How to Host a Tea Party

How to Host a Tea Party

A lot of people wonder how to host a tea party but they are not exactly sure how it is done. Here you will find everything you need to know to make your tea party perfect!

how to host a tea party
Tea parties can be indoors or out.

There is something special about tea parties. They are sophisticated, intimate afternoon gatherings where friends meet for conversation and good food.  They can be indoors or out, depending upon the weather and you can bring out your very best china.  If you like, you can dress up. Tea parties are great for women only, although men and children can be happily included. After all, in England, afternoon tea has always been a family event.

Here is an easy to follow timeline for how to host a tea party.  It is written for an afternoon tea party but can be easily adapted to suit any tea party.

One Month Before the Event

Pick your date and time.  This is the first thing to consider when hosting a tea party. Afternoon tea parties usually begin between 3:00 pm and 4:00 pm. You can expect your tea party to last about two hours.

Make an invitation list. Count how many places you have for people to sit and do not invite any more guests than you have room for. They do not have to be sitting around a table. Everyone will need to sit down in the same room at the same time. The maximum number of guests equals the total number of seats.

Figure out a budget. This will help you to remain focused and organized. It will also curb tendencies to overspend. You can have an elegant, memorable tea party at a reasonable cost. Budget categories should include invitations, tableware, linens, food, tea, flowers and decorations. Some of these items you may already have. Thrift stores are the best places for items like cups and saucers, plates, tablecloths  and teapots.

When planning a tea party you should either make or purchase invitations. There are some nice ones online.  While you could send invitations by email it is better to use the traditional postal service as this is more in keeping with a traditional tea party.  Send your invitations as soon as you can, asking those invited to RSVP, either by telephone or email. Remember to include your contact information on the invitation. You can find a nice free printable invitation here.

Two Weeks Before the Event

When throwing a tea party party you need to make a menu.  Tea is traditionally served with scones, jam, Devonshire cream, savory hors d’oeuvres, cakes, pastries and sandwiches. Finger foods are ideal. These are often placed on three-tiered serving plates. Concerning tea, choose the best quality that you can.

Decide upon your decorations. You will basically rely on your linen, pretty china and flowers. Some people also like to hang a bunting, which can be really attractive as well. It is best not to use disposable  or plastic dishes, cloths or silverware. The exception to this rule is old fashioned paper doilies, which look great on the serving plates. You may also decide to choose a tea party theme such as a color combination or Alice in Wonderland, although this is not necessary. Other possible tea party themes are cats, Valentines Day, winter and fairies, to name but a few.

Make a list of what you will need to buy for ambience and decor. Try not to use plastic. Vintage china is the best and nothing has to match. Every guest should have a cup and saucer as well as a small plate. You will also need tablecloths, creamers, sugar bowls, teapots, serving plates and if possible, a tiered cake plate.  Vases for flowers add a beautiful touch. If you have decided to throw a tea party with a specific theme, find decorations and choose food and flowers to suit the theme.

how to host a tea party

Cups & saucers perfect for a tea party!

Bring out your best cup, saucers and vintage linens.

Decide upon entertainment. While good conversation is the main entertainment at a tea party, some soft background music is always a good idea. Classical (Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik) or jazz (John Coltrane) are good choices.

Favors for guests to take home are a nice touch. These should be related to tea. Examples are little tea tins, tea gear (tea infusers, teaspoons), specialty honey or jam and boxes of nice tea.

One Week Before the Event

Review your menu and buy any food items or ingredients that will not become spoiled or stale before the day of the tea party.

Make sure you have enough china and other tableware. It is best to have a few tea pots, depending upon the number of guests.  It is always good to serve more than one type of tea at a party.

Contact people who have not RSVP’d you to find out if they will attend.  If they are not coming, decide if you will invite others on short notice to replace them. This can be tricky because you don’t want anyone to be offended because they weren’t on the first invitation list. 

One Day Before the Event

Here is a checklist for one day before your tea party.

  • Make pastries and cookies.
  • Check all dishes to make sure they are clean and ready to use.
  • Buy flowers.

The Morning of the Event

  • Prepare sandwich fillings.
  • Set up the table.
  • Make it as beautiful as you can.

Two Hours Before the Event

  • Make the sandwiches. Place in the refrigerator.
  • Bring out as much of the food as possible, place on paper doilies on serving plates.

At the Event

All of your organizing and hard work will pay off. You know how to host a tea party. Now all you need to do is greet your guests, heat up savory foods and pastries if necessary, bring out the rest of the food, make the tea and enjoy! You have created a time to remember and if you want to, you can do it again and again. Every time it becomes a little easier. Besides, you now have all of the things you need for a beautiful tea party experience. Hosting a tea party is fun!

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