Woman Throws Free Tea Parties for Strangers in NYC and I Want to Be Her Best Friend

Header photo credit: James Estrin, The New York Times

This story is very Do The Next Good Thing to me. And sometimes you just need to appreciate something so simple and genuine like this: don’t question it, just take it for what it’s worth.

In Bryant Park in New York City, a woman has been hosting her own weekly tea parties for complete strangers for the past four years.

The woman, 54-year-old  Liz Gannon-Graydon, sat down with the New York Times to talk about her routine: from the prep, to the conversations and the community she’s created.

It involves her waking up at 5 A.M. in her Long Island home, where she prepares a variety of baked goods she brings to share with her unknown partygoers. And of course, there’s the tea, the silverware and glassware that comes along with putting on a full-out spread in a public park. She pushes together chair and tables, brings a table cloth and makes a real to-do out of her spectacular place settings from mismatched tea cups to the table full of goodies.

Why? Well, why not?

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She attracts the strangers in for the treats yes, but the real draw to stay and return is the conversation. It could be about the weather, the grim political landscape or the effervescent energy of NYC, which Ms. Gannon-Graydon certainly embodies. Shy people feel like opening up in her presence, outcasts feel accepted, strangers feel connected.

So, obviously I need to be her best friend.

An act of kindness, beyond kindness, like this is easier said than done. Our project, DGNGT has made me realize that often times I am the stranger who says I don’t have time to give someone a moment to ask a question, preach a belief, etc. It’s way too common to expect someone is approaching you for a bad reason instead of a good one.  But I’m convinced if I stumbled upon this tea party on a crisp fall afternoon, I would have to clear my schedule for the rest of the day so I could soak it all in.



Two Buttons Deep is a news & entertainment website based in upstate New York.
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