About 80 tea-sipping ladies in hats and six gentlemen were at the Center Club on Tuesday for a $35-per-person afternoon tea hosted by the Gourmet Diners' guild of Opera Pacific. Guild members and their guests nipped at house Chardonnay and dry sherry (from guild President Myril Kreuder's private stock) for a half-hour, then sat at white-cloth tables for a formal tea. Sometime between scones and finger sandwiches, a troupe of youngsters answering to the name "Newport Beach Showtime" filed in and launched into squeaky but energetic--make that aerobic--caroling. In Situ The fund-raiser was co-chaired by Kreuder and Sylvia Cox, who sat together at a table front and center for the caroling crew. Of her party-tossing partner, Kreuder bubbled: "Oh, Sylvia has been so wonderful! She's the first person in the whole world to help me with one of these." This caused Cox--who recently returned to the county after years in Boston--to blush and tsk , "Oh Myril." (Cox mentioned that before she moved back here in September, she and her husband house-shopped in the Turtle Rock section of Irvine, where they lived five years ago. "The house we sold had doubled in price," she said, shaking her head. "Doubled--can you believe that?") Double-dating for tea were Mary Lynne Troyer and Bob Miller with Opera Pacific trustees Richard McCoy and Shirley Garibaldi. Nearby, gourmand Ruby Smith shared a table with Carol Barker, who wore a black gaucho hat decorated with a red satin rose. Other indoor headgear included Painter Woodley's red fox toque and Margaret Grenke's star-dappled tiara ("It's really a Christmas tree ornament," she giggled). Hatless but extra-festive nonetheless was Barbara Johnson, who wore red satin pantsuit, a tree-ornament necklace, earrings shaped like wrapped packages, and a sprig of holly tucked in her hair. "I'm a child at heart," Johnson said from an armchair perch. "I love this time of year." Food, Lines The lineup: Scones and Devonshire cream, pastries and tea sandwiches filled with smoked salmon, roast beef, chicken and cucumber. The requisite words of welcome and thanks were delivered by Kreuder, guild alliance president Laila Conlin, opera company board President Floss Schumacher and the company's recently hired managing director, Patrick Flynn. Schumacher plucked one of the microphones from a stand that had be lowered for the soon-to-be-singing children. "I feel like a roving reporter," Schumacher quipped, mike in hand. As waiters circled the room, Schumacher added: "This is great, isn't it? Don't you girls like to be served? I know I just hate waiting in line." Also Attending Gourmet chef and diner Claire Burt, Dottie Riddet and Connie Aronson, Peggy Cotton, Mary Ann Barnett, Jacqueline Meredith, Mary Osterhaut, Mary Ann Miller, and Roulla Zachary, who sat at one end of a 10-seat banquet table, while her mother, Maria Constantinides, sat at the other end, with their friends in between. Quote "Working?" responded Richard McCoy, when asked how afternoon tea parties compare to work. "I gave that up a long time ago."