How To Host The Perfect Afternoon Tea Party

Whether you're planning a bridal shower, a birthday party, or just getting the girls together, an afternoon tea party can be perfect for any occasion. If a day of feeling glamorous and classy sounds like a good time, here is a handy guide to planning your own tea party.

Pull Out the China. A tea party is a great excuse to get out all your rarely-used formal dinnerware. Ask around among your friends and family, and you just might find that you can borrow quite a collection of beautiful saucers, tea cups, tea pots, sugar bowls, cake plates, and serving ware. Don't worry too much about things not matching, since an eclectic (but gorgeous) mish-mash of china is very chic. 

Play Dress-Up. When inviting your guests, encourage them to dress up for the occasion. Fancy dresses, white gloves, and beautiful hats can turn an average afternoon into a special occasion for everyone. Recruit some friends to be waiters and waitresses -- dressed in black trousers and white shirts -- to provide the ambiance by catering to your guests'. 

Set out Tables. Rent enough tables and chairs so that everyone has a comfortable place to sit in groups of 3 to 6 people. Cover each table with a simple white or solid colored table cloth and accessorize with the china tableware, flowers, and a small tiered cake tray with a few snacks. If you're hosting an outdoor party, consider renting some equipment from

Include a Spread. Finger sandwiches are a tradition when serving afternoon tea, so be sure your guests don't go hungry. In addition to a variety of quartered tea sandwiches -- like tomato-cheddar or cucumber-cream cheese -- you may want to offer a buffet table with trays of fluffy scones, biscuits, shortbread cookies, tarts, fresh fruit, muffins, or bite-size cake squares. Keep the food light and refreshing... and easy to carry as everyone mingles. In addition to the teas, have some pitchers of cold water, lemonade, or iced tea available for variety. 

Have Photo Ops. Since you and your guests are all dolled up, give them a few great places to take pictures for posterity. A small decorated alcove or corner can be made into the perfect tea party backdrop by decorating with things like a fancy arm chair, side table, a vase of flowers, and an antique hat rack or plant stand. Paper flags spelling out "tea party" can also mark your photo booth area.

A tea party can be the perfect way to enjoy an afternoon of tasty treats, good manners, and old-fashioned fun. So, whatever your tastes or reason for partying, have fun with it!