If you’re a fan of going out for afternoon tea, then you might be excited to learn that it can actually be pretty easy (and super fun!) to create your own afternoon tea party at home. With my birthday less than two months away, I started to think of how I wanted to celebrate. I’m fortunate to have a wonderful selection of teas, teacups, teapots, and other lovely tea accessories that I decided on hosting an afternoon tea party at home. Birthdays are a perfect excuse to make all your friends and family drink tea with you, right? I’m equally excited to plan an afternoon tea party as I am to actually host it so I have been in planning mode for some time now. After setting the budget, here are some things I have done so far and a few more things that will be done prior to the day. Get ready to host your own tea party!
A Guide to Planning an Afternoon Tea Party at Home
*don’t forget to download your free planning checklist at the end!
Step 1: Mark your calendar & get out some invites!
Selecting a date for your afternoon tea party is definitely the first main step, followed by making and sending out invitations to your guest list. Deciding on the size of your afternoon tea party may be based on your budget. Personally, I love small, intimate parties the most. For myself, I picked the Sunday before my birthday and created invitations through Basic Invite. I like designing with them because once you select a design, whether it’s one from their whimsical holiday party invitations, elegant Christmas party invitations or Christmas cards they have unlimited colour options, flat or raised foil designs, with instant previews online. You can customize the paper quality, the envelopes and even get guests’ addresses printed directly on them.
I selected their Tasteful Tea Party Invitation. It was designed for a baby shower, but I was able to customize it and make it for a birthday instead. Basic Invite are also one of the few that allow you to order samples of your personalized invitations before ordering more. I was definitely impressed with how my samples turned out. The overall look and feel of the tea party invitations made me much more excited to continue the planning! If you’re interested in Basic Invite, they currently have a 30% off promo for their holiday cards (holiday tea party anyone?!) — just use code holi30 at checkout.
Step 2: Plan the drinks and food!
As for the drink portion, well, of course, there will be plenty of tea! I suggest setting out some more common tea options like English Breakfast and Earl Grey, but I think it’s also important to serve some of the teas you really love. It may be a great way to introduce a guest to their new favourite tea, too. I am planning to have some popular teas along with Tie Guan Yin oolong, Bi Luo Chun green and a few other exquisite tea blends. It’s a good idea to have a pitcher of water near by in case any guests would like a glass of that, too.
Let’s leave your guests not only talking about the tea they enjoyed but also the fabulous food that paired so well with all of their steeps! Your afternoon tea menu may vary depending on the teas served, but a general one will include tea sandwiches maybe even with a soup and salad. Don’t forget the pastries such as warm scones with Devon cream and jam. A nice balance of savoury and sweet items will make for a well-liked afternoon tea party menu.
You can definitely order the food and sweets for the day. However, if you plan to make everything yourself, find some great ideas from the recipes below:
- Classic Cucumber Tea Sandwiches
- Apple Cheddar Tea Sandwiches
- Chive Egg Salad Uncrustables
- Butternut Squash Soup
- Quick and Easy Cranberry Scones
- Sugar Cookies with Tea Icing
*Pro tip: account for 2 scones per guest, because let’s be real, scones are amazing and people will want more!
Step 3: Setting & decorating the tea table!
When it comes to throwing a party of any sorts, I think decorating is my favourite part. The table where your guests sit at for tea will be the first impression, so there is some pressure. However, don’t feel like you need to follow all of my setting and decorating tips. I admit, sometimes I can go a bit nuts with details! As long as your tea table goes with the party theme and is inviting then you’re all set. See the infograph below for tips on where to place everything on the table as well.
Here are some table setting and decorating items to have and/or consider:
- table cloth
- theme appropriate center pieces (ie. pumpkins for fall or poinsettias for Christmas)
- plates, soup bowls, silverware and glasses
- a tea cup for each guest, and enough tea pots and tea strainers for the amount of teas you are offering
- milk and sugar set (even if you don’t use these items, it’s good to give your guests the option)
- extra teaspoons for stirring
- salt & pepper shakers (depending on the food you are serving)
- place cards
- 3-tiered stands to serve the tea sandwiches and pastries
- Devon cream and jam along with small spoons and spreaders
- flowers/greenery and candles (I prefer battery operated ones)
Step 4: Enhance the experience!
Music is an important element of any party, including afternoon tea. Whenever I go out for afternoon tea it is usually classical or jazz music that is playing softly in the background, complimenting the lovely atmosphere. Create a playlist with music that you and your guests enjoy and have it on as background music mainly. You don’t want the music to override the conversations. If you’re planning an afternoon tea party during the holidays, you may even want to add some Christmas music to your playlist.
While definitely not necessary, party favours can add a special touch. Something small but practical. Favours can be a hit or miss, so I think it’s important to put some thought into what your guests will actually like and use. Some tea party favour ideas I love:
- loose leaf teas from the party (of course)
- dainty teaspoons
- tea infusers
- scone mix
- mini jar of jam
Step 5: Steep, Sip & Enjoy!
When the day of your afternoon tea party arrives, don’t forget to relax and enjoy all that you planned. Hosting an afternoon tea party can be a lot of fun and a great way to get together and slow down with friends and/or family members. Steep the teas. Sip the teas. Most importantly, enjoy the conversations at the tea table.
I will report back in December on how hosting my afternoon tea party went with this planning guide. If you’re planning a tea party between now and then be sure to let me know in the comments below. I hope you found some fun tips here! To help even more, I put together an afternoon tea party planning checklist that you can print and use, too.
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