Tea parties -It's all in the planning

How to plan tea parties with flair

three tier display tray

Why not make your next get together with friends an afternoon tea?

A successful party starts with a plan. A plan involves making lists.

My tea parties are anything I want them to be. The only unchangeable rules for me are serve great teas and "bite sized". OK maybe two bites sized.

1st We need to come up with a good day and time to host our party.

2nd I like planning my party around a theme. So one of the next things I do is select a theme.

Tea party theme ideas

3rd Often my theme helps me choose my guest list. For instance I wouldn't invite someone who hates sports to my party that is planned around my favorite football team.

NOTE: Sometimes 2 and 3 are switched if my party is for a special person.

TIP: The general rule is to send invitations out two weeks before the event. If I'm having a tea around Christmas, I'll do this a little earlier. We all know how busy some of the holidays can be. We will want our friends to be able to “pencil us in their calendars early”.

Now we have our date, our theme and our guest list. What should we do next?

Tea party menu ideas

Stephanie helping Gram make scones granddaughter baking scones

4th The menu is my next step in the planning process. I want my menu to reflect my theme. It is not a tea party (to me) without scones. They will always be on my menu for a tea event. If I were having a 4th of July tea, it would be blueberry scones. We also need jam and / or clotted cream. I would opt for and clotted cream.

We need sandwiches. Not just any sandwiches,tea sandwiches. In my opinion any sandwich can be a tea sandwich. Cut the crust from the bread you are using and fill the sandwich. Now cut it into long rectangles called fingers. You can also cut other shapes. You now have tea sandwiches.

We will add small cookies, cheese cakes, petit fours (small frosted cakes) and tarts. I also like to serve fresh fruit such as grapes or strawberries.

Freshly Baked Blueberry SconesBlueberry scones

All tea parties need chocolate candy. Truffles jump into my mind for a tea party.

We will want to decide which tea we will serve. I often like to offer more than one type of tea. It's a nice way for you and your friends to learn about different tea types. In the case of black tea some of your guests may want milk and sugar to add.

When we have finished the menu there are some decisions to make. Will we prepare everything ourselves? If not what and where will we buy already prepared foods?

Time for more lists

Get out your recipes for the items you plan to prepare yourself. Read through each one. Check your pantry and make a list of ingredients you will need to buy.

Make a list of things that can be made ahead and frozen. Note also when frozen things will need to be moved to the refrigerator for thawing. Scones, cookies, and cakes are foods that freeze well. Make sure to properly package and wrap what you have made to insure taste and freshness.

Decide if and what you will buy already made. Make a list of these things with where and when you plan to buy them. Remember if anything is being mailed to you to allow for shipping time.

It is also good to give yourself a time line for when things are to be accomplished.


  • Send invitations or make telephone calls to invite friends by XXX date
  • Bake and freeze scones by XXX date.

Tea party decorations

5th A theme usually requires a little decorating. What will those decorations be? Will you make or buy them. (another list, another deadline)

Do we want to decorate with flowers? My answer is always yes to that, but I love flowers. Will the flowers come from the garden or will we buy them? Add this info to the list remembering to set a time line. Really though, the party will be wonderful with or without flowers.

Will we have music? Do we need to borrow or purchase a new cd? If the answer is yes, you know the drill by now. Add this job to the list and set a time line.

Note: Music is nice but never let it over power conversation. BTW never ever have the television on. Movie night is movie night. Tea parties are for good tea, good food and good conversation.

Part of the party is making the house ready. That means making it sparkle and feel welcoming.

6th Make a list of what needs special attention.

  • Is the front entrance clean? Does it say welcome?
  • Does the powder room sparkle?
  • How about cobwebs? Are they gone?
  • In general does the house say clean?

Don't forget to add the time line to your list of housekeeping jobs.

7th What about us? Are we getting a manicure and having our hair done? When and where should be on a list.

To wrap this up

As the things on your lists are done, mark them off. There will always be some things that have to be made on the day of. If you stick with your plan and mark off your list, those things will be less.

Last thing to do, enjoy the tea party.

Party lists:

  • Guest
  • Menu
  • Grocery
  • Make ahead
  • prepared foods to buy
  • Decor items
  • Props needed (ex: CD)
  • Cleaning
  • Personal care

Find examples of lists below

Welcome neighbor tea
Welcome neighbor time line
Welcome neighbor grocery
Fall afternoon tea

Other articles of interest
Day before the party tips
Day of the Party

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