Afternoon tea party ideas

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Afternoon tea party ideas
(Image from the collection of Melissa J Wantuck)

Afternoon tea began in the 1840s in England thanks to Anna Russell, the Duchess of Bedford. She invited friends to join her for a mid-afternoon snack of tea and light food to tide them over until the late evening meal. Afternoon tea continues today for celebratory occasions from simple gatherings with friends to bridal showers, baby showers, birthdays and anniversaries. Grab a bouquet of flowers, a lace tablecloth and choose how to treat your guests.

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Invitations and Menus

Send out formal invitations to your guests then print up menus of the teas and food you're serving. Place menus next to place settings, using your best serving dishes or place the menus on stands or place cardholders next to the food.


The ideal tea served in the afternoon is a light-bodied tea blend and some even have "Afternoon" in their name. Serve with milk and sugar for a creamy taste.

One Lump or Two?

Fill your sugar bowl with sugar cubes and place a small pair of tongs next to it so your guests can choose how many lumps of sugar for their tea. For a fun addition look for sugar cubes with frosted shapes on top, anything from flowers to a themed decoration like hearts, holly leaves, etc.

Finger Foods

Keep the food light and serve one type of the following: tea sandwiches, scones, crumpets. Serve the scones and crumpets warm and include a selection of spreads such as jams, clotted cream or lemon curd.

Tasty Treats

For a sweeter-themed afternoon tea party, serve one or a few of the following: sweet breads, cakes, candies, cookies, pie, pudding.


Treat your guests to a departing tea-themed favour. Give them a teapot-shaped infuser, a small tin of loose tea, a loose tea measuring spoon to make a perfect cup or a tea towel.

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