Hosting an elegant afternoon tea party is absolutely one of my favorite things to do! Here’s an easy way to plan and host an afternoon tea.
Simple or extravagant. It’s your choice!
You can make it as simple or as extravagant as you like and that’s what’s so fun about it. I am somewhat of a “china freak” meaning that I love dishes and all of the things that go with them. I’ve been collecting them for years and have quite an assortment. I enjoy mixing and matching different patterns of old and new china, but not worry if you don’t have a vast collection of porcelain and different kinds of dishes you can still throw a fabulous tea party!
I love tea parties!
For our Summer Afternoon Tea, I decided on a vibrant shade of green, and I loved the results! It was bright and summery looking and so, so easy and inexpensive. I frequently bring out the lace or antique tablecloths for tea parties, but hey, it’s summer, and that means it fun to just relax, right? I bought a white plastic tablecloth, some bright green napkins, and some fun, green sparkly tissue paper (which I used under the flower centerpiece and also used as place mats!) An inexpensive and easy to wash lacy tablecloth went in the center of the table just to add a bit of elegance. All of this made for an effortless cleanup when the party was over, too. Next, out came the mix and match china, old and new and my World War II tea set…let the party begin!
Now lets’ get the actual planning of the party:
1. Choose a day and time for your party. Make a guest list remembering a tea party is a relaxing, cozy gathering I usually limit mine to six to eight guests that can sit around the table and mingle easily with great food and conversation. You may invite them using traditional invitations, emails, phone calls or whatever suits you.
2. Browse through magazines, cookbooks, and Pinterest to find some yummy and fun looking recipes. Get as simple or as complicated as you want. I enjoy creating with food, so I try to create at least one tasty item that I want to make using my idea. Choose some goodies that can be done a day ahead of time so that you aren’t too worn out by the time you sit down to enjoy your party! Begin with scones, for this particular party; I chose to create my own using dried apricots and blueberries. Next, bring on some delicious sandwiches and yummy savory items. Remember, this is your party, and you can plan to have as many or as few as your heart desires! Aren’t tea parties fun? Next, comes the fun part…all of those sweet concoctions. I like to have a mini cake and don’t worry if you aren’t a cake decorator, it’s fine to buy one from your bakery or create a simple and fun one like I did. I am not, I repeat, not a cake decorator, but I had fun making a simple chocolate mini cake with vanilla frosting and buying some cute mini flower icing decorations and grass like looking sprinkles. Your guests will be occupied enjoying the decor, the different tasty treats and the party mood in general so that no one will notice your decorating flaws! Plan to purchase some sweet treats because they’re also lovely and make your party much easier. After all, this is about relaxing, enjoying good friends and yummy and attractive food!
3. Decide what type(s) of tea you will want. I’m an herbal tea drinker, and I enjoy serving several types of herbal teas. Will you want cream, sugar (I like sugar cubes) and lemon? I like to keep two different kinds of tea on the table at a time already made in the pot. If you prefer you may keep a teapot of hot water on the table and bags of tea, so everyone can make their own. This may not be the authentic way, but remember, it’s your party!
4. Plan what dishes you want to use. I prefer to layer three plates using one for each course. This is entirely optional, just use what you have and enjoy it! Decide what decorations you want to use and what you’ll use from your supplies. I love to bring out and enjoy what would otherwise be only sitting on display or boxed away unused. I use antiques acquired from my grandmothers and my mom, antique malls, outlet malls, yard sales…you get the picture, anything goes! It all looks lovely together when you’re done! Sometimes I cut flowers from my garden (in summer) for a floral centerpiece, or I pick up some inexpensive ones from the grocery store or I’ve even been known to decorate with weeds that I think sometimes have a particular kind of beauty. I have no floral arranging ability, so I just do my best, and it all works!
5. Make a list of the items you’ll need to buy including groceries, paper goods, decorations, etc. Go shopping, and you’re well on your way to an enjoyable afternoon!
As tea party time approaches:
1. Set your table, this includes all of your dishes and decorations. It feels great to have this done well in advance of your guests arriving and adds to the excitement of getting everything ready.
2. Prepare and put together any of your treats that have to be assembled the day of the party. For me, this usually includes assembling sandwiches that I keep on trays all ready to go. Then just before tea time, I place them on lovely platters for the party. Be sure to keep everything at its desired food safe temperature until just before your guests arrive. Anything that can be set on the table without fear of spoilage I like to do early as well. The least amount of last minute things you have to do, the better. Trust me, I’ve learned this the hard way!
3. Have teapots ready to go and keep the hot water coming! For my grandchildren who aren’t into tea, I like to keep an instant powder drink on hand (such as Tang), so they can still get the effect of tea drinking without the tea. When I host a High Tea party, I like to keep sparkling cider on hand as well for something cold to drink if anyone prefers that.
4. As your guests arrive, gather everyone around the table, relax and enjoy!
Tea Party recipes coming to the blog soon! Be sure to watch for them!
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