nothing says "children’s tea party" better than a bottle of Prosecco!

We made the mistake of getting in line for Santa pictures just after the characters second lined in. From across the room, the stories and songs with Mrs. Claus seemed lovely. Truthfully, I don’t think Edith would have tolerated such close proximity to Rudolf or that snow princess. Edith most enjoyed sitting at a table for a real-life tea party, toasting with the adults, and jumping on giant teddy bears with a new friend. Even though she probably won’t remember that friend in a week, I will never forget the look of unadulterated joy on her face as they played together. Needless to say, Santa will be bringing a sweet little tea set on Christmas to commemorate the entire experience.

Helpful Tips for Teddy Bear Tea at the Roosevelt:

  • Logistics: The doors open 15 minutes before the scheduled teatime. Seating is assigned so there’s no need to rush in. However, keep in mind that the event is only an hour long so you will want to be on time.
  • Food: When I called to ahead, the staff said that we would probably need to eat dinner after the tea. That was not the case; the sandwiches and sweets were plenty for our crowd. We even left with a box full of goodies.
  • Photos: Pictures with Santa are available for purchase, and the line is a heck of a lot shorter than at the mall. With the set and flattering stage lighting, the whole event is also great chance for family photos.
  • Lagniappe: Don’t forget to make a stop to see the lights in the lobby and the gingerbread display in the café.

Kim Frusciante is an educator, Tulane alumna, and new mom who loves all things New Orleans. Though she wishes she could claim to be a native New Orleanian, she will happily settle for raising one instead. Kim is passionate about enjoying the culture of our city with her daughter, Edith, and helping others to do the same with their little ones. Let Edith be your test-baby: Email Kim at kim@nolavie.com. Follow Kim (well, Edith…) on Instagram @feedithnola.