How to host a delightful tea party

Table set for a tea party.

Host a tea party that’s sure to be everyone’s cup of tea! Take a look at our guide for ideas.


Start planning your tea party by sending out a tea-riffic invitation.


Your tea and snack variety should take center stage at your tea party, and you can complement the display with traditional tea party accoutrements like an old-fashioned tea set.

If you don’t have a traditional tea set, head to a thrift shop or flea market to pick one up. You’ll want to look for tea cups and saucers, tea pots, creamers, sugar bowls, sugar tongs and tea spoons decorated in a Victorian style with flowers and gold accents.

Really want to go all out with fun and functional tea accessories? Then also look for a three-tiered plate stand (for your scones and tea sandwiches), teapot warmers (to keep your tea hot), tea strainers (to keep leaves out of your cup), tea infusers (to flavor a single cup of tea) and teapot bibs (to catch drips out of teapot spouts). All of these special accents will really signal to your guests that it’s tea party time.

A delicate floral tablecloth and small vases filled with bouquets of ivory and pink tea roses make for tea party decorations fit for a queen.


Because the elegance of the tea party is part of its charm, tea parties tend to be dressy affairs even today. Floral skirts and dresses make for suitable attire, or you can go all out with formal hats and white gloves.

Although tea time is traditionally a ladies’ lunch, men are increasingly getting in on the act. Men should don a suit or slacks and a button-down shirt suitable for an afternoon event.


A tea party is a great time to try reading tea leaves. You can either hire a professional tea-leaf reader or get a book on how to read tea leaves and do it yourself.

All you need to do is pour a teaspoon of tea into a light-colored teacup. Fill the cup with boiling water and let the leaves settle. Drink the tea while focusing on a question you have or a wish you’d like fulfilled. When there’s only a teaspoon of tea left, swirl the contents and pour out the remaining liquid. Look for patterns in the remaining leaves. According to one source, a sun signifies happiness while an arrow indicates bad news.


Afternoon teas are usually served in stages, from savory to sweet. Start your tea with traditional tea sandwiches like watercress and cream cheese, cucumber on buttered bread and egg salad. The bread should be sliced or rolled very thinly and the crusts should be cut off. Next, offer scones with Devonshire clotted cream and raspberry, strawberry and apricot jams. Finish with shortbread, mini fruit tarts and madeleines.

A "tea with a twist" drink

Tea toddy (serves 4)

  • 4 cups Earl Grey tea
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • 4 shots Bailey’s Irish Cream
  • 4 dashes Scotch whisky

Pour brewed tea into 4 tea cups, and add sugar to taste. Add a dash of Bailey’s and Scotch to taste.

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