Tea parties are the perfect excuse for an afternoon gathering with friends together to share great food, stories and a laugh or two. A good tea party is about creating an old-timey, gracious ambiance, and that requires attention to detail.
You don't have to live in a palace, serve loads of expensive food or hire wait staff to do the honors. A tea party may be an affair between late morning and late afternoon. It can be held indoors or outdoors, and it can include from as few as two people to more than a hundred.
We’re big fans of all things British, and afternoon tea is no exception. Drinking tea became common within the United Kingdom in the seventeenth century, although enjoying it in the afternoon was not popularized until later.
In the 1840s Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, would entertain and host a small meal around four o’clock in the afternoon while dinner was commonly served closer to eight.
How to host an elegant tea party
Derived from the English afternoon tea, tea parties are elegant events perfect for celebrating special occasions like birthdays, engagements, or simply gathering with friends.
A tea party is a tasteful affair. Make sure your decor and table setting establish the appropriate mood by following these few easy steps.
#1 SET THE TABLE PROPERLY
Use a white tablecloth or marble table to make your setup feel clean and elegant. Place the teapot and cake stand in the center, with cream and sugar nearby. Ensure each guest has a small plate, a teacup, and a saucer.
#2 PREPARE YOUR TEA VARIETIES
Offer a selection of teas including black tea, herbal tea, and green tea. Opt for loose tea options over teabags when possible. Preheat your teapot with hot water to prevent the pot from cooling the tea.
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#3 SERVE APPROPRIATE PARTY FOOD
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#4 ADD THE FINISHING TOUCHES
Be sure to include a napkin on each saucer for your guests. Add a place card to make your attendees feel extra special. Use fresh flowers as sweet decor elements as well as table arrangements.
#5 PREPARE SOME GIFTS-TO-GO
Time to get crafty and send guests home with their favorite custom tea blend of the day or some sweet treats. Makeover some glass jars and simply fill with their tea combination of choice or package up with a brass tea strainer so friends can relive your tea party sparkle at home.
Tea party etiquette
The host should extend an invitation specifying the time, venue, and any special attire requests. Guests are expected to arrive promptly, find their place card, and mingle. Now here are some other key etiquette rules to help you.
Only pick up your saucer if you are standing. If that is the case, pick up your cup and saucer together, holding your cup in one hand and the saucer in the other.
Avoid placing too much food on your plate as it is intended to be a snack rather than a full meal.
A hostess gift is not required, but loose tea would always be appreciated.
Do not leave your spoon on your saucer or on the table. Tea can quickly stain linens.
Do not place the sugar spoon on your saucer. Pour the sugar in your tea as a courtesy to other guests.
Scones are not to be eaten with a fork or knife. Feel free to use your hands when eating.
Setting the table according to general etiquette rules will improve the experience of your guests and provide a foundation to which you can add your personal style.
“A cup of tea is an excuse to share great thoughts with great minds.”