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How to Host the Perfect Afternoon Tea Party

How to Host the Perfect Afternoon Tea Party

Hosting an afternoon tea party is a delightful way to gather friends and family around a table filled with elegant treats and a variety of teas. If you’ve always wanted to host your own but didn’t know where to begin, this guide will walk you through each step, sprinkled with a few personal tips I’ve picked up along the way.

Invitations and Guest List

First, decide on your guest list. I love keeping my tea parties intimate, usually inviting around six to eight friends. Once you have your list, send out the invitations. I often use personalised online invites, but a simple phone call, text or email works just as well.

By the way, if you have kids, a tea party is a great way to involve them in something you'll both enjoy (but, I won't blame you if they don't make the invite list so you can have some 'adult' time).

Setting the Scene

Creating the right atmosphere is essential. Here are my go-to tips:

  • Table Setting: I like to use a lace tablecloth I inherited from my great grandmother. It adds a touch of nostalgia. Lay out your best teaware – mismatched pieces can add character!
  • Flowers: Fresh flowers are a must for me. A small bouquet of seasonal blooms in the centre of the table adds elegance.
  • Decorations: Vintage tea pots make wonderful decorations. I also love using candles for a warm, inviting glow.

The Menu

An afternoon tea menu typically includes three courses: finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, and a selection of pastries and cakes.

Finger Sandwiches

Prepare a variety of sandwiches. My favorites are:

  • Cucumber and cream cheese
  • Egg salad
  • Smoked salmon and dill
  • Ham and mustard

Remember to cut the sandwiches into small, crustless triangles or fingers for that traditional touch.


No afternoon tea is complete without scones. Serve them warm with clotted cream and strawberry jam. I bake mine just before guests arrive so they’re fresh out of the oven.

Pastries and Cakes

Offer a selection of sweet treats like:

  • Mini éclairs
  • Macarons
  • Fruit tarts
  • Lemon drizzle cake

I love to bake some of these myself, but feel free to get some from a local bakery (if you're in Wollongong, Australia, pop into our neighbours at Millers).

Choosing the Teas

Offer a variety of teas to cater to different tastes. Some of my go-to choices are:

Don’t forget to provide milk, lemon slices, and sugar so guests can make their tea the way they like it.

The Perfect Pour

Teach your guests the art of pouring tea. Hold the teapot by the handle, lift the lid slightly with your thumb, and pour gently into the teacup, filling it about three-quarters full. This leaves room for milk or lemon.

Enjoying the Experience

Tea, to me, is more than just the brew, its about moments. Some are private, some are busy, and some are in the company of others, like a tea party.

So, the most important part of an afternoon tea party is to enjoy the company of your guests.  I always try to steer the conversation to happy, lighthearted topics – it’s all about creating a joyful atmosphere.

Hosting an afternoon tea party is a wonderful way to create special memories with your loved ones. With a little planning and a touch of elegance, your tea party, I'm sure, will be a delightful success.

By following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to hosting an afternoon tea party that your guests will remember fondly. Enjoy the preparation process and have fun creating a beautiful and enjoyable experience for everyone involved.


Photos by Lou Wright


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