Updated: Feb 22, 2020
Planning a tea party for friends or your kids should be something you experience at least once. A proper tea party is filled with games, finger foods, mini desserts and lessons in etiquette.
When I was young, I had a plastic tea set that I was thrilled to acquire as a gift for Christmas. I remembered how fun it was to use my set with animal crackers and cups filled with Hawaiian punch. That’s why when I had my little girl it was imperative that I gift her with a set of her own so she could have private teas with stuffed animals and friends. I wish back then I had decided to have a tea party for her but we never got the chance. However, when she became a teenager, we joined a mom/daughter group called the "Stargazers" and one of the field trips was to a real tea house for tea and finger sandwiches.
Planning a tea party for friends or your kids should be something you experience at least once. A proper tea party is filled with games, finger foods, mini desserts, etiquette lessons and a taste of what British Royalty has known for centuries.
Here are 8 things you need to know before you have a tea party at home, outside or in a park.
“Life is like a cup of tea to be filled to the brim and enjoyed with friends.” Anonymous
1. Start with a Theme
A proper Tea can be a Traditional British or Princess theme. For older girls or teens picking a favorite color can be considered a theme too. Any of these will suffice and depends on the age as well as what you are trying to go for. A birthday princess theme is cute with tea for the little girls but a lesson in Tea Party Etiquette is wonderful for teen girls and their moms.
2. Where to Have a Tea Party
Take your tea party on the road and head to a local park. Set up picnic blankets and have tea or cover picnic tables with nice table cloths then serve finger foods and play games. Perhaps you have a lovely garden in your backyard and you could set tables outside to sit among the flowers. Have the party inside and decorate your dining room or family room with tables, chairs, favors and more to give the room an elegant tea room feel.
3. Tea Party Invitations
Once you have established where you will hold the Tea Party and what your theme is then it is proper etiquette to send out an invite to your guests. Have you seen our Tea Party Invitations? We can customize any of our invites to suit your event or ask us to create something special just for you.
Send the invites via text or email if you like but having an authentic tea party would mean either hand delivering an invitation or sending it in the mail. Remember that a tea party is usually from 11:30 am -12:30 pm or a late afternoon from 3-4 pm as we Americans do.
Invitations should reflect if the tea party will be formal, if you want guests to dress up and wear fancy hats. You can also ask your guests to bring their favorite teacup.
If you want a little history and would rather serve your tea party during the traditional times then we have something you can share with your guests or utilize when planning your party and invite.
An afternoon tea is referred to “low tea” and takes place between 3-5 pm. This is where the sandwiches, scones and sweet treats are served. “High Tea” is between 5-7 pm and known as “meat tea” because it is around dinner time and heartier foods are served. High and low teas relate to the height of the table the tea was served on. High was for the dinner table and Low was served at a low coffee table near sofas and lounging chairs.
4. Tea Party Fashion
The customary attire for men and women attending a tea is semi-formal. Often ladies sport hats, gloves and brightly colored suits and dresses. Black is never appropriate for a tea party. It is OK for a lady to wear her hat at the table; however, gloves should be removed before the tea service begins.
Are you having this for younger kids and want them to just have fun rather than practice tea party etiquette? A princess/prince theme is perfect if having boys and girls or ask them to bring their stuffed animals for a fun tea party theme. I know that for the older teens, dressing up and wearing the correct attire would be so much more fun and educational.
5. Tea Party Crafts
There are so many fun crafts you can find on Pinterest but one of my favorites is the fascinator. A British Fascinator makes a fun project for everyone attending because then your guests have hats to wear for the tea party. Buy your headbands at the dollar tree and anything you would love to decorate the fascinators with from there too. Here is an amazing tutorial from the “Clumsy Crafter” on how to assemble yours.
6. Tea Party Supplies
Here is a checklist of things you will need to have for a proper tea or download our FREE checklist with all of the items and food you will need at the end of this article below:
2. Teacups and Saucers
3. Serving Plates
4. Snack Plates
5. Dessert Plates
6. Sugar and Honey Bowls
7. Serving Tongs
8. Cream Pitcher
12. Place Cards with Names
13. Centerpieces (Teapots filled with flowers perhaps)
14. Selection of Teas (Black Teas, Green Teas, Herbal Teas)
15. If you can do it, a three-tier tray is a nice touch and seen at many tea parties
16. Having children that don’t like tea? You can fill teapots with juice, lemonade, milk etc.
7. Tea Party Food
Traditional Tea Party Foods are set on 3-Tiered Stands the bottom being the sandwiches, the middle with Muffins and Scones and the top with sweet and savory treats like tiny cakes and cookies, eclairs, cream puffs and petit fours. The stand is set in the middle of the table. The food is not intended to be a meal but a snack between lunch and dinner.
Tea Party Foods that are served include: Sandwiches made with soft white or brown bread; the crusts removed. Cucumber, egg salad, ham and swiss, and salmon and cream cheese are commonly found on tea stands. Scones are served with jam and clotted cream a British delicacy made from thick, full cream cow’s milk.
8. Tea Party Games
A fun way to engage your guests while they are together is to take everyone into another room for some tea party games. A tea bag toss is fun with a teapot and teabags for the kids as well as singing “I’m a Little Teapot. A Scavenger hunt to search for teacups and teabags would be fun too. We have a Tea Party Scavenger Hunt in our shop right now! Our Tea Party Game comes with everything you need to play and you can print it from home. When guests arrive ask them to guess how many sugar cubes are in the teapot or teacup and the winner will receive a prize. Charades for the older kids is great and if you have an outdoor tea party why not purchase a croquet set and teach everyone how to play a 17th Century classic.
Pass the Slipper was a Victorian parlor game favorite. One player stands in the middle of the circle, eyes shut, while the others pass a slipper around and then stop. With hands behind their backs everyone must tell the person in the middle to open their eyes. The person in the middle must guess who has the slipper. If he/she is correct, they change places, otherwise the player closes his/her eyes again and play continues.
If you are looking for some checklists to go with all of these ideas, we have a Tea Party and Etiquette Checklist PDF file just for you and your guests as well as how much food to prepare for each individual. We also have some place cards to put names on for each place setting. Just head to the links below for your free gifts.
Don’t forget to comment below and let us know if you are planning on having a tea party with friends or your kids. Maybe you used some of these ideas, let us know.
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As always, we thank you for stopping by and have a wonderful Tea Party!
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