Monday, April 10, 2017


Whether you are planning a small tea party for friends in your home or a larger tea party for an organization or event, here are a few tips to help:

  •         Set a Date and choose a Theme!

When you set a date, it may provide a seasonal theme or be centered around a specific celebration.  If not, then choose something fun or unique that suits the occasion, group or location and use it throughout your planning from invitations to the food!

  •         Send out Invitations

There are several ways you can invite people to attend a tea party.  For smaller tea parties, you can call people to personally invite them.  For a tea party of any size you can mail invitations that are either purchased or created using your computer or even handwritten.  

For large parties you might want to make good use of today’s technology and send either e-mail invites or use social media.  Whatever you choose, don’t forget to include all the details of date, time, location, etc. but also a hint of the theme to help your guests prepare and participate.

  •         Plan Decorations

The decorations are key to establishing your theme and are dependent upon the type of tea party you are planning. The table centerpiece is usually the best opportunity to reveal the theme, however every detail is special including a printed menu, folded napkins and even small favors for each guest.

If the tea party is in your home, you can simply search around and gather items you already own and then determine what you need to purchase or borrow.  If you are planning a larger event with several tables, each can be decorated the same or it can be an opportunity for one person to take responsibility for each table and provide their slant on a broad theme including cloth, centerpiece and dishes!  Another idea to provide teacups for everyone is for the guests to bring their own favorite cup and saucer – it’s a conversation starter as well!

  •         Choose Tea First

Tea is central to the menu and the food serves as a compliment!  You should always serve at least two teas including a caffeine free herbal for sensitive guests.  If you have a food based theme like chocolate or pumpkin, match your tea to the theme, otherwise it is always safe to serve an unflavored tea that goes well with a variety of foods.  One tea can be flavored, especially to highlight the sweets.  It is always best to brew pots using loose leaf tea, but if planning a large event, it may be more feasible to purchase high quality individually wrapped tea bags for convenience and to accommodate the numerous tastes.

  •         Food Presentation Matters

Budget, theme and time of day are important things to keep in mind when choosing the food for a tea party, but presentation of the simplest menu can be amazing.  The way the food will be served may include buffet or table service depending on the size and location to make the best use of space.  In your home, the food may be prepared yourself in advance, catered or you can ask guests to bring ingredients and assemble the food together!  For larger events, one option is to have each guest bring a designated item to share (i.e. a dozen tea sandwiches, scones or cookies).  The most important reminder is that all items should be able to be consumed without silverware.

The basic menu for an afternoon tea consists of savories, scones and sweets.  If using a traditional three-tiered tray per table, always put the sweets on the top, scones in the middle and the sandwiches on the bottom. Placement for a buffet would be sandwiches first, scones next and then sweets before the cups of tea.  Remember pretty food is worth the time!

Savories are traditionally tea sandwiches made with at least 3 different fillings, breads with the crusts removed and cut into 4 triangles or a variety of shapes (i.e. triangles, fingers, rounds) plus may be open-faced.  You need to plan 3-4 sandwiches per person.  Sandwiches made ahead can be plated and covered with a damp paper towel then refrigerated to avoid drying out.

Scones are a tradition served plain with jam, lemon curd and/or homemade Devonshire cream, but a variety of flavors may be served without accompaniments.  Petite breads or mini muffins can also be served in addition to or in place of the scones.

Sweets which are small and not too messy are a good choice (i.e. delicate cookies, tarts, truffles, dipped fruit and tea cakes) for tea parties.  This is the most attractive food which is why it is displayed on the top of three tiers.  Garnishes add a special touch.

In addition to the basics, a cup of soup or salad can be added before the savories, a small hot appetizer (i.e. mini quiche) can be added to the savories or a larger dessert (i.e. cake or triffle) may be added after the sweets.

  •         Connections are Priceless

Tea parties should be relaxed affairs, so focus on the conversations and have a good time without noticing the Faux Pas of others! 

"If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides,
so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.
To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen
1 Peter 4:11

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