Looking for a fun, creative way to celebrate this summer? No matter the occasion, an afternoon tea party can be the perfect answer to a party planning conundrum. Tea parties work for baby and bridal showers, birthdays, retirements and anniversaries. They are also a fun way to get your girl friends together for some relaxation,
The Basics: Tea Pot and Cups
You might need to do a little bit of shopping for your tea party if you don’t already have a tea service. But it doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive, and you’re certainly welcome to ask around or borrow from a friend or family member. Soon after I was married, I decided to invest in a tea set that matched all my Blue Willow everyday pieces. Over the years, I’ve used my Blue Willow to serve tea and coffee to guests many time, so the investment has been well worth it. I encourage you to scout garage sales, thrift stores, antique shops and Ebay to find something really unique. Tea things can be part of a set, or mismatched for a whimsical flair. My mother had a set of tea cups that were all different and as a little girl I loved to pick a new one to drink from each time we enjoyed tea.
Star of the Show: The Tea
I like to provide a mix of loose tea and tea bags for more variety. It’s fun to choose a flavor from an assortment of tea bags, but steeping fresh tea leaves also adds a layer of enjoyment and relaxation to the party. Last year at Christmas, my husband gave me an assortment of fine Harney & Sons teas, which I highly recommend for quality and refined flavors.
Making tea enjoyable for everyone means including plenty of extras like milk, real cream, lemon, sugar and alternative sweeteners. For an elegant touch, purchase sugar cubes for the occasion and serve them in a pretty bowl.
Your teapots and food will be doing a lot of the decorating work for you, but adding fresh flowers to your tea party is timelessly elegant. Seasonal blooms can be artfully arranged in a variety of containers; the most obvious trick is to go with your tea theme and pop the flowers into a pot, kettle or mug. If you are setting up a large tea table, go for a large arrangement. If you will be serving a small group from a tray, a tiny little arrangement right in the middle looks really cute.
What you drink is the highlight of any tea, so finger foods are the obvious choice if you’ll be serving something to eat. Go for small, delicious and pretty to look at. Buttery, melt-in-your-mouth scones are a traditional but still popular offering; you can decorate them with a drizzle of icing or a sprinkle of powdered sugar. Add some butter and jellies and jams for guests to spread over the scone of their choice. Cut up mini sandwiches of all types or arrange cookies on a pretty plate.
Since a tea party is all about the tea, you don’t need to stress out about the food. Don’t feel like baking or running to the store? You can order sweet, elegant treats like chocolate covered strawberries delivered to your door via the Internet.
Display tarts or decorated cookies on tiered stands, or put a paper doily on top of an open cake dome. To dress up plain Jane desserts like muffins or bars, use a tiny dollop of whipped cream and some brightly colored berries.
The main reasoning behind tea time is socializing over a soothing brew, but you can provide some extras for fun, especially if you’ve planned this little shindig as a way to celebrate a special event like a baby shower or Mother’s Day. Queue up movie or series that frequently features tea time, like Downton Abbey, Upstairs Downstairs or any of the BBC classics. Add old world flair with Victorian parlor games like Forfeits, Pass the Slipper and Lookabout.
What to Wear?
Want to make your tea party the most memorable ever? Encourage guests to dress the part! Many years ago, my sister and I had a Victorian tea party for our children. Everyone wore a costume and the ladies put their hair up. The local thrift store had plenty of cheap costume jewelry and accessories to choose from. We took pictures and still talk about it to this day.
So, while you might not be able to pop over to London for tea and biscuits, there’s no reason you can’t celebrate this lovely old tradition right in the comfort of your own home. Tea time is celebrated in many cultures and in many ways, and I think it’s a much-needed respite in our hurried society.
It’s time to stop and smell the tea!
My thanks to Purple Camel Media for sponsoring this post!