Stylish, elegant and cost-effective: Afternoon tea party

Last week in mid-conversation with a friend, she tells me that although being excited with her baby girl christening, she is now stuck for ideas on what kind of event to host. ‘Something sophisticated, personal and with a difference’ – she continues, ‘Any ideas? It could be a good subject for your Blog, what to do you think?’

‘An afternoon tea, you can’t go wrong!’  – I said

An afternoon tea party can be one of the most delightful and elegant affairs in the whole social round, it is intimate, personal and timeless.  Our imagination can run free with endless decoration possibilities, making it as much embellished or minimalist as we wish.

I am especially fond of a good pastel coloured vintage décor, with some pearls and frills on the mix. A palette of pastel colours can be mixed and matched without any formalities. But, I always try to keep the ‘Less is more’ motto.

  1. Table linen

Traditionally and following etiquette, afternoon tea is served in white linen tables. It is definitely classic and elegant, nonetheless it can be accessorized with some tan or gold doilies as placemats.

Alternatively, a nice solid coloured table cloth with some white doilies as placemats, table runners or table centre, would look stunning! A rustic wood table with a ‘doily made table runner’ is just fabulous for a country themed tea party.

Tips

  • Affordable crochet doilies can be found on eBay
  • You can use paper doilies instead of the crochet ones, for a more cost/effective solution
  • When using paper doilies attach them to the tablecloth or table by using double faced sellotape
  1. Crockery

Vintage crockery is now available to hire. This way we can host a bigger affair with fine china without causing a big dent on our bank account.

Fine white crockery can also be used, adding the personal touch in other details such as food décor and presentation.

Tips:

  • Family members and friends are always a good source for vintage tea sets; is then up to you to mix and match it accordingly
  1. Food

Small sandwiches with different fillers, desserts and scones are normally served with the tea.

In the past the correct order when eating on a tea tray was to eat savouries first, scones next and sweets last.

Nowadays we have changed the order somewhat, we like the guests to eat the scones first while they are warm, then move to the savouries and finally to the desserts (cakes and sweets). This can be noted on the three tier presentation:  scones on the top tier, sandwiches in the middle one and the desserts on the lower. Or even, with the scones on the top tier and desserts on the remaining tiers, while the savouries are served on separate trays.

Tips:

  • The scone tier can be decorated with gypsophila/ wax flowers and strawberries
  • To add extra wow factor, buy some design cakes or macaroons from a specialised bakery and alternate them with home baked desserts
  • A tea party can also serve coffee and hot chocolate
  • ‘Upgrade’ your afternoon tea to a ‘royal tea’ by serving a glass of champagne at the start; this would go beautifully with a strawberry inside of the champagne flute
  1. Table décor 

Small table floral centrepieces with neutral/ pastel coloured flowers never disappoint. My personal favourites are: ranunculus, peonies, hydrangea, lily de valley, magnolia and anemones.

The Cake table (for more formal gatherings: christenings, weddings, baby showers and anniversary celebrations) is the  centre of attention but can always be complemented with some exquisite details.

  • Antique, ornamented table, chest of drawers or dressing table. The drawers can be slightly opened with extra details emerging from it: faux pearl necklace, crochet table cloth or fabric bunting garland.
  • Apothecary jars filled with meringues, popcorn, flowers, fruit or sweets. These jars can also be hired: http://www.classiccrockery.co.uk/product-category/glassware-bar/apothecary-jars/
  • Cakes at different levels, using cake stands
  • Vintage books used as a stand for a vintage china teacup bursting with flowers

In terms, of what goes with the ‘cake of the party’ I would absolutely give preference to the simplistic naked cakes or sugar dusted ones with elegant details to add texture and colour.

cake dusted sugar

Small personal touches always add to the sought after Wow factor, and in this point I would probably invest in some DIY. I truly appreciate things that show how much people do care about others, and normally are the small details that make everything so memorable.

If using doilies on the party decoration, why not make the invitation envelopes with paper doilies?! Or why not use wine glasses as domes for cupcakes decorated with a flower on its top or vice-versa?

Paper doilies can also be used to write the menus or in the tables seating plan or even as lanterns floating over the cake table!

Small decorative tea tins, with the tea that has been served on the event would make great favours.

Tea parties are great and boys can enjoy them too! A ‘ big boy’ tea party could have a nautical theme with dark navy blue table linen and white crockery. Exquisite!

Have a look at the mood boards and let me know what you think. We could share some ideas and don’t forget no pinkies up! 😉

moodboard

From left to right: Macaroon by Flickr, bone china teacup by chinacraft.co.uk, doily envelope by AllThingsAngelas, doilies in table decoration by Elizabeth Anne Designs, vintage table setting by sghomesweethome.com, apothecary candy jars by colincowieweddings.com

bolo

From left to right: Apothecary sweets jar by colincowieweddings.com, cake stand white found at lovedetailed.com, ribbon cake stand found at notonthehighstreet.com, table by stylemepretty.com, floral arrangements by teacupsandroses.com.au, paper doily lantern found at thehappyhomeblog.com

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