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Time for tea! How to host an afternoon tea party

Afternoon tea2

Get those cups and saucers at the ready – it’s Afternoon Tea Party!

There are a whole host of reasons to throw an afternoon tea party. Whether it’s a small get together with friends, a bridal shower with a difference or a fancy birthday party, you’ll never find a reason not to throw one.

This week (Aug 10-16) marks Afternoon Tea Week and to celebrate, here are our top tips and must-haves to help you host the perfect afternoon tea.

Decoration and table settings that impress

Afternoon tea is all about creating a sense of occasion. Your decorations and table settings really need to add to the feeling of celebration. Traditional afternoon tea decorations can include bunting and fancy tablecloths, with a throwback theme that includes floral prints. If in doubt, think traditional street parties and you can’t go too far wrong.

If you’re wanting to have a more modern theme, confetti, balloons and balloon arches all bring a more up-to-date twist on the afternoon tea party. Once you’ve chosen which route to go down, you’ll want to make sure your table setting sticks with the theme too.

You’ll need cups, plates, a three-tier cake stand or two is essential and, of course, a tea pot. Cath Kidston does a great range of homeware if you’re looking for inspiration. However, don’t worry if you can’t find matching items, as a mismatched set can work really well at home!

If you don't have any of the items but don’t want to spend a fortune, vintage and charity shops are a great place to source any bits and bobs you may not have. Plus you’ll also be supporting a local business or charitable cause!

Delightful drinks

Given its name, drinks are undoubtedly a key focus of afternoon tea, but don’t think that means you’ve got to stick with just a traditional pot of English tea (although, we’d definitely recommend having a pot on the go).

There are a whole variety of drinks to please your guests, depending on the occasion and time of year. For warmer days, iced tea is a great option to keep you and your guests cool and this recipe from Tesco is as simple as it comes.

Pimm’s is a classic British summertime drink and an always-reliable favourite for guests, whilst nowadays an afternoon tea party just wouldn’t be complete without a glass of fizz. If you’re looking to go one step further than a chilled glass of champagne, prosecco or English sparkling wine, you could always try a prosecco cocktail to really add the wow factor for your guests.

Fantastic food

When it comes to what to serve at an afternoon tea party, there aren’t any set rules on what should or shouldn’t be served.

Sandwiches with different fillings (the afternoon tea classic is cucumber sandwiches!), delicious cakes in a range of flavours and either scones or teacakes with jams and clotted creams are all traditional accompaniments.  

If you’d like to do something different, savoury pastries such as sausage rolls with a twist or alternative takes on the traditional Cornish pasty and quiches are all great options to serve. For those with a sweet tooth, macaroons are perfect for this occasion and can add a real splash of colour to your table decorations.

Just remember, an afternoon tea party is all about finger foods and smaller bites, so whilst a showstopping cake or centre piece can provide a real wow factor for your event, don’t go too over the top with what you plan on serving. Sometimes, less is more.

Music to set the mood

Last but by no means least is the music. Music can really set the atmosphere for your afternoon tea party. Our advice? Go for something simple and safe that doesn’t overpower the room or space you’re in, whilst providing a mellow backdrop.

Soft jazz or peaceful piano are two good options and both Spotify and Apple Music have plenty of playlists to choose from.  If you’re in need of a new speaker, check out our latest buying guide here!