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Neiman Marcus' Nicole Chapman, and tea co-chairs Julie Grad, Mary Amen, and Michele Hall join me for a photo at the Girls Inc. Hats and High Tea Party

Neiman Marcus’ Nicole Chapman and tea co-chairs Julie Grad, Mary Amen, and Michaele Hall join me for a photo at the Girls Inc. Hats and High Tea Party

When Michaele Hall invited me to attend the Girls Inc. Guild’s Second Annual Hats and High Tea Party, I quickly accepted. I love cucumber sandwiches, scones and English Breakfasts tea, so I was there! Not only was my friend Michaele, who by the way is Neiman Marcus’s PR Director, a guild member and tea co-chair, but she orchestrated a to-die-for tea table for her guests. The table boasted a blue brocaded table linen, turquoise silk napkins, beautiful crockery plates with Mackenzie-Childs tea cups and saucers and gold-rimmed crystal water glasses, along with stunning old-fashioned engraved champagne glasses. The eight-foot bronze “tree” centerpiece took your breath away along with the whimsical flower balls hanging from it. The gift favors were butterfly (the Neiman Marcus logo) gummies from Dylan’s Candy Bar (Ralph Lauren’s daughter’s candy store in Manhatten), a miniature Jay Strongwater picture frame (gorgeous!) and a decorative tassel. I was very happy to sit at Michaele’s table!

Other Girls Inc. Guild members decorated their tables as well. I loved Dalise Lindsay’s table. She is getting married in June, so she featured frosted cupcakes at different levels all over her table. It was darling, and she was beaming! Other members decorating tables included Sandy Van Schoonenberg, Eve Kornyei Ruffatto, Cheryl Beck, Valarie Van Cleave, and tea co-chair and board Vice President Mary Amen.

Girls Inc. Guild President and tea co-chair Julie Grad welcomed the 75 guests and thanked hostess Mary Gray, who so graciously opened her beautiful Shady Canyon home for the tea (yes, that Marie Gray of St. John fame, who, by the way, is launching a new fashion line soon with her talented daughter Kelly Gray). Grad also thanked Marie for donating all the items in the silent auction. She then recognized new Girls Inc. of Orange County Board President Gianna Drake-Kerrison and the guild’s lifetime members who were present, which included Pam Adams, Marta Bhathal, JoAnn Fanticola, Marie Gray, Barbara Lyster, Sue Stern, and Sandy van Schoonenberg. Tea underwriters were also recognized, including Mary Amen, Michaele Hall, Rebecca McLarand, Laurie Rodnick, Eve Kornyei Ruffatto, and Valarie Van Cleave. Others thanked were the boutique vendors, who offered their wares during the tea reception, with a percentage of sales benefiting Girls Inc.

Following a scrumptious tea catered by The Queens Bakery in Costa Mesa, Girls Inc. of Orange County CEO Lucy Santana Ornelas spoke about the nonprofit, whose mission is to inspire all girls to be “Strong, Smart & Bold.” “We will be celebrating our 60th birthday in 2014,” she said. Ornelas spoke about the Girls Inc. programs that positively change the lives of 4,500 girls, ages 4 1/2 to 18, annually, by providing year-round holistic, compensatory, and intentional programming focused on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math), financial literacy, sound body image, healthy relationships, and college and career readiness. I must admit, the nonprofit has always impressed me. Girls in their programs are always a part of their annual fall fundraiser, and they are impressive – little girls, who come up to guests and introduce themselves and carry on a conversation. They are very proud to be strong, smart & bold! The tea garnered net proceeds of $8,232.67 to support the Girls Inc. Elementary Program Scholarships.

Fun Aside: Many of the guests brought daughters and granddaughters to the tea. See the photo of Olive Bell in her lavender sundress and bejeweled sunglasses. Isn’t she adorable?!

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